Harvest Monday June 20, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It was a good news/bad news kind of week in the berry patch. In the good news department, the Natchez thornless blackberries have started ripening. These berries are sweeter than most blackberries, and I enjoy eating them with my morning muesli, though they all aren’t as big as the two in my hand in the below photo.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

In the bad news department, it appears I waited too long to harvest the gooseberries. The deer decided they were ready to eat and beat me to the punch! I know it was the deer because we caught a doe in the act, eating the gooseberries in broad daylight. I had no idea they would eat them, or else I would have thrown some netting over them. Oh well, I will know better next time. There was probably close to a quart of berries on our young bushes, but not anymore. We will have to net the nearby blackberries because I know they will eat them too, since they eat the wild ones. In the meantime, if anyone wants a few deer in their yard I will be happy to give you some (or all) of ours!

gooseberries

gooseberries

Back to some good news, this time in the main garden. I dug a couple of the early garlic plants and decided several varieties were ready. I dug all of the Red Janice, Xian, Uzbek and Shilla plants, for a total of 43 bulbs. They are now hanging up and curing in the basement, where we have the dehumidifier running to help them along. That’s Red Janice in the below photo, which is usually one of the larger of the Turban cultivars I grow. I won’t weigh the bulbs until they have been cured and trimmed up, which usually takes three to four weeks. The artichoke types should be ready in a few more days, and I will dig one or two of those to see if they are ready too.

harvest of Red Janice garlic

harvest of Red Janice garlic

The basement is fragrant right about now, because my wife has been busy harvesting lavender and hanging it up down there to dry. We have several varieties planted, included a white flowered one called Melissa that is great for culinary use. Lately I have been using some of our dried lavender to make Herb Infused Iced Tea, using about a teaspoon of the dried lavender per pitcher of tea. You can read more about how she processes the lavender (and how we use it) here: Harvesting Lavender 2016.

Melissa lavender harvest

Melissa lavender harvest

Also coming on strong right now is the broccoli. I’ve cut all the main heads now of Packman, Artwork and Apollo. The latter two are so-called broccolini types, and we did a taste test of them the other day using some of the side shoots. That’s Artwork on the left and Apollo on the right in the below photo.

Artwork(L) and Apollo(R) broccolini

Artwork(L) and Apollo(R) broccolini

I steamed the broccoli and seasoned it only with salt and a splash of olive oil. My wife and I thought both were tender and tasty, and couldn’t tell much difference in the taste or texture. That’s Artwork on the left and Apollo on the right on my plate in the below photo, along with a frittata and some grilled whole wheat pita bread. We will see whether Artwork and Apollo hold up in the heat and continue to give us more side shoots. The frittata featured homegrown snow peas, spring onion, dried tomatoes and peppers, and a few garlic scapes. I sprinkled some of my smoked Dulce Rojo paprika on top.

broccoli taste testing

broccoli taste testing

Speaking of garlic scapes, since I had quite a few of them hanging out in the refrigerator I decided to try lacto-fermenting a jar of them, loosely following a recipe from Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. I cut the flower buds from them first, as they are a bit more tender than the stalks and supposedly don’t ferment as well. I made a 3.5% brine using about 1/4 cup of sea salt in a half gallon of unchlorinated water, packed the scapes in a half gallon jar and covered with the brine. I’ll leave them sit on the kitchen counter to ferment until they suit my tastes. I’ve never had pickled garlic scapes, but I love pickled garlic, so the odds are I will like the scapes as well. It will certainly help preserve them too.

lacto-fermented garlic scapes

lacto-fermented garlic scapes

Also in the lacto-fermented department, I have been enjoying the kimchi I made recently. I got lucky with the amount of dried Aji Angelo peppers I used, and the finished product is spicy but not overwhelming to my taste buds. I’ve been enjoying it as a snack, though I need to slow down or it will be gone in no time! I used some of it to make a grilled kimcheese sandwich yesterday. I baked up a loaf of Rye Whole Wheat bread (still tweaking the recipe) just for the occasion. I used Swiss cheese because I had some on hand, but I think Colby or Cheddar might have been a better choice to stand up to the flavorful kimchi.  I will surely be growing more Napa cabbage this fall so I can make more kimchi.

grilled kimcheese (kimchi and cheese) sandwich

grilled kimcheese (kimchi and cheese) sandwich

I also cut some main heads of broccoli from Green Magic and Bay Meadows. We’ve been enjoying the broccoli raw in salads or lightly steamed. That’s Green Magic in the below photo. It’s looking like 2016 will be a better year for broccoli than 2015, and I’ve already harvested four pounds of it. It usually does better here as a fall crop, so whatever I get in spring is really a bonus. Green Magic is one that usually does pretty well here in spring, and has held up to near 100°F temps while it was heading up. It’s hard to believe, but it is almost time to start sowing seeds for the fall brassicas.

Green Magic broccoli

Green Magic broccoli

With all the hot weather, the spring lettuce is still hanging in there though suffering in quality. I cut some of the Black Seeded Simpson to use for a wilted lettuce salad last week. It was bolting, which reminded me why I usually grow Simpson Elite in spring, since it typically resists bolting a bit better. I still have some of the Simpson Elite waiting to be harvested, though even it is starting to think about bolting given all the hot weather we have had this month.

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce

The smallest harvest of the week was likely some scallions and a bit of parsley I cut to go into a lentil salad I made. The scallions are a variety called Flagpole I sowed in a window box back in March. They were just the right size for the salad. The wide-leaf parsley is Splendid, and I got the seed for it and Flagpole from Wild Garden Seeds.

Flagpole scallions and Splendid parsley

Flagpole scallions and Splendid parsley

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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June Vegetable Garden Tour

Now that the main vegetable garden area is almost all planted, I thought it was time to give a tour. I have ten beds/rows there that are each 4 feet wide by about 40 feet long. Only the first one is a raised bed. It had vining squash in it last year, but this time it is home to the pole beans. I set up the trellis in a zig-zag manner, with each section being about 6 feet in length. Doing that let me get 7 sections in the space, giving me 42 running feet to plant the beans.

pole beans

pole beans

I have nine varieties of pole snap beans planted, including Fortex, Musica, Gold Marie, Trionfo Violetta, Climbing French, Rattlesnake, and the yardlong bean Red Noodle. Two more are heirloom ‘greasy beans’ I grew last year called Lazy Wife Greasy and Robe Mountain. I also have two varieties of dry pole beans planted, Good Mother Stallard and Poletschka, though Rattlesnake is a dual-purpose bean that is good as both a snap bean and a dried bean. That’s Trionfo Violetta in the below photo, which is currently leading in the race to see who makes it to the top first.

Trionfo Violetta beans

Trionfo Violetta beans

In bed #2 I have lots of peppers planted, 58 plants in all. I planted them two across in a staggered fashion, with each row being about 12 inches apart and the plants being 18 inches apart down the row. All the plants are mulched with sheets of newspaper then covered with straw. Not all the plants have the folding cages though. Some have wire ring tomato cages for support, which are great for peppers and eggplant but pretty worthless for supporting tomatoes in my opinion. I see a bloom in the below photo and a few weeds I need to pull.

pepper plants

pepper plants

Most of the peppers came from seeds I started back in March, but a few are plants I overwintered in containers. That’s the C. baccatum pepper Aji Angelo in the below photo. It is now in its third season here, and will likely give me the first hot peppers of the year. It’s blooming already and setting on fruit, and dwarfs the seedling you can see to the right of it. In 2014 it grew in a container, then I planted it in the ground last year. I dug it up last fall and overwintered it in a container before planting it out again this year. I have no idea how long I can keep this plant going, but it sure seems to be doing well at the moment!

overwintered Aji Angelo pepper

overwintered Aji Angelo pepper

In bed #3 I have a mix of eggplants, paste tomatoes and cucumbers. The eggplants are supported by the wire ring cages, while the tomatoes are in my homemade remesh cages. The eggplants have about the usual amount of flea beetle damage they have at this stage, and I am spraying them once a week with a neem oil/pyrethin mix. Some of them are starting to bloom also.

eggplant

eggplant

In bed #4 I have potatoes, bush beans and black tepary beans planted. The potatoes have been hilled twice now and I could probably find  a few new potatoes if I tried. I’ll likely wait until I have some snap beans ready, since I love the seasonal treat of fresh dug new potatoes and green beans cooked together. That’s the 1990 AAS winner Derby bush bean in the below photo, and it is just now starting to bloom.

Derby bush beans blooming

Derby bush beans blooming

Bed #5 has the brassicas planted, plus brown tepary beans at one end. I have started cutting the broccoli, and more plants are heading up. That’s Green Magic in the below photo.

broccoli Green Magic

broccoli Green Magic

Bed #6 is planted in garlic, with snow peas at the other end. Some of the early maturing garlic cultivars are close to being ready to dig. That’s Red Janice in the below photo, a Turban type originally from the Republic of Georgia. Some of the lower leaves are turning brown, so I’ll probably dig one of these next week to see how they are doing.

Red Janice garlic plant

Red Janice garlic plant

Bed #7 is planted all in tomatoes. I have lots of cherry and plum types here plus the slicers. The tomatoes are caged in homemade remesh cages. That’s Celebrity and a new University of Florida variety called Garden Treasure in the below photo.

caged tomatoes

caged tomatoes

Another slicer, Jetsetter, is setting on green tomatoes and might give us the first slicing tomatoes of the year.

Jetsetter tomatoes coming on

Jetsetter tomatoes coming on

Bed #8 is all sweet potatoes. I’m still waiting on the ones I ordered, but I have planted the Bonita and Purple slips I started myself and they are already taking off. The weeds are taking off too, and I will mulch this bed with straw once the rest of the slips are planted.

sweet potato plants

sweet potato plants

Bed #9 is bush and semi-bush squash. Of course most all squash tends to ramble around a bit, even the summer bush types, so I give these plants a generous spacing in the bed.

bush squashes

bush squashes

Several of the bush summer squashes are blooming, including the hybrid zucchini Romanesco in the below photo. It is in the race to give us our first squash of the year, running neck and neck with Bossa Nova and Astia.

Romanesco zucchini blooming

Romanesco zucchini blooming

Bed #10 is where I planted most of the vining squash. It’s the last bed, and I can let the vines climb up the fencing on the outside of the garden. That’s Candystick Dessert Delicata in the foreground of the below photo. I tried growing this one last year but the vines didn’t make it, so I am hoping for better luck this year. Its parents include Honeyboat and Hessel’s Sugar Loaf, and I am growing those this year too. With any luck I will able to compare the three of them, and eat a lot of Delicatas in the process! Behind the two delicata plants you can see Butternut Rugosa (aka Violina Rugosa) which is a moschata type that also failed to produce for me last year.

vining squashes

vining squashes

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of our vegetable garden. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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