Monday Recap: Tater Time

The potato vines started yellowing and turning brown last week, and that me it was time to start digging a few potatoes. I started with the fingerling Red Thumb, then continued with Russian Banana and Purple Majesty. That made for a pretty trio of taters!

red, white and blue potatoes

red, white and blue potatoes

I used them to make some red, white and blue potato salad for the 4th of July. Of course the Russian Banana potato is actually considered yellow-skinned, but it was close enough for me. I used my recipe for Dilly Potato Salad, and it was a tasty way to enjoy the first potatoes of the season. I still have Adirondack Blue, French Fingerling and Yukon Gold left to dig. Those vines are not quite died down yet, so I think I will leave them for a bit longer.

Dilly Potato Salad

Dilly Potato Salad

It was just my wife and me for our 4th of July mini-picnic, but we ate well. We collaborated to make some Asian-inspired coleslaw, using our Tokyo Bekana and KY Cross cabbages. We also grated up a couple of freshly pulled carrots from the garden, and finely chopped some green onion to add to the mix. The dressing used rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, along with sugar and a little Thai Aioli sauce. We both pronounced it a keeper, and it’s too bad that was the last of the Chinese cabbage because it worked well in this slaw. I’ll have to grow some more this fall.

Asian inspired coleslaw

Asian inspired coleslaw

I enjoyed eating the first of the White Scalloped squash last week. This heirloom pattypan squash has a very distinctive taste and shape, and it is growing here for the first time in several years. My mother used to love this squash, and I always grew some for her as well as for me. I usually prepare it simply, cooked until just tender and then seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.

heirloom  White Scallop squash

heirloom
White Scallop squash

The first of the bush beans were ready to harvest yesterday. That’s Derby in the below photo. I will be cooking them for dinner tonight. Derby is a 1990 All-America Selections winner and I’ve been growing it ever since it was first introduced. The pole bean Musica won’t be far behind, as they are setting on now too.

Derby snap beans

Derby snap beans

And the first of the Juliet tomatoes have started rolling in. This year I planted three cages of these productive mini-Roma type tomatoes, and they will find their way into a number of tomato sauces as well as in homemade ketchup. They are also great for drying and for slow-roasting. I know many folks who wax poetic when talking about Brandywine and other ‘classic’ heirloom slicing tomatoes, but if I could only grow one tomato it would be the hybrid Juliet. Mind you, I’ve got my favorite heirloom tomatoes too (Cherokee Purple and Vinson Watts come to mind), but Juliet and other hybrids are the dependable, productive workhorse tomatoes that we rely on year after year here at Happy Acres.

Juliet tomatoes

Juliet tomatoes

A while back I was looking for a way to protect the kale growing in one of the cold frame beds. It had gotten too large to close the cold frame lid, and I knew the deer would eat it up if I left it unprotected. I took the suggestions from several readers and made a frame using PVC pipe and draped some bird netting over it. That is working out great. I suspect I will wind up pulling the kale and replanting the bed for fall, but until then we can enjoy eating it without fear of the critters eating it first!

kale covered with netting

kale covered with netting

In other cold frame beds, summer lettuce is sizing up nicely. I’ve got Slobolt, Sierra, Anuenue and Red Sails growing right now, and all are handling the heat pretty well. It helps that they are on the east side of the greenhouse, where they get afternoon shade. That’s Red Sails in the below photo, sharing a bed with basil. That wasn’t an intentional companion planting, I just happened to have room in that bed for a few lettuce plants. They do seem to be getting along well.

Red Sails lettuce hanging out with basil

Red Sails lettuce hanging out with basil

Not far away in the Wild Garden, butterflies have been daily visitors to the coreopsis, bee balm, agastache and echinacea. I’ve seen a few Swallowtail butterflies and a couple of Monarchs so far, including the one on the echinacea in the below photo. Bumblebees and other pollinators love these flowers too, and you can see a bumblebee on the coneflower just behind the Monarch. I find if I stand still with my camera out there, everyone gets used to my presence pretty quickly and I can get some good images. The Monarch was seemingly fearless of me and I followed it around for quite some time before it finally had its fill of nectar and flew off.

Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower

Monarch butterfly on purple coneflower

I hope you have enjoyed this update. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

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Monday Recap: Rooted and Golden

It is amazing to me how the garden can change directions so quickly. Last week it seemed like all of a sudden it was time to harvest roots here. It started with the onions. I pulled a couple of the Candy onions to grill them for a pizza, and I was surprised how big they were getting. I pulled a few more for another meal, and they are tasty even if not quite fully grown.

Candy onions

Candy onions

These onions surely lived up to their name. They were sweet and mild to begin with, and grilling just made them taste even sweeter. The pizza also featured arugula from the garden and tomato sauce and roasted tomatoes from last year, plus cheese and mushrooms. I need to share the crust recipe sometime because it is pretty tasty, made from sourdough whole wheat. And it is easy to throw it together too, especially with the bread machine doing most of the work.

pizza with garden veggies and  Sourdough Whole Wheat crust

pizza with garden veggies and Sourdough Whole Wheat crust

Then it was carrots. I needed a few for a salad, and decided to see if any of ours were ready. Sure enough, I pulled a couple of the Yayas and they were definitely big enough to eat. I’ll pull some more to go in a quiche my wife is making later this week, along with some of our broccoli and another onion.

Yaya carrots

Yaya carrots

Next it was garlic. I really wasn’t planning on digging any until this week, but the garlic had other ideas. I was out in the garden doing other things and noticed that the foliage on the early types was turning yellow. After a quick inspection, I decided it was time to dig a few. I wound up digging all the Asiatic/turban types and the artichoke types as well. That’s Siciliano in the below photo, a nice big artichoke variety. They will be so nice for baking whole. It is my first year growing this one but I am thinking it will be back next year based on size alone.

Siciliano garlic harvest

Siciliano garlic harvest

Last year I waited too long to dig the garlic, and the outer wrappers started disintegrating on me. This year I was resolved to do a better job on the timing. And I planted the garlic with harvest sequence in mind. I started the row with the early types on one end and the later types on the other end, so that hopefully I could move down the row as they matured. That strategy is working so far. I did some other things different this year as well, and I’ll talk more about the way I grew it after it’s all harvested and cured. I’m hanging the garlic in our hot and dry basement to cure. It will be smelling good down there for a few weeks, if you like garlic! And it is safe to say we love garlic here. In the below photo is Uzbek, a turban type that I have been growing for several years now.

Uzbek garlic

Uzbek garlic

Botanically speaking, the kohlrabi bulb is a swollen stem and not a root, but it keeps like a root vegetable, and to me it looks like a root. I harvested more of the Kossak variety last week. The three in the below photo weighed right at six pounds total. We have enjoyed the kohlrabi sliced and then grilled, and this week my wife is going to roast some.

trio of Kossak kohlrabi

trio of Kossak kohlrabi

And some of the potato vines are definitely starting to dry up. So yesterday I dug one hill of them to see what sort of hidden treasure I could find underground. I got almost 13 ounces of fingerling Red Thumb potatoes from that hill. We will get our first taste of new potatoes later this week. I’ll wait and dig other potatoes as needed.

Red Thumb fingerling potatoes

Red Thumb fingerling potatoes

We are harvesting plenty of other things above ground too. Right about on schedule, the first ripe cherry tomatoes showed up last week. We typically start getting them the last week of June, give or take a week or so in either direction. The first to ripen here was Sun Gold, followed shortly by Supersweet 100. It will be awhile before any others are ready, but the vines are loaded with green tomatoes and that is a great sign of things to come.

Sun Gold - our first ripe tomatoes in 2014

Sun Gold – our first ripe tomatoes in 2014

The blueberries keep coming on strong, even as the raspberries are winding down. The everbearing raspberries are setting on the summer and fall crop though, so it won’t be long before they start ripening. We’ve hauled in 21 pounds of the blueberries so far. We are surely enjoying all the fresh berries, and not a day goes by when we don’t eat our fill of them. The blackberries are just now beginning to ripen, and I will be out there harvesting them soon as well.

everbearing red raspberries

everbearing red raspberries

I harvested one head of the Tokyo Bekana last week. This is a non-heading Chinese cabbage that is easier to grow here in spring than the heading types which too often bolt before they head. It is much like Fun Jen, if you are familiar with that one. The slugs and sow bugs had done a lot of damage to the outer leaves but there was still plenty left after cutting them off. We usually eat these raw, and indeed this one wound up getting mixed with lettuce for a taco salad. Despite the mixing of cultures, it was pretty tasty, and there is more of it to enjoy later.

Tokyo Bekana cabbage

Tokyo Bekana cabbage

And the first cucumbers are coming on right about now. The ones in the below photo were barely in the house before I was making refrigerator pickles with them and the Sierra Blanca onion next to them. The cucumbers are a mix of Tasty Green, Summer Top, Dasher and Green Fingers. Ironically, the ones planted in the main garden have matured just ahead of the greenhouse varieties which got off to a somewhat later than usual start.

first cucumbers of 2014

first cucumbers of 2014

We had bad news last week on the wildlife front. A House Sparrow trashed the bluebird nest yet again. The five eggs were about twelve days old, and there had been no sign of the sparrows for a couple of weeks. But a male showed up one morning, and when I went out to the garden I noticed the bluebird eggs were all pecked out and laying on the ground. It’s senseless, because he did it in one nest box but then took up residence in another one that was unoccupied. It’s no wonder these aggressive invaders have decimated so much of our native bird populations. Sadly, they don’t even need a cavity to nest, unlike the bluebirds who have no choice. Hopefully the bluebird pair will give it another try this year.

bluebird eggs after House Sparrows got through with them

bluebird eggs after House Sparrows got through with them

I’ll close on a happier note. The fall vegetable seeds I sowed last week sprouted in no time. It seems like I just got rid of the plants I started for spring and summer, but I think that’s the way it always seems. I’ll be potting these up into larger quarters in about two weeks or so, and they will get planted starting in early August.

seedlings for fall vegetables

seedlings for fall vegetables

I hope you have enjoyed this update of the happenings going on here in late June. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

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My Five Favorite Zucchini Recipes

Summer squash is a prolific producer in the garden and so versatile in the kitchen.  My wife likes to say that if everyone planted a few hills of squash, we could feed the world. And for that reason I do grow extra every year to give away. The zucchini is just starting to come on strong here at Happy Acres, so I though I would take a minute and share some of my favorite ways to use it in the kitchen. And most of these are recipes I have shared here at Happy Acres.

1. Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Muffins/Bread

Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Muffin

Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Muffin

I know there are thousands of zucchini bread recipes out there. But this is pretty much the only one I make anymore. I was looking for ways to use honey, and decided to try and incorporate it in a zucchini bread. I found a recipe at King Arthur Flour that I liked, and tweaked it to use whole grain spelt flour. It makes a great loaf of zucchini bread, and some lovely muffins. I usually make the muffins, and they freeze well for later use.

You can grate the zucchini and freeze it for later use too. I do that every year, and we are able to have muffins and zucchini bread all winter long. I wound up using all of it from last year though, so this year I will freeze a bit more.

2. Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie

Chocolate Zucchini Smoothies

Chocolate Zucchini Smoothies

This recipe is one I came up with as I was trying to find a cool chocolatey smoothie that wasn’t loaded with fat and calories. I tried using frozen bananas by themselves, but the banana flavor pretty much overpowered the cocoa. Then I started trying to think of something that was frozen and bland tasting. The answer came pretty quickly: zucchini! But zucchini in a chocolate smoothie??? Despite my initial doubts, it was a winner the first time I tried it. It’s a low-calorie, high fiber treat that is loaded with flavonoids and other healthy components of cocoa. For an extra treat, you can add a spoonful of extra-virgin coconut oil to the mix. Or mix it up and use some dark cocoa powder.

3. Zucchini And Tomato Bake

Zucchini and Tomato Bake

Zucchini and Tomato Bake

To me, zucchini and tomatoes are a classic combo. This is another recipe I came up with as a lightened up version of other dishes I have tried. My mother was the Queen of Casseroles, and squash was a frequent star. But most of her casseroles were also loaded with cheese, and usually some kind of sauce. Those dishes are too heavy for me these days. I prefer recipes where the flavors of the vegetables can come through, and something that won’t expand my waistline!

In this recipe, zucchini comes together with tomatoes and a few other ingredients I usually have on hand to make a quick casserole. The recipe is scalable and flexible, and other herbs or cheeses can take it in a whole different direction.

4. Squash Fritters

Squash Fritters

Squash Fritters

This recipe can be made with any kind of summer squash, though zucchini is what I usually reach for. It’s another fairly simple dish calling for ingredients most cooks will likely have on hand. It’s adapted from a recipe in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks: The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marion Morash.

5. Grated Zucchini Saute

Grated Zucchini Saute

Grated Zucchini Saute

This one is so easy I haven’t even posted a real recipe for it yet. Some folks call this ‘zucchini butter’, but I don’t like to call it that because I use olive oil and not butter. Whatever you call it, I grate the squash using a medium hand grater, then briefly saute in a pan with a little olive oil. I like to add a little minced garlic at the very end for some kick, but if you add it earlier it will add a mild garlicky touch. I just cook the squash briefly, long enough to soften it a bit. Add a little salt and pepper and you’ve got a great side dish, or toss in your favorite herb.

zucchini saute with black bean burrito and yellow rice

zucchini saute with black bean burrito and yellow rice

I hope you have enjoyed looking at five of my favorite zucchini recipes. No doubt I will be enjoying them all as the summer progresses, and if you try any of them please let me know what you think!


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Seeding the Fall Veggies

Today is the day I decided to make time to sow some seeds for fall vegetables. It is time to start cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, collards and a few other things in our part of the world. I did some planning and determined I will need about 250 plants for us and for the Impact Community Garden. Probably 75% of them will go for the Impact garden. Since the gardeners there missed having any of these veggies for spring it will be nice if they have lots of them for fall. Many of these vegetables do better in our area in fall anyway, especially the broccoli and kale.

seeds for fall vegetables

seeds for fall vegetables

When I have a lot of seeds to sow, I am a fan of using plug flats. I have several different sizes, but the 200-cell version gets the most use. It seems to have just the right amount of room for starting many of the things I grow. The plants will only spend about two or three weeks there before being transplanted out into larger quarters. And I can get 200 seeds going in the space of a standard flat. I will start these under lights in the basement and then move them out to the greenhouse once they are up and growing.

200 cell plug flat filled with Promix

200 cell plug flat filled with Promix

I like to use a fine soiless mix at this stage, something like Promix BX or Promix All-Purpose Growing Mix. I’m mostly concerned with not introducing diseases or insects to the tiny seedlings, and when I transplant them I will use a soil mix that has some compost in it. I will also start feeding with a dilute fish emulsion solution at that time.

fish emulsion fertilizer

fish emulsion fertilizer

That’s pretty much how I do it here. You can refer to my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule for the times I usually sow and plant vegetables here in our gardens. Timing is key I think, and starting these veggies now will get them going so they can produce before really cold weather gets here. And keeping the garden producing all season long is one of my goals for sure!

 

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Monday Recap: Having A Berry Good Time

It appears we have transitioned from asparagus season to berry season here. Blueberries were the first berry on the scene. The harvests went from a trickle to a torrent in no time. We’ve been getting over a pound a day for about a week now. My wife has been gathering them early in the day before it gets too hot. Which means we are having blueberries every morning for breakfast. In the below photo she’s all suited up to try and avoid mosquitoes and ticks.

my wife in the blueberry patch

my wife in the blueberry patch

We have gotten a lot of questions lately from friends and gardeners about our blueberries, so I thought I would try and answer some of the common queries. There were three mature bushes here when we bought the place in 2007. We have since replanted one of them that had very small and not very tasty berries. And then we planted six additional ones, giving us a total of nine. The varieties we planted are Chandler, Elizabeth, Patriot, Nelson and Elliot. Those plants came from places like Raintree Nurseries, Stark Bro’s and Indiana Berry, and were well-grown bare root plants when we got them. Our harvests this year are coming from seven of those bushes, as the other two aren’t big enough to bear yet.

Chandler blueberries are big and tasty

Chandler blueberries are big and tasty

I haven’t done any real “how-to” on blueberries since I don’t feel like I’m an expert, but I guess we must be doing something right since last year we got 50 pounds from them and we are up to 13 pounds already this year. They are relatively pest free here for us. The birds get a few, but we hang a few aluminum pie plates and some old cd’s around and it seems to help keep them away.

blueberries ready for eating or freezing

blueberries ready for eating or freezing

We are getting a decent amount of raspberries too, though nothing like the blueberries. Our planting of these is smaller, mostly occupying one bed where strawberries previously grew. There are a few yellow ones planted in another bed, but they are not making many berries yet. I am no expert on raspberries either, though I have to say these are growing better than I expected. I never got around to making a trellis for them but they seem to be doing all right without one.

red raspberries

red raspberries

And amazingly, last week we got the first blackberries of the season. The ones in the below photo are Natchez, which is a relatively new planting for us. The Apache variety is not quite ripe yet. These are the only two blackberries were are growing, as the rest have been voted off the island, so to speak. The Natchez berries are almost as big as the Apaches, and perhaps a tad sweeter, though both have great flavor.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

And last but not least in the berry parade, we got a small harvest from our two young currant bushes. Looking at the total amount, maybe it was the least! It certainly wasn’t enough to make anything like currant jelly or jam, so we enjoyed eating them fresh. I do think their tart flavor would go well with rhubarb. I’ll have to try that when the bushes (and the harvests) get a little bigger.

red and white currants

red and white currants

But as wonderful as berries are, they are not the only game in town. I started harvesting the Kossak kohlrabi last week. These are giants, with the biggest one so far weighing in at three pounds. We eat a lot of them raw, but we’re also experimenting with other treatments. My wife is going to try roasting them this week (it’s her week to cook).

Kossak kohlrabi

Kossak kohlrabi

I planted them a little farther apart than usual this year to see how big they might get, and they responded well. In the below photo I put the Kossak next to a quart container of blueberries to help show its size. I did a Spotlight on this variety last year, if you want to know a little more about it.

Kossak kohlrabi with quart container

Kossak kohlrabi with quart container

Squash is coming on now too. It’s only a trickle, but that’s not bad. We’ve enjoyed it raw and cooked so far. And I made some Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Muffins to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

summer squash harvest

summer squash harvest

Also joining the harvest lineup is cabbage. That in the below photo is the flathead variety K-Y Cross. It weighed in at three pounds, and has a nice sweet flavor for a spring planted cabbage. All of the cabbages are maturing at about the same time, so we will no doubt be giving some away.

K-Y Cross cabbage

K-Y Cross cabbage

I’ve also begun drying herbs. Mint is growing pretty lush about now so I cut enough to fill the dehydrator and started it drying. I’ll dry it and other herbs throughout the summer to keep us supplied. We probably use more mint than any other herb, mostly for tea.

mint in dehydrator

mint in dehydrator

I hope you have enjoyed this update of current happenings at HA. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

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Impact Community Garden 2014

Today I want to give everyone a long overdue update on the Impact Community Garden. For those that might not know, this project first started back in 2011, and it brings together people who want to garden but lack the space or knowledge to make it happen otherwise. The garden itself is located in downtown Evansville, Indiana on the grounds of Impact Ministries, which is an inner-city organization that strives to empower and educate youth and adults. My role is to serve as a gardening mentor, plus I also supply many of the plants that I grow from seeds here at Happy Acres. How this project came about is an interesting story in itself, and I wrote a piece about it in 2010 called: New Project for 2011 (Making an Impact).

Impact Community Garden

Impact Community Garden (click on any image to enlarge)

The big news for this year is we moved the garden! An upcoming project is going to use the spot where the garden was originally located, so early this spring we sprang into action with a plan. In the process we wound up not only moving the garden but also expanding it a bit in the process. The old garden was about 1800 square feet (30 x 60), while the new one is around 2500 square feet (45 x 55).

Kana and I are planting sweet potatoes

Kana and I are planting sweet potatoes

Due to time constraints in getting all the work done, we were unable to get any spring crops planted, but managed to get the garden ready just in time for planting the warm weather veggies. And so for the last few weeks, we have been busy planting, mulching and watering.

Becky and Maggie mulching the sweet potatoes

Becky and Maggie mulching the sweet potatoes

This year we have six families on board, with half of them seasoned veterans, and the other half new to the project but full of enthusiasm. And not everyone is new to gardening either, which always helps.

Becky and Johnni mulching while I rewind my planting twine

Becky and Johnni mulching while I rewind my planting twine

One of the reasons I love this project is that not only do I get to hang out in the garden with a great group of people, but I also learn a lot in the process. Everyone brings their own experiences and ideas to the project, so there’s ample opportunity for all of us to learn from each other.

Mary and I discuss the finer points of watering

Mary and I discuss the finer points of watering

As for the garden itself, we finished planting and mulching just this week. Wednesday morning we worked on planting sweet potatoes and some herbs, plus finished up on mulching. We left almost half of the garden unplanted though. Some of that space will be used to plant fall crops like cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips and lettuce. In the meantime we are sowing a cover crop of buckwheat, which will serve to smother the weeds, attract beneficial insects, and add organic material when we work it into the soil.

Verde da Taglio chard ready for cutting

Verde da Taglio chard ready for cutting

Planted so far we have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer and winter squash, bush beans, cucumbers, chard, kale, cantaloupe, watermelon, sweet potatoes and herbs like basil, parsley, dill and sage. Things are truly looking good, with kale and chard ready for harvest. In this project, everyone (except me) shares in the harvests.

zucchini Romanesco setting on

zucchini Romanesco setting on

The zucchini is also setting on, and should be ready to start harvesting in a day or two. The cucumbers won’t be far behind. And tomatoes are blooming and setting on fruit as well. One task we still need to do is decide on a location for the compost bins, and then get them reassembled after they were moved from the old location. And we also need to finish putting up the rabbit fencing to help keep the critters out of the garden.

Impact garden after planting and mulching

Impact garden after planting and mulching

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the Impact Community Garden project. I want to thank my wife for stopping by and getting a few images of the me and the group in action. I’ll be back periodically with updates from the garden and to show how things are progressing.

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Monday Recap: Lasts and Firsts

It’s hard to believe, but asparagus season is winding down here. We started cutting spears back in mid April, and since then my wife and I have been enjoying fresh, homegrown asparagus as often as possible. It’s been grilled, steamed, stir-fried and roasted. Some of it’s been shared with friends, and some of it has been frozen for later enjoyment. But now, it’s time to stop harvesting and let the ferns grow so they can replenish the roots for next year’s crop. We got 26 pounds from our patch this year, which is down a bit from last year but still plenty of asparagus for us.

last asparagus harvest of the year

last asparagus harvest of the year

Yesterday I stir-fried some with a few sliced mushrooms and some chopped up garlic scapes. I cooked it only briefly, then tossed it with some Garlic Scape Pesto while it was still warm. I generally try and keep it simple with fresh vegetables. And homegrown asparagus is pretty much a rockstar all by itself I think.

asparagus stir-fried

asparagus stir-fried

But even as the asparagus exits the scene, new arrivals are showing up here. Like raspberries, for instance. This spring I planned on cutting down the old canes on the plants so we would only get a fall crop, but never got around to it. So now we are enjoying raspberries produced on last year’s canes. The red varieties producing now are either Caroline or Autumn Bliss. I planted both but with the way raspberries spread I can’t tell which is which right now, since they have grown every which way. These everbearing raspberries also produce berries in late summer and fall on the current year’s canes.

our first raspberries of 2014

our first raspberries of 2014

The blueberries are also starting to ripen about now. My wife usually handles most of the harvesting of these blue jewels. She likes to say she knows every one of them personally, and I am thankful she takes care of this time-consuming but rewarding job!

first blueberries of 2014

first blueberries of 2014

The fresh berries have been a real treat at breakfast time. I have been enjoying them with some of our homemade muesli. And we’ve started freezing the blueberries.

muesli with fresh raspberries and blueberries

muesli with fresh raspberries and blueberries

I harvested the first head of broccoli last week, which was soon followed by several more. Those in the below photo are the Packman variety, which was the first to head up this year. It’s nice to have fresh broccoli again. Some of it went into a Broccoli and Walnut Salad.

Packman broccoli

Packman broccoli

The spring planted kale is also nice to have. That’s the Wild Garden mix in the below photo. It has a mix of kales with leaf types that range from smooth, to curly, and even frilly. It has a delightful taste and tender leaves.

Wild Garden Mix kale

Wild Garden Mix kale

Another first on the scene is zucchini. There is usually a glut of it later on but right now the first one looks pretty special to me. The one in the below photo is Partenon, which is a parthenocarpic type that doesn’t need pollination. It should be ready to harvest this morning. For folks who have a hard time growing zucchini due to insect problems, or lack of pollination, the parthenocarpic types can be grown under cover and still produce fruit. Cavilli is another one I’ve grown with light green squash that is parthenocarpic. I like these types because they can set fruit on cool and wet days when other squash might not get pollinated.

First zucchini of 2014

First zucchini of 2014

And speaking of pollination, I’ll close with what I think was the best news of all from last week – the bees are back! Last Friday we made a half day road trip to Paducah, Ky to pick up our bee nuc. A nuc is a mini-hive and includes a queen, her workers, plus five frames with eggs, brood and food stores. The below photo shows my wife carrying the nuc down to our hive.

Lynda carrying nuc

Lynda carrying nuc

We installed the five frames and all the bees in our own hive as soon as we got them home. That’s me in the below photo making the transfer. We’ll give them about a week before we do a hive inspection and see how the queen is doing. They had a rough ride in the back of the truck, and we want to give them a chance to get settled in before we disturb them by opening up the hive. We will feed them with sugar syrup until they are well established.

me installing bee nuc in our hive

me installing bee nuc in our hive

I hope you have enjoyed this update of current happenings at HA. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more news as it happens!

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