Rogues in the Garden

The last few years I have been noticing more and more ‘rogues’ in my garden. By rogue I mean something that doesn’t come true from seed, or something unexpected that comes from a seed. One of my first garden rogues came in 2009, when I planted Yummy orange mini bell pepper and got something completely different that looked like an Anaheim pepper. Initially I figured that was a mistake on my part, a mislabeling, since all young pepper plants pretty much look alike and I was growing Anaheim that year. So one day I harvested a green one from this plant and put it in some salsa. Expecting the mild Anaheim, I used all of the pepper.

unripe rogue pepper

unripe rogue pepper

When I tasted the salsa, my mouth was immediately set on FIRE! The pepper I used must have had the heat of a serrano or something even hotter. I made note of the plant and left the other peppers on it alone. Imagine my surprise when they started ripening and turned orange, instead of the usual red of an Anaheim.

ripe Hot Happy Yummy pepper in 2009

ripe Hot Happy Yummy pepper in 2009

I decided to taste one again, but this time more carefully. It was just as hot as the green one, but had a lot of flavor and a certain sweetness to it. At that point, I had the presence of mind to save some seeds from it. And since it was a rogue Yummy pepper growing at Happy Acres, I called it the Happy Yummy pepper. In 2010 I grew it from seed, and it made a hot pepper similar to the original Happy Yummy – hot and orange when ripe. But in 2011 I set out two plants from the 2009 seed, and one was hot while the other was orange when ripe but sweet. I saved seeds from that one, and now I have two lines going that I call Sweet Happy Yummy and Hot Happy Yummy. The hot one has proven more difficult to stabilize, since it is prone to making sweet peppers as well as ones that turn red when ripe.

rogue Celia Dulce peppers

rogue Celia Dulce peppers

I seem to find a lot of rogue peppers here, perhaps since I usually grow a lot of different peppers. Last year I planted Celia Dulce, which is a sweet bell pepper originating from southern Mexico. The peppers turned out to be quite hot, and looked nothing like the photo at Dust Bowl Seed. They even displayed corking on the skin that is common to jalapenos, but not usually found on a bell pepper. I chose not to save seeds from this one since it wasn’t especially unique or tasty.

rogue Friggitello peppers

rogue Friggitello peppers

And I found another rogue pepper last year that was supposed to be Friggitello. According to the seller’s listing at Fords Fiery Food and Plants, “generations of Italian families have savored this crispy sweet pepper.” Presumably they didn’t wind up with a burning mouth and tongue like I did when I sauteed one up for lunch one day! It was not sweet in the least, and way too hot for my tastes for a frying pepper. I didn’t save seeds from this one either, though I did smoke both the Not Celia Dulce and the Not Friggitello peppers for a hot smoked chile powder. Both were quite prolific, which could be explained if they were accidental F1 hybrids.

rogue peppers(L) with Baby Aji Amarillo(R)

rogue peppers(L) with Baby Aji Amarillo(R)

And rounding out last year’s Rogue Roundup, I planted a couple of Aji Amarillo pepper plants with freebie seed I got from Artisan Seeds. One plant was true to type, but the other one made peppers with a distinctly different shape and taste. I posted pics on the Artisan Seeds FB group I belong to, and the pepper experts there decided it could be a chinense/baccatum accidental hybrid, probably between the Baby Aji’s and some land race Caribbean Seasoning peppers they grow. I did save seeds from those, but I didn’t get around to planting any this year since I was maxed out on peppers already. If you’re keeping score that was three rogues last year, which I think was a record for me.

Marzano Fire tomatoes

Marzano Fire tomatoes

This year, I’ve got at least two rogues so far. First up was a Marzano Fire plant that was not exactly true to type. Marzano Fire is an o/p paste tomato from Artisan Seeds that has a classic San Marzano shape and taste but with the stripes of Speckled Roman (which was very likely used in the breeding). Last year it was a great performer, so this year I planted two of them. One came true to type, while the other plant made bigger, blocky fruit. Both are tasty and make great sauce, and I have saved seeds from the rogue which I have called Stripey Marzano. I will have seeds available later this year for interested gardeners, though who knows what kind of tomatoes they will make! Breeder Fred Hempel at Artisan Seeds thinks it’s an accidental cross made by bees. I sent some seeds off to fellow rogue-lover Day (Homestead Pirate), and with her long growing season she may be able to get them to fruit before the end of the year. Stay tuned here and at her blog for more updates!

Seminole pumpkins

Seminole pumpkins

And also this year I seem to have a rogue winter squash growing from TWO plants. I’ve been growing the Seminole pumpkin for several years now, and this year I planted two plants from new seed I got from Baker Creek. The above photo shows what they are supposed to look like. While they may not always be perfectly round, they are not supposed to have a neck.

rogue Seminole pumpkin

rogue Seminole pumpkin

The pumpkins from these plants start out with a small neck, and almost look like a gourd.

another rogue Seminole

another rogue Seminole

As they get bigger, so does the neck.

rogue squash maturing

rogue squash maturing

The biggest one is now starting to look more like a butternut than a Seminole. The skin is changing color as the fruit matures. I don’t know if it will turn tan like a butternut or stay striped like it is now. The shape sort of resembles the Greek Sweet Red squash, but who knows what the final product will be. The circular patterns on the skin are caused by insect damage while the fruit was small and the skin was tender. I’ve had this on several of my squashes this year and if anyone knows what insect is causing please tell me, not that it appears to hurt the squash any.

Time will tell if these squash were the result of an accidental cross in the growers field, or a mislabeling by someone packaging the seeds. I’ll be sure and share the results when the squashes mature. Meanwhile, many of the 2017 peppers are now starting to ripen, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rogue or two there as well. Stay tuned for more happenings, rogue or not, from Happy Acres!

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Harvest Monday September 4, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The garden got some much needed rain Friday when Harvey moved through and gave us a good soaking rain. We got a bit more than an inch, which was great because it had been almost a month since we got that much in a 24 hour period. Late summer and early fall are usually dry periods for us here, but who knows what climate change will bring to those norms! Regardless, the garden is keeping us well fed and keeping me busy as well. I’m bringing in the winter squashes as soon as I think they have sufficiently matured on the vines. Last week I harvested the first of the Dickinson pumpkins and the Tetsukabuto squashes, and three more of the Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash. There’s a bit over 45 pounds total.

Dickinson, Tetsukabuto and Thelma Sanders winter squashes

Dickinson, Tetsukabuto and Thelma Sanders winter squashes

The size of the Dickinson pumpkin is a bit deceptive. It is very heavy for its size, and the one I’m holding in the below photo weighed over 16 pounds, and while the other one looks larger it actually weighed about 13 pounds. It’s still a lot of pumpkin though, and there’s at least two more big ones out in the garden. I’ll let these two cure a bit before I cook them up. Even the 13-pounder may require a marathon baking session!

Dickinson pumpkin

Dickinson pumpkin

The Tetsukabuto squash is certainly a more manageable size, and these first three weighed around 11 pounds total. A 3 to 4 pound squash is still a lot for the two of us to eat at one sitting though, so we will need to be creative in the kitchen. My favorite way to use a kabocha type squash is in a curry. I think we will first try this one cut into slices and baked so we can better judge its taste.

Tetsukabuto squash

Tetsukabuto squash

I also brought in the first Sugaretti squash. This 2017 AAS Winner is a spaghetti squash that is supposed to be sweeter than the usual types. I think the stripes and coloring make it look like a giant delicata. It weighed over 4 pounds, which is definitely a lot of squash! It’s prolific too, and there are several more on the vines almost ready to harvest.

Sugaretti squash

Sugaretti squash

It’s my first time growing Buffy, and the vines have given up lots and lots of the small tan colored fruits. They typically weigh a pound or less, which is a great size to serve as a side dish. The ones we’ve tasted so far were not extremely sweet, but they were very flavorful, with sort of a nutty taste and a nice consistency. There are a baker’s dozen in the basket in the below photo, and more still on the wandering vines. I have this one growing up a remesh trellis, and I noticed the top section of the remesh was bent over from the weight of the squashes on the vines. So, I am now calling this one Buffy the Trellis Slayer!

basket of Buffy

basket of Buffy

It’s been a great year here for the Tromba d’Albenga squash. I’ve been getting a couple of them almost every week, and they are still setting on the vines. In the below photo they are posing with Nadia and Galine eggplant, a Ginkaku melon, and the first ripe Cornito Rosso pepper. I used the pepper on a pizza, and more are ripening now on my two plants. I used part of the tromboncini as a spaghetti substitute, covered with homemade marinara sauce. I run the squash through the spiralizer, then blanch it in boiling water for 4-5 minutes to turn it into ‘trasta.’

mixed harvest with tromboncino

mixed harvest with tromboncino

It’s been a great year for tomatoes too. We’ve really been enjoying the Midnight Snack cherry tomatoes. It’s the best tasting of the Indigo tomatoes I have tried, and my plant has produced lots of fruit for us to enjoy. Many of this batch wound up on a salad, and others were eaten for a snack. I also roasted a few to go on a pizza.

Midnight Snack tomatoes

Midnight Snack tomatoes

I’m still getting plenty of paste tomatoes, and I made another big batch of marinara sauce for the freezer. There’s more tomatoes out there, but I’m running out of room in the freezer! I roasted a batch of the small fruited ones last week, and in the below photo it’s a mix of Sun Sugar, Sunpeach, Black Cherry and Purple Bumble Bee. The gallon container is full of Juliet. I planted four cages of them this year, and they have produced mightily. What was I thinking planting that many? I turned this batch into sauce.

cherry tomatoes and Juliet

cherry tomatoes and Juliet

The slicing tomatoes have slowed down though. I did find a big Cosmonaut Volkov to use on sandwiches. These have been especially tasty, and I have saved seeds to grow these again next year. There’s some Golden Rave paste tomatoes in the basket too, and I mixed them with the red tomatoes for sauce.

Cosmonaut Volkov tomato

Cosmonaut Volkov tomato

We also got our first taste of Carbon. This is a purple tomato reminiscent of Cherokee Purple, and it had similar flavor which I enjoyed. Unlike CP though, my Carbon plant has not been very vigorous and got overrun by its neighbors. Next year I will either plant it in a different spot, or go back to growing CP. I also want to try the Black Brandywine in 2018. I love the flavor of the black/purple tomatoes, but I have yet to find one that will consistently produce for me. So, I will keep trying until I find one!

Carbon tomato

Carbon tomato

In non-gardening news, I baked up a batch of buns last week, using my tried and true Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns recipe. We use them for things other than burgers, and I have made them so many time over the years I can practically do it in my sleep. My version uses a mix of whole wheat and unbleached flours, and you can find the original recipe at King Arthur Flour (Beautiful Burger Buns). This batch is topped with a mix of sesame seeds, poppy seeds and dried minced onion. I also added a bit of wheat germ to the dough.

Moomie's Famous Burger Buns

Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns

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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Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Fall Garden Update

Today we’re getting the remnants of Hurricane Harvey in our area, and it is bringing us some needed precipitation. Thankfully we have been spared the deluge that folks to the south of us have been getting, and we just got a nice gentle, soaking rain. And we were spared the high winds we got when Hurricane Ike came through in 2008, breaking off lots of tree limbs and toppling a large blueberry bush. I’ve got most everything planted now for the fall garden, so the rain came just in time to make everything grow!

I set out kohlrabi plants about a month ago in one of the cold frame beds, and they are sizing up nicely. The stems are even beginning to swell up on some of them, which is a good sign. I planted Kolibri, Konan and Quickstar this fall, about 30 plants in all. I need to put some straw in there for mulch to keep the weeds down and conserve moisture. These should be ready early enough I can replant that bed with some hardy greens before winter arrives.

kohlrabi plants in cold frame bed

kohlrabi plants in cold frame bed

In another cold frame bed I set out plants of mizuna and pac choi last week, and sowed seeds of a turnip called Topper that is grown primarily for the greens. I got the plants from a local nursery (Robin’s Nest) since I hadn’t gotten around to starting them myself. I will start more greens to plant later for fall and winter harvests from the cold frames and greenhouse.

cold frame bed with mizuna and pac choi

cold frame bed with mizuna and pac choi

Miz America is a mustard/mizuna I grew this spring, and has reddish purple leaves with a mild but somewhat spicy flavor. It’s good at any stage, though I will likely harvest fully grown leaves and use them for stir frying. Robin always has well-grown plants, and these  were an impulse buy since I knew I had a spot to plant them. We’ll be enjoying the greens from these dozen plants while the ones I start myself get going.

Miz America mizuna

Miz America mizuna

I sowed radish seed a couple of weeks ago in a nearby bed, and they are up and growing quickly. I’ve got Alpine, Summer Cross, April Cross, Sweet Baby and Bora King planted this time. Sweet Baby and Alpine did quite well for me in the spring planting, and we enjoyed both of them fresh, cooked and fermented. Bora King is a purple daikon that’s larger than Sweet Baby, and hopefully will give us plenty of roots for eating and fermenting into radish kimchi (kkakdugi). And last week I sowed seeds for turnips next to the radishes. You can see them just emerging in the below photo. I’m growing Hakurei, Scarlet Ohno Revival and Nozawana this year. I’ll have to cover these with netting to make sure the deer and rabbits don’t eat them up.

bed with radishes and turnips

bed with radishes and turnips

In the main garden area, I replanted bush beans and a few zucchini plants back in early August. Beans usually do quite well here in fall, but the squash is a gamble since powdery mildew can be a problem late in the season. I may try spraying with some Serenade biofungicide as a preventative, once the plants get established.  The plant in the below photo is Clarimore, a light green Middle Eastern type zucchini that I’ve been growing a few years now. I’ve also got Astia and Flaminio planted.

young Clarimore squash plant

young Clarimore squash plant

I have also set out plants for cabbage, broccoli, kale and kohlrabi in the main garden. Those plants are still quite small, and I have mulched around them with shredded newspaper and cardboard to keep the weeds from taking off. It’s a few kohlrabi plants in the below photo, Kolibri and Quickstar. I have a dozen or so Kossak plants in another area. We truly love our kohlrabi here and it would be difficult to have too much of it!

fall planting of kohlrabi

fall planting of kohlrabi

Some time ago I set out a few plants for Dazzling Blue and White Russian kale, plus three plants of Biera Tronchuda. In the below photo you can see the Tronchuda plants towering above the newly planted babies.

fall plantings of cole crops

fall plantings of cole crops

And I have a plug flat of lettuce seedlings ready to go in the ground in another cold frame bed once the soil dries a bit from the rains. I’m using a 128 cell plug flat for the lettuce which seems to work well for me. I’ve got some of my old standby varieties started like Simpson Elite, Red Sails, Tango, Salad Bowl and Slobolt plus recent favorites from Wild Garden Seeds like Pele, Jester and Tall Oaks. I’m trying a few new ones from Johnny’s including a couple of Little Gem types called Bambi and Rosaine plus a red Tango type called Spritzer. Many of these plants will also go into salad boxes in the greenhouse.

plug flat of lettuce seedlings

plug flat of lettuce seedlings

I hope you have enjoyed this update on some of the fall veggies I have planted here at Happy Acres. I’ll be back soon with more updates!

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Harvest Monday August 28, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s hard to believe summer is almost over. The summer veggies don’t seem to know that though! I finally got the first ripe peppers last week. The yellow Cornito Giallo peppers were stars of the garden here in 2016, along with their slightly larger cousin Escamillo. The plants are loaded with green peppers, so these first two won’t be the last. Along with the two yellow peppers I’m also growing the red when ripe Carmen and Cornito Rosso, which rounds out the four great Italian type peppers bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Three of them are AAS Winners, which is quite an achievement for any breeder.

Cornito Giallo peppers

Cornito Giallo peppers

I also got my first taste of the Hungarian Cece pepper. These are white peppers that lack the chlorophyll that makes most peppers green, and sort of resemble the Feher Ozon peppers in that regard. I wasn’t that impressed with the unripe Cece though, and I thought it pretty much had no taste at all. I will let future peppers ripen and see if that improves the flavor, or perhaps dry them and see if that helps. It’s fun to experiment in the garden, but sometimes that means you meet up with ho-hum results!

Cece pepper

Cece pepper

Eggplants are still coming on strong too, and there’s nothing boring about that at all. They’re hanging out with Cornito Giallo in the below photo. I used one big Nadia eggplant Saturday night for eggplant and tomato sandwiches, and grilled the peppers for a side dish.

eggplant and peppers

eggplant and peppers

And the tomatoes are still producing too, though the slicers are perhaps slowing down a bit. I have been enjoying the white cherry tomato Snow White. This is the one (I think) our friend Jan let me taste at the farmer’s market a couple of years back, and this year I decided to grow it myself. The vines have been pumping out lots of these nice sized cherry tomatoes. They’re not exactly white though, more of a pale yellow or cream color when ripe.

Snow White tomatoes

Snow White tomatoes

Snow White is larger than Champagne Cherry, though not nearly as sweet. In the below photo I put Snow White, Champagne Cherry and a Sun Gold in my hand to show the sizes. The mild flavored Snow White does make a nice addition to salads, and I’ve snacked on quite a few out in the garden. I think the Champagne Cherry is even sweeter than Sun Gold, and I eat a lot of these when I’m outside too. I had seeds of Champagne Cherry to give away last year, and I’ll save some from Snow White and make them available later too.

Snow White, Champagne Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes

Snow White, Champagne Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes

Another new cherry tomato here is Midnight Snack, one of the 2017 AAS Winners. This is an indigo-type tomato with the anthocyanin pigments, which show up when the fruits are exposed to sunlight. The first ones that formed on my plant were in the shade and lacked any visible purple color, but now I am getting ones with a blackish-purple blush on the top side of the fruits. It has a very good taste, unique and hard to describe, but one that both my wife and I enjoy eating. The vines are prolific too, and are making lots of fruit. I need to do a Spotlight on this one when I get a few more of the purplish colored tomatoes. The new ones setting on at the top of the cage are really coloring up nicely.

Midnight Snack tomatoes

Midnight Snack tomatoes

We’re getting our first taste of the winter squashes now. The white Buffy is quite tasty, but I neglected to get a pic of it. The mini butternut Honeybaby is also a keeper, and I did remember to capture it before cooking it up one night. The size is perfect for our tastes, and half a squash makes a nice side dish. I guess those with heartier appetites could eat one all by themselves! We also tried the hybrid delicata squash Pinata and it was underwhelming. I only got two of them anyway, which was less than I got from the o/p Cornell’s Bush Delicata and Honey Boat. So much for hybrid vigor!

Honeybaby squash

Honeybaby squash

I also cut one of the Pepitas pumpkins to get at the tasty seeds. This one yielded right at a cup of seeds before drying. We’ve been snacking on them, and I toasted some to go with a quinoa salad I made using several of our summer veggies.

inside of Pepitas pumpkin

inside of Pepitas pumpkin

Pepitas pumpkin seeds

Pepitas pumpkin seeds

For the salad, I diced some eggplant, tromboncino and Red Tropea onion and roasted them in a cast iron skillet along with a few cloves of our garlic until everything was tender. When they had cooled, I added them to cooked quinoa, along with some slow-roasted tomatoes I had prepared the day before. Then I added chopped basil and the toasted pepitas, and dressed the salad with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar. I served it at room temperature this time, but it’s also good chilled, and it’s one of my favorite ways to use whatever seasonal veggies I happen to have on hand. I usually use quinoa but I could see it working just as well with couscous or bulgur for that matter.

quinoa salad with roasted veggies

quinoa salad with roasted veggies

Speaking of tromboncino, I’ve harvested about 35 pounds of it so far this year. And that’s not counting the oversized and overgrown one in the below photo which was well on its way to being a mature winter squash. I didn’t weight it, but I did get it to pose before I took it off to the compost bins. I could have left it on the vine to fully mature, but I didn’t want the vines to stop producing more young squash. The two green ones weighed about 3 pounds each. The big one was hiding on the ground and escaped me, which is another reason I want to trellis the vines next year.

Trombo d'Albenga squash

Trombo d’Albenga squash

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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