Monday, September 17, 2018

Harvest Monday - 17 September 2018

Here's another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm. We started the week with an overflowing heap of tomatoes on the kitchen island.

So the hard working Kitchen Goddess canned 16 pints of crushed tomatoes.

For "first harvests" this week, I picked all the McIntosh apples from the old tree. Most are misshapen, and the squirrels ruined a lot of the others. I've reached the conclusion that I'll never have "marketable" apples without heavy spraying, something I will not do. But they have that McIntosh crispness and sweet-tart flavor I like so much, so I'll put up with the appearance.

Another first harvest was "Summercrisp" lettuce.

L: Nevada, R: Mottistone
Not really a true first, as I had a spring batch, but this is the first (and only) picking of summer-planted Tatsoi.

I finally picked all the remaining spring-planted turnips. These were too big to qualify as "saladette," so TKG cubed, boiled, and mashed them for the freezer.

The raspberries are just booming. Here's one picking of around a pound, and we had another like it plus several smaller pickings.

The black beans were dry enough for storage, so I weighed the entire harvest this year; pretty close to 3 pounds. This is another bean I won't need to plant next year.

Midnight Black Turtle beans
The tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and zucchini are still producing, but the tomatoes are really slowing down rapidly. This is due to the terrible Early Blight, and the natural characteristics of determinate tomatoes. I'm gradually pulling out the dead or nearly-dead vines, and I must remember to sterilize the cages they were grown in. I'm thinking either rubbing them with a bleach solution or spraying with alcohol. Any thoughts on what would be most effective?

By week's end, TKG had enough cucumbers to can 5 pints of dill spears.

Last week I showed a picture of a Monarch butterfly chrysalis that was on one of the garden hoses. I noticed this week it had somehow detached itself and was laying on the ground. That's not good! So we brought it inside and taped it to a stick over a cardboard box. Within a few days it had emerged and was clinging to the stick, so we took it back outside. It wasn't long before it flew off.

Sigh...they grow up so fast! That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Harvest Monday - 10 September 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. The weather has had a distinct fall feel, especially over the weekend when the low temperatures flirted with the 40s. Accordingly, things are slowing down.

There was only one new crop this week, Spanish onions. I grew these from purchased starts. Some are large for us, though in the supermarket I suppose they would only be "mediums."

Spanish onions
Determinate tomatoes, zucchini, and pickling cucumbers are still being harvested in reasonable quantities.

With what we had accumulated on Tuesday, The Kitchen Goddess canned seven pints of all-purpose tomato sauce.

Then, as the days went by, I brought in this:


And this:

Guess what she's doing today!

In other crop notes, the yellow-eye beans were judged ready for storage. It's a pretty good amount, 3 pounds 9.5 ounces. I won't need to grow them next year.

Kenearly Yellow-eye beans
Fall raspberries are ripening nicely.

And from her community garden plot, TKG's Blue Jade corn, which we did not particularly like as sweet corn, was instead left to dry on the cob. She shelled them this week. They will make nice blue cornmeal.

Blue Jade corn shucked and dried.
And she brought home two nice artichokes.

Imperial Star artichokes
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading! Please read all the Harvest Monday posts, brought to you by Dave at

Monday, September 3, 2018

Harvest Monday - 3 September 2018

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. It was a busy week, so brace yourselves! It's going to be a long one. I'll try to keep the words to a minimum.

Starting with first harvests, we got a Bride eggplant.

And Cubanelle peppers.

And "Homemade Pickles" cucumbers. While I still think the name is unoriginal, they do produce uniform fruits that taste good. I planted a hill of these just after taking down the pea vines in mid-July, leaving the trellises so the cucumber vines could have some support.

"Homemade Pickles"
Here's the first, and only, harvest of black beans. Quite a crop this year. The pods are now further drying indoors.

Midnight Black Turtle beans in the pod.
Now continuing harvests. First, a really big (1.5 lb.) Pruden's Purple tomato from The Kitchen Goddess's community garden plot.

Pruden's Purple
A few daily picks:

On Wednesday TKG finally had enough of her kitchen island being awash in a sea of tomatoes, so she canned 8 jars of crushed tomatoes and 7 jars of salsa. On the hottest day of the week. Oops!

Then, the following day, this. Hilarity ensued.

That's the last of the sweet corn, by the way. We maybe could have gotten two more nights worth, but squirrels suddenly developed a taste for sweet corn. There isn't a fence made that will keep out squirrels, unless it's electric, and who wants to deal with that?

More harvests:

Ten Anaheim peppers. Chiles rellenos incoming!

Some broccoli side shoots, and the only head of Blue Wind to survive its summer planting.

Carrots and beets:

We needed more space in the freezer, so on Saturday TKG processed all of last year's frozen strawberries and raspberries. Her mom came down to help. Here's what they made.

Many jars of preserves and sauces.

Two quarts each of raspberry and strawberry liqueurs. Very potent! And a small jar of mixed berry pie filling.

Taking a break, they went over to the community garden and came back with this:

The MIL went home with most of this, but we divided the muskmelon. It weighed almost 4 pounds, and was perfectly ripe. We had our half for breakfast Sunday, and it was wonderful.

Also on Sunday TKG did more canning. First, these are the pears I picked last week. They were put in a paper bag, and had ripened nicely. She made two pints of pears in light syrup, plus some left over for immediate enjoyment.

And 3 1/2 quarts of what she calls "Sunday Funday Bloody Mary Mix." Just four of those little tiny Thai Hot peppers were enough to give the whole batch a nice zing. She also added the horseradish harvested last fall, and still in good shape.

Then, guess what? More tomatoes were harvested. No rest for the weary.

I close with a cool picture. We leave a lot of milkweed around the property for the Monarch butterflies to feed on. One caterpillar rewarded us with building its chrysalis in a most inconvenient place...the coils of the hose we use to water the front beds. Oh well, it's watering cans for the time being.

Monarch butterfly chrysalis
Okay, enough! Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave for hosting Harvest Monday at See you next week!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Harvest Monday - 27 August 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! As summer winds down, I'm going to present some "last harvests" of the season before turning to the "firsts."

The Taxi tomato plant gave up its last fruit. This variety is always the first to arrive and the first to depart. Still, I can't complain about the 50+ sweet fruits it gave us in its short life.

I removed the netting from the blueberry bushes and gleaned a small final picking to add to the stash in the freezer.

And the "Illusion" all-white sweet corn was completely picked over and the stalks cut for fall decorations. In the photo, some of the cobs look white but this is just a trick of light. We ate what we could from this final harvest, and the rest were cut for "niblets" for the freezer. Then The Kitchen Goddess boiled the cobs to make corn broth.

But don't cry for me! The next day I harvested the first of the "Montauk" bi-color corn.

Montauk, another synergistic variety, turns out to be every bit as sweet and tender as Illusion. Its cobs are a bit larger, but it doesn't have as good tip-fill. It's considered a "late-season" corn, while Illusion is "early," but it's funny that only 8 days distinguishes the two (72 vs. 80). Every afternoon this week I've been going out to the patch and picking five ears. What a treat.

By the way, "synergistic" means it's bred to have a certain ratio (varies by variety) of "Sugary Enhanced" (se) and "Supersweet" (sh2) genes. It's careful breeding, not GMO. The advantages to synergistic are many: excellent sweetness, tenderness, good field-holding ability, and what's called "cool-soil vigor." I hedge the bet by buying seed that is treated with an organic fungicide. If you've struggled to grow sweet corn, I suggest you try a synergistic variety.

The first "Halona" muskmelons were fully-ripe this week. They are fantastic.

I cut the first head of "Soloist" Chinese cabbage. This was planted in early summer.

I picked the first "Jilo" eggplant. This is a South American favorite, but I'd never heard of it. I got the plant from a fellow Master Gardener, who in turn got the seeds from some Brazilian friends. These are picked small, about the size of a duck's egg. If left to turn orange-red, they are quite bitter, which some like, but my friend's friends say at that stage they feed them to the chickens.

The plant is large and looks to be quite a producer. TKG added them to other eggplants in a dish she made. The Jilo is only very slightly bitter, but pleasant, and is noticeable from the other eggplants.

I set out three little Walking Onion bulbs last fall when I planted garlic, and they produced this for me. I didn't let them "walk," but they should still keep producing over the years.

Walking onions
I got the first "Cherry Bomb" and two "Maule's Red Hot" cayenne peppers.

Also, the first "Jimmy Nardello's" and a "King of the North" bell pepper. Normally I don't grow bells, but I scored a free seed packet and wanted to see how it produces. I was waiting for it to turn red, but it detached itself.

Jimmy Nardello's (left) and King of the North
Last year I purchased and grew a "Thai Hot" pepper plant that produced scores of 1" firecrackers. This year I bought some seeds, and somehow the result is even smaller than last year. Ridiculously so! I wanted to pop one in my mouth, but TKG claimed them for something she is making. Maybe that saved me from a mouth on fire.

Thai Hot
I picked all the D'Anjou pears from our two scraggly trees. These are now ripening indoors.

And the last of the "first harvests," Kennebec potatoes, 18 pounds in total. Not as good as some years, but definitely better than last year's.

In the picture you can see the bed they grew in, one of the galvanized steel stock tanks I set up as "raised beds" last year. This certainly kept the voles out, but might have had an impact I was not expecting. Most of them are funny-shaped, and look like snowmen. Doing some research, I learned that this can be a function of excess heat. So while the metal beds protected them from damage, they may have heated up too much.

For ongoing harvests, here is a sampling:

From TKG's community garden plot:

4th of July tomato, and Imperial Star artichoke.
I close with a picture of a Mexican Sunflower I planted for the first time this year. It is really lovely, with odd 3-lobed leaves, a velvety stem, and beautiful orange-red flowers. It's a winner.

Once again, a long post! If you made it this far I admire your persistence. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at for running the Harvest Monday forum that lets us show off our harvests.