Monday, May 25, 2020

Harvest Monday - 25 May 2020

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. We've had a week of pleasant weather. One day it got to 85 degrees F (~29 C), but nights have dropped as low as 42 (5.5 C). Of course, it's the lows that we gardeners most closely watch. 42 is too cool for the solanacea to be happy. But it looks like the 40s are behind us, so I'll be transplanting tomatoes later today. I'll wait for the peppers and eggplants until later in the week. It will be a relief to cease moving all the trays in and out to harden off the plants.

We love Asian greens here, and use them extensively in soups and stir-fries. I'm trying three new varieties this year, and the first pickings were done this week.

This is "Pechay" from Burpee Seeds:

Pechay
This is "White Stem" from Botanical Interests:


White Stem
And this is "Asian Delight" from Johnny's Selected Seeds:

Asian Delight
You will of course notice the flea beetle damage on all of them. This makes them totally unmarketable, but doesn't really bother us.

The Kitchen Goddess took some of each and made a delicious egg drop soup. It was a perfect light evening meal on the screened porch, paired with a nice chardonnay. Do you see our new tabletop gas fireplace? It adds cheer to an already cheerful space.


The asparagus is continuing to produce a few spears at a time. There is nothing like fresh asparagus.


In wildlife notes, TKG spotted this Gray Treefrog. This guardian of the garden really needs to work on its hiding skills! Against tree bark it is almost invisible, but in a flower pot? I'm looking forward to its trilling calls on sultry summer afternoons.

Gray Treefrog
That's all for this week. Thank you for reading and commenting. Please join me in reading all the Harvest Monday posts, hosted by Dave at HappyAcres.blog.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Harvest Monday - 18 May 2020

Hello for the first time this season! Like so many, we've had a cool spring so far, and for us it seems to be the new normal. Lately the days have been pleasant, but the nights cool down considerably. Anything I've sown or transplanted is growing very slowly, and they are all "cool-season" crops, but I guess they still need warmth to really take off.

Even the asparagus is poky. But last there was something to harvest and share at Harvest Monday.


I could have waited to cut the smaller ones, but I didn't want the bigger one to get woody.

A day later I discovered this overachiever:


How did I miss it? It was growing amid some raspberry vines that had spread to the asparagus.

Anyway, good to savor something from the garden.

I've been using the cool weather to really get going on some tasks that will make the late-May planting rush easier. The biggest project was to build five new 3x10 raised beds. This time I used real cedar, which is super-expensive, but hopefully will last for years. We got five cubic yards of loam/compost delivered and filled the beds. Already I've planted artichokes in two of them.


I also used cedar to replace a 4x12 bed,, which is to the left in the back row. We had a tree service do some work here repairing storm damage (broken pine nearly hit the house in an ice storm). We used the results from their woodchipper to refresh the paths in the fenced garden. Looks nice.

Out in the field garden I've got things in the ground, and am all set for planting dry beans when it finally warms up sufficiently. In the background is a row of garlic, doing well, then two rows of sunflowers (planted), then three rows of beans, then two rows of potatoes (planted). Then I don't know what yet, maybe some pole beans on tipis?


And I also rebuilt the bed that houses the kitchen herb garden. I used pressure-treated lumber for this.


I've mentioned before that we have two struggling pear trees, that were planted in the wrong location and get heavy shade from the spruces next to them. I was happy to see they have more flowers than I can remember.

Pear trees in bloom
So, lots going on, and lots of work to do in the next few weeks. Thank you for reading, and thanks to Dave at happyacres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Harvest Monday - 11 November 2019

We had several hard frosts last week, where the top layer of the soil froze at night. But it "defrosted" during the day. They were also forecasting snow for the latter part of the week. It didn't materialize, but I couldn't know that, so I harvested all the remaining root vegetables.

I took all the remaining "Mokum" carrots, an Amsterdam type, that were spring-planted.

Mokum carrots

As well as the "Yaya" carrots, a Nantes type, that were also spring-planted.

Yaya carrots
I decided I'm completely sold on pelletized carrot seeds. They are so much easier to handle, and no thinning required. Sure, not all germinate, and you have to use up all the seeds in one season, but it is totally worth it to me. I wish more varieties were available in pelletized form.

All the remaining leeks were picked. They never really got big this year, but at least the voles left them alone, so we got a good harvest of this useful vegetable.

Carentan leeks
I also went to chop down the cauliflower plants, which had gotten very big but produced no heads, I thought. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this when pulling them apart for the compost. They are only tennis-ball sized, but it made for a very nice side dish that night.

Snowball Self-blanching cauliflower
Needless to say, The Kitchen Goddess had a very busy day when all the above came in. She kept some of the leeks out for cock-a-leekie soup (yum!), froze the rest, and froze all the carrots. She got so into it she forgot to leave some out for fresh eating! Not only that, but I discovered all the Red Norland potatoes in the bin in the cellar had started to sprout, only three months after harvest. So she sliced them, dipped them in lemon juice, blanched them, and dehydrated them in the oven. They will be very useful in the coming winter months.

With that, the garden is bare. I bid it goodnight, and thanked it for its service. Our freezers and cupboards are full. Despite the usual setbacks, it was a pretty good year. I hope it was for you too! So no more Harvest Monday posts this year. Thanks for reading, and for your comments over the year. And a big round of applause, please, for our host, the talented Dave, at HappyAcres.blog.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Harvest Monday - 4 November 2019

This past weekend we had frosts over every night. Just touching freezing, but enough to kill the tender plants. Anticipating this, I harvested everything I thought was at risk.

I took all the kale. Some of this I intentionally planted, others were what was left from the salad mixes I planted in spring.


I took all the chard. This, too, was from the salad mixes.


I harvested herbs for drying. Below is parsley, sage, oregano, and thyme. Not quite like the song lyrics! We do have rosemary, but we overwinter the plant and thus have a constant fresh supply.


I also took the remaining cilantro.


It looks like a lot, but it all went into one dish: Cilantro and Serrano Pepper Mexican Rice. The article containing the recipe has a lot of hype to scroll through, and I think it calls for too much garlic, but it turned out quite good. Here it is, served with baked boneless chicken breast dusted with our smoked chile powder. A double dose of spiciness!


I also picked some carrots. They're funny looking, but really tasty.

Mokum carrots
And I picked all the useful apples from our late-maturing Granny Smith (I think!) tree. The rest (just as many) were thrown out into the woods for the critters to enjoy. I have to say that it is hard to grow apples using organic principles. You have to lower your standards quite a bit.


That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.

 With hard frost on the way, it will be a busy week getting ready for winter and doing the final harvests of the year.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Harvest Monday - 28 October 2019

I was inspired by last week's Harvest Monday post by Dave, the wonderful host, in which he smoked peppers to make chile powder. Having an abundance of peppers, I decided to do it myself!

I picked all the remaining Maule's Red Hot cayennes (left, below), and Anaheim-type peppers.


And I picked whatever yellow(ish) hot peppers I could find, and added them to what I had in the fridge.


The yellowish ones are Brazilian Starfish, Hot Lemon, and Habaneros. They went into a separate batch. The red ones joined the cayennes in another batch, and the Anaheims made their own batch.

I fired up the smoker and did the three batches consecutively. The last batch was the Anaheims, which were joined by some thin pork chops. Boy did those taste great! Each batch took 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Some came out crisp, others were leathery.

The next day The Kitchen Goddess finished drying them in the oven. It made the kitchen smell like a campfire, but it was woodsy and pleasant!

Then, using a new dedicated spice mill, she ground up the separate batches to make the finished product, smoky hot chile powder. While she was at it, she ground up our dehydrated garlic (in the back below).


I'd say the results were a success! I had been thinking I grew way too many peppers this year, but with this and the hot sauces it seems like the right amount after all.

TKG got an enhancement to her hand-cranked "Wondermill Jr." grain mill. It's a socket that replaces the handle with the ability to use an electric drill. She was able to grind up some of our dried corn in a fraction of the time and with no stress on her shoulder. Here are different cornmeal grades running from coarse to very fine.

Cornmeal
And there was enough to make me the dessert I was craving, Indian Pudding. Guess I was a good boy after all, or fooled her anyway.

Indian Pudding
This was the perfect accompaniment to another regional favorite we had: New England Boiled Dinner. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds! It's basically corned beef and cabbage with added vegetables. She used carrots, onions, and potatoes. Nice to know that everything except the meat came from our garden.

That's really all to report this week. We still have not had a frost, but I'm starting to remove all the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants anyway. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Harvest Monday - 21 October 2019

It was a pretty quiet week here in the gardens. Still no frost yet. I did manage a "first harvest" though. This is "Soloist' Chinese cabbage. I only planted a couple, and this was the only one worth harvesting. Slugs have a particular fondness for this vegetable.

Soloist
I picked all the "Mad Hatter" peppers that were of decent size.

Mad Hatter
I picked the remaining eggplants, very small but still worth it.

Nadia eggplant
And I picked a few of the spring-planted carrots.

Yaya and Mokum carrots
The peppers, eggplants, and all but two of the carrots went home with The Kitchen Goddess's mom. I truly believe being able to share your harvests with appreciative family and friends is one of the greatest joys of gardening.

The "Painted Mountain" dry (flour) corn cobs had been drying for over a month. This week I shelled them and let them dry for a few more days. They yielded a lot more than I was expecting, almost 5 pounds.

Painted Mountain corn kernels
This went into storage, ready for grinding any time we want. I have a hankering for an Olde New England favorite, Indian Pudding. For those unfamiliar, it's basically cornmeal mush sweetened with maple syrup. Maybe if I'm a good boy I'll get some soon.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading! And thanks as always to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Harvest Monday - 14 October 2019

Happy Thanksgiving Day to Canadian readers! Here in the U. S., it's a different holiday, Columbus Day. Not to get political, but there is an increasing effort to rename it to "Indigenous Peoples Day," an idea I support.

We have no frost expected in the long-term forecast, but it's been mostly a cold, gloomy week. Peppers and tomatoes are not really ripening. So I'm making an effort to gradually harvest what I can, and if we don't need it, I'll just let it take its course.

First up are the ornamental/edible hot peppers I grew. They were completely loaded with ripe fruit.

Left: Bolivian Rainbow, right: Poinsettia
I turned them into 300ml of very hot sauce.


I took most of the Jimmy Nardello's peppers, not red-ripe but still useful.

Jimmy Nardello's
I've grown Maule's Red Hot cayenne peppers for years. They look very much like Jimmy's above. This year I bought a generic cayenne plant, and the fruit turned out to be very different, thinner but much more productive. I harvested all of them this week; I'd guess 100 or more. I saved some seeds, and I hope they come up true.

Generic cayenne pepper
What else to do but make more hot sauce? I added a little garlic to this batch, and the result is quite pleasant. Spicy for sure, but manageable.


Okay, I promise, no more hot sauce.

I harvested the last of the zucchini. The plants were in bad shape from powdery mildew, but were still trying to make fruit. I think the cold weather has reduced the pollinator activity, so no point in keeping the plants. I removed them.

Cocozelle di Napoli and Yellowfin
I also took the last of the spring-planted turnips. The largest was 2 1/2 pounds. These were mostly cubed, blanched, and frozen. I still think the yellowish ones are rutabagas, whose seed got mixed in.

Turnips and maybe a rutabaga
The Kitchen Goddess took a little and made something different, fermented turnips. She added a sliced jalapeno to each jar. We sampled them, and they are quite unique. The pepper really gives it some zip.

Turnip spears fermenting
She is also still picking fall raspberries, a little at a time, but it sure adds up!


That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.