Monday, October 17, 2016

Harvest Monday - 17 October 2016

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. I guess I'm a simple man, but to me there are few things finer than a crisp fall evening in New England, with the fading light strangely intensifying the colors of the changing leaves, and the scent of wood smoke in the air.

Can there be downsides to fall? Well, yesterday I went out into the woods to change the memory card in the game-cam, and got totally beaned by a terminal-velocity acorn.

And of course, the real downside is the inevitable first frost, which brings me (finally!) to this week's harvests.

On Friday the overnight low was supposed to be 35 F., which is within the tolerance of a potential frost. So we picked all the sizable eggplants, peppers, and zucchini, and any tomatoes that showed any color.

We covered the two Rutgers tomato plants with a tarp (they've been the only productive ones), and let everything else fend for itself. It turned out that we did get a light frost, enough to kill the zucchini, and the eggplants don't look so good either.

We also picked our only winter squash. This is a Jarrahdale pumpkin, weighing about a pound and a half. The blue-green rind belies the intense-orange flesh, or so we hope when we finally cut it open. I got the seeds from a friend, and maybe I'll save some for next year.

The Kitchen Goddess picked quince (quinces?) from the dooryard of the 1750s farmhouse across the road, with permission of course.

When asked, she said she was going to make "quince cheese," which is a thing, in case you didn't know. I sure didn't.

I always grow some coleus from seed, and every year TKG is dismayed about how tiny the seedlings are. And every year they grow huge and lovely. Ha! Here's a last picture before a hard frost takes them down.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and my apologies to those who commented on last week's post and I didn't respond. I had to go to San Diego for work, and didn't get back until Thursday night. Thanks as always to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday. Please join me in viewing all the interesting posts from gardeners everywhere.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Harvest Monday - 10 October 2016

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm! Nothing too exciting this week. It's that time of year.

A first harvest this week was scarlet runner beans.

The green pods will be allowed to brown and crisp up before I take out the beans. Overall this will be much less than last year, but at least there will be enough seed to plant for next.

We took a few more of my prizewinning watermelon radishes (well, second prize). The larger ones are billiard-ball sized.

A Yellowfin and a Cocozella Di Napoli zucchini. The Yellowfin looks like a deflated pufferfish.

Some solanacea:

Clockwise from left: Rutgers tomatoes, a single Martini's Roma, some Umberto tomatoes, a Maule's Red Hot cayenne, Mellow Star shishito peppers, generic hot cherry peppers, and a Rosita eggplant in the middle.
Some Asian greens:

Left: tatsoi, right: pak choi. Slugs apparently love Asian greens.
Finally, continuing pickings of red raspberries like this:

So as you can see we are winding down for the season. No frost yet, but it's a matter of time. Hopefully a few more solanacea will size up before the inevitable.

That's it for this week. Please see all the lovely posts on Harvest Monday, which is hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres. Thanks, Dave!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Harvest Monday - 3 October 2016 - Blue Ribbon Edition!

For 140 years the nearby Deerfield Fair has been one of New Hampshire's largest agricultural expositions. Last year, as we viewed the judged displays of vegetables, canned goods, baked goods etc. in the Agricultural Hall, we said to ourselves, "let's enter something next year!" So we did! The Kitchen Goddess selected 3 jars for the "Household" category that she thought were best, and I chose 2 crops for "Adult Vegetables" ("adult" as opposed to "junior"; get your mind out of the gutter). I thought I would have an edge if I entered produce that not everyone grows. I picked watermelon radishes for the "Radish, Dacon-type" category, and hops for the "Any Other Worthy Vegetable" category.

The stuff had to be dropped off on Tuesday, the judging occurred the rest of the week, and on Saturday we went to the fair. Our results were beyond our wildest dreams!

TKG won a blue ribbon for her cornichon/gerkhins:

A blue ribbon for her Cowboy Candy (red pepper jelly):

And third place for her mustard/dill relish (the judges' notes said "not enough product" and "lid was dusty," which annoyed her in the worst way):

My hops got a blue:

And the radishes got second place:

I know now that they were graded down for the lack of size consistency.

To say we were thrilled is an understatement (while laughing over the silliness of it all). But the accolades do not stop there! There were substantial cash prizes involved: $4 for blue, $2 for red, and $1 for white. So TKG made $9, and I made $6! Being the overgrown boy that I am, I promptly spent my earnings at the fair on a soft-serve ice cream cone, and 1/4 pound of hot Spanish peanuts. Before I even got the money.

Other harvests this week included our last and best-ever muskmelon, over 3 pounds:

Inside, pure delight:

Some of the last zucchini, and a typical every-other-day picking of raspberries:

Some solanacea, which are not loving the chilly and damp weather we've been having:

And a big harvest of chard and kale:

Also this week TKG and her mother picked a large amount of wild Concord grapes from the property across the road (with permission), and she put up many jars of delicious grape jelly:

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and indulging us in our well-meaning boasting. Of course, we are already planning next year's entries. Do you have an agricultural show you can enter your best vegetables? If so, make your plans. It is so much fun!

See all the other harvests posted on Harvest Monday. I'm sure the're all prize-winners! Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Harvest Monday - 26 September 2016

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. When I woke up yesterday morning (Sunday) there was a weather alert saying virtually all of New Hampshire would suffer a frost that night. But as the day progressed the alert was removed, so we took a chance and didn't cover the sensitive crops. Though the day turned out nice, we still lit the wood stove in the afternoon to take the chill out of the house. So, it starts. The temperature this morning was 41, so the crops were safe, but probably not so very pleased.

There is only one first harvest to feature. We took a few leeks to check on progress and thin the bed a bit, not that it makes much difference at this stage. These are "Carentan," an old heirloom variety. You can see that while not very big (1/2 in. diameter), they have a pleasing amount of white shanks.

Still many more of these to harvest. The Kitchen Goddess cut off the green parts and used them to enhance a chicken stock she was making.

For continuing harvests, here are zucchini and red raspberries:

Some solanacea:

By the way, once again the "Mellow Star" shishito peppers (in the middle) have not produced a single hot specimen.

Zucchini, wax beans (the absolute last for the season), watermelon radishes, raspberries, and a WINO (watermelon in name only).

The other day we stopped at a farmstand to pick up sweet corn. They were selling red raspberries like these for $4.99 per half-pint. I know that home gardening is a hobby only, and can't really be justified on a cost-basis. But at this price, the gallon we've picked so far this year is "worth" $80! Of course, you have to balance that against the pint of blood shed working in the canes.

A basket of solanacea, with another "Rosita" eggplant showing off to its cousins. Some of the tomatoes are a little underripe, picked in anticipation of the aforementioned frost.

I want to say a little bit about Rutgers tomatoes. They really are a staple here. They are productive, fairly disease-resistant, and have outstanding flavor. They are dual-purpose, good for sauce and fresh eating. Here's a good example, weighing a little over 12 ounces. If you are looking for a determinate tomato, I highly recommend Rutgers.

And here are the absolute last of our cucumbers (yay!). The vines were getting pretty diseased and tired, so out they came. But what an amazing year for them.

That's all for this week. Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for keeping the Harvest Monday tradition flourishing.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Harvest Monday - 19 September 2016

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. This week marked our first excursion below 50 at night. But we have other ways to mark the changing seasons. Our last sighting of "our" Ruby-throated hummingbirds was September 10. They are with us such a short time, starting in early May, but they bring us such joy! We've seen as many as five at one time. One of the nicest things we've done recently was to hang a feeder right off the screened porch (my office in the warmer months), as you can see in the picture below. It's so cool to see the birds hovering right outside, examining us with curiosity, when they are not busy drinking or chasing each other away (they are very territorial). We'll leave the feeders up another week or two, hoping to nourish the more-northern migrants as they pass through. We've seen a few.

Now on to harvests. Here is our first "Rosita" eggplant. The other eggplants have been giving us fruit for weeks, but Rosita is much slower. What it lacks in promptness and productivity, it makes up in loveliness I think.

Another first, a "Sugar Baby" watermelon. This is something of a joke, really. They are supposed to be petite, but 6 pounds, not 6 ounces! Sigh. We've never been able to grow a watermelon worthy of the name, but we keep trying.

Not a first-of-the-year, but a first-of-the-season picking of Asian greens. A smorgasbord of "oi's," you might say. From left, Toy Choy, Tatsoi, and Pak Choi. I realize now the photo is blurry, oops. 

Continuing harvest this week, starting with a muskmelon, a "Yellowfin" zucchini, and several "Rutgers" tomatoes.

An assortment of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. For those who inquired, we still have not had a hot example of "Mellow Star" shishito peppers.

Watermelon radishes, "Carson" yellow wax beans, a Cocozella Di Napoli zucchini, and another muskmelon.

A large picking of "Red Russian" kale and chard:

Finally, not a harvest, but something I find amusing. When I started eggplants this spring I noticed two of the pots had what looked like tobacco seedlings sprouting next to the "real" plants. I have no idea how the seeds got there. I mean, I am growing tobacco, but I really don't see how stray seeds got in with the eggplant. I left them, and now look at them! Doing much better than the tobacco I intentionally grew. And shading out the eggplants.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and your comments. And thanks as always to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Harvest Monday - 12 September 2016

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Having gazed at this lovely sight as it developed for weeks and weeks, it was time to act!

This is a grape vine that long ago escaped its trellis and established itself on the garden fence. It was picked this week along with all its neighbors (60 row feet of vines). I'd guess we got 100 pounds.

Nice looking fruit, too:

No, I sadly don't know the varieties, but mostly they are seedless cultivars good for both table and wine. We of course choose the wine route, and pressed the grapes that day, resulting 5 1/2 gallons of juice, now fermenting.

Another welcome first harvest was a "Halona" muskmelon that had "slipped from the vine." At least that's what The Kitchen Goddess said when she brought it in. I have my doubts about that. It was about 95% ripe I'd say, but still very tasty.

Another first, our one pear! Normally we get about 30, but this year was challenging for tree-fruits.

Another first, a watermelon radish, shown with a wax bean for scale:

TKG added it to a small batch of kimchee she made with some Chinese cabbage recently picked.

Some other representative harvests this week:

Then, sadly, some definite last harvests. This corn was undersized and poorly pollinated, and the artichokes are tiny even by our standards, but we had them together for one last meal, and they were wonderful!

And we took all the rest of the spring-sown beets, if you can believe they've been in the ground that long. But they weren't too bad-looking!

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.