Monday, July 16, 2018

Harvest Monday - 16 July 2018

Greetings from Eight Gate Farm! For once I'll get right to some of the harvests of this week.

First up is a time we celebrate here, the first artichokes!

Imperial Star artichokes
I grew softneck garlic for the first time this year. I'd say that nearly everyone in the Northeast grows hardnecks exclusively, so I broke with convention a little bit. The result looks satisfactory.

Marengo softneck garlic
Hardnecks are preferred because they are more cold-hardy, spicier, and produce useful scapes. Softnecks' attraction is they keep longer and can be braided. Well, we've never had a problem keeping harnecks for many months, right into the next year's harvest. So once the above has cured, I'll taste-test them and see if it's worth planting again this fall. By the way, what are those weird ovary things above the bulbs?

Another first harvest was a head of Fiesta broccoli.

For continuing harvests, a sample is the last of the soup peas.

Alaska and Blue Podded peas for drying
And the last of the snow and snap peas.

L: Super Sugar Snap, R: Blizzard and Mammoth Melting Sugar
Some carrots as needed:

Scarlet Nantes carrots

And more bolting onions for fresh use.

Lastly, I can't resist showing off a bit with a "harvest" from the sea. We took a day off from gardening on Sunday and went striped bass fishing off the coast of Newburyport, Massachusetts (just 45 minutes from here). It was a great day! "Stripers" are an amazing fish to catch, and eat! To be legally harvested they have to be 28" in length, and these range from that to over 30".

Striped bass
Shared with our son (who caught the most!), we have lots of filets, and The Kitchen Goddess even made a soup base with the "frames" (head and backbones). Nothing goes to waste!

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Harvest Monday - 9 July 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! The Kitchen Goddess and I were gone from the 26th through the 1st, at a lovely tropical resort in the guise of a company meeting. We returned to the start of a heat wave, with temps well into the 90s. So I went from griping about the cold to moaning about the heat. It broke on Friday with a storm, which flattened a good amount of the corn that had been growing so nicely in the heat. TKG was a huge help in setting it back upright again. I sure wish the corn would not keep lodging like that (strange term...shouldn't it be "dis-lodging"?).

TKG's mother watched the house while we were gone, and kept things watered and picked. But there was a lot to harvest for us, especially peas. We got several pickings like this, but it looks like the vines are shutting down now. At least there's been no powdery mildew.

L: Blizzard and Mammoth Melting Sugar, R: Super Sugar Snap

I've been using the same packet of "European Mesclun Mix" from Baker Creek for several years now. Last year, kale dominated the mix; this year, it was arugula. I don't know why the same packet would yield different dominant plants in a given season...maybe heavier seeds sank to the bottom? In any event, the arugula was fully bolted, but still gave us three one-gallon bags when cleared out.

We took a few carrots.

Also turnips and more flowering onions, which we use as "spring onions" though they aren't supposed to be.

We took the first broccoli of the season. This is the "Blue Wind" variety. One head grew white, looking like cauliflower. I don't know whether it was the weather, or just a weird sport. It tasted fine though.

There was another, normal head.

Blue Wind broccoli
The strawberries were finished by the time we got back, but the blueberries are starting.

Patriotic-looking blueberries picked on Independence Day!
Little bit of a discourse on peas. I love edible podded peas, both raw and cooked. But I've always disliked cooked shell peas. On the other hand, I love pea soup! For the past several years I've been dabbling in growing peas for drying. I guess any shelling pea could be dried, but Baker Creek recommends several varieties for that purpose...maybe they're starchier? I planted Alaska and Blue-podded this year, in a 20 ft. row.

L: Alaska, R: Blue-podded

The Alaska didn't germinate as well as the Blue-podded, but yielded more, smaller pods that were fully packed. Alaska's peas are conventionally-shaped, while Blue-podded's are elongated and lighter in color.

L: Blue-podded, R: Alaska

In the past, I let them air dry naturally, and found that they discolor over time. TKG researched this, and learned that they should be lightly blanched and then dehydrated. She did this, and here's what resulted, about 8 ounces. But I bet they're packed with flavor! The dehydrating took all day, by the way.

TKG brought back some things from her community garden plot, like this last, tennis-ball sized kohlrabi.

And cuttings from celery, fennel, and kale.

We're still a ways away from harvesting the true summer crops, unlike most of you lucky people. Hopefully it won't be too long!

Thanks for reading, and apologies for telling you more about soup peas than maybe you were really interested in. Thanks again to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Harvest Monday - 25 June 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. Our pattern of too-cool nights has just dragged on. It's been dry, too. Until yesterday, we were at 25% of average June rainfall. But the deficit was erased yesterday in one storm. The coolness continues to thwart the eggplants, which I now fear will never recover, despite warming weather moving in this week.

We are harvesting, though! This week we got the first snow peas.

Followed a few days later by Super Sugar Snap peas.

We picked tatsoi.

And pak choi.

Brisk Green

We actually took by week's end all of the Asian greens, as they were bolting. I have more started which I'll transplant soon.

We took several half-size carrots because we just couldn't wait.

Quite a few of the onion sets have started flowering, I'm guessing due to the cold. As such, they won't keep, so we took some for "spring onions."

The remaining garlic scapes were all cut this week.

Radishes finished out this week, though there are still plenty of turnips left.

And strawberries are in abundance.

There are vegetables I don't have space for, and coincidentally don't like. Things like kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. But The Kitchen Goddess loves them. So she and her mother took a plot at the town's community garden to raise those, and more. This week she brought home the first kohlrabi.

What a weird-looking vegetable! I tried some raw, and it was okay, and the rest in a stir-fry, which was even better. I may coincidentally have some space for it next year.

So despite all my griping about the weather, the garden has been kind to us in many ways. Have to remember the positive things. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave of Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Harvest Monday - 18 June 2018

It's almost [calendar] summer, but until lately you wouldn't know it here in New Hampshire. The nighttime temperatures were holding in the low 50s. My peppers and eggplants are pouting, and I despair they will ever put on growth. The tomatoes, though, seem to be holding up and growing, but fruit looks a long way away.

This translates to almost everything having the "slows." We are starting to get some harvests though.

The radishes are doing beautifully.

L: French Breakfast, R: Cherry Belle
We took the first turnips (Purple Top White Globe). The one on the right is about as big as we grow them here, maybe golfball size. Thus I have to laugh when I look at the picture in the Baker Creek catalog, where that adorable little girl is holding a softball-sized specimen. Regardless, we get good greens, and tasty roots to add to our salads.

Purple Top White Globe turnips
We are getting a fair amount of salad greens from the mixes I planted.

And the first garlic scapes were ready to be cut.

Strawberries are starting to roll in. Overall, they seem to be much smaller than last year--whether it's the weather or tired vines I do not know. But they're good.

The next two harvests, diminutive though they may be, are also welcome. First up are beet thinnings for greens:

Next are carrot thinnings. Though they aren't really sweet yet, they add a nice carroty flavor to our salads.

The Kitchen Goddess made some more chive flower/tarragon vinegar. Not only is it a lovely color but it adds a savoriness to dressings.

Lastly I present bug notes. The two fennel plants I put in the Kitchen Herb Garden are working well as a trap crop for the Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars, keeping them from the parsley etc. (as least for now). Given the speed with which they defoliate the plants, they clearly like fennel a lot more than I do!

Not much else to report. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Harvest Monday, 4 June 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. It's June, and we finally have something to show beyond asparagus.

First up is Toy Choi, a delightful baby Asian green, living up to its name. These were already starting to bolt. One went right into a wonderful soup.

Toy Choi
Next we have the first radishes.

Cherry Belle and French Breakfast radishes
And finally a thinning from the small rows of salad blends. From the spicy taste, I think this was mostly arugula.

Some sort of salad stuff
Ah, June! Where are the consistently warm days and nights of my memories? When I woke up this morning it was 48 F (8.9 C). Certainly not good for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. I sure hope this does not hit them too hard.

More in the woe department...on Saturday night something uprooted, but did not eat, two 20-foot rows of corn seedlings. To me this was not hunger, but vandalism! What could have done this?

Uprooted corn seedlings
Not only that, but voles overcame the [meager] defenses of repellents, and destroyed a bed of onion and leek seedlings. No time to replant that. I console myself with picturing a family of voles annoying each other with bad breath.

But June is also beauty. This is the first year this lovely iris has bloomed for us.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave of Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Harvest Monday - 14 May 2018

With the first spring pickings, we can finally join the ranks of the cool kids of Harvest Monday!

As you might expect, asparagus is our first crop. We had several harvests like this:

With two 12-foot rows, we should have had a lot more. But last year's biblical Plague of Voles destroyed many plants and probably damaged the rest. I really should replant the entire bed, but I didn't want to wait years for asparagus, so this weekend I filled in the missing plants with crowns purchased from the nursery. The new variety is "Sweet Purple," which I've never heard of, but it was all they had, so it will have to do!

I gave the chives a haircut, and The Kitchen Goddess dehydrated them.

We use a lot of chives, and I think the first spring cuttings are the most pungent and flavorful.

In other happenings this week, we finally had an opportunity to burn the "Witch Pole" of sheaved corn stalks. Here's what it looked like last fall:

Over the winter I added a lot of brush, leaves, and other detritus. So when I set it off it made a brief but very satisfying inferno:

Kind of creepy-looking.

With the corn patch now cleared, I was able to cultivate it, using my new favorite tool, the broadfork.

This was made by Larry Cooper, the blacksmith at Gulland Forge in North Carolina. I like that it has wooden handles; the metal-handled ones sold through Johnny's seemed burdensome. I'm now a convert to the no-till school of cultivation. The rototiller sits unloved in the barn.

And this week I finished the Master Gardener Certification course through the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension. I now begin my official volunteering duties to attain full certification. The course was very intense, but completely interesting. A lot of nice people, too.

I'm not a lover of the weeping flowering cherry tree that lives in front of the house. It's a bit too formal-looking for my taste. But this time of year it really does put on a show:

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.