Monday, June 29, 2015

Harvest Monday - 29 June 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday post from Eight Gate Farm, Just a short one today, as I am still in the recovery room after yesterday's lawn party. An afternoon of music, conversation, and great food from The Kitchen Goddess, followed by sitting around a fire in the chiminea on the patio until it started to rain. And yes, beverages were involved.

Picking in the rain today, we got another load of "Blizzard" snow peas. We've been getting harvests like this every few days. It's great year for peas, and the cooler weather is helping that. They were a hit at the party, by the way. We put out a bowl and the guests ate them like potato chips.

Also the first substantial picking of "Sugar Snap" peas. They are quite later than the snows. They grow tall, which is unfortunate since the wind accompanying this rainstorm blew a few over. But TKG prefers them.

And the first head of "Fiesta" broccoli. Not too bad at 11.5 oz. (326 g.), but still not as big as last year's average.

Until this head starting sizing up, I was about ready to consign Fiesta to the also-rans. Last year it under-performed Arcadia. The plants just seem weaker. But a nice head like this, which was actually larger than any Arcadia this year, makes me rethink that. Maybe one more year of trials.

I didn't take pictures, but we brought in a big haul of the various lettuces on Friday to serve our guests, with plenty left over as well.

A gardening couple (my honorary cousins Harry and Karen--we share the same uncommon last name but don't seem to be related) gave us this lovely gift of lavender.

That's it for this week. Click on back to Daphne's Dandelions for more Harvest Monday reports.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Harvest Monday - 22 June 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm, brought to you by Daphne's Dandelions. Thank you again, Daphne! To those in the northern hemisphere, Happy Summer!

This week we had several more harvests of lettuce like this one:

We're not tired of salads yet, not by far. But there will come a day...

Our first harvest of snow peas:

The variety is "Blizzard," which I chose as a substitute for "Avalanche" (get the snow connection?) that I've grown in the past. These are nice, but Avalanche has more tendrils and fewer leaves, making for easier picking. Both set the pods in pairs, which is handy.

The Sugar Snaps will need a few more days.

Two more heads of broccoli, this time "Arcadia." Again, these are nice, but at about 7 and 5 ounces respectively, they are much smaller than the pounders we got from Arcadia last year. Maybe I pick too soon, but you really have to watch it as the buds flower out quickly.

And several more picks of cherries. As I said last week, we really are just trying to get what we can before the birds eat them all, so we pick the lower-hanging ones when they have at least a blush of red.

The experiment of letting them ripen inside went well. We found that leaving them on the sheet pan and just covering with a tea towel worked best; those we placed in a paper bag have not turned red as quickly. So yes, they do ripen, at least in the sense of turning red. I can't say they get much sweeter though.

I found an old copper label on the tree that said the variety is "Tartarian Black." Looking that up, I see they are supposed to turn dark purple, almost black. I wish! But it is sort of amusing to see all the pits on stems still connected to the branches. Maybe next year we will net the lower branches. But my experience netting our blueberry bushes is that the birds still find a way in, and often get trapped--a nuisance.

Some went into a Father's Day breakfast of cherry-corn pancakes, featuring our own cornmeal and maple syrup. Yum! Oh, and The Kitchen Goddess wants you to know that she did not burn the bacon like it may look. Husband just does not know how to properly light a photograph.

Father's Day...hah! Did Soon-To-Be Disinherited Son call?

A look at the Dwarf Blauwschokkers peas (that's a word whose spelling I need to memorize soon). Isn't its flower lovely? It could qualify as "edible landscaping."

This is my first experience with dry/soup peas. My intent is to just let the pods dry on the vine. Does anyone know? Might they mold instead that way?

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. I may not post next week, as we are having a lawn party that weekend. Happy harvests to all!

Last minute update: inheritance reinstated.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Harvest Monday - 15 June 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm, brought to you by Daphne's Dandelions. Thanks, Daphne!

It's been a beautiful weekend here. It's nice that the craziness of April and May is behind us, and the chores are not so taxing. At least for awhile...

The first broccoli of the year! I took the three heads of "Blue Wind."

They weren't particularly large, but the florets were starting to separate. You also might notice that some of the beads look undeveloped, or withered. I consulted Prof. Google, and found an article on Brown Bead, which seems to describe the symptoms. It's environmental in cause, not a disease per se, caused by rapid growth in high temperatures after abundant rainfall or irrigation. I'm not sure about abundant irrigation, but the temperatures did get warm quickly.

We decided to hit the mesclun bed hard, and take out the kale-y things, leaving the lettuce-y things to get bigger (sorry to get all scientific on you). Here's the harvest:

A little birdie told me it might be time to pick cherries. Literally! I was working in the garden and a Gray catbird zoomed by with a bright red cherry in its beak. So we went over to the orchard, and spooked a lot of his friends, taking my cherries! There weren't a lot of deep red ones, but even the ones with just a blush tasted sweet, so we took what we could reach.

There is disagreement about whether or not cherries will continue to ripen off the tree. Does anyone know? Anyway, there's still a lot out there, if the birds don't get them all. These were out of reach:

Speaking of irrigation, I do have the entire garden set up on drippers with timers. It's on for 15 minutes, every other day. Doesn't sound like a lot. But I noticed something interesting. The zuchinni on the bottom left is twice as big as his neighbors. I realized that his micro-sprinkler wasn't working. So am I over-watering the others? Just to be safe, I shut them all off.

Another question for readers. The dill is starting to flower, earlier than I can remember. That's okay, but I like dill leaves too. Will it continue to grow once it starts flowering?

Now for some progress-shots. In the foreground are the Brussels sprouts (one passed away, root maggots I suspect) and broccoli, then potatoes and onions, and in the background some of the grapevines, which The Kitchen Goddess did a great pruning job on. You couldn't see through them before.

Snow peas in bloom, and taller snap peas behind them not flowering yet.

Leeks (finally growing), and Dwarf Blauwshockkers peas, also not flowering, but I'm starting to crave pea soup already!

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and I hope your garden chores have also settled down, so you can just enjoy watching things grow.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Harvest Monday - 8 June 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm. Thanks as always to Daphne's Dandelions for hosting this fun and informative forum.

Now that the radishes have finished, our nightly salads are a little less zesty, but we are fortunate to have all the mesclun and lettuce we need. We filled two three-gallon bags this week with pickings like this one:

Needless to say, the spinach, such as it is, was bolting, so we took it all:

I have to laugh when I compare this to the 862 lbs. that Daphne has harvested.

A harvest of chive flowers, tarragon, and garlic chives. The chive flowers are destined for vinegar, a great idea we first got from Daphne. We jazz it up a little with a few tarragon sprigs.

In other garden news, it finally got to the point where there are no more nights forecasted below 50 f., so it was time to transplant the eggplant, peppers, and basil.

The herb garden is looking nice:

And so is the broccoli. The extra-early variety "Blue Wind" is living up to its expectations. I suspect we will harvest it within a week.

Here's an example of the Eight Gate Farm Plant Succession Technique™. Basically, you plant a variety or even an entire bed with the vegetable of your choice. Then, when 50% or so does not come up, you replant.

I do not know what the problem was with the beans on the left. Maybe we just had too many cool nights. So, we try again.

And now, introducing the Eight Gate Farm Crop of Mystery™. I grew these cute little guys from the tiniest seeds you could imagine. If they live, I will update as the season progresses. Go ahead and guess now what it is if you want, but I won't say if you're right or wrong until later. The teeny-tiny seeds are your first clue.

I've talked before about our project to refurbish the 5 dilapidated garden benches we inherited with the property. We are down to our last one. The one on the right looked like the one on the left. Have I said that I'm absolutely in love with my new table saw?

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and I wish you happy harvests.