Monday, October 16, 2017

Harvest Monday - 16 October 2017

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm.

We had a frost advisory mid-week. I harvested all the tomatoes showing any color, and covered the eggplants and peppers. As it turned out, while the air temperature never registered freezing, there was scattered frost on the roofs and random patches of the ground. I can't seem to figure out why.

Just prior to that, we took some things we needed, and The Kitchen Goddess made a goofy Mr. Red-Eye for me to photograph.

I harvested the rest of the Floriani Red Flint corn, which is now joining its brothers drying in the sunroom. Good thing, too, since we are totally out of cornmeal.

On Sunday we got another indication there will be close to a frost on Monday night. I figured it was time to bring in all the peppers and eggplants that were ripe or close to it. So here's a plethora of peppers and an abundance of aubergines:

Top row: generic hot cherry, Calabrese, Thai Hot, and Cherry Bomb. Bottom row: Big Jim, Maule's Red Hot, Hungarian Hot Wax, Anaheim, and Aruba (Cubanelle).
Clockwise from top left: Mitoyo, Rosita, Bride, Nadia, Ping Tung Long.

Now everything will just have to fend for itself.

I also took the two useable zucchinis, which we enjoyed that night my favorite way: Zucchini Smash, which is just the sliced fruit lightly steamed, then sauteed in butter with garlic and onions, slightly smashing as you go.

Cocozella di Napoli

Backing up slightly, on Saturday I picked all the Shishito peppers that were big enough for the grill, mostly one-biters but still delicious.

Mellow Star

TKG did a fantastic job quickly slicing and blanching the skinny eggplants, making 9 or 10 packages for the freezer. The globular eggplants we are going to fire-roast tonight, with the intention of making baba ganoush. Also the peppers suitable for chiles rellenos will be grilled.

But speaking of the freezer, I think I've mentioned that we are running 2 1/2 freezers here: a chest freezer in the barn, an upright in the utility room, and one under the fridge. All are full-to-bursting with this and prior years' vegetables and fruit. I would dearly love to empty one and stop using the electricity it takes. We spent some time on Sunday organizing things. The chest freezer had many bags of apples picked last year, with the intention of making more hard cider. But we still have several cases of cider from the year before. So I took those apples and distributed them out in the woods. Note to game wardens: I am just feeding the deer and most definitely not baiting them!

But still we have far too much frozen produce. We will try using the oldest ones in a mixed soup/puree and see how that goes. I guess it's another of those happy problems when you grow more than you can use or give away. But there's cost and effort involved in freezing them. That's why I like to grow things you can just dry and store in a closet: flint corn, beans, soup peas. I just have to plan the gardens better. Any ideas?

Thank you for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at Our Happy Acres for continuing to host Harvest Monday. Please join me there for a look at harvests all around the world.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Harvest Monday - 9 October 2017

Hello, and Happy Thanksgiving to readers in Canada! The week started cool and dry, but quickly turned warm and humid in advance of Tropical Storm Nate, now passing through as I write this Monday morning.

I start by showing the accumulated dried beans just before putting them away in storage. From left, Midnight Black Turtle, Sunset Scarlet Runner, and Kenearly Yellow-eye (a poor showing this year).

The remaining Silver Queen sweet corn was picked, and the stalks cut. Obsessive as I am, I counted 26 ears from 59 stalks. The Kitchen Goddess boiled them, cut the "niblets," and further boiled the cobs to make packages of creamed corn for the freezer. I learned that while it contains a lot of butter, there is no actual cream involved.

I took the first of the "Floriani Red Flint" dry corn, and also harvested the last of the black bean pods. Many of the corn cobs had been damaged by something, which causes mold around the penetration of the husk. This will have to be cut off before we can shell the cobs.

By the end of the week the bean pods were crisp enough to shell, a relaxing activity that gives a man time to think...mostly about beans. With this and the earlier picking, we have a lot of bean dishes in the future.

The sultry weather was good for tomatoes, although I have been getting a lot of drops.

Also in the picture are the first-of-the-year "Homemade Pickles" cucumbers, oddly misshapen. And some shishito peppers.

The weather was also good for peppers and eggplants, and the zucchini is still putting out fruit despite its powdery mildew problems.

TKG dehydrated all the accumulated hot red peppers to make red pepper flakes, an aromatic experience!

We took another "Winter Light" daikon radish. These are supposed to be mild, but we find them spicy, which is not a bad thing.

So many things from the garden went into this delicious weekend cook-out. The cucumbers became an Asian-style pickle appetizer (rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and sesame seeds, in proportions I never do consistently). Zucchini and "Umberto" tomatoes made up one skewer. Shishito peppers are another. Finally, richly-herbed lamb and Cubanelle peppers are the main course. And as a garnish, a leek "scape," also grilled, which is crunchy and onion-y. All served with a wonderful Schug Pinot Noir from the Carneros district of Sonoma County. Quite a feast for a rare warm October night!

Lastly, the fall-bearing raspberries are coming on strong.

That's all for this week. As always, thanks for reading! And a big shout-out to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Harvest Monday - 2 October 2017 - Blue Ribbon Edition Part II

The last weekend in September means it's time once again for The Deerfield Fair, now in its 141st year. Last year I wrote about the fun we had entering our produce and canned goods in the exhibitions, and this year I wanted even more! I entered six vegetables this time, while The Kitchen Goddess kept it to a demure three of her canning products.

The stuff got dropped off last Tuesday, and on Saturday we went to the fair to see how we did. It was a cold, drizzly, blustery day, but the crowds were still huge.

The anticipation mounted as we approached the exhibit hall:

Turn to the right, and right off we found TKG got side-by-side blue ribbons for her pickled hot yellow pepper rings and her Peri-Peri sauce!

A little further down the line, and a blue ribbon for her pasta sauce. She went three for three!

Across the aisle to the vegetables. My shishito peppers got a red ribbon.

Same for Thai Hot peppers. Hmm, I thought those might get a blue just for cuteness.

There's a red ribbon for my "Bride" eggplant:

Wow, the judging is tough this year. Who are the judges? They are experts in horticulture and home industries from the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension Service. I guess they don't mess around! In my mind I was picturing adorable little grannies in flower-print dresses judging the canned and baked goods at least, but no. By the way, each entry is judged on its own merits, not relative to others of the same type.

Ah, finally a blue, for my Nadia eggplant:

Okay, where is my garlic? It's not in with the others. Oh look, there's the "People's Choice" table, where the viewers can vote for one of five entries chosen by the staff (not the judges).

And there's my Vietnamese Purple Striped garlic, again a red ribbon from the judges (and the others are all blues). Already at a disadvantage!

Did I vote for myself? You decide. But the People's Choice finally went for these attractive black-hulled popcorn ears. Congratulations, whoever you are, but dang, I really had my eye on that ceramic trophy crock.

One entry left, my black beans. Again, not in with the other dried beans. But what's this on the end cap?

There they are!

I didn't win absolute Best In Show. That went to an entry of cranberries. Again, congratulations to that person. I didn't even know anyone grew cranberries in New Hampshire. But I was thrilled to place in the top ten, and get that fancy ribbon.

So let's tally up our prize money! A little math, and it comes to $34. Not bad! But what about expenses? Let's see...admission and lunch at the fair comes to $38. Uh oh. And that's not including the costs of 3 trips to the fair, once to drop off entries, once to attend, and once to pick them back up again. Only one thing to do...enter more next year!

Of course we do it for the sheer fun, which knew no bounds. Once again I encourage you to enter your products in any local fair you have. You will really enjoy it, I promise.

Thanks for reading, and sorry for the boasting. I know it's kind of a stretch for the "how you use your harvest" mission of the weekly Harvest Monday at Our Happy Acres. I'll be back next week with a more conventional post.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Harvest Monday - 25 September 2017

Here's another weekly roundup from Eight Gate Farm. Once again, I'll lead off with the "first harvests."

The first Silver Queen sweet corn was picked. And judging by her yellow kernels, there is scandal in the Corn Kingdom. The Silver Queen has been dallying with Little Sir Honey Select! Shocking! Or, normal cross-pollination. I was so intent on locating the corn based on its maturity, I forgot about the cross-pollinating tendencies when white is planted next to yellow. 

Silver Queen, a "normal sugary" (su) variety, is an old late-season standard here in New England, and used to be much anticipated. I planted it out of nostalgia. But our palettes have evolved, and the super-sweets (se, sh2, syn) like Honey Select are what please us more now. The "old-fashioned corniness" with a hint of sweetness just doesn't quite cut it. I probably won't plant it next year.

We took a few "Winter Light" daikon radishes to see how they are doing. The seeds were a gift, and the package said 120 days, so they might be an over-wintering variety. I don't think we'll do that, but these were quite nice and spicy.

That's all the first harvests this week. Tropical Storm Jose passed by us, giving us some rain and wind but nothing major. It left us the "tropical" part. The peppers and eggplants, which had been pouting in the prior cold snap, awoke.

The tomatoes benefited too.

As did the zucchini.

The Kitchen Goddess was able to can up some sauce.

And make Eggplant Napoleon.

The fall raspberries are starting to produce well.

A few of the leeks were flowering, so we took them. I've never grown such fat ones before. Hopefully the rest will last until we get a few frosts, which is said to improve them.

Carentan leek

One thing about the rainy spell, I didn't get out into the garden much, and the slugs had a field day with the brassicas. This is the last Chinese cabbage, and the first of the fall Tatsoi.

Can I interest you in a bucket of corn? The Honey Select was sadly past its prime. It was still very sweet, but starting to get "toothy." I picked the remaining 34 ears and cut 82 stalks to use as decorations. Yes, I counted them.

We ate a few of them on the cob (still pretty good), and TKG cut the kernels from the rest, and boiled down the cobs to make corn broth. We now have over 2 gallons of "niblets" in the freezer, ready for corn chowder, tortilla-corn soup, and creamed corn. Comfort food for me!

And speaking of comfort "food," TKG canned 5 1/2 quarts of her Bloody Mary Mix. Yes, we need more tomato sauce, but there is something very comforting about sipping a Bloody Mary in front of the fire on a frosty winter morning.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave for hosting Harvest Monday at Our Happy Acres. Please join me there for all the terrific posts from gardeners around the world.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Harvest Monday - 18 September 2017

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm. As usual I lead off with the "first of the year harvests" for this past week.

The Kitchen Goddess picked all the grapes herself, then spent much of Sunday afternoon sitting cross-legged on the floor sorting and stemming them, an unenviable task. Thus her 2017 blush wine vintage commences.

Meanwhile, I picked a good portion of the black beans and spread them out to dry on a window screen in the sunroom.

Midnight Black Turtle bean pods.
Next up is continuing, and in some cases last harvests. Sweet corn is still in good production, and so is the zucchini.

This photo is not blurry; it's your eyes.
The zucchini is Cocozella di Napoli. It's sometimes billed as a "bush" variety, but it's far from it. Instead, it produces very robust 4 - 5 foot vines. It's therefore a space hog, but worth it for the productivity and superior taste. It's prone to powdery mildew, as the below photo shows, but it doesn't seem to slow it down.

Here's the last muskmelon, and the last, neglected Diva cucumbers. Hard to believe we actually were sated with the Divas this year, and weren't sad when wilt took down the vines.

Diva cucumbers and Halona muskmelon.
We had many pickings of solanaceae.

Hungarian Hot Wax, Nadia, Ping Tung, Bride, Rosita, Shishito, Thai Hot, Cherry Bomb.

Notable is the harvest of Anaheim peppers. I've never grown them before, and they look to be a winner. They are mildly hot (900 - 2500 Scovilles says Fedco), and are perfect for chiles rellenos, so guess what's in my future. Yum.

Anaheim chiles.
This photo looks like one of those emergency harvests you make when frost is imminent, but we have no frost expected in the near future. Tropical Storm Jose is expected to brush us in a few days, which won't be good for the plants. But mostly, I was sick of looking at the dead, blighted tomatoes, so I took what was there to ripen indoors, and disposed of the vines. The indeterminate vines, while diseased, are still producing, so there will be more tomatoes before the inevitable frost.

That's all for this week. I hope you are getting great harvests from your gardens, and look forward to reading your posts at Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Septoria Leaf Spot? Is That What's Killing The Tomatoes?

I've thought I was a victim of early or late blight. But now that I look at a leaf more closely it seems to look like Septoria Leaf Spot.

Does anyone know?

In any event, most of the determinate plants are dead. Here's one of the "Pony Express" plants. Or was.

"Plum Regal," billed as blight-resistant, is doing a little bit better.

The indeterminates are better off. They seem to grow their way out of it.

Some of the fruit is developing blisters, which may be something completely different then.

What a mess.

I started spraying with Serenade a few weeks ago. I think it was too late for this year. But next I'm going to drown the plants with it starting at transplant. Something has to work!