Monday, July 17, 2017

Harvest Monday - 17 July 2017

Welcome to another Harvest Monday post from Eight Gate Farm. Harvest Monday, as you know, is graciously hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres, and is the place to go to see what people are presently harvesting around the world. Thanks, Dave!

For "first harvests" this week, we had a nice head of Fiesta broccoli.

Followed up a day or two later with a head of Arcadia.

For continuing harvests, we had near-daily pickings of Super Sugar Snap (left), and Mammoth Melting Sugar.

Several people have asked my opinion of the heirloom MMS. Well, I have to say they are good, but must be picked very young (2 inches or so), or the pods get tough. Maybe "mammoth" refers to the vines. They are now over 7 feet tall and still growing--despite the catalogs saying they only get to 4 - 5 feet. I might be looking for another snow pea variety next year.

We did another picking of fat Blauwschokkers pods, again with the off-type green ones present.

They got put with the earlier picking on this screen in the sunroom to thoroughly dry. It takes awhile, but I found in previous years leaving them on the vines leads to mold issues.

We continue to take a few carrots for our immediate use, leaving the rest to size up. Boy, do we love fresh carrots!

The kale component of the mesculin mix was so large it got its own picking. It was blanched and frozen.

Thus, we got a separate picking of the more lettuce-y components of the mix.

The adorable fox family I showed last week has sadly moved on it appears. Perhaps not coincidentally, a groundhog was spotted making its way toward the Survival Garden out back, and shortly after that, it was "re-homed to heaven" as we say. Severe, I know, but you should hear the grim stories from local gardeners about their beloved crops disappearing overnight to these destructive beasts.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 13, 2017


I'm not partial to fennel root. So why would I grow it? It started out for one reason, and ended up being another.

When I was a youngster living in California, wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) was a plant I was very familiar with. We called it "anise," and chewing its seeds were just the thing for freshening up your breath before you got home to face suspicious parents. I still like the flavor of those seeds, and I think the plant itself is attractive. Of course, in western states, fennel is considered invasive, and certainly does grow everywhere, especially coastal environments. Being the wild variety, it isn't the cultivar used for root production, but they are similar.

A few years ago, on a trip back to California, I gathered some seeds and brought them back home. Last year I started a plant with them, and transplanted it to the Kitchen Herb Garden. It was really just for fun and nostalgia. It grew pretty well, but was munched by caterpillars down to just stems. It rebounded by the end of the growing season. I was pretty sure fennel would not overwinter here, so I started another plant this year. It turns out the original plant did regenerate this year, so I have two in the herb garden.

Once again, caterpillars found them.

This is the larvae of the familiar Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes). Gardeners know them as consumers of dill, parsley, and the like, but we tolerate them, since the butterfly itself is so beautiful.

So my fennel is serving as a "trap crop" for the parsley and dill in the herb garden, and I don't really care if they demolish it, which they did. I watched them get fatter and fatter, and would poke them now and then just to see those yellow feeler things pop out and distribute a pungent odor (their natural protection). I actually did find one on parsley, and re-homed it to the fennel. But I guess I have the home version of the children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, because they weren't done eating, and moved on to a nearby dill. It too is now stripped down to mostly stems, except for the flower.

I still wonder if the fennel will truly be a perennial here. It will be an interesting experiment. I think there's very little chance of it becoming invasive, as I don't plan to let any seeds get away if it ever does set them.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Harvest Monday - 10 July 2017

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! We had a number of "first" harvests this week. None qualified as a feast, it's more of a promise of things to come. But then, in gardening nothing is promised, as we all know.

The first shishito peppers:

The first Hungarian Wax pepper:

The first carrots were sampled for goodness (they're good).

The first Mammoth Melting Sugar snow peas:

The first "Desiree Dwarf Blauwschokkers" soup peas. These are from seeds I saved and some did not come up true to type (there are all green ones). This should be OK, but I'm buying fresh seeds from now on.

The first blueberries:

The first cherries, what we can steal from the birds:

For representational continuing harvests, we had Super Sugar Snap peas:

And turnips. Again, you can see the contrast between the abundant greens of "White Egg" on the right, and the skimpy ones for "Purple Crown."

The strawberries have finished. They gave us a good run.

The Kitchen Goddess busy preparing and storing the harvests. She made a large jar of pickled garlic scapes:

And for her Garden Club meeting, she cleverly made fortune cookies with garden wisdom fortunes contained therein.

We started seeing a cute furry visitor, sunning himself in the tall grass. Can you guess what it is?

A few days later there were three!

We're guessing these are kits, and Mama Red Fox is somewhere back there keeping a watchful eye. It was absolutely hysterical watching them pounce on each other and chase their tails, like puppies. We hope they stay, as there will undoubtedly be a significant reduction in the rodent population. But alas, I had to mow this area, and we have not seen them since. TKG is mad at me.

Thanks for reading this long post. Please join me in thanking Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Harvest Monday - 3 July 2017

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. Happy Independence Day (July 4) for US residents, and belated Happy Canada Day to our friends in the Great White North!

For "first harvests" this week, we have the first smallish head of Blue Wind broccoli. I'm happy to get any broccoli this year, as the seedlings suffered heat stress while we were on vacation in late March. Even in winter, the sun room can get too hot!

Then we had the first Purple Top White Globe turnip. As I said last week, I'm disappointed in this variety--they are slow, with poor germination, and much smaller greens. But they are colorful.

For continuing harvests, we had more "White Egg" turnips, with their luxuriant greens.

The Kitchen Goddess took all the turnip greens and braised them with garlic, red onion, red pepper flakes, and a little rendered salt pork for flavor and extra nutrition! This smelled and tasted heavenly.

Next up is the rest of the garlic scapes. Some of these went into a pesto which she served over boiled new potatoes (not our own, alas).

Next is more Super Sugar Snap peas.

Then more salad greens. I finally figured out that the delightfully spicy and aromatic component of this mix is arugula.

Finally, a representative picking of strawberries. They are slowing down, with the fruit getting smaller. It won't be long before the June bed is done for the year. We also have everbearing, which should give us another crop or two later, although I don't know when.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and especially your comments, which I love to read. Please see all the posts on Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.