Monday, October 25, 2021

Harvest Monday - 25 October 2021

When I got up early Sunday morning the thermometer read 34 (1.1 C), mighty close to the danger zone! However, since there was a breeze, I hoped that any ground frost hadn't settled.

I had known it was going to get colder, so I earlier harvested and cut the plants for some peppers and all the eggplants, that would obviously not give us any more fruit. It always pains me to remove plants that are otherwise healthy and lush.

Here are the last poblano and shishito peppers. I really like the dark green, almost black, color of poblanos when they are mature.

Poblano and shishito peppers

We prepared the poblanos in the way we always do, stuffed with sausage and cheese, wrapped in bacon, and smoked. It was especially delicious this time.

Here are the last Anaheim peppers. These too were smoked, then dried and ground for chile powder. Cue another sneezing fit!

Anaheim peppers

Here's one of the almost-daily raspberry harvests we got this week.

Fall raspberries

I was rolling up the drip irrigation on the fenceline where we grow some perennials, and was very surprised to find these saffron flowers. I thought the corms I planted in 2019 had all been destroyed by chipmunks, but this group was hiding out under an anise hyssop. According to Wikipedia, saffron can fetch up to $5000 per pound. I figure I got a buck's worth! Even this tiny amount of red stigma are perfuming the kitchen as they are air-drying.

Saffron flowers

It was time to pick our green apple tree. I think it's a Granny Smith, as it is definitely late-season. There was an abundance this year. There are still more apples on the tree, but I got fatigued just picking this amount. We will make another batch of sparkling hard cider.

Granny Smith(?) apples

Here's Mondays general harvest. Again the volunteer tomato's fruit are segregated on the left. On the right are the last of the pole beans (Fortex).

Monday harvest
Here's Friday's.

Friday harvest

In the center are the last fully ripe Escamillo and Pimiento Elite sweet peppers. However, there are a lot of green ones left, which I will wait until the last minute to pick. Also note the volunteers on the left. I'm thinking seriously of saving seeds from this productive mystery tomato.

The Kitchen Goddess and her mother are gradually emptying their community garden plot. Here's what Mom went home with:

Sunday community garden harvest

Now about the frost. We always grow coleus in a large pot on the back patio. When I see these sensitive plants have withered I know we've had the first true frost. Here's what the Coleus-O-Meter read later Sunday morning.

Coleus plants

Definitely wilted but not withered. So probably not a true frost. The garden itself looked okay.

I had hoped for a refreshingly short post this week, but that didn't happen. Soon, though! Thanks for reading, and a big thanks to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for continuing to host Harvest Monday


Monday, October 18, 2021

Harvest Monday - 18 October 2021

We've been thoroughly enjoying this stretch of fine fall weather, with warm days and nights nowhere near freezing. Part of me wonders though if we are on borrowed time.

Harvests are continuing to slow, but still occurring. Here's Monday's. The tomatoes on the left are all from the unidentified volunteer plant. These fruits fully ripen particularly fast indoors.

Monday harvest

I've said many times how impressed I am with collards, and the amazing amount of food value we get from them. This time I decided to cut one stalk and pull off the leaves. Again I want to thank our Harvest Monday host, Dave, for inspiring me to try this crop.

"Top Bunch 2.0" collards

What else can I say about raspberries? We continue to be deluged with them, and that's a happy problem for sure. At this stage there's no more flowering, but still many to ripen.

Fall raspberries

Here's Friday's harvest. Again the mystery tomatoes are on the left. It looks like this is the last of the eggplants, and these are on the small side. The Kitchen Goddess used many of them that night to make a delicious moussaka. 

Friday harvest

I finally had enough hot peppers to make unfermented "varietal" hot sauces.

Cayenne and Hot Lemon peppers

I used the very simple method I like, with only three ingredients: peppers, vinegar, salt. The kitchen was a spicy place that morning!

Cayenne and Hot Lemon sauces

I think I'm going to order more of the cute little sauce bottles we like. We have plenty of leftover bottles, but the red shrinkwrap seals are in short supply, and as far as I know, you can't order just the seals.

I also made three pints of tomato sauce for the fridge.

For garden activities, I expanded the field garden by another roughly 120 square feet. I'm experimenting with the "lasagna" style of bed creation; no dig, no till. I put down two layers of large sheet cardboard, then added about four inches of slightly rotted grass clippings, and topped with another four inches of finished compost from the shredded leaf pile. It looks pretty good! I'm not sure what I'm going to plant there, but I have all winter to figure it out.

Lasagna-method plot extension

I also planted garlic this week, adjacent to the above. I'm growing 48 plants; 16 each of Katterman, Music, and Chesnok Red--all hardnecks. The Katterman cloves are really huge, and if there's one thing I've learned, big cloves make big plants. Here's Katterman compared with Chesnok Red.

Garlic clove size comparison

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.





Monday, October 11, 2021

Harvest Monday - 11 October 2021

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. As I look at the 14-day forecast, no frosts are predicted. But the combination of cooler temps and diminishing sunlight is already slowing things down from a harvest perspective, with twice a week sufficient.

I got the first cutting of Neck Pumpkins aka Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. The largest weighs two pounds, which is far smaller than the 8 pound beauty I got last year.

Neck Pumpkin

I cut all the remaining Sugaretti spaghetti squash.

Sugaretti

Here's Monday's tomato harvest; not the total but the bigger ones.

Monday tomato partial harvest

And here's Monday's everything-else harvest.

Monday non-tomato harvest

By Friday, the picking was small enough to fit into one picture.

Friday everything harvest

The Kitchen Goddess and her mother went to their community garden plot and brought in a nice harvest. 

Community garden harvest

Her mother gets to go home with all the goods, normally. But TKG claimed this nice late-season artichoke for herself!

Tavor artichoke

Early in the week we had enough ripe tomatoes to make some sauce; not enough to can, but good for the freezer.

Tomatoes ready for processing

All that reduced down to about one quart of thick sauce.

Tomato sauce

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading! And thanks once again to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.







 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Harvest Monday - 4 October 2021 - Blue Ribbon Edition Part V

Since 1876, the Deerfield Fair has been our region's most prominent agricultural exposition. That means it was held through two world wars and the devastating flu pandemic in 1918. But COVID shut it down last year. That fact amazes me. We really are living through an historic time. 

The fair restarted this year, on the last weekend of September as always. And again we put some of our vegetables and canned goods on display, and maybe win prizes!

I submitted seven entries. Here they are, along with the numbers required and my predictions for success.

Vegetable fair entries

From top:
  • Spaghetti squash (2) - Prediction: red (2nd place) as they are not completely size consistent. Var: Sugaretti
  • Yellow Onions (5) - Prediction: red, as they are not huge, and I accidentally peeled off a little too much of the outer skins. Var: Talon
  • Other Onions (5) -  I put my shallots in this category. Prediction: red, as I discovered one of them was actually a twin. Var: Ambition
  • Peppers, hot yellow (5) - Prediction: blue (1st place). Var: Hot Lemon
  • Peppers, hot red (5) - Prediction: blue. Var: Cayenne
  • Peppers, sweet red (5) - Prediction: blue. Var: Biquinho Red
  • Peppers: sweet yellow (5) - Prediction: blue. Var: Biquinho Yellow
The Kitchen Goddess entered 7 canned goods.

Canned goods fair entries
From left:
  • Bloody Mary Mix
  • Stewed Tomatoes
  • Salsa
  • Apple Pie Filling
  • Apple Sauce
  • Pickled Pepperoncini
  • Pickled Red Onions
She doesn't make predictions, but I always predict a clean blue sweep for her.

She once again made a scarecrow for the Scarecrow Contest. You have to incorporate at least 5 vegetables or fruits. Since the theme of the fair this year was "Flock Back to the Fair," she made vegetable birds to adorn the lady, named "Ro-bird-a." I really like the "Love-Lies-Bleeding" amaranth dreadlocks, and the kale shoes.

"Ro-bird-a" scarecrow contest entry

Tuesday we brought up the entries, judging took place on Wednesday, and we went to the fair on Thursday, its opening day. We always have lots of fun looking at the farm animals and displays. So how did we do?

Vegetables:
  • Spaghetti squash - blue
  • Yellow onions - blue
  • Shallots - white. actually that's not bad, since I mistakenly entered them in the wrong category (shallots had their own specific one). The judge also wrote "uniformity" on the tag
  • Hot Yellow Peppers - blue
  • Hot Red Peppers - red. Not sure why they were graded down.
  • Sweet Red Peppers - blue
  • Sweet Yellow Peppers - white. Ouch! What happened? Well, by the time I saw them after the judging they did not look too fresh. Maybe damaged in transport?
So that's 4 blues, 1 red, and 2 whites. Not great, but not bad either...next year better!

TKG's canned goods did well in my opinion, but not hers. 
  • Bloody Mary Mix - red
  • Stewed Tomatoes - blue
  • Salsa - blue
  • Apple Pie Filling - blue
  • Apple Sauce - blue
  • Pepperoncini - red
  • Pickled Red Onions - red
She won 4 blues and 3 reds. She was not happy, but she's a lot more competitive than I am.

For the scarecrow, after several years of 4th place, she got 2nd place this year! It comes with a $90 cash prize. That means we totaled $141.50 this year, which helps offset the cost of seeds and supplies for next year. But the fun factor is the greatest reward.

And we thus got more ribbons to add to the Eight Gate Farm Wall Of Respect (in the laundry room).

Ribbon haul

But enough showboating, here are harvests this week. There were no "first harvests of the season" but continuing ones are still trickling in.

Monday's tomato picking:

Monday tomato harvest

Monday's everything-else harvest:

Monday non-tomato harvest

Friday's tomato picking:

Friday tomato harvest

Friday's everything-else harvest. Smaller, but still colorful.

Friday non-tomato harvest

Raspberries are still giving us great joy. This particular picking weighed over 1.25 pounds.

Fall raspberries

For "preserving the harvest,"we smoked all the paprika peppers and made a nice quantity of fragrant smoked paprika.

Smoked paprika

We took all the accumulated cayenne peppers...

Cayennes prior to smoking and drying

...and made 1.75 ounces of cayenne powder. It too is very aromatic but made me sneeze when grinding!

Cayenne powder

Once again, I encourage you to enter your "farm goods" in any local fair you may have. It is so much fun regardless of what and how much you win. Thanks for reading. I'm sure that future posts will not be this long! Please join me in thanking Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday



Monday, September 27, 2021

Harvest Monday - 27 September 2021

The days are getting noticeably shorter, which means that <soon> my Harvest Monday posts will be much shorter, too. But not quite yet! Some more "first harvests" of the year came in this week, as well as continuing ones.

This is "Escamillo," a hybrid sweet pepper. Last year I was gifted a plant from my pepper-loving friend, and was impressed by how big the fruit got. I could not get any to ripen yellow though. I bought seeds and tried again this year. So far only one has ripened fully, and I have my doubts about the others. Still, green peppers are very useful even if not at their peak sweetness.


Escamillo

My volunteer tomato plant gave us its first fruit, about golf ball size. We sampled one, and while the flavor is good, actually really good, it had a somewhat mealy texture. If I had to guess, I'd say it could be a Gardener's Delight based on the shape and size, but it really could be anything.


Mystery volunteer tomato

Our apple trees are loaded with fruit this year. I picked the old tree I think is a McIntosh, and the Macoun tree we planted when we first moved here in 2011 also had some fruit to give for the first time.
 

Left: Macoun, right: McIntosh

Most of the fruit for both is ugly and unmarketable, as I don't spray. They taste good though. Mainly we can them or make cider. But one of the Macouns is actually pretty good looking. 


Macoun

For continuing harvests, here's Monday's tomato picking:

Monday tomato harvest

And here's Monday's everything-else harvest:

Monday non-tomato harvest

And here's Thursday's tomato harvest. Definitely slowing down.

Thursday tomato harvest

Thursday's non-tomato harvest. The red cayenne peppers are starting to accumulate; soon I will process them for cayenne powder. May smoke some, too.


Thursday everything-else harvest

Fall raspberries are such a joy! Every day The Kitchen Goddess is bringing back hefty pickings from the raspberry patch. This was the largest, at 1.25 pounds (~ 577 g.). They mostly go to the freezer, and are then used for smoothies.

Fall raspberries

TKG and her mother had another nice harvest from the community garden plot they share. All this stuff goes home with the MIL, who is more than thrilled with it.

Community garden harvest

We did a lot of preserving this week. TKG made seven pints of apple pie filling, and four pints of apple sauce, from some of the red apples pictured above.

Apple sauce and apple pie filling

We made seven pints of chopped tomatoes from the accumulated ripe ones.

Canned chopped tomatoes

And a jar of pickled red and yellow Biquinho peppers. This is the traditional Brazilian method of serving them. This wasn't sealed and is destined for the refrigerator.

Pickled Biquinho peppers

Now for Wildlife Notes. I don't often venture into our woods where I've set up two game cameras. The ticks really spook me. But this week I suited up in my tick-proof outfit (factory-treated with permethrin) and changed the memory cards. Here are some highlights of what was captured over the previous couple of months.

An Eastern Coyote on the move. We often hear the pack yelping at night. It's a fascinating sound, but makes you shiver, too.

Eastern coyote

Here's a beautiful 8 or 10 point buck White-tailed deer. "Points" refer to the number of tines on the antlers.

Large male White-tailed deer

And this could be his wife, though she doesn't know it yet. Mating season starts around December here.

Not camera-shy doe

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