Monday, June 5, 2023

Harvest Monday - 5 June 2023

What a wild weather week! We had three days of 90+ heat, where even small garden chores were exhausting. Then on Friday evening a thunderstorm front came through, ushering in a dramatic change. The weekend days were only in the 40s, with rain and drizzle. One source I read said we haven't had a "high" that "low" in June since 1916. On Saturday we were at the local garden club's plant sale, where I manned an "Ask A Master Gardener" booth, while The Kitchen Goddess (the club's newly-installed President) assisted in plant selection and sales. We were so chilled that we had to light the woodstove when we got home. In June!

This kind of weather contrast can't be good for the newly transplanted vegetables, but there's not much I can do about it. We'll see how they fare.

For harvests, I took two "Asian Delight" bok choys. I don't really taste much difference between the varieties I grow, but I like the contrasting appearance. Asian Delights are petite but well-formed, with fat white stems.

Asian Delight hybrid bok choy

We also did generous pickings of spinach...

Overwintered spinach
...And arugula.


The arugula pizza featured by our Harvest Monday host, Dave, in his last post, inspired us, so we had our own, a little modified by adding prosciutto. Yum!

Arugula-topped pizza

Finally, a few more radishes were added to our salads.

Cherry Belle and French Breakfast radishes

On Sunday the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension held a Volunteer Appreciation Day. The Extension has many volunteer organizations under its sponsorship, with hundreds of participants, including my group, the Master Gardeners. The event was held at the Gunstock Mountain Ski Resort, and "plus ones" were also invited. You could ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain, with its stunning views. After lunch you had your choice of educational programs. I chose the "Discover and Measure NH's Big Trees," then a "Plant/Fern ID Walk." TKG chose a 2 hour "Forest Bathing Mindfulness Walk."

We rode the chairlift to the summit, where it was 37 degrees with a fierce wind, so we couldn't stay long. There was a nice view of the big Lake Winnipesaukee, but the lofty Presidential Range beyond was hidden by clouds. A picture can't capture the total panorama.

View from Gunstock Mountain

Thanks for reading! And thanks to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Harvest Monday - 29 May 2023

This past week I've been living the life of a swingin' bachelor. The Kitchen Goddess is en Paris visiting my sister. It's not like I couldn't have gone; after all, I'm very close to my sister. But someone had to stay and do all the work: planting, weeding, watering, mowing. You know, the swingin' bachelor lifestyle.

For harvests, I cut the first bok choy. I've said before, I find row covers to be a nuisance, but in this case it worked to keep flea beetles out.

'Brisk Green' hybrid bok choy.

I also picked the first radishes. They did not have good germination this year, so the crop will be small.

French Breakfast radishes

I cut some of the last asparagus. This was way more than I could eat this week, so I gave most away.


Simple meals were a part of the aforesaid bachelor lifestyle. I made a soup using miso broth, and added the bok choy, plus mushrooms, scallions, and ramen-style noodles. Quite tasty, and I got two suppers out of it. Also, I've been making salads with our spinach, arugula, radishes, and the last of 2022's red onions. It may look boring, but it makes me feel good to know all the components are home-grown.

Swingin' bachelor salad

In Wildlife Notes, I awoke one morning this week to find the bird feeder next to the kitchen herb garden was lying flat. It had been anchored with a sturdy metal bracket with a spike 15" into the ground. There's only one animal big and powerful enough to do that...a bear.

Bear Attack

It had pried open the two suet feeders on the pole. Fortunately they were not really damaged, nor was the hummingbird feeder. The bracket was toast. Note the wild turkey in the background, inspecting the situation and no doubt hoping there was something left for it. There wasn't. I got a new bracket and put it back up for the hummingbirds. I'm still nervous about putting suet out again. Maybe I'll wait for the bear to move to the next county!

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

Monday, May 22, 2023

Harvest Monday - 22 May 2023

Greetings from Eight Gate Farm! I always say our springs are unpredictable from a weather perspective, and this year is no exception. In early April we had two days of 85+ degree temperatures (30 C.) And I stupidly neglected to vent the two little mini-greenhouses we have. So all my artichoke, celery, and lettuce seedlings were cooked to death. Then it got cold again. It was warming up fine in the past weeks, but in the wee hours of May 18 we got a true frost, literally a month after our last frost. It was not unexpected, but it still caught a lot of people off guard, people who had rushed to set out their tender crops. Here, we were not affected too much, but it did wither the new leaves on the grape vines. I hope they recover.

Harvests so far have been almost exactly tracking what happened last year at this time. Here's the lineup:


 We've been getting regular cuttings of asparagus, giving us all we really need, and I even gave away some. I think we'll maybe get two more cuttings before I let the spears grow to nourish the plants.

I overwintered spinach again. Only about half the plants made it though the winter, which is pretty good considering the leaf mulch I applied blew away in one of our storms. The hardiness of spinach is amazing.

Over-wintered spinach

I got the first picking of arugula, which was directly sown on April 11. Thus we got the first homegrown salads of the year, very welcome.


Finally, I've done three cuttings of chives. We believe the spring chives are tastier than what you get later in the season, so we've been using them fresh and dehydrating a lot. They are now about to flower.

Spring chives

On Thursday I set out all my tomato plants, and this coming week will be a big push to sow beans, and transplant peppers, eggplants, and all the cucurbits. I sure hope the weather holds.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks one again to Dave at for continuing to host Harvest Monday.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Waste Not, Want Not

I'd always attributed that aphorism to Benjamin Franklin, the great American patriot and polymath. Looking further, the phrase predates him considerably, to the 16th Century, though not so succinctly put. Regardless, I've always agreed with it, especially when considering the garden produce that I work so hard to provide. Nothing bothers me more than having my crops get wasted, because they can't be used in time.

It came to mind this week, when The Kitchen Goddess dispatched me to the "stores," to fetch some potatoes for a dish she was making. The spuds had been harvested in early September, and were being kept in a cool, dark room. Alas, I found that every remaining one had sprouted. I was going to throw the lot out, but we reconsidered, and decided we could use them anyway, even if they were a little soft.

I peeled them and put them in cold water while she was out.

Peeled 'Kennebec' potatoes

She did her typical magic, and took some to make gnocchi, by adding flour and egg to make a sort of dough. Then she rolled it into cylinders, sliced them, and pressed a fork onto them. Finally she dusted with corn meal. Here's the result.


These were frozen flat, then put into freezer bags.

The remaining potatoes were shredded. These can be used for potato pancakes, or that uniquely American dish, "hash browns." They were also put into the freezer.

Shredded potatoes

So no waste, no want! We now have plenty for some of my favorite dishes, and my soul was satisfied.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Harvest Monday - 27 February 2023

In late winter we get our first harvest of the year...maple syrup! 

Maple syrup before canning

I'm pretty sure those readers not in North America really don't know or understand what the fuss is about. Maybe Sunday morning pancakes or waffles are not part of the culinary tradition. But to us, it's a big deal! Those vile (my opinion) artificially "maple-flavored" sugar-based syrups (looking at you, Log Cabin/Aunt Jemima) pale in comparison to the rich yet delicate taste of pure, natural maple syrup.

I've written about our small-scale production methods here and here, for those interested.

The winter this year has been very strange. It warmed up in January and the sap started running. How did I know this? Broken twigs were dripping, which would freeze overnight into icicles. We tapped two of our Sugar Maple trees on February 12, two buckets per tree. We had a strong initial run, which shut down as the weather cooled again. The Kitchen Goddess did a boil of what we had collected so far. It started back up after a week or so. We took the last and pulled the taps on February 23. She then boiled down that batch. She will shortly can it into smaller jars.

From the above picture, you can see how the earlier batch (left) is much lighter. I can't really explain why. All I know is we got 2+ quarts, which will serve us well over the coming year. Whole Foods is selling pure "organic" maple syrup for ~$20 per quart, so this is a win for us. Yes, there are costs involved. We typically go through one tank of propane to boil it down, and this year it cost $17, up from $15 in the previous year. But still worth it.

That's of course the only harvest I can report at this time. I'll be back once the growing season progresses.

On a sad note, two weeks ago we said goodbye to our beloved, 19 year old calico kitty, Daisy. Her health had been on a rapid decline, and she had lost so much weight. Here's one of our last pictures of her, in her favorite location, in front of the warm wood stove.


Our son came up from Boston to be with us on the day the vet came. We all had a good cry, then a toast to our happy memories. For one so small, the house seems empty now.

Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at for doing all the work to keep the Harvest Monday tradition going.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Harvest Monday - 21 November 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! I decided to do one last harvest post for the year, even though Dave, our Harvest Monday host, is taking a well-deserved break. I find it useful to look back at these posts to see when I've harvested crops, so documenting the last harvest makes sense.

This week I did a first and last harvest of leeks. I planted many more than what I got, but most didn't make it. And these are on the small side. Still, I love leeks, and am happy to get a few at least.

'Jumper' hybrid leeks

 I also did a first and last harvest of late-summer-planted spinach. Again, not a huge quantity, but it's something else I really love. I'm going to try to overwinter the plants and get an early harvest next year.

Fall spinach

I took all the remaining Swiss chard. On the whole this normally-dependable crop was lackluster this year. But it sure is colorful!

'Oriole' and 'Peppermint' chard

I pulled all the rest of the spring-planted carrots, getting a good haul in time for Thanksgiving dinner. We also gave away quite a few.

'Mokum' hybrid carrots

And the parsley I cut down practically to the ground a few weeks ago amazingly re-grew. 

Italian (flat leaf) parsley

I also cut the three stalks of Brussels sprouts that I nurtured all year from seed. But I'm not going to show them. For we found they were completely infested with disgusting tiny gray aphids. I'm guessing there was maybe 2 - 3 pounds of sprouts we could have gotten, all thrown away. I don't like them, but The Kitchen Goddess really does, and was hoping to serve them for Thanksgiving. So she was very disappointed (and grossed out). To punish me for my failure, she went right out and bought a small package at Whole Foods (grrrrr!).

Same with the last kale, all ruined by the aphids. I've never before had an aphid infestation on any brassicas. Where did they come from so late in the year?

So the gardens are completely empty now, and it's time for our winter hibernation. It was probably the best year ever for production. Either the conditions were ideal, or I'm finally getting the hang of this gardening thing, after doing it all my life. Next year will tell!

For those in the US, I hope enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and celebrations this coming Thursday. It's my favorite holiday. For all readers, thank you for reading my posts over the year, and commenting. See you next year!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Harvest Monday - 24 October 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! We've had several very light frosts this week; not enough to kill anything. And for the first time this season, there were no new/first harvests. But we said goodbye to a lot of crops. 

I took all the largest sweet peppers and pulled the plants. These were chopped and frozen. As such, they are very useful for all applications save salads.

Final sweet pepper harvest

I also took the last paprika peppers. This picture illustrates the steps the fruit goes through before turning fully red. We don't need any more paprika (the spice), but I thought these would do well stuffed, having thick walls.

'Alma Paprika' peppers

I pulled all the tomato plants I grew in my summer-planting experiment, and kept the ripest fruit. Not sure yet what we're going to do with them, but we'll think of something.

Last summer-planted determinate tomatoes

I pulled the last fennel bulb. Although I'm sure it would have been fine over the next few weeks until hard frost, we really didn't want it to get any bigger.

Last 'Orazio' hybrid fennel

The Kitchen Goddess told me to pick all the remaining celery, so I did. The plan here is to make soup base and freeze it.

'Ventura' celery

She also told me to pick parsley. I thought she meant pick all of it, so that's what I did. Well, she didn't, as you can see why. Oops!

Italian flat-leaf parsley

She gave away some bunches of fresh parsley, and dehydrated the rest. Needless to say, we are well supplied!

Raspberries are still trickling in, but it won't be long before it is finished.

Fall raspberries

TKG went to her community garden plot and returned with two nice petite artichokes.

'Tavor' artichokes

So all the cold-sensitive crops have been removed. Ironically, it's supposed to warm up this coming week, but no loss, because we have so much of everything. It's nice to get a jump on cleaning out the beds, and not play the frost-watch game. The only things remaining are the cool-tolerant plants, which will continue to grow (maybe not flourish). So I may be on hiatus for Harvest Monday posts for a couple of weeks, unless something dramatic (yeah, right) happens.

Thanks for reading, and we'll see you in a few. Thanks once again to Dave at for his hard work in keeping Harvest Monday going.