Monday, October 3, 2022

Harvest Monday - 3 October 2022 - Blue Ribbon Edition Part VI

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. It was the last weekend of September, which means time once again for The Deerfield Fair. 

The Fair, our area's largest agricultural exhibition, has been operating since 1876, with only one missed year, 2020, for obvious reasons. We love going, especially since it gives us an opportunity to show off our gardens' star products.

This year I entered 14 vegetables. You may think this is excessive, and it may be, but one person I saw had 30 entries. What's wrong with that?

Cutting right to the chase, I made the Top Ten vegetables for the second time, this time with my "Calypso" dry beans. I lost out on being Best In Show to a rather dowdy (to me) display of pole beans. No, I'm not bitter. Really.

Calypso beans made Top Ten

Here's the prize breakdown:

First Prize (8)
  • Dried Beans
  • Garlic
  • Hot Lemon Peppers
  • Habanero Peppers
  • Talon Onions
  • Neck Pumpkins
  • Autumn Frost Squash
  • Sugaretti Spaghetti Squash
Second Prize (5)
  • Thin Cayenne Peppers
  • Sugar Rush Peach Peppers
  • Blue Prince Pumpkins
  • Largest Single Zucchini
  • Red Marble Cippolini Onions
Third Prize (1)
  • Alisa Craig Exhibition Onions--not sure what the problem was here. They were very large and uniform. Maybe the judge didn't like their loose skins, which is a trait of the type?
The ribbons all lined up make me very happy. I'm perfectly willing to accept that I am childish.

2022 Deerfield Fair prize ribbons

Of course the week wasn't all about getting ready for the fair. Harvests are slowing way down as could be expected, but still are bringing good and useful things.

There was only one "first harvest" this week, and that is Swiss Chard. It is very late in the season for me to be picking it for the first time. The only reason I can think of is I did not properly amend the soil in its bed, although I thought I did.

'Oriole' and 'Peppermint' Swiss Chard

On Monday I picked tomatoes. We gave these away, plus what we had inside, to a friend who wanted to make sauce.

Monday tomato harvest

On Tuesday I picked eggplants and sweet peppers.

Tuesday eggplant and sweet pepper harvest

And also hot peppers.

Tuesday hot pepper harvest

On Sunday I did the last major harvest of tomatoes (which we will ripen indoors before giving away), plus a few carrots, plus the last of the habanero peppers.

Sunday harvest

The Kitchen Goddess is bringing in a lot more ripe raspberries, though she informed me that she's not seeing much in the way of new fruit forming. Here's a sample tipping the scale at over 2 pounds.

Sample raspberry harvest

For "preserving the harvest," we smoked, dried, and ground a large amount of paprika peppers. The powder smells wonderful.

Smoked paprika

I said last week I had made several varietal hot sauces, but the 5-ounce bottles I like to keep them in had not shipped. They did show up this week, so I used up last week's production and plus made more, resulting in (from left) 5 bottles of Habanero, 2 of cayenne, and 2 of Hot Lemon.

Varietal hot sauces


That's all for this week. Thanks for reading. Once again I encourage you to take your best vegetables and enter them into any local fair. It is so much fun to show off! And thanks as always to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Harvest Monday - 26 September 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. This week was mostly cool, damp, and dreary. Not at all like our normal early fall weather. The harvests are slowing way down, yet a few new crops were brought in.

My first picture is of a heatless habanero pepper called "Habanada." The seedling was given to me by a friend. I never really saw the point of growing heatless hot peppers, but I was happy to give this a try. Cutting them open, they released the same aromatic fragrance of real habaneros. Tasting them (something I wouldn't dare try with a habanero), they are very sweet, fruity, and rich. I can see how they would be good aromatic peppers to flavor things like beans. I might save some seeds. But the plant itself is a shy producer.

Habanada

The summer-planted "Minuet" Chinese cabbages looked to be ready, and we needed one for a dish. They actually were on the small side, so I took two. 

Minuet (F1) cabbage

This is a volunteer squash that grew up in the compost. I've never grown anything resembling this, so when the fruit formed I was very puzzled as to its origin. Then The Kitchen Goddess remembered we bought some small ornamental pumpkins at the market last year. Well, no need to buy them this year!

Tiny white ornamental pumpkins

I cut the first two "Lilly" hybrid crenshaw-type melons. These are another creation from Johnny's Selected Seeds. They are very sweet, yet also hold some of the muskiness of cantaloupes.

'Lilly' hybrid melons

Three years ago I planted 3 bare root vines of the red wine grape "Marquette." This is a product from the University of Minnesota's project to develop cold-hardy, disease-resistant wine grapes for the North. TKG has been carefully pruning and trellising the vines, and she picked the entire crop this week. Right now they are undergoing fermentation. We have high hopes, as the grapes measured an outstanding brix level of 25.

'Marquette' wine grapes

For "general harvests," Tuesday's was small enough to fit in one picture.

Tuesday general harvest

TKG did some amazing pickings of fall raspberries. Here's one at over 2 pounds. She decided to start a batch of raspberry liqueur with them. I know I'll enjoy sipping it in winter.

Raspberries

It wasn't until Sunday that I ventured out again into the gardens to harvest. The cool weather had really slowed things down. But I got a good cutting of greens (collards and kale). These were immediately chopped and frozen.

Sunday harvest of greens

I also got celery, carrots, paprika peppers, pole beans, shishitos, and a couple of eggplants.

Sunday general harvest

I also got quite a few hot peppers. The top row consists of Sugar Rush Peach, cayennes, and Hot Lemon. The bottom row is guajillo, serrano, and habanero.

Sunday hot pepper harvest

On Saturday TKG and her mum went to their community garden plot, and made off with quite a colorful haul. All proceeds go to Mom.


Since the cold and dampness kept us indoors, it was a good time to do some preserving. I made three simple varietal hot sauces. I ordered more of those cute 5-ounce bottles, but they are twice delayed in shipping, so I had to put the sauce in jars temporarily. From left, fiery-hot habanero, medium-hot cayenne, and very hot Hot Lemon.

Hot sauces

Whatever cayenne peppers did not go into sauce were dehydrated and ground to make a robust chile powder.

Pure cayenne chile powder

On Sunday I did something I never thought I would do. I pulled out all the zucchini, shishito pepper, broccoli, and pole bean plants, even though they were still productive. We've just had enough of them, and friends are pleading with us to give them no more. I may do the same with most of the hot peppers; again, we are at our limit of things to do with them. What a year!

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.





Monday, September 19, 2022

Harvest Monday - 19 September 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! This week we felt a noticeable transition to fall conditions, with cool nights. Harvests are slowing down, but still strong. As if to prove it, we cut most of the winter squash, 211 pounds worth. How do I know this? Because The Kitchen Goddess somewhat obsessively weighed each one and added them up!

211 lbs of winter squash

Allow me to unload the cart. These are "Neck Pumpkins," actually a squash. They don't look too impressive when shot from a distance.

Neck pumpkins

But up close, a different story.

17.4 pound neck pumpkin

These are Yokohama squash, an heirloom moschata variety. I've grown them before, and found that while they are not productive, what you get is really tasty, and attractive too. They weighed 4 to 5 pounds.

Yokohama squash

"Sugaretti" is a hybrid spaghetti squash that looks like a delicata. It has always been productive for me, and stores forever.

'Sugaretti' spaghetti squash

A first-time-growing moschata squash is this hybrid called "Autumn Frost." I'm impressed with its output and appearance, and look forward to tasting it.


'Autumn Frost' squash

And then there's a mystery squash. My label said "Chirimen," which is another Japanese moschata that looks a lot like Yokohama, but that's certainly not what grew.

Mystery squash

Yes, this is far more squash than we can possibly use, and there's still a few more on the way. But it illustrates the productivity coming from the "lasagna" (no dig, no till) plot I extended last fall, where everything grew in pure compost. Amazing!

Now on to "general harvests"; those crops I have already featured in individual references. Here was Monday's tomato harvest.

Monday tomato harvest

And Monday's "everything else."

Monday harvest

More tomatoes on Wednesday.

Wednesday tomato harvest

And Wednesday's "everything else."

Wednesday harvest

Thursday's harvest was only hot peppers, but a lot of them. Looking north to south in this picture, they range from mildly hot, to moderate, to intense, to fuggetaboudit.

Thursday Parade O' Peppers

Friday's harvest was much lighter. There were also tomatoes, of course, but I didn't photograph them.


Friday harvest

Now on to Preserving the Harvest. I had enough accumulated paprika peppers to dehydrate and grind. They got a little dark in the drying process, but though not bright red, still smelled wonderful.

Paprika

I also had enough guajillo peppers to finally make chile powder. I tasted a few pieces prior to drying, and was surprised to find none of the heat I was expecting. But after grinding, the aroma was intoxicating. We definitely need to grow more of these next year.

Guajillo chile powder

And TKG canned 14 pints of thick tomato sauce. We truly have reached our limit of canned tomato products now. Any more sauce tomatoes we harvest will be given to friends.


Canned tomato sauce


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


Monday, September 12, 2022

Harvest Monday - 12 September 2022

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Monday and Tuesday were both days of solid rain. Welcome, but not enough to get us out of the drought conditions. It was Wednesday before I ventured out to the gardens to harvest. Predictably, a lot of the smaller-fruit tomatoes were splitting; even Juliet, which is known for its crack resistance.

For "first harvests," ripe "Hot Lemon" peppers made their appearance. This variety is another that is too hot to eat outright, but makes an excellent, floral hot sauce that's colorful too. They're super attractive, I think.

'Hot Lemon' peppers

 "Rocky Ford" is a green-fleshed cantaloupe. The seeds were a free sample in one of my orders this year. Cutting it open, I was struck by its intense candy-like aroma. It is juicy and super-tasty.

'Rocky Ford' cantaloupe

This is the first year I've had what I would call success in growing celery. Compared to supermarket celery, besides being smaller, it is all green, fibrous, and strong-flavored, with no bitterness. I think it would make an excellent cream soup.

'Ventura' (OP) celery

Now on to the "general harvests." Here is Wednesday's tomato picking.

Wednesday tomato harvest

Wednesday's hot pepper harvest.

Wednesday hot pepper harvest

And Wednesday's "everything else" harvest

The rest of Wednesday's harvests

Friday was similar in a lot of ways.

Friday tomato harvest

Friday hot pepper harvest

Friday "everything else" harvest

The Kitchen Goddess continues to do almost daily picking from the raspberry vines.

Sample raspberry picking

For "preserving the harvests," besides a lot of processing vegetables for the freezer, on Saturday we made several varieties of hot sauce. I made four bottles each of 100% cayenne and 100% habanero (atomic!). I used the simple, non-fermented way of boiling the chopped peppers in vinegar with a little salt, blending them, and straining into bottles. TKG took what I had that wouldn't fit into more bottles, and blended with the fermented Sugar Rush Cream pepper mash that was ready to go. She netted six bottles. After this, I had to order yet more bottles, as there are a lot more peppers on the way.

Cayenne, habanero, and mixed sauces

I'm really wrestling with the concept of scaling back production of many things next year. I want to make sure I have enough of the things we really use, and cut back on the non-essentials. We're giving away so much produce, and that's a feel-good thing, but also kind of strange. I also hate to see bare beds. This has been a super-productive year, but there are no guarantees about next year's conditions.  I haven't made any decisions yet, just thinking.

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