Sunday, July 27, 2014

Harvest Monday - 28 July 2014

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm, brought to you by Daphne's Dandelions.

For us, like almost everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, beans and summer squash dominate the harvest. No need to show you. But I was thrilled to pick our first grape tomatoes (var. "Sugar Plum").

They mysteriously vanished soon after.

A really nice haul of blueberries.

The last of the "Kestrel" beets (the Detroit are still sizing-up).

 The last of the spring lettuce, New Red Fire, was harvested and the bed hoed and raked.

In it I planted a cover crop of buckwheat. This is an amazing green manure. It grows so quickly! I sowed it in my two resting beds just a few weeks ago, and already it is flowering.

But the biggest news was our onion harvest. We pulled over 200.

We grew this variety, Stuttgarter, from sets, in a 12-square plot, 16 per square as in the SFG method. Next year I think I will space them out further (9 per square), planting less but hopefully letting them grow larger. They are drying now on the floor of a garage bay, aromatic to say the least!

While we were playing in the onion bed, The Kitchen Goddess begged me to let her explore what the adjacent potatoes were doing. It did not take long to find this:

I was expecting to maybe find only small ones, but the largest was 8.75 oz. (248 g.). I think we are heading for quite a haul. The variety is "Kennebec."

Some readers were interested in last week's dish, Roasted Zucchini Tart:

So here's the recipe (sorry no metric equivalents):
  1. Roast zucchini slices (or any vegetable) with salt, pepper, and olive oil, at 400 degrees F. until most of the water is removed but not browned. Let cool.
  2. Defrost and roll puff pastry out to 1/8 in. Place on parchment-lined pan and put back in the fridge.
  3. Mix together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup parmesan, and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese.
  4. Spread cheese mixture on pastry to 1 inch from edge to create border. Arrange veggies, pushing them into the cheese mixture.
  5. Top with your favorite herbs (we used winter savory).
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
This Saturday, we enjoyed a meal that, except for condiments, was 100% "estate-sourced." Everything came from our hands. It gives one a certain sense of satisfaction!

Herb-encrusted venison tenderloin, with grilled potato slices and zucchini-onion smash, and a garden salad, served with a delightfully dry plum wine. Delicious!

I leave you with two pictures of pollinating wasps on Gooseneck loosestrife - a beautiful perennial that unfortunately takes over whatever bed you've planted it in.

Thanks for reading, and good harvests to all!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Harvest Monday - 21 July 2014

Welcome to this week's harvest report, courtesy of Daphne's Dandelions.

The Kitchen Goddess accompanied me on a business trip to Cancun (I know, tough life) from the 10th to the 13th. This was what awaited us on Monday morning:

We picked all remaining Mokum carrots (12 squares) and most of the Kestrel beets (8 squares), both of which are supposed to be best at this smaller size. All of these were planted April 28/29. Total weight of carrots was 3.84 lbs (~1.75 kg), not bad for being picked slender. I grew Mokum at the suggestion of many of you, and I sure am glad--they are superb. But I still can't be persuaded to like beetroot.

We got our first eggplants, which are beauties. Total weight slightly over 2 lbs (1 kg). The variety is Amadeo, obtained from Park Seed. I'm sold on it. They were transplanted June 1.

We also got our first zucchini. This variety is Tigress. I grew only 2 plants this year, as we had a glut last year with 4. These were sown May 25. I am now out of these seeds (which were from Territorial), and shopping for a new variety from the Fedco or Johnny's catalogs, the companies I am trying to concentrate on.

We picked a mess of broccoli sideshoots. If you're keeping score, the hands-down winner of sideshoot production is Blue Wind. Arcadia is decent in this regard, but Fiesta is doing practically nothing, so out they come.

The blueberries are rolling in, and there were still plenty of peas and lettuce.

Here's what went into the freezer on that Monday:

TKG's mother watched the farm and the cat for us while we were gone, and picked all she could eat, so this is clearly a bounteous time in the vegetable garden. While I still feel I'm behind other gardeners, I'll confess to being slightly less envious!

Speaking of carrots, have I mentioned that while I absolutely love them, I also hate growing them? The seeds are so tiny, and the seedlings so weak. I may put 3 seeds in each hole to try to get one strong seedling. One hole will have all 3 come up, and thus will need thinning, while the hole next to it has none. Sigh.

I think next year I might give up the Square Foot method for carrots (16 plants per square), and plant them in rows instead. I'm figuring a double row along each of the 4 drip lines in the beds (which are 4 feet wide). There will be better irrigation coverage I think. Also quicker to plant. What do you think?

Pickings of peas, lettuce, broccoli, and zucchini continued through the week, along with the first beans (green and purple filet). Here's a typical basket:

On the weekend I made a decision to pull the pea vines as they weren't really producing much more.
Here's what I gleaned from the vines (with more blueberries for color contrast):

Also, the Green Ice and Red Romaine lettuces were pretty much bolted (but not bitter at all) so we took them all. The New Red Fire lettuce is still in fairly good shape. Now we sure have a lot of lettuce in the fridge! The smaller bags in this picture are one-gallon size.


Can anyone tell me when we can expect to harvest potatoes? I keep waiting for the foliage to die back but it is stubbornly refusing to do so. I'm pretty sure I can take some new potatoes, but I want to wait for them to size up for storage.

With the peas and lettuce (mostly) gone, we are transitioning into summer crops. I'm feeling a little sad, as I will miss the ritual of going out to the garden in the evening to pick our nightly meals. But I do love zucchini in any form. Here's a before and after of something new and delectable from TKG's clever hands: Roasted Zucchini Tart, seasoned with winter savory, which we had with...what else...salad.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading and thanks again to Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Harvest Monday - 7 July 2014

If one picture could typify our harvests this week this is it:

Every day was lettuce of three varieties, and both snow and snap peas. And broccoli, oh my gosh, I've never grown such lovely broccoli, if I do say so myself. Here was the largest single picking, each head over one pound:

What you see here are two Fiesta and one Arcadia. Other than Fiesta being slightly earlier, I don't see much difference between the two, in appearance, size, or quality. Either one is a fine choice, and makes all the difference if you value your broccoli production, as I have discovered this year.

We got four more slightly smaller heads, finishing off the Fiesta. There are four more Arcadias still sizing up. I hope they are ready before we have to travel again next week. For the record, all our broccoli was started from seed on March 25 and transplanted out April 25. The very early Blue Wind variety is still sending out side shoots.

Our recent dinners have consisted of salads with grilled meats of one kind or another. It would be super-healthy, except for my love of creamy dressings. For an appetizer we have Sugar Snap peas. The snow peas get frozen. This is the first year I've grown true Sugar Snaps. Fedco said the vines get tall, and they are right. The trellis is 5 1/2 feet tall.

For the snow peas, I had a few Avalanche seeds left, and bought Blizzard from Fedco for a replacement. I have to say I'm not as impressed with Blizzard. Avalanche is unique because of the profusion of tendrils it produces instead of leaves. Its pods are frequently doubles, and large:

I'm finding Blizzard to have smaller pods, and just not as productive.

But then, it has been a challenging year, with poor germination all around. So maybe next year this plant will come into its own.

Well, as I'm sure you've read elsewhere, this was an interesting week weather-wise for gardeners on the East Coast. Hurricane Arthur was the big news. It only brought us 18 hours of soaking rain, and some very gusty winds on the back side. Actually our biggest problem preceded Arthur by a day or so. We got overnight thunderstorms, with apparently violent winds that caused us some grief. Our onions got flattened:

Nothing to do for them. I hope it won't hurt production, but I don't know. Since normally the leaves flopping over is the sign they are ready to harvest, what will be our clue now?  At least the potatoes in the background came out all right, since they were strung up.

The sweet corn shown here had some layover, but we were able to prop them back up (using cone-shaped spare tomato cages). They should be okay.

The Sugar Snap peas I showed you earlier also got folded. They blew right off the trellis. We'll see how they fare. The shorter snow pea vines are fine.

Here's something funny. This is supposed to be a Chocolate Bell Pepper. Somehow I think it isn't. I guess there was a slip-up at Fedco.

Our last harvest of note this week is the first blueberries, now safely under bird netting. The berries are big and flavorable, but I don't think there are as many as last year.

Thanks for reading, and now click back to see the other wonderful gardens and harvests that join in Harvest Monday, sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions.