Monday, October 26, 2015

Harvest Monday - 26 October 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. This will be a short post because there's really only one harvest to feature.

We picked about 7.5 bushels of apples from our late-bearing (Granny Smith?) tree. Not only was this more of an abundance than ever before, but the apples were larger and better-shaped than we've ever experienced.  And we didn't completely strip the tree. What a fruit year!

Unfortunately they just aren't of marketable quality. Here you can see both sooty blotch (thanks Rachel for identifying that!) and apple scab, which is on the entire crop.

Apple scab and sooty blotch

They are just cosmetic flaws, but I doubt even an organic grocer would stock these. Americans are just so conditioned to having perfect-looking produce. I don't spray with fungicides, thus you get fungi.

Obviously there are more apples than any home grower could ever use. I find this quite sad. I doubt that even if I could locate a local food bank that accepts fresh foods, they would take them.

OK, what will we do with them? The Kitchen Goddess took 25 and canned 6 pints of applesauce.

Unsweetened apple sauce

Great, that leaves just 1,342 to go. Next weekend we will press 2 - 3 bushels into cider for fermenting. That should make 5 gallons of hard cider, enough to last us a long time. If we are energetic, we'll press one or two more gallons for fresh consumption (it goes bad fast). I wonder if you can freeze soft cider?

Sadly, I'm expecting that half the crop will just get dumped in the woods. But what can we do?

Thanks for reading! And thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres, our host of Harvest Monday. Be sure to read all this week's submissions.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Kale Tale

I truthfully had not visited the fenced garden this week since just before our Saturday night frost, To my surprise, the chard did not fare well. I should have picked it.

I seem to remember chard being tougher. Oh well, not to worry. The kale is unaffected.

Another kiss of frost to sweeten it, and we will soon be swimming in greens.

Just in the background you can see some Brussels sprouts, sizing up nicely. One or two more sweetening frosts for them, too.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Harvest Monday - 19 October 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm!

This weekend we had the first true frost of autumn. It was predicted, so we had time to harvest the sensitive crops.

Out came the remaining peppers and eggplants.

Clockwise from bottom left, there are "Big Jim," a New Mexico chile, perfect for chiles rellenos (yum), the yellowish Cubanelle pepper "Aruba," for frying, "Rosita" and "Amadeo" eggplants, "Mellow Star" shishito-type peppers, "Maule's Red Hot cayenne peppers, and in the middle, "Big Bomb" hot cherry peppers. If I'm lucky, the spicy peppers might go into a pepper jelly called "Cowboy Candy" which I love.

Any tomato which had any shade beyond deep green was taken. I'm sure some of these will rot before they ripen, as they have blemishes or other grossness.

It was such a frustrating year for tomatoes! With all the different blights, I almost feel like giving up on them. How did this happen? You used to be able to rely on tomatoes. I rotate the beds religiously, and this year all tomatoes were grown in brand new soil, but the blight was worse than ever. If you've managed to escape it, consider yourself lucky. OK, moaning over...

Also the rest of the cannonball watermelon crop was harvested. Actually these are some of the biggest I've grown, which speaks to my melon farming skills.

The rest of the "Orinoco" tobacco crop was also taken out in several stages this week. Here it is curing in the barn. We'll have to find another location for finishing the curing process, as it won't be long before the barn gets too cold.

Orinoco tobacco curing.

Other crops were taken, even though they don't mind light frosts. Here are a few leeks, the remaining carrots, and some watermelon radishes.

And this is all remaining Long Island Cheese pumpkins.

The larger one was too heavy for the kitchen scale, but for comparison, the one to its left is 1 3/4 lbs. I doubt the small all-green one will amount to anything, but maybe the others will finish ripening indoors.

Also, I planted garlic this weekend--24 cloves in a 12-foot row. I tilled in compost and a sprinkling of bone meal. Why? I always heard bulb-y things like bone meal, so why not garlic?

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and for leaving comments, which I greatly look forward to.[Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition.] Did you escape a frost this week? I know I will check out every post on the host site for Harvest Monday, Our Happy Acres. See you there!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Harvest Monday - 12 October 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm.

Not much came out of the vegetable garden this week. We got a handful of raspberries every other day, and I picked the last of the midsummer-sown cucumbers. The vines were almost completely wilted, so I took them out and stored the trellises for the season. These will go into a batch of "refrigerator gherkins"--well, why not?

I also took a couple of apples to go into a roast pork evening meal. I say these are Granny Smiths, but I don't really know. They are starting to develop a red blush--do Grannys do that? Soon we will pick the entire tree for cider.

With not much happening in the garden, it was an opportunity to process earlier harvests. The "Mongolian Giant" sunflowers had lots of potential, but alas, because the flower heads are so big and fleshy, they did not dry but molded instead. Plus, many seeds had worm holes in them. Here's a sample, with the usable harvest on the left and the rejects on the right.

We really got only about twice what you see from all the rest of the heads. Well, it's a fun plant to watch grow, and I certainly have enough seeds for a snack or two, and next year's planting. I think I may have to cut the heads as soon as they droop, remove the seeds, and not leave them to dry out in the field and get bug damage. Does anyone have any tricks?

Remembering from when I planted them, I told you the seeds were an inch long. Well, not quite, but pretty close!

We also shelled the "Floriani" red flint corn. Last year I showed the simple tool I made (not my invention) to assist in this. This year I improved it by using screws instead of nails. I also shelled them in a paper bag, which cuts down (but does not eliminate) the stray kernels flying everywhere. The Kitchen Goddess cleaned off the kernels which had been bird damaged (and had mold), then handed the cobs to me for twisting through the jig. Again, maybe I leave things too long out in the field.

We got 8 pounds (~3.6 kg) of usable kernels, about 1/3 of last year's harvest, to be expected since I planted only 1/3 as much. My original thought was we had enough left over from last year, but unfortunately we recently went to get some for grinding, and found the entire stored crop had completely molded. I guess they weren't dry enough to get through the summer, This year I'm not taking any chances. I spread them out on an old window screen, and will let them sit in the sunroom for a few weeks.

So we dealt with moldy sunflowers and moldy corn. I should have called this post "Harvest Molday."

Here's what the garden looks like now. Remaining are Brussels sprouts, kale, leeks, broccoli (weak), chard, and a few carrots and radishes. The rest of the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are hidden behind the grape vines. The tomatoes etc. will be taken next weekend, after this week of predicted nice weather. So I'll have more to show next time.

Thanks for reading! Click on back to Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday good stuff. Oh, Happy Thanksgiving to Canadian readers!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Harvest Monday - 5 October 2015

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for taking over from Daphne and letting us all continue to have fun with Harvest Monday.

I was just thinking how funny it is that in spring I show pictures of individual types of vegetables, but as the season progresses I go to more and more "group photos" because it's so boring otherwise.

There was a nice harvest on October 1, after our first drenching rains in a long time. On the left are two bonus zucchinis. I'd written the plants off a long time ago but then they started to show feeble signs of life. Pretty sure this is it, though. One of the "Aruba" pepper plants had toppled over from the weight of its fruit; I staked it back up but one fell off. Also there's a nice haul of cucumbers from the July planting, but the vines are rapidly wilting unfortunately. Even a late planting doesn't escape this. On the right are four various sized (though all small) watermelons. And the tomatoes? Well, they're tomatoes. That's all I can say. I throw away more than I keep at this stage because they're just in such bad shape.

The winter squash vines out in the "Survival Garden" never got going until way too late in the season. Here you see virtually the entire crop, which I took because I wanted to clean up.

The green one is a "Fairytale" pumpkin, that never had a chance to turn orange. Its vine was completely dead, so no point leaving it out there.

Here they are all tucked away down in the cellar, in the second of the two produce storage bins I built. I wrote about that here. Some of the Long Island Cheese pumpkins (squash) have strange blemishes that look like rot, but the skins are very hard so I think they'll be OK.

A Sunday harvest, which makes a pretty strange tableau.

The deep red peppers on the left are "Big Jim" chiles; the other peppers are "Aruba," "Big Bomb" (not living up to their name), a lone "Sweet Chocolate," and a solitary shishito. It was a bad year for peppers, as I've said before. You might also see some tiny yellow zucchini, which I took from the plants before tearing all of them out. We might be able to make something with them; maybe a stir fry. Also, of course, more ugly tomatoes.

I took all the "Mongolian Giant" sunflower heads from the garden. Here they are in the sunroom to finish drying, next to the red flint corn which is also drying there.

This one weighed over 3 pounds.

I was impressed with myself over that, but not two hours later we went to the 139th annual Deerfield Fair, and in the fruit and vegetable exhibit hall there were sunflower heads easily twice as big.

We had a great time at all the exhibits, and looking at the farm animals, antique tractors, and the oxen-pulling competition. Who knows, maybe next year we'll enter something!

As I said, I cleaned up the Survival Garden. I like to burn the cornstalks, but they don't dry well on the ground and so don't burn well. So, after taking 20 for traditional New England autumn decorations, we made a tipi out of the rest. They should dry better now.

The Kitchen Goddess's sister, seeing this photo, asked if we were planning to burn a witch.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and again many thanks to Dave. Please show him your support.