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!


  1. Ooh, that is too bad about the moldy corn and sunflowers. I bought bulk cornmeal one time and it molded on me, despite being in an airtight container. I thought it was plenty dry but obviously it wasn't as dry as I thought.

    I had a Granny Smith tree at my old place and as I recall the apples got a pinkish tinge as they ripened. They weren't quite as tart either as the ones I get at the grocery, which wasn't a bad thing for me. I bet yours make a great cider! Do you let yours get hard? I don't drink anymore but I used to enjoy a good cider with a little 'kick' to it!

  2. That's really too bad about moldy sunflower and corn as they make a really good and healthy snack. Hopefully you can save enough healthy seeds for next year.
    on another hand, super jealous of your apple tree!

    1. Thanks Jenny. More than enough for next year's sunflower crop.

  3. I cut my sunflower heads and they've been sitting on the porch (covered) for several weeks. Guess I should get to those! No advice for you as it's the first time I've done this.

    Wow, you still have so much left in the garden!

  4. Oh, look at those gorgeous apples! Granny Smith's are my favourite and I'm hoping to plant one at some point - I've never seen one with pink on it, but then again, I've only ever purchased them from the store. That is too bad about all the mold issues. I suppose that's one of the benefits of my lack of time - I usually leave stuff to dry out (such as the beans which I harvested over a month ago & are still sitting on newspaper in the garage) for far longer than they likely need. That is an impressive sunflower seed, all the same - my daughters half eaten sunflower is in the basement drying out and I just pulled down my sunflower which was half the size and not even fully mature. Probably won't get much from that, but it doesn't hurt to try.

  5. I just got back from 10 days in Maine, so I feel like I have some idea now of the amazing part of the world in which your garden resides.And there were old apple trees everywhere in Maine! I am glad to see you have on your farm and are busy harvesting. What fun. I am so interested in your flint corn project. Are you grinding it for corm meal for corn bread or are you making polenta? You still have an amazing amount of things growing in your garden for mid-October. Keep an eye out on the forecast though. I heard snow might be coming your way!!!

    1. Yes, Lexa, old apple trees are everywhere. I have two of them on the property--who knows what they are. I don't tend them like I do the ones in our tiny orchard. We make all kinds of things from our flint corn--corn bread, pancakes, waffles, polenta, tortillas. It's wonderful.