Monday, December 5, 2016

Harvest Monday - 5 December 2016

Until this weekend, I haven't really set foot in the vegetable garden since my last post (Halloween). At that time, we had taken all the crops, but we hadn't dug up the chard and kale plants. That interlude allowed them to grow some small but welcome leaves, despite the cold nights and waning sun. So we get to join the Harvest Monday party one more time this year.

Then there's this. We were in California for Thanksgiving, and the last night I tripped and fell kinda hard. Here is the result:

Two unpronounceable fractured bones in the wrist. The Kitchen Goddess said to post this picture because it shows off my "green thumb." I guess she was "casting" about for a joke. Ugh, that was "lame."

"Enough!" I hear you say, and rightly so. Don't feel bad for me, it's TKG that has to pick up the chores I normally would be doing for the next 5 weeks. And imagine if this had happened during gardening season!

I hope all the Harvest Monday community is staying warm and planning next year's garden like I am. Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting this forum.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Harvest Monday - 31 October 2016

Hello again, and Happy Halloween from Eight Gate Farm! When I was a child, Halloween was my favorite time of year. These days, living out in the semi-sticks, we don't get any trick-or-treaters, which is sad, as I love to see the excitement in the childrens' faces, reminding me of my own tender years.

We were slated to get a hard frost this week, so we picked all the rest of the peppers and eggplants.

Looks decent, right? Well how about I put a raspberry in there for scale?


Never mind that, this weekend we stripped the kale:

And the chard:

And the pak choi:

And the watermelon radishes:

And the "personal-sized" Chinese cabbage, the second crop of which got too late start this year to get big:

Probably the most fun were the leeks. We've been sampling them as the year progressed, and Saturday my MIL took 16 of them, giving me the opportunity to say "she took a leek in my garden!" [Apologies to those not enamored with boy-humor.]

The remainder are presented here:

At the supermarket I saw leeks (from The Netherlands) for $1.99 apiece. These aren't as big, but certainly fresher! As I've said before, gardening for most of us does not really "save" money, but you have to think there's a large amount of value sometimes. Trimmed, they weighed 7.5 lbs.

So that pretty much puts paid to this season. It's had its ups and downs, of course, but overall it was pretty good!

Here's one of my "farmstand" pictures, showing the final harvest:

Uh oh, the freezers are already full to bursting. What will we do if I get a deer this season? I've already been out a couple of times.

I want to thank all the readers who have viewed and commented on my posts. Harvest Monday really is a community! Thanks especially to Dave at Our Happy Acres for keeping this tradition thriving.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Harvest Monday - 24 October 2016

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Harvest Monday is graciously hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres. Please join me in viewing all this week's posts.

Our happiest harvest this week was this unexpected treasure:

We planted 7 artichoke seedlings this year, and 6 gave us lots of petite but delicious 'chokes. One plant stubbornly refused to produce anything. But with the others long finished, this one decided to reward us. I'm not sure why. The 'choke is more oblong than the others; could it be a different variety that sneaked into the Imperial Star seed lot?

You may have read that the entire Northeast had a terrible tree-fruit year. Here's more proof. Last year, we picked over 6 bushels of apples, and the quality was great. This year, not even 2, and the fruit is misshapen. Not even enough to bother with a batch of hard cider (we still have plenty left over from last year).

I've mentioned that two of our eggplant starts had mysterious but recognizable tobacco seedlings spring up. This amused me, so I left them to see what would happen. The tobacco grew robustly, and the resulting plants totally overshadowed their companion eggplants. One was over six feet tall! So we harvested this week. It's funny to compare the "unintentional" on the left with the "intentional" we grew. Don't call me Philip Morris.

We picked more watermelon radishes to give some as a gift, because nothing says giving like a radish or two!

The raspberries are still producing nicely:

And we've really been enjoying Asian Green soups and stir-fry, so we took more tatsoi.

This week promises several frosts, so all tomatoes were taken, in the hope at least some will ripen indoors.

Lastly, some parsley and sage for the dehydrator.

That's all for this week. Are frosts threatened in your area too? Time to get busy. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Harvest Monday - 17 October 2016

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. I guess I'm a simple man, but to me there are few things finer than a crisp fall evening in New England, with the fading light strangely intensifying the colors of the changing leaves, and the scent of wood smoke in the air.

Can there be downsides to fall? Well, yesterday I went out into the woods to change the memory card in the game-cam, and got totally beaned by a terminal-velocity acorn.

And of course, the real downside is the inevitable first frost, which brings me (finally!) to this week's harvests.

On Friday the overnight low was supposed to be 35 F., which is within the tolerance of a potential frost. So we picked all the sizable eggplants, peppers, and zucchini, and any tomatoes that showed any color.

We covered the two Rutgers tomato plants with a tarp (they've been the only productive ones), and let everything else fend for itself. It turned out that we did get a light frost, enough to kill the zucchini, and the eggplants don't look so good either.

We also picked our only winter squash. This is a Jarrahdale pumpkin, weighing about a pound and a half. The blue-green rind belies the intense-orange flesh, or so we hope when we finally cut it open. I got the seeds from a friend, and maybe I'll save some for next year.

The Kitchen Goddess picked quince (quinces?) from the dooryard of the 1750s farmhouse across the road, with permission of course.

When asked, she said she was going to make "quince cheese," which is a thing, in case you didn't know. I sure didn't.

I always grow some coleus from seed, and every year TKG is dismayed about how tiny the seedlings are. And every year they grow huge and lovely. Ha! Here's a last picture before a hard frost takes them down.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and my apologies to those who commented on last week's post and I didn't respond. I had to go to San Diego for work, and didn't get back until Thursday night. Thanks as always to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday. Please join me in viewing all the interesting posts from gardeners everywhere.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Harvest Monday - 10 October 2016

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm! Nothing too exciting this week. It's that time of year.

A first harvest this week was scarlet runner beans.

The green pods will be allowed to brown and crisp up before I take out the beans. Overall this will be much less than last year, but at least there will be enough seed to plant for next.

We took a few more of my prizewinning watermelon radishes (well, second prize). The larger ones are billiard-ball sized.

A Yellowfin and a Cocozella Di Napoli zucchini. The Yellowfin looks like a deflated pufferfish.

Some solanacea:

Clockwise from left: Rutgers tomatoes, a single Martini's Roma, some Umberto tomatoes, a Maule's Red Hot cayenne, Mellow Star shishito peppers, generic hot cherry peppers, and a Rosita eggplant in the middle.
Some Asian greens:

Left: tatsoi, right: pak choi. Slugs apparently love Asian greens.
Finally, continuing pickings of red raspberries like this:

So as you can see we are winding down for the season. No frost yet, but it's a matter of time. Hopefully a few more solanacea will size up before the inevitable.

That's it for this week. Please see all the lovely posts on Harvest Monday, which is hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres. Thanks, Dave!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Harvest Monday - 3 October 2016 - Blue Ribbon Edition!

For 140 years the nearby Deerfield Fair has been one of New Hampshire's largest agricultural expositions. Last year, as we viewed the judged displays of vegetables, canned goods, baked goods etc. in the Agricultural Hall, we said to ourselves, "let's enter something next year!" So we did! The Kitchen Goddess selected 3 jars for the "Household" category that she thought were best, and I chose 2 crops for "Adult Vegetables" ("adult" as opposed to "junior"; get your mind out of the gutter). I thought I would have an edge if I entered produce that not everyone grows. I picked watermelon radishes for the "Radish, Dacon-type" category, and hops for the "Any Other Worthy Vegetable" category.

The stuff had to be dropped off on Tuesday, the judging occurred the rest of the week, and on Saturday we went to the fair. Our results were beyond our wildest dreams!

TKG won a blue ribbon for her cornichon/gerkhins:

A blue ribbon for her Cowboy Candy (red pepper jelly):

And third place for her mustard/dill relish (the judges' notes said "not enough product" and "lid was dusty," which annoyed her in the worst way):

My hops got a blue:

And the radishes got second place:

I know now that they were graded down for the lack of size consistency.

To say we were thrilled is an understatement (while laughing over the silliness of it all). But the accolades do not stop there! There were substantial cash prizes involved: $4 for blue, $2 for red, and $1 for white. So TKG made $9, and I made $6! Being the overgrown boy that I am, I promptly spent my earnings at the fair on a soft-serve ice cream cone, and 1/4 pound of hot Spanish peanuts. Before I even got the money.

Other harvests this week included our last and best-ever muskmelon, over 3 pounds:

Inside, pure delight:

Some of the last zucchini, and a typical every-other-day picking of raspberries:

Some solanacea, which are not loving the chilly and damp weather we've been having:

And a big harvest of chard and kale:

Also this week TKG and her mother picked a large amount of wild Concord grapes from the property across the road (with permission), and she put up many jars of delicious grape jelly:

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and indulging us in our well-meaning boasting. Of course, we are already planning next year's entries. Do you have an agricultural show you can enter your best vegetables? If so, make your plans. It is so much fun!

See all the other harvests posted on Harvest Monday. I'm sure the're all prize-winners! Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Harvest Monday - 26 September 2016

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. When I woke up yesterday morning (Sunday) there was a weather alert saying virtually all of New Hampshire would suffer a frost that night. But as the day progressed the alert was removed, so we took a chance and didn't cover the sensitive crops. Though the day turned out nice, we still lit the wood stove in the afternoon to take the chill out of the house. So, it starts. The temperature this morning was 41, so the crops were safe, but probably not so very pleased.

There is only one first harvest to feature. We took a few leeks to check on progress and thin the bed a bit, not that it makes much difference at this stage. These are "Carentan," an old heirloom variety. You can see that while not very big (1/2 in. diameter), they have a pleasing amount of white shanks.

Still many more of these to harvest. The Kitchen Goddess cut off the green parts and used them to enhance a chicken stock she was making.

For continuing harvests, here are zucchini and red raspberries:

Some solanacea:

By the way, once again the "Mellow Star" shishito peppers (in the middle) have not produced a single hot specimen.

Zucchini, wax beans (the absolute last for the season), watermelon radishes, raspberries, and a WINO (watermelon in name only).

The other day we stopped at a farmstand to pick up sweet corn. They were selling red raspberries like these for $4.99 per half-pint. I know that home gardening is a hobby only, and can't really be justified on a cost-basis. But at this price, the gallon we've picked so far this year is "worth" $80! Of course, you have to balance that against the pint of blood shed working in the canes.

A basket of solanacea, with another "Rosita" eggplant showing off to its cousins. Some of the tomatoes are a little underripe, picked in anticipation of the aforementioned frost.

I want to say a little bit about Rutgers tomatoes. They really are a staple here. They are productive, fairly disease-resistant, and have outstanding flavor. They are dual-purpose, good for sauce and fresh eating. Here's a good example, weighing a little over 12 ounces. If you are looking for a determinate tomato, I highly recommend Rutgers.

And here are the absolute last of our cucumbers (yay!). The vines were getting pretty diseased and tired, so out they came. But what an amazing year for them.

That's all for this week. Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for keeping the Harvest Monday tradition flourishing.