Monday, September 25, 2017

Harvest Monday - 25 September 2017

Here's another weekly roundup from Eight Gate Farm. Once again, I'll lead off with the "first harvests."

The first Silver Queen sweet corn was picked. And judging by her yellow kernels, there is scandal in the Corn Kingdom. The Silver Queen has been dallying with Little Sir Honey Select! Shocking! Or, normal cross-pollination. I was so intent on locating the corn based on its maturity, I forgot about the cross-pollinating tendencies when white is planted next to yellow. 

Silver Queen, a "normal sugary" (su) variety, is an old late-season standard here in New England, and used to be much anticipated. I planted it out of nostalgia. But our palettes have evolved, and the super-sweets (se, sh2, syn) like Honey Select are what please us more now. The "old-fashioned corniness" with a hint of sweetness just doesn't quite cut it. I probably won't plant it next year.

We took a few "Winter Light" daikon radishes to see how they are doing. The seeds were a gift, and the package said 120 days, so they might be an over-wintering variety. I don't think we'll do that, but these were quite nice and spicy.

That's all the first harvests this week. Tropical Storm Jose passed by us, giving us some rain and wind but nothing major. It left us the "tropical" part. The peppers and eggplants, which had been pouting in the prior cold snap, awoke.

The tomatoes benefited too.

As did the zucchini.

The Kitchen Goddess was able to can up some sauce.

And make Eggplant Napoleon.

The fall raspberries are starting to produce well.

A few of the leeks were flowering, so we took them. I've never grown such fat ones before. Hopefully the rest will last until we get a few frosts, which is said to improve them.

Carentan leek

One thing about the rainy spell, I didn't get out into the garden much, and the slugs had a field day with the brassicas. This is the last Chinese cabbage, and the first of the fall Tatsoi.

Can I interest you in a bucket of corn? The Honey Select was sadly past its prime. It was still very sweet, but starting to get "toothy." I picked the remaining 34 ears and cut 82 stalks to use as decorations. Yes, I counted them.

We ate a few of them on the cob (still pretty good), and TKG cut the kernels from the rest, and boiled down the cobs to make corn broth. We now have over 2 gallons of "niblets" in the freezer, ready for corn chowder, tortilla-corn soup, and creamed corn. Comfort food for me!

And speaking of comfort "food," TKG canned 5 1/2 quarts of her Bloody Mary Mix. Yes, we need more tomato sauce, but there is something very comforting about sipping a Bloody Mary in front of the fire on a frosty winter morning.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave for hosting Harvest Monday at Our Happy Acres. Please join me there for all the terrific posts from gardeners around the world.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Harvest Monday - 18 September 2017

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm. As usual I lead off with the "first of the year harvests" for this past week.

The Kitchen Goddess picked all the grapes herself, then spent much of Sunday afternoon sitting cross-legged on the floor sorting and stemming them, an unenviable task. Thus her 2017 blush wine vintage commences.

Meanwhile, I picked a good portion of the black beans and spread them out to dry on a window screen in the sunroom.

Midnight Black Turtle bean pods.
Next up is continuing, and in some cases last harvests. Sweet corn is still in good production, and so is the zucchini.

This photo is not blurry; it's your eyes.
The zucchini is Cocozella di Napoli. It's sometimes billed as a "bush" variety, but it's far from it. Instead, it produces very robust 4 - 5 foot vines. It's therefore a space hog, but worth it for the productivity and superior taste. It's prone to powdery mildew, as the below photo shows, but it doesn't seem to slow it down.

Here's the last muskmelon, and the last, neglected Diva cucumbers. Hard to believe we actually were sated with the Divas this year, and weren't sad when wilt took down the vines.

Diva cucumbers and Halona muskmelon.
We had many pickings of solanaceae.

Hungarian Hot Wax, Nadia, Ping Tung, Bride, Rosita, Shishito, Thai Hot, Cherry Bomb.

Notable is the harvest of Anaheim peppers. I've never grown them before, and they look to be a winner. They are mildly hot (900 - 2500 Scovilles says Fedco), and are perfect for chiles rellenos, so guess what's in my future. Yum.

Anaheim chiles.
This photo looks like one of those emergency harvests you make when frost is imminent, but we have no frost expected in the near future. Tropical Storm Jose is expected to brush us in a few days, which won't be good for the plants. But mostly, I was sick of looking at the dead, blighted tomatoes, so I took what was there to ripen indoors, and disposed of the vines. The indeterminate vines, while diseased, are still producing, so there will be more tomatoes before the inevitable frost.

That's all for this week. I hope you are getting great harvests from your gardens, and look forward to reading your posts at Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Septoria Leaf Spot? Is That What's Killing The Tomatoes?

I've thought I was a victim of early or late blight. But now that I look at a leaf more closely it seems to look like Septoria Leaf Spot.

Does anyone know?

In any event, most of the determinate plants are dead. Here's one of the "Pony Express" plants. Or was.

"Plum Regal," billed as blight-resistant, is doing a little bit better.

The indeterminates are better off. They seem to grow their way out of it.

Some of the fruit is developing blisters, which may be something completely different then.

What a mess.

I started spraying with Serenade a few weeks ago. I think it was too late for this year. But next I'm going to drown the plants with it starting at transplant. Something has to work!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Harvest Monday - 11 September 2017

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. We had a number of "first harvests" this week, and said goodbye to other crops.

Starting with the firsts, here are "Thai Hot" peppers:

I love the way the fruit on the plant looks like miniature Christmas lights:

I haven't tried them yet, so I can't tell you how hot they are. The Kitchen Goddess wants to save them up to make Peri Peri.

We got the first "Rosita" eggplant:

And the first "Soloist" Chinese cabbage, on the left in the picture below. Also shown are the last (for now) "Brisk Green" pak choi. I set out another batch of pak choi seedlings, hoping to get one last harvest for the year.

The first and only scarlet runner beans (left) and the first and only "Kenearly" yellow-eye beans. I'm very pleased with the abundance of the runners, considering the plants didn't vine as much as in past years. The Kenearly is a disappointment. The plants never grew strong. They will dry in the sunroom until they can be shelled, then dried further for storage.

Some other harvests:

You may notice that in my corn harvest pictures the ears frequently lack silks. This is due (I believe) to my ongoing problem with earwigs (the dreaded "pincher bugs" of my childhood) eating them. Anyway, I often find them nestling in the damp place where the cobs meet the stalks. I've tried "Crawling Insect Killer" (diatomaceous earth) with no effect, and now spray with spinosad, not very effective either. It's not much of a problem if the cobs have already been pollinated before their silks are eaten, but if they haven't been pollinated, well, you get no pollination. If anyone knows of a good organic control, I'm all "ears" (chuckle).

Well-pollinated corn:

I harvested the last of the "Sugar Buns" corn this weekend, about 20 small cobs. Wait, if I ever want to market my crops I've got to learn better terms. How about artisanal?

Some of the best were eaten on the cob, and the rest were cut and frozen for "niblets."

Still plenty of corn to go, which makes me happy. We've barely touched the Honey Select on the left, and the 4 taller rows of Silver Queen have not been picked at all.

Lastly, the remaining snap beans and tiny, whoops, artisanal beets were picked. Voles had their way with both.

Thanks so much for reading! Please head back over to Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday goodness.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Harvest Monday - 4 September 2017

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. We are still getting "first harvests" of the year, so I lead off with them.

We took the entire crop of onions, which I raised from seed. It's kind of a disappointing haul, as we use a lot of onions over the year. I keep telling myself "more onions, less leeks" but the leek seedlings just seem to do better.

Stuttgarter onions
Speaking of leeks, one of them sent up a flower stalk (looking like a non-curvy garlic scape) so we pulled it, and used it fresh that night in a stir-fry.

Carentan leek
The first Halona muskmelon slipped from the vine. Inside, pure heaven!

And a Sugar Baby watermelon was picked, cannonball-sized. How do I know? Here it is next to an actual cannonball. What? You don't have a cannonball in your home? Weird!

The first chard was cut, and also the first intentionally-grown Red Russian kale. They are on the right in this picture. The other kale shown is what's left from the mesclun mix planted in spring.

For continuing harvests, we discovered voles had destroyed a dozen carrots, so to protect the crop we pulled all the rest, about five pounds. The Kitchen Goddess kept the nicest-looking ones out for fresh eating, and froze or dehydrated the rest.

A mid-week assortment:

We didn't do any gardening over the weekend. Instead, we made our yearly overnight jaunt to the Vermont Garlic Festival to pick up our seed garlic for the year, and just have fun.

I wrote a post about the event last year, entitled Vermont Stinks!.

Sunday morning we drove home in what Accuweather called a "tropical rainstorm," which lasted all day. It's the remnant of Hurricane Harvey, which sadly devastated the Houston area. Well, in my book "tropical" does not mean lighting the wood stove to get the chill out of the house, but we had to.

Here's the garlic we will be planting in the fall. From left, Turkish Red, Music, Katterman, Italian Purple Stripe, and Marengo. They cost between $1 and $3 a bulb, well worth it. Marengo is a soft-neck, so it's an experiment for me.

We dashed between the raindrops to pick sweet corn for our dinner on Sunday. Again, you can see how much bigger and better the Honey Select is compared to Sugar Buns.

Here's our hop vine in the rain. I've more or less decided not to take the time to pick them this year, as we have so many other pressing chores and we have so much left from last year. It's a waste, I know, but we really can't use them, and the local brewers use only pelletized hops, which we can't produce without getting specialized equipment. I'm just glad I didn't plant more vines, like I once considered doing.

Mt. Hood hops
So today is Labor Day in the US, which we will spend getting to the chores we neglected over the weekend. But it's a nice way to spend a holiday! I hope yours is good, too. But please take time to read all the terrific Harvest Monday posts you'll find at Our Happy Acres.