Monday, July 30, 2018

Harvest Monday - 30 July 2018

It's finally summer here...from a harvest perspective that is.

The first "Taxi" tomato - a non-acidic variety but very flavorable.

The first "Sugar Plum" grape tomatoes.

The first shishito peppers, always a cause for celebration here.

Mellow Star
The first cucumbers. I'm trialing a different one this year. It's called "Dar," which I bought at the Baker Creek store last fall. It's short-vined, and is described as a "new Polish variety." I was waiting for them to get longer, but they got fat instead. Maybe because they were picked too late, the skin was a little tough, but peeled and sliced, they have an unusual, savory flavor. We liked them a lot. Though they are said to be a pickler/slicer, I think they are too juicy for pickling.

Dar cucumber
The first yellow zucchini. I think its odd shape is due to not being fully pollinated.

Yellowfin zucchini
The first yellow wax beans.

Carson wax beans
The Kitchen Goddess could not be restrained from poking around in the potato bed, so these got dug up. "Kennebec" is the only variety I've grown, and we think it has superior flavor, but maybe we're only comparing it to store-bought.

new Kennebec potatoes; one with googly-eyes
This is the entire harvest of Red Tropea onions. I had to do it because voles once again raided this bed, destroying all but this. Grrr!

Rossa Lunga di Tropea, except one's not rossa! Bet it tastes the same though.
The first Arcadia broccoli.

For a sampling of continuing harvests, here's a picking of filet beans. I got one more harvest like this, then pulled the plants. Instead of waiting for their second flush, which is usually disappointing, I'm replanting instead. But I'm not sure there will be enough time in the season. We'll see!

Calima filet beans
Raspberries and blueberries are giving us small pickings at a time, but it's amazing how it adds up.

And another pair of lovely artichokes.

Imperial Star
Here's last week's garlic harvest, all cleaned up. On the left is "Italian Purple Striped." It was very disappointing, as only 3 of the 6 came up, and those are ugly. It will not make the cut this fall. Too many others to choose from! Then it's Turkish Red, Katterman, Music, and the softneck Marengo.

Lastly, some stuff from the community garden plot shared by TKG and her mom. Cucumbers, purple potatoes, carrots, fennel, kale, a leek, beets, and celery.

And three more "Fourth of July" tomatoes that I still have not tried!!

Thanks for wading through this! I hope your summer's going well, and giving you lots of nice harvests. I look forward to reading about them, courtesy of Our Happy Acres and Harvest Monday.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Harvest Monday - 23 July 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. Once again foregoing the weather summary, I'll get right to the harvests, starting with the "first harvests of the season."

The big fun was pulling all the hardneck garlic.

Once these are fully dried and cleaned up, I'll post the varieties and how they did. But it looks like Katterman won again in the size department.

Katterman hardneck garliic
We got the first, beautifully ripe raspberries.

And the first bush beans.

Calima beans
These are a filet variety called Calima that I've been growing for several years. I'm really sold on the taste and productivity. We got a second, even larger harvest later in the week.

And the first beets. This example is probably one of the largest I've grown.

Boltardy beet
First harvests also came from the community garden plot. Here we have red and golden beets, a cucumber, fennel bulbs, and a couple of new purple potatoes. Not shown are three "Fourth of July" ripe tomatoes. Maybe one day I'll get a chance to taste them. If they are good, their earliness may give them a place in the home garden.

For continuing harvests, we got carrots.


Purple Top White Globe and White Egg turnips
And a picking of true lettuce from the mixes I planted in spring. This looks to be some sort of green looseleaf, and red romaine. At this stage of the year, all lettuce gets taste-tested for bitterness. These of course passed, but some was rejected (blech!).

The Kitchen Goddess whipped up a homemade Caesar dressing (sans anchovies, which is fine with me), and even did homemade croutons. The whole thing was delicious.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading! And thanks once again to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Harvest Monday - 16 July 2018

Greetings from Eight Gate Farm! For once I'll get right to some of the harvests of this week.

First up is a time we celebrate here, the first artichokes!

Imperial Star artichokes
I grew softneck garlic for the first time this year. I'd say that nearly everyone in the Northeast grows hardnecks exclusively, so I broke with convention a little bit. The result looks satisfactory.

Marengo softneck garlic
Hardnecks are preferred because they are more cold-hardy, spicier, and produce useful scapes. Softnecks' attraction is they keep longer and can be braided. Well, we've never had a problem keeping harnecks for many months, right into the next year's harvest. So once the above has cured, I'll taste-test them and see if it's worth planting again this fall. By the way, what are those weird ovary things above the bulbs?

Another first harvest was a head of Fiesta broccoli.

For continuing harvests, a sample is the last of the soup peas.

Alaska and Blue Podded peas for drying
And the last of the snow and snap peas.

L: Super Sugar Snap, R: Blizzard and Mammoth Melting Sugar
Some carrots as needed:

Scarlet Nantes carrots

And more bolting onions for fresh use.

Lastly, I can't resist showing off a bit with a "harvest" from the sea. We took a day off from gardening on Sunday and went striped bass fishing off the coast of Newburyport, Massachusetts (just 45 minutes from here). It was a great day! "Stripers" are an amazing fish to catch, and eat! To be legally harvested they have to be 28" in length, and these range from that to over 30".

Striped bass
Shared with our son (who caught the most!), we have lots of filets, and The Kitchen Goddess even made a soup base with the "frames" (head and backbones). Nothing goes to waste!

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Harvest Monday - 9 July 2018

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! The Kitchen Goddess and I were gone from the 26th through the 1st, at a lovely tropical resort in the guise of a company meeting. We returned to the start of a heat wave, with temps well into the 90s. So I went from griping about the cold to moaning about the heat. It broke on Friday with a storm, which flattened a good amount of the corn that had been growing so nicely in the heat. TKG was a huge help in setting it back upright again. I sure wish the corn would not keep lodging like that (strange term...shouldn't it be "dis-lodging"?).

TKG's mother watched the house while we were gone, and kept things watered and picked. But there was a lot to harvest for us, especially peas. We got several pickings like this, but it looks like the vines are shutting down now. At least there's been no powdery mildew.

L: Blizzard and Mammoth Melting Sugar, R: Super Sugar Snap

I've been using the same packet of "European Mesclun Mix" from Baker Creek for several years now. Last year, kale dominated the mix; this year, it was arugula. I don't know why the same packet would yield different dominant plants in a given season...maybe heavier seeds sank to the bottom? In any event, the arugula was fully bolted, but still gave us three one-gallon bags when cleared out.

We took a few carrots.

Also turnips and more flowering onions, which we use as "spring onions" though they aren't supposed to be.

We took the first broccoli of the season. This is the "Blue Wind" variety. One head grew white, looking like cauliflower. I don't know whether it was the weather, or just a weird sport. It tasted fine though.

There was another, normal head.

Blue Wind broccoli
The strawberries were finished by the time we got back, but the blueberries are starting.

Patriotic-looking blueberries picked on Independence Day!
Little bit of a discourse on peas. I love edible podded peas, both raw and cooked. But I've always disliked cooked shell peas. On the other hand, I love pea soup! For the past several years I've been dabbling in growing peas for drying. I guess any shelling pea could be dried, but Baker Creek recommends several varieties for that purpose...maybe they're starchier? I planted Alaska and Blue-podded this year, in a 20 ft. row.

L: Alaska, R: Blue-podded

The Alaska didn't germinate as well as the Blue-podded, but yielded more, smaller pods that were fully packed. Alaska's peas are conventionally-shaped, while Blue-podded's are elongated and lighter in color.

L: Blue-podded, R: Alaska

In the past, I let them air dry naturally, and found that they discolor over time. TKG researched this, and learned that they should be lightly blanched and then dehydrated. She did this, and here's what resulted, about 8 ounces. But I bet they're packed with flavor! The dehydrating took all day, by the way.

TKG brought back some things from her community garden plot, like this last, tennis-ball sized kohlrabi.

And cuttings from celery, fennel, and kale.

We're still a ways away from harvesting the true summer crops, unlike most of you lucky people. Hopefully it won't be too long!

Thanks for reading, and apologies for telling you more about soup peas than maybe you were really interested in. Thanks again to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.