Monday, November 11, 2019

Harvest Monday - 11 November 2019

We had several hard frosts last week, where the top layer of the soil froze at night. But it "defrosted" during the day. They were also forecasting snow for the latter part of the week. It didn't materialize, but I couldn't know that, so I harvested all the remaining root vegetables.

I took all the remaining "Mokum" carrots, an Amsterdam type, that were spring-planted.

Mokum carrots

As well as the "Yaya" carrots, a Nantes type, that were also spring-planted.

Yaya carrots
I decided I'm completely sold on pelletized carrot seeds. They are so much easier to handle, and no thinning required. Sure, not all germinate, and you have to use up all the seeds in one season, but it is totally worth it to me. I wish more varieties were available in pelletized form.

All the remaining leeks were picked. They never really got big this year, but at least the voles left them alone, so we got a good harvest of this useful vegetable.

Carentan leeks
I also went to chop down the cauliflower plants, which had gotten very big but produced no heads, I thought. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this when pulling them apart for the compost. They are only tennis-ball sized, but it made for a very nice side dish that night.

Snowball Self-blanching cauliflower
Needless to say, The Kitchen Goddess had a very busy day when all the above came in. She kept some of the leeks out for cock-a-leekie soup (yum!), froze the rest, and froze all the carrots. She got so into it she forgot to leave some out for fresh eating! Not only that, but I discovered all the Red Norland potatoes in the bin in the cellar had started to sprout, only three months after harvest. So she sliced them, dipped them in lemon juice, blanched them, and dehydrated them in the oven. They will be very useful in the coming winter months.

With that, the garden is bare. I bid it goodnight, and thanked it for its service. Our freezers and cupboards are full. Despite the usual setbacks, it was a pretty good year. I hope it was for you too! So no more Harvest Monday posts this year. Thanks for reading, and for your comments over the year. And a big round of applause, please, for our host, the talented Dave, at

Monday, November 4, 2019

Harvest Monday - 4 November 2019

This past weekend we had frosts over every night. Just touching freezing, but enough to kill the tender plants. Anticipating this, I harvested everything I thought was at risk.

I took all the kale. Some of this I intentionally planted, others were what was left from the salad mixes I planted in spring.

I took all the chard. This, too, was from the salad mixes.

I harvested herbs for drying. Below is parsley, sage, oregano, and thyme. Not quite like the song lyrics! We do have rosemary, but we overwinter the plant and thus have a constant fresh supply.

I also took the remaining cilantro.

It looks like a lot, but it all went into one dish: Cilantro and Serrano Pepper Mexican Rice. The article containing the recipe has a lot of hype to scroll through, and I think it calls for too much garlic, but it turned out quite good. Here it is, served with baked boneless chicken breast dusted with our smoked chile powder. A double dose of spiciness!

I also picked some carrots. They're funny looking, but really tasty.

Mokum carrots
And I picked all the useful apples from our late-maturing Granny Smith (I think!) tree. The rest (just as many) were thrown out into the woods for the critters to enjoy. I have to say that it is hard to grow apples using organic principles. You have to lower your standards quite a bit.

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

 With hard frost on the way, it will be a busy week getting ready for winter and doing the final harvests of the year.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Harvest Monday - 28 October 2019

I was inspired by last week's Harvest Monday post by Dave, the wonderful host, in which he smoked peppers to make chile powder. Having an abundance of peppers, I decided to do it myself!

I picked all the remaining Maule's Red Hot cayennes (left, below), and Anaheim-type peppers.

And I picked whatever yellow(ish) hot peppers I could find, and added them to what I had in the fridge.

The yellowish ones are Brazilian Starfish, Hot Lemon, and Habaneros. They went into a separate batch. The red ones joined the cayennes in another batch, and the Anaheims made their own batch.

I fired up the smoker and did the three batches consecutively. The last batch was the Anaheims, which were joined by some thin pork chops. Boy did those taste great! Each batch took 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Some came out crisp, others were leathery.

The next day The Kitchen Goddess finished drying them in the oven. It made the kitchen smell like a campfire, but it was woodsy and pleasant!

Then, using a new dedicated spice mill, she ground up the separate batches to make the finished product, smoky hot chile powder. While she was at it, she ground up our dehydrated garlic (in the back below).

I'd say the results were a success! I had been thinking I grew way too many peppers this year, but with this and the hot sauces it seems like the right amount after all.

TKG got an enhancement to her hand-cranked "Wondermill Jr." grain mill. It's a socket that replaces the handle with the ability to use an electric drill. She was able to grind up some of our dried corn in a fraction of the time and with no stress on her shoulder. Here are different cornmeal grades running from coarse to very fine.

And there was enough to make me the dessert I was craving, Indian Pudding. Guess I was a good boy after all, or fooled her anyway.

Indian Pudding
This was the perfect accompaniment to another regional favorite we had: New England Boiled Dinner. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds! It's basically corned beef and cabbage with added vegetables. She used carrots, onions, and potatoes. Nice to know that everything except the meat came from our garden.

That's really all to report this week. We still have not had a frost, but I'm starting to remove all the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants anyway. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Harvest Monday - 21 October 2019

It was a pretty quiet week here in the gardens. Still no frost yet. I did manage a "first harvest" though. This is "Soloist' Chinese cabbage. I only planted a couple, and this was the only one worth harvesting. Slugs have a particular fondness for this vegetable.

I picked all the "Mad Hatter" peppers that were of decent size.

Mad Hatter
I picked the remaining eggplants, very small but still worth it.

Nadia eggplant
And I picked a few of the spring-planted carrots.

Yaya and Mokum carrots
The peppers, eggplants, and all but two of the carrots went home with The Kitchen Goddess's mom. I truly believe being able to share your harvests with appreciative family and friends is one of the greatest joys of gardening.

The "Painted Mountain" dry (flour) corn cobs had been drying for over a month. This week I shelled them and let them dry for a few more days. They yielded a lot more than I was expecting, almost 5 pounds.

Painted Mountain corn kernels
This went into storage, ready for grinding any time we want. I have a hankering for an Olde New England favorite, Indian Pudding. For those unfamiliar, it's basically cornmeal mush sweetened with maple syrup. Maybe if I'm a good boy I'll get some soon.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading! And thanks as always to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Harvest Monday - 14 October 2019

Happy Thanksgiving Day to Canadian readers! Here in the U. S., it's a different holiday, Columbus Day. Not to get political, but there is an increasing effort to rename it to "Indigenous Peoples Day," an idea I support.

We have no frost expected in the long-term forecast, but it's been mostly a cold, gloomy week. Peppers and tomatoes are not really ripening. So I'm making an effort to gradually harvest what I can, and if we don't need it, I'll just let it take its course.

First up are the ornamental/edible hot peppers I grew. They were completely loaded with ripe fruit.

Left: Bolivian Rainbow, right: Poinsettia
I turned them into 300ml of very hot sauce.

I took most of the Jimmy Nardello's peppers, not red-ripe but still useful.

Jimmy Nardello's
I've grown Maule's Red Hot cayenne peppers for years. They look very much like Jimmy's above. This year I bought a generic cayenne plant, and the fruit turned out to be very different, thinner but much more productive. I harvested all of them this week; I'd guess 100 or more. I saved some seeds, and I hope they come up true.

Generic cayenne pepper
What else to do but make more hot sauce? I added a little garlic to this batch, and the result is quite pleasant. Spicy for sure, but manageable.

Okay, I promise, no more hot sauce.

I harvested the last of the zucchini. The plants were in bad shape from powdery mildew, but were still trying to make fruit. I think the cold weather has reduced the pollinator activity, so no point in keeping the plants. I removed them.

Cocozelle di Napoli and Yellowfin
I also took the last of the spring-planted turnips. The largest was 2 1/2 pounds. These were mostly cubed, blanched, and frozen. I still think the yellowish ones are rutabagas, whose seed got mixed in.

Turnips and maybe a rutabaga
The Kitchen Goddess took a little and made something different, fermented turnips. She added a sliced jalapeno to each jar. We sampled them, and they are quite unique. The pepper really gives it some zip.

Turnip spears fermenting
She is also still picking fall raspberries, a little at a time, but it sure adds up!

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Harvest Monday - 7 October 2019

We had two frost advisories over the weekend. The air temperature never really got to freezing, but close to it, and there was frost on surfaces, which is a phenomenon I don't quite understand.

Needless to say, there was a bit of a scramble to harvest tender crops before this happened. This resulted in several "first harvests" of the year.

First up is Habanero peppers. I grew these just to see if I could do it in this climate. Not bad results!

Next is Brazilian Starfish peppers, and mystery eggplants! As you can see, the peppers did not reach full red-ripeness, and are small. These won't make the cut next year. As for the eggplants, I mentioned a few weeks ago how little we liked the Thai Yellow Egg variety. On top of that, one of the plants did not grow to type. But the result is a beautifully colored fruit about the size of a goose egg.

Brazilian Starfish pepper and mystery eggplant
Otherwise I brought in a good haul of sweet peppers. These were cut up and frozen, except for the shishitos on the right, which we grilled in the usual way. Having enjoyed them each week for three months, I can say we've had our limit for the year. Heresy, I know.

Also a good haul of eggplants, which were blanched and frozen.

And so many hot peppers! With what we had in the fridge there was a need to use them all up.

Note the Sugar Rush Peach peppers on the far right. A little story about them. I had read that roasting them really brings out the sweetness, so we did that with the batch picked the previous week, without seeding. We eagerly took our first bite, and there truly was a rush of sweetness and fruit. Then POW! The heat hit us like a punch in the face! We couldn't eat any more of them, but we found a use.

The solution to the hot pepper surplus was a surprisingly simple way to make varietal hot sauces. This uses unseeded, un-fermented peppers, chopped, simmered in white vinegar and salt, blended, then put through a sieve. Here's the yield:

From left we have one bottle of Hot Lemon Pepper sauce, two and a half of 50/50 cayenne and Thai Hot Chile, three and a quarter of Roasted Sugar Rush Peach pepper sauce, and three and a half of Habanero. Each has its own complexity and flavor profile. I haven't chosen a favorite yet. Surprisingly, the Habanero, which I though would be atomic, is not all that hot. Maybe our climate keeps the heat down.

In other events this week, I shelled the dried runner beans. They were less productive than last year, but I still got enough for next year's seeds plus a side dish.

"Sunset" scarlet runner beans
And The Kitchen Goddess has been picking raspberries nearly every day. She likes it!

But the biggest harvest of the week I can take no credit for. TKG and her mom went to their community garden plot and came back with forty pounds of sweet potatoes!

Georgia Jet sweet potatoes.
I guess I'm going to have to learn to like them.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at for keeping the Harvest Monday tradition going.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Harvest Monday - 30 September 2019 - Blue Ribbon Edition Part IV

It's the last weekend of September, which means it's time for...

This is the 4th year we've entered our vegetables and canned goods in the competitions. It's just so much fun! We are learning the rules as we go. For vegetables, the judges look for ripeness, uniformity, size, and appearance. In theory, each is judged on its own merits, not in comparison to others of the same type.

Starting with peppers, here were my candidates for selection. You need to display 5 peppers of any given class (sweet green, hot red etc.).

Top row, Big Thai Hybrid (hot red class). I rejected these because of blemishes.
Next row, Cubanelle (sweet green). I entered the best 5, but had doubts about size consistency.
Next row, Cayenne (hot red). I chose the best 5. Also, Jimmy Nardello's (sweet red). I rejected these because of inconsistent color.
Next row, Hot Lemon (hot yellow class). I chose the best 5. Also Serrano (hot red). I chose the best 5.

I really wanted to enter my Sugar Rush Peach peppers (first harvest of the year), but decided there weren't enough with the true peachy color. Too bad, as I think this is a really attractive pepper.

Sugar Rush Peach
For eggplants, you need to display two of any given class. Here were my candidates.

Top row, Nadia (globular class). I rejected these for lack of consistency.
Next row, Ping Tung (elongated class). I chose the two on the right.

I also entered my Pinto beans (half-pint jar), and Red Russian garlic (5 needed).

For the first time, The Kitchen Goddess entered her own vegetables. Here are Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry, Blue Berries tomatoes, and cucamelons (entered into the pickling cucumber class)

She also entered (from left) Three-Color pickled hot pepper rings, 100% cayenne chile sauce, and spaghetti sauce. This was significantly less than she normally enters, reflecting my poor showing of tomatoes this year.

Once again, she made a clever scarecrow, a beauty queen attending a garden party. She had hops for hair, a bouquet of carrots, eggplants, and kale, and a bracelet of cucamelons. I really liked the hot red pepper necklace.

Miss Scarecrow 2019
We went to the fair on Thursday to have fun, and see our results of course. Here's how we did:

The top row is my vegetables. All first prizes, except for the Cubanelle peppers, as anticipated. TKG got a blue and two reds for her canned goods (tough judging this year), a blue for her cucamelons, a red for ground cherries, and third prize for the Blue Berries tomatoes. This was curious in some ways. For one, there were four other entries for this type. I believed it was an unusual tomato that was not widely grown, but apparently not. The other thing was all of them got third prize. Either the judge doesn't understand this variety, or doesn't like it!

She got fourth place for her scarecrow. She was disappointed, but I feel it was worth it. I saw many people smiling as they looked at it, and the $70 cash prize is no slouch either.

Our total cash winnings were $118, which is just a dollar less than last year. We don't do it for the money, of course, but it does go quite a way toward next year's seeds and supplies.

Now for other harvest notes for this week. I transplanted my cauliflower plants on May 1. They grew big, but did not seem to be producing heads. They are only supposed to take 60 days or so, which would have avoided the real heat of summer. Imagine my surprise when I went out to the garden on Thursday morning to find they had suddenly cast off their garments and revealed themselves. Wow! I've never successfully grown cauliflower before, so I'm really happy, even if it did take nearly 4 months!

Flame Star F1
And TKG came back from her community garden plot with this impressive tomato haul, plus two artichokes. She made a batch of sauce for her mother, who shares the plot.

Once again, I encourage you to enter your crops in a local fair. It is really worth it from a goofy pleasure perspective. I'm already dreaming and scheming for next year. "Best In Show" is my goal. This year someone's pea pods won that. They were nice, but not really dramatic, in my opinion. Or is that jealousy talking?