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?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Harvest Monday - 23 September 2019

Happy autumn from Eight Gate Farm! The week started quite cool, but as the weekend approached it began to warm until summer returned! This was good for ripening some of the peppers that had been stubborn. So I'll start with these "first harvests."

Mad Hatter hybrid pepper. Some say it has some heat, but I haven't yet noticed it. I love the shape.

Mad Hatter
Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes pepper. This is the second year growing it, and the results are no better than last year. Its lack of productivity will cause it to fail to make the cut next year. At least I won't have to deal with that complicated name anymore.

Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes
Syrian Three-Sided pepper, another selection from Baker Creek. Some of the reviews say it's hot, others say not at all. One reviewer said it was prone to blossom-end rot, and that is certainly my experience. Another one that won't make the team next year.

Syrian Three-Sided
Another pepper from Baker Creek will make the team. This is Arroz Con Pollo. It is described as a Cuban "seasoning" pepper, and one is supposed to be sufficient flavor a whole pot of beans. Of course, it is also used in its namesake, rice with chicken. I'm looking forward to trying it both ways.

Arroz Con Pollo
Now on to continuing harvests, and I might as well stick with the pepper theme. This is one picking of Anaheim. We stuffed and smoked some like we did with poblanos (now finished), and they were quite good, with some kick that poblano lacks. Still, we couldn't use them all. I'm not really sure how I ended up with 5 plants, but that certainly can be pared down next year.

In this picture, the top row is King of the North bell, Tangerine Dream, and Cornito Rosso. Middle row is red and yellow biquinho, and bottom is half of one-day's harvest of shishitos. The other half went home with an unsuspecting friend who dropped by.

Now something besides peppers. The Kitchen Goddess visited her community garden plot, and came back with this welcome supply of tomatoes, welcome because mine are doing poorly.

She's also been braving our raspberry patch every other day. They are beautifully ripe and big.

And lastly here is Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini, Yellowfin zucchini, and two Diva cucumbers.

All in all, not a bad week. I hope yours was too! I'm looking forward to reading all about it at, kindly hosted by Dave.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Harvest Monday - 16 September 2019

The harvests are slowing way down, and this is reflected in the small number of "first" or new harvests for the season.

I pulled the whole crop of "Red Marble" hybrid onions. I started these from seed. They are shown below on the right, next to the last of the "Stuttgarter" onions I also started from seed. Now the only thing left in the allium bed is leeks.

I also picked the entire crop of scarlet runner beans. They will dry on this rack, and when ready, I will save some seeds for next year, and the rest should give us a meal or two.

"Sunset" runner beans
I obtained some pepper seed packets from a gentleman who had saved the seed. The packets were marked with the year 2000. So I had little hope that 19 year old seed would germinate. To my surprise, they sprouted beautifully. Below are two different ornamental but edible peppers. On the left is Bolivian Rainbow. The fruits start out deep purple, then change to shades of red, orange, and yellow. I took a tentative nibble out of one, and found it to be spicy but nicely fruity too. So I popped a whole one in my mouth. I literally started drooling from the heat! On the right is Poinsettia, another very attractive plant. I haven't tried one yet, but they are supposed to be quite hot too.

Left: Bolivian Rainbow. Right: Poinsettia
Another packet I got from the gentleman was labeled "Congo Trinidad." This is a habanero-type, with extreme heat. But what came up is clearly not what was labeled. It looks more like a shishito. But I was scared to try it. Eventually I manned-up and ate one, carefully removing the seeds and ribs. It was hot, to be sure, but not (what I imagine) habenero would be. Can anyone identify it? The leaves are very yellow-green

Mystery pepper
Last year I grew a Manzano pepper plant from seeds I obtained in California. The is a C. pubescens species with black seeds and purple flowers. I didn't get any fruit last year, but decided to overwinter it indoors. It developed a terrible infestation of whiteflies, so I removed it from the indoor growing area way before it was warm enough to put peppers out this year. Surprisingly it survived and bounced back. Here's one of the fruit, another terrifically hot pepper.

Manzano pepper
Continuing harvests are still trickling in. Here is a sampling. First, two more "Halona" muskmelons.

Some Jimmy Nardello's peppers:

An assortment of hot peppers:

From left: Serrano, jalapeno, and Thai Hot
From The Kitchen Goddess's community garden plot came this tower of tomatoes. Her tomato plants are doing a lot better than mine at home. Under them you can see three small but tasty artichokes.

And later in the week, three more artichokes came home.

Green Globe artichokes
Those complimented a large shishito pepper harvest we enjoyed that night. Actually it was too many for us, so we shared them with TKG's mom.

Mellow Star hybrid along with conventional shishito peppers
As I mentioned, my tomato plants are not doing well, but that's a story for another time. Thank you for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Harvest Monday - 9 September 2019

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. We are well within our historical time period of getting a first frost, but the data is old. Frost has been trending later and later in recent years. That doesn't mean it's particularly warm now, and warmth is what we need to ripen all the solanacea. So it's a waiting game.

Some peppers are ripening though, which is gratifying. Here is the first harvest of King Of The North bell pepper. But if you're a Game of Thrones fan like me, you call it King IN The North. I honestly think this is the first time I've ever gotten bell peppers red-ripe before frost.

King Of The North
Another sweet pepper to get red-ripe this week was Cornito Rosso. This is the first time growing it for me, and I'm impressed.

Cornito Rosso
On the hot side, another first harvest (and first time growing) was Serrano Tampiqueno.

Serrano Tampiqueno
The Painted Mountain dry (flour) corn was completely harvested and husked. It's now drying on racks. This year, the stalks were weaker than last year. Maybe the soil needs ammendments, and I was not diligent about thinning it. So the cobs were small, and many were poorly pollinated. But boy, are they colorful!

Painted Mountain flour corn
I've put off talking about the sweet corn this year. It's by far my favorite crop to grow and eat. Some pest got in the fenced garden and stripped the stalks of the cobs just as they were ripening. I suspect squirrels, but I set a cage trap baited with peanut butter without catching anything, so who knows? Maybe a raccoon? In any event, this was all I could salvage. Pathetic.

Temptress sweet corn
Last fall I took out most of the grape vines in the fenced garden. They were just too troublesome. But I left the vines which had crept to the fences and rooted there. This week I picked a heavy basket of grapes. They are a pink seedless variety, and very sweet. I think they might be Canadice, but I have no way of knowing. They had to be sorted through to discard the ones showing signs of black rot, but we were left with several gallon bags of good ones.

I also got the first muskmelon. As is typical for me, this is only slightly larger than a baseball, but very tasty!

Halona muskmelon
And we got the first fall raspberries, shown along with the absolute last of the blueberries.

For a sampling of continuing harvests, here are some sweet peppers.

Jimmy Nardello's, Cubanelle, Biquinho
And some hot ones too!

Anaheim, Thai Hot, Big Thai Hybrid
I planted turnips in the spring, and we ate many as saladette-types, but left a good number over the summer. They got very big, good for mashing and freezing. In fact, the largest was over 2 pounds. Actually, I think the ones with green shoulders and yellow bottoms are actually rutabagas, so I suspect some mix-up in the seed.

White Egg turnips and possibly rutabagas.
Saturday was a rainy blustery day, perfect for tackling accumulated vegetables for processing. For once I was actually useful in the kitchen...washing dishes! The Kitchen Goddess made 3 quart bags of mashed turnips, 3 of cubed turnips (rutabaga?), a quart bag of sweet corn "niblets," and a gallon bag of roasted Anaheim peppers stuffed with black beans, rice, and a little cheddar. I'm looking forward to those, you can bet! In the background are two containers of diced sweet peppers, three jars of thick rich pasta sauce, two jars of three-color pickled hot pepper rings, and two jars of 100% cayenne hot pepper sauce. A lot of work, but it was fun to do it together.

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Harvest Monday - 2 September 2019

Welcome to another Harvest Monday post from Eight Gate Farm. We are still harvesting crops for the first time this year, and I will present them first.

Here is "Big Thai Hybrid" hot pepper. It truly is a lot bigger than the tiny conventional Thai Hot I grow, as you can see in this side-by-side. It makes me think the normal one is really just an ornamental that you can also consume (carefully, these babies pack heat). The hybrid's fruits also hang down, while the non-hybrid's point upward.

Here is Hot Lemon pepper. I don't know if this is the same pepper sold by others as Aji Lemon or Lemon Drop. Its heat is somewhere between a jalapeno and a cayenne, and is said to be citrus-y, which I didn't really detect. It is fruity and tasty however, and looks to be productive.

This is Thai Yellow Egg eggplant. It was an impulse buy at the Baker Creek store last year. I really wish I had read the reviews first, as they uniformly say the fruits are tiny and seedy. This variety will have no place in our gardens next year.

We got the first heirloom Pruden's Purple tomato. It did very well in our taste comparison last year, second only to Brandywine.

I had three seeds left of "Homemade Pickles" cucumber, so I planted them in mid-summer. Two germinated, and one of them was promptly eaten by something, so only one plant resulted. It bore its first fruit this week. I like to use pickling cucumbers as slicers; I love the crunch.

We have two struggling pear trees, that were grown in too much shade (not our fault). Only one produced fruit this year.

d'Anjou pears
All the pinto beans were picked and dried sufficiently to put away. This is the total result.

Now on to continuing harvests. First up is an assemblage of paste tomatoes.

Next, a colorful assortment of hot peppers, all of which I have featured in this post or previous ones, with one exception. The skinny one on the far left is from a generic cayenne plant I bought. It really contrasts with the Maule's Red Hot cayennes to its immediate right.

Artichokes are still coming from The Kitchen Goddess's community garden plot.

Green Globe
Back home, a major picking of shishito peppers. This was more than we could consume that night, even with guests over for dinner. So maybe four plants is too much, but it does come in handy at the beginning of the season when each plant only is producing a few.

And the zucchini plants are still producing, despite squash bugs and powdery mildew.

Cocozelle di Napoli and Yellowfin
Labor Day weekend is the time of the Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival. We drove there Saturday, stayed overnight, and returned Sunday in plenty of time to do garden chores. I like to pick over the selections of seed garlic, and there is music, food, crafts (many garlic themed of course). There are also quite a few craft distilleries in recent years. I would say the average going price for seed garlic is $12 a pound right from the growers. New (to us) this year was "black garlic." This is garlic that has been fermented, which brings out the sweetness. We bought some, and TKG mixed it with mayonnaise to serve with our artichokes. It was really good.

I purchased (from left) German White. Katterman, Persian Red, and Vietnamese Red. The latter two are purple-striped varieties. Katterman is sold only by one grower, who got the seed years ago from an old-timer by that name. The grower says it's his best-producing garlic, and having grown it several times, I tend to agree. I'm going to plant 10 cloves of each variety this fall.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave, our gracious Harvest Monday host, at