Monday, June 29, 2020

Harvest Monday - 29 June 2020

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. Oh dear, we seem to be heading into another summer drought like four years ago. Actually we're in a worse rainfall position than last time. Of course, anything can happen with the weather, and we may get a reversal. But for now, it's just too much of a job to keep anything but the vegetables sufficiently watered. The field will just have to brown out

In spite of the heat and drought (or maybe because of it?), we got a number of exciting "first harvests" of the year. We got the first picking of pea pods. Here is "Super Sugar Snap."

And here is "Avalanche," a snow pea.

We got the first kohlrabis. These are about billiard-ball size, which we prefer.

Kolibri F1 kohlrabi
We got the first pickings of mature spring onions. This is "White Lisbon," which is not supposed to bulb, but these clearly are. No matter, they are still delicious.

I'm growing three kinds of broccoli this year. As always, "Blue Wind" is first across the finish line, making heads before the other varieties even have buttons.

Blue Wind broccoli
Iceberg lettuce seems to get a bad rap among the culinary set. But we love it. I've never grown it before, but I scored a free packet of seeds, so I started six this year. They are growing beautifully, and the first cutting affirmed our opinion, being wonderfully crisp and delicate.

Iceberg lettuce
My only regret is having them all come to maturity at the same time, as well as the two rows of salad mixes. That's a lot of lettuce for us, and there's no way of preserving it as far as I know.

The lettuce bed
Last year a volunteer caraway plant sprung up, and this year it set seed. I cut the seed heads and am drying them now. This is good, because all my remaining seed failed to germinate. Now at least I'll have some fresh seed for next year. I really like caraway seeds in a dish The Kitchen Goddess makes: a ground turkey and shredded cabbage stir-fry.

Caraway seed umbrels
Lastly, we picked a small quantity of cilantro.

That night TKG made tortillas from our own corn flour, to serve with blackened mahi-mahi and guacamole for fish tacos. The cilantro really went well with that.

About a month ago I took some drone photos of our gardens to document progress from a different perspective on a monthly basis. I took another set this weekend. Here's the "field garden." In this and other pictures you can really see the bad condition of the grass, but the garden is doing pretty well.

The field garden
Here's the "stock tank beds." The zucchini, cucumbers, and melons are really starting to fill out.

The stock tank garden
And here's the main fenced garden.

The fenced garden behind the barn
If you are interested, here's a link to the last set of photos I took.

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

Monday, June 15, 2020

Harvest Monday - 15 June 2020

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Weather-wise, the days have been quite pleasant, but the nights cool. In fact, early this morning (Monday) we registered 48 F. (~8.9 C.). Fine for the brassicas, not so much for the solanacea. But much warmer weather should be arriving later this week.

Starting with the "first harvests" is a cutting of garlic scapes from about a dozen of the 40 plants I grew. They are early this year. We love this useful "by product" of garlic production.

Another first harvest is the result of a few onion sets planted last year that only grew this year. When this happens, they inevitably send up a flower stalk. We pulled them and got a nice bit of green onion.

For continuing harvests, several times we picked salad greens from the two mixes, along with more radishes.

Also, we cut what will probably be the last asparagus spears before allowing the plants to leaf out. We will miss having homegrown asparagus!

One of the two salad mixes has some spinach in it, which started bolting this week. We picked it, and enjoyed a nice spinach salad. Also, the remaining Asian greens were all bolting, so they came out too.

Left: spinach, right: various pac choi
The Kitchen Goddess tried a new Paleo dish called "Asian Kebabs," consisting of ground beef and Asian greens, both mostly pre-cooked then seared on the charcoal grill, served with a spicy almond butter-based sauce using coconut aminos instead of tamari. A small acorn squash (store-bought) was also baked, then put on the grill. The meal was very delicious, and for us a novel way to use Asian greens.

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

Monday, June 8, 2020

Harvest Monday - 8 June 2020

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm in southern New Hampshire. Leading off with the "first harvests" of the year is one of my favorite Asian greens, "Brisk Green" pac choi.

I didn't get fussy about turnip planting this year, just scratched out four rows and poured seeds in. This is the result of thinning them, a nice batch of baby turnip greens.

Hooray, first homegrown salads of the year! These are pickings of the two rows of salad mixes I planted.

We love chive flower vinegar, and it was time to pick the many flowers. We added some garlic chive leaves to give it a twist.

The Kitchen Goddess packed it all into a quart jar, added vinegar, and now it sits for two weeks.

For continuing harvests, to accent the salads, fresh radishes!

A number of the other Asian greens were bolting. At this stage they are hard to distinguish, but here are Pechay, White Stem, and Toy Choi.

I discovered why my asparagus were curved, and generally not looking right. In one patch I found a large number of adult Common Asparagus beetles that were feeding on the spears. In another patch there were adult Spotted Asparagus beetles. This means their larvae had already done damage. I quickly sprayed with spinosad, marketed here by Bonide with the very Jimmy Buffett-esque name "Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew." If you're not familiar with it, it's approved for organic gardening but can be harmful to pollinators. Luckily the asparagus is not near any plants currently requiring pollination.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and a big shout-out to Dave at for keeping the Harvest Monday tradition going!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Harvest Monday - 1 June 2020

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! In these posts, I like to lead off with the first harvest of vegetables I am growing this year. This week, I got a first harvest of spring onions, AKA scallions. It's actually the first ever time I've grown spring onions, for some reason. So here are thinnings from the crop of White Lisbon.

Another first harvest is radishes. This was mostly to see how they are doing. Here we have "French Dressing," a French Breakfast type, and the familiar Cherry Belle. The seed packets always claim radishes mature much faster than they do for me, as these were planted April 19.

Another first harvest is Toy Choi, on the left below, with another picking of Asian Delight that I showed last week.

We continue to get small harvests of asparagus, every other day or so.

Now I'll show progress made this past week. I transplanted 18 indeterminate tomato plants, in two 3x10 beds.

Indeterminate tomatoes
I also transplanted 16 determinates, into one and one-half 4x12 beds. The remaining half bed was planted with 8 eggplants/aubergines.

Determinate tomatoes
I also transplanted 12 winter squash, in the "row garden" area of the fenced garden. I gave them plenty of space.

Winter squash
Last year I experimented with growing peppers directly in 10 straw bales. They did well, but you only get one season out of the bales, and it takes a lot of fertilizer to condition them for planting. So I'm not going to repeat the experiment. The partially rotted bales were perfect for spreading out for mulch across the squash and the solanacea beds.

In the two galvanized stock tanks, I planted hills of two melons, two summer squash, and four cucumbers.

Melons and cucumbers
A day later I set out 22 pepper plants, over two beds. In addition 4 peppers went into containers off the kitchen herb garden.

I also planted bush beans, scarlet runner beans, and yelloweye dry beans.

Whew! So that emptied out the big plant-starting rack in the sunroom. All that's left is three six packs on a side table, with seedling kale, Chinese cabbage, and more Asian Delight. The end of May is really the hard push, and it feels good to have it accomplished.

One of my post-retirement hobbies is drone flying. I bought a DJI Mavic Mini, and have had a lot of fun learning to fly it. I'm very pleased with the photo and video quality for such an inexpensive drone. A project is to take aerial photos of the gardens over the season and document their growth. So here are some shots taken May 31.

The Field Garden. It's fully planted but all you can see from altitude is the garlic on the left, and the two rows of potatoes.

The Field Garden
The Stock Tank Garden:

Stock tank planters
The Fenced Garden:

Fenced Garden
We had a cold front come through yesterday, and this morning the temperature is 39F (3.8C). We'll have another cold night tonight, but that should be it. I will plant the last batch of sweet corn after it is over. Then virtually all the planting will be done. Thanks for reading my [long] post, and thanks to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.