Monday, August 30, 2021

Harvest Monday - 30 August 2021

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm in southern New Hampshire, USA. A number of vegetables made their first appearance this week, and as usual I will lead off with them.

This is Nadia, a hybrid Italian-type eggplant. The Kitchen Goddess sliced the bigger one and made me a wonderful Eggplant Parmesan, using gluten-free panko bread crumbs, and served it over gluten-free pasta with our own tomato sauce. Delicious!


Here we have two sweet peppers, the hybrid Cornito Rosso, along with the heirloom Jimmy Nardello's. Sad to say, many of my larger peppers are rotting on the vines. This may be due to the extreme rainfall we've had recently, or perhaps I overcrowded them.

L: Cornito Rosso, R: Jimmy Nardello's

The second planting of sweet corn came in this week. This is Temptress, a bi-color synergistic hybrid. Though tip-fill was a little disappointing, the kernels are extra-sweet and crunchy. I love it!


I haven't grown dry corn in a few years, but I had an older packet of seeds so I tried it again this year. Surprisingly, they germinated very well. Growth was subdued, however, and pollination was poor. Still, I got a small colorful harvest that we will eventually grind for corn meal.

Painted Mountain flour corn

I set a goal to grow bigger onions this year, and I think I'm getting on track. This is Patterson, a yellow hybrid with good storage potential. Onion seed is notoriously short-lived, and the seed companies seem to give you much more than you can use in a year. So I tried keeping the extra from last year in the freezer. They germinated very well. I transplanted these in bunches, as separating the wispy seedlings got too tedious. Still, a pretty good harvest. I think the extra fertilizer I applied did the trick.


For continuing harvests, here is Monday's:


Here is Wednesday's, only tomatoes:

Wednesday tomato haul

On Friday, no tomatoes! The red thing at the bottom is a Cheese Pepper.

Friday tomato-free haul

A couple of things to note about this harvest. The Blue Wind broccoli plants, whose main heads were cut weeks ago, continue to give a generous amount of side-shoots. The Imperial broccoli gives nothing. Also, the dark green peppers on the right are Poblanos. TKG halved, cored, and stuffed them with different types of sausage; some Sweet Italian, some Chorizo, some Hot Italian, and some chicken/garlic. Some also had cheese. You didn't know ahead of time what you were biting into! All were wrapped with bacon (nitrate-free), and smoked for about an hour and a half. Here's what they looked like pre-smoking. They are absolutely delicious, and are good cold too, fortunately, as there is an awful lot of them.

Stuffed poblano peppers pre-smoking

I'm always amused when volunteer tomato plants spring up in the unlikeliest locations. This year, one popped up in the summer squash bed. It looks to be a Yellow Pear tomato, which I did not intentionally grow this year. Another unknown variety sprouted in the middle bin of my 3-bin composter. It is growing unbelievably. And it is absolutely disease-free so far.

Volunteer mystery tomato plant

Contrast that with the sad state of the plants in the determinate beds. You will be hard-pressed to find any green foliage now.

Mostly dead tomato plants

Is there a lesson here? I'm thinking on it. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Harvest Monday - 23 August 2021

 Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! Most of the tomato variety holdouts got their first harvest this week; just two are still being shy. I'll start with the determinates.

This is Red Siberian, an OP variety. Despite not claiming any special disease resistance, it's holding up pretty well. Of course, all of my tomato plants are diseased to a greater or lesser extent. It's just something I have to live with these days.

Red Siberian

In recent posts I've mentioned two "workhorse" tomato varieties I grow for canning production: Juliet and Roma. This week the third horse made an appearance, Rutgers, an OP classic. I'm not sure why this year they're turning orange on their way to red-ripeness.


Stellar is a hybrid determinate offering a pretty good disease resistance package. 


Iron Lady is another one, which even claims some resistance to Septoria Leaf Spot, which is much more of a problem here than early or late blight. Unfortunately, it's not immune.

Iron Lady

As its name implies, Bush Steak offers beefsteak-sized fruits on a determinate plant. I grew it last year and was impressed with the taste. Unfortunately it seems to have almost no disease resistance, and the plant is already dead now. I think this one won't make the cut next year.

Bush Steak hybrid

Celebrity is a widely-grown hybrid, again with some resistance. The plant is doing pretty well relatively speaking.


Last of the determinates is Plum Regal, a hybrid paste tomato, also claiming a good disease package.

Plum Regal

Turning to the indeterminates, I got the first Cour di Bue. It normally has an oxheart shape, hence its name, but these first fruits have more of a beefsteak shape.

Cour di Bue (OP)

Amish Paste is another old traditional, making large fruits.

Amish Paste

I grew San Marzano for the first time last year, and liked it. I planted two plants this year.

San Marzano

The above indeterminates are more or less heirlooms. This year I tried a hybrid paste tomato, Big Mama. This looks promising, as the largest of these is nearly 10 ounces, quite big for a paste.

Big Mama hybrid

Lastly, the first heirloom Brandywines! This is by far our favorite tomato for flavor, despite being Ugly Ducklings. These should be fully ripe in a few days, and we are looking forward to them.

Brandywine pink

You may think I grow too many varieties of tomatoes, and you could be right. But it wouldn't be very fun to only grow two or three.

Two eggplant varieties made their first appearance this week: the hybrid Bride and the open-pollinated Thai Long Green. Not sure why one of the "brides" is "extra-curvy."

Bride and Thai Long Green

I'm growing Pepperoncini peppers for the first time. The small plant is very productive. The Kitchen Goddess already pickled and canned this batch.


On Monday we dug the Kennebec white potatoes. While not a huge crop this year (I estimate 20 lbs.), many are large and scab-free. Can you find the one red potato I didn't find when harvesting that crop? It's having a "Where's Waldo" moment now.

Kennebec potatoes

I also pulled all the red onions. This is a Cippolini-type called Red Marble. 

Red Marble onions

For continuing harvests, I said last week the white sweet corn was not quite ready. Well now it is, and while the cobs are small, they have supreme flavor. I've been enjoying 3 or 4 each night. Yes, I am a glutton when it comes to corn.

Illusion hybrid sweet corn

I'll now show some group photos, all of things I'm continuing to harvest this year. This was Monday's harvest:

Monday's harvest

And this was Wednesday's, shortly before Tropical Storm Fred came through (it didn't do much fortunately).

Wednesday's harvest

On Friday, it looked like Henri, at one point a Cat 1 hurricane, was headed right for us. It got downgraded to a tropical storm, and fortunately veered west, just giving us heavy rain on Sunday. So this was Friday's harvest. Note the proverbial forgotten cucumber, included for comedy.

Friday's harvest

We took the rainy opportunity on Sunday to can 7 quarts of chopped tomatoes. This supplemented the 8 pints of chopped we did earlier in the week. The stores are being replenished! That's a good feeling.

Two tropical storms in a week is excessive, I think! Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Dave at for providing a home for Harvest Monday.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Harvest Monday - 16 August 2021

A cocktail napkin sums up my view of the heat and humidity this past week:

It was good for harvesting, however. Here are the "first harvests" of the season, starting with tomatoes. This is Burpee's Early Pick, which is a hybrid indeterminate with good sized fruit. The taste is quite good, too. We rated it 7.5 out of 10.

Burpee's Early Pick

Here's "Ascension Island." Though I love the story of how it was originally collected by the son of a fellow Master Gardener, I can't say it's really a unique variety. No matter, it's really tasty, and we give it 9 out of 10.

Ascension Island

This is Vilms, an OP indeterminate sauce tomato. Fedco recommended it for its disease resistance.


And this is the old workhorse, Roma:


By the way, you may be thinking I pick many tomatoes when they aren't completely ripe. This is true. It actually doesn't make a difference, as once the fruit reaches the "breaker" stage (half green and pink) the plant seals them off. So it's much safer to let them ripen indoors. Here's a link to a university article on this subject:

A number of peppers made their first appearance this week. Here is Cubanelle, a mild frying pepper.


Here are two different mildly spicy Poblano peppers. On the left is the original OP version, on the right is an "improved" hybrid called Rellenos Best. There really isn't much difference between them to be honest. We typically stuff and smoke these for a real treat.

Poblano, Rellenos Best

And here are original OP Anaheims, and the "improved" hybrid Highlander. Again, not much difference. These are also mildly spicy, and we typically turn them into chiles rellenos.

Anaheim, Highlander

I liked the experience of growing Alma Paprika last year, and drying it for the spice. So I started 4 plants this year. Three of them got destroyed. I bought "Hungarian Cheese" plants as a replacement. These are traditionally stuffing peppers, but I'm hoping to dry them instead. Not sure if it will work. One of the plants gave its first ripe fruit this week.

Hungarian Cheese pepper

I'm growing both Nadia and Midnight Queen eggplants this year, which are very similar in appearance. Midnight Queen is supposed to be earlier, and it was, but not by much, as Nadia will be right behind it.

Midnight Queen

To me, one of the most challenging tasks is figuring out when sweet corn is prime for picking. You look for clues, such as silks drying, ears filling out, and the number of days since sowing, but it's never exact. This year, my first batch seemed to go slowly, and the stalks (and corresponding ears), didn't grow like before. But they were way overdue from a date perspective. So I picked four ears to try.

Illusion hybrid sweet corn

The result? Two were definitely immature and lacked intense sweetness and flavor. Two were pretty good, but not completely what I expect from this variety. I'll just have to keep trying!

Four years ago I planted a peach tree. It's had some setbacks, and gave us nothing last year, but this year it's loaded, more than the tree can handle, as the main branch snapped off. So I thought it best to pick the tree clean. Here's the result. The peaches are small, more like apricot size, but sweet and fragrant. 

Reliance peaches

For continuing harvests, here is Monday's:

Here's Wednesday's

And Friday's

Also on Friday was this nice basket of collards. I continue to be amazed at this crop.

Top Bunch 2.0 collard greens

I planted the artichokes into the two steel stock tank beds this year. As the planting looked skimpy at first, I also sowed zinnia seeds. Guess the zinnias got a little aggressive!

Can you spot the artichoke?

That's the situation this week. Apologies for going long. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Harvest Monday - 9 August 2021

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. The tomatoes are still taking their sweet time ripening, but we did get several "first harvests" this week.

This is Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye, an open-pollinated indeterminate beefsteak type.

Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye

As with most non-standard-color tomatoes, I find it hard to know when they are ripe. I looked at reviews of this tomato, and the consensus was to pick them when they first start to show a blush of pink. So that's what I did. Inside for a few days, they turned to the beautiful color you see above. Inside, just as lovely.

Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye

Another first harvest was this Brandy Boy tomato. It's a hybrid, with Brandywine parentage. This one resembled the trait you see with many heirlooms, catfacing. This is commonly caused when several fruits in a cluster merge together. It makes it difficult to slice and avoid the corky parts, so I carve them like a turkey!

Brandy Boy

With these two beefsteaks, we had to have a blind tasting.

Ready for a blind tasting

I ever-so-slightly favored PBTD, and The Kitchen Goddess slightly preferred Brandy Boy. Both were wonderful, and we gave them a 9 out of 10.

This is "Taxi," an open-pollinated determinate slicer I've grown for years. If you like tomatoes on the sweet side, this is a good choice. Although we prefer more acidic ones, this was a nice contrast, and we gave it a 7 out of 10. The plant does have a short productivity window, even by determinate standards.


In "saladette" tomato first harvests, I picked a number of Burpee's Early Treat, a hybrid indeterminate. We liked this one too, giving it a 7 out of 10.

Burpee's Early Treat

Another first saladette of the year was Juliet. This tomato is one of our workhorses in the canning department, though it does not taste as rich for fresh eating as we like.


Another first harvest was a Diva cucumber. This is TKG's favorite, though I wish I'd picked it a few days earlier. Just didn't see it.


Another first was a Ping Tung Long eggplant. This variety typically does quite well for me, last year being an exception (no eggplants did well).

Ping Tung Long

For continuing harvests, we continue to take a few artichokes, which we adore.

Tavor artichokes

And the shishito peppers are coming on strong.

Mellow Star shishito

Here was Monday's harvest:

And here was Friday's:

And on Saturday, TKG and her mom brought back this impressive haul from their community garden plot:

This week TKG cleaned and trimmed the garlic I pulled a couple of weeks ago. On the left is Katterman, which I think is a selection from German White. In the middle is Russian Red, a disappointment as I said before. And on the right, Georgian Crystal. These are all hardnecks, by the way. I'm looking forward to using each of these.

Garlic: it cleans up nice!

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