Monday, June 27, 2022

Harvest Monday - 27 June 2022

Welcome to another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. The weather has warmed, and the produce is finally starting to roll in. We had several new harvests this week. 

First up is peas. We got three generous pickings of this variety, Super Sugar Snap. It is productive and resistant to powdery mildew. But the vines get very tall!

Super Sugar Snap peas

The snow pea "Avalanche" came in a few days later. This variety has much shorter vines, but I still trellis them.

Avalanche snow peas

I took the first kohlrabi. The larger one had split for some reason, which has never happened before, but it was still nice and crisp and tasty. We added the greens to our breakfast smoothies.

Kolibri kohlrabi

I cut the first head of iceberg lettuce. I love iceberg despite it not being fashionable in the culinary world.

Iceberg lettuce

This was supposed to be iceberg, but turned out to be some type of frizzy lettuce. It was starting to bolt.

Not iceberg lettuce

The last new harvest was a handful of parsley. I've struggled to grow parsley in recent years, but this year I planted it in one of the raised beds instead of the herb garden, and it's doing very well. Better soil. It is the flat-leaf "Italian" type, which I prefer to the curly variety.

Italian parsley

For continuing harvests, I cut all the remaining garlic scapes. Funny story. When we were recently in California, we had a picnic lunch at a farm/winery. We bumped into a woman who was there picking up her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. She was very puzzled about the garlic scapes she found in the box. We proceeded to bend her ear for 15 minutes about all the uses of scapes. She left bewildered enlightened.

Garlic scapes

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


Monday, June 20, 2022

Harvest Monday - 20 June 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. Here it is, almost summer, and this morning dawned 45 F. (~7.2 C.). Good for brassicas, greens, and peas, but not for the solanacea and squash. Can't have it all I guess.

There was just one new harvest this week. This is the first of several cuttings of garlic scapes.

Hardneck garlic scapes.

 I picked all the remaining bok choy. They had not bolted, but the kohlrabi was encroaching. This is "Brisk Green," a larger variety.

'Brisk Green' bok choy

And this is "Asian Delight," a white-stemmed baby variety.

'Asian Delight' bok choy

The Kitchen Goddess then made an adaptation of a "Poke Bowl," except on a plate, and with the ahi tuna lightly seared on the charcoal grill instead of purely raw. Some scapes were also grilled and added, along with our bok choy and radishes. A homemade garlic and chile paste aioli was drizzled on top. Very delicious.

Poke "bowl"

Last year we had a bumper crop of onions, and we've been enjoying them ever since. On Saturday TKG made a dish that called for some, so I paid a visit to our "stores." I found that quite a few were sprouting. So on Sunday we did a rescue operation. We sorted through them, discarding the ones that were beyond salvage. Some were still quite okay. The rest were peeled, chopped, and frozen flat, then placed into ziploc bags. This should last us until the harvest comes in again.

Chopped onions ready for freezer

Onions still usable fresh

Lastly, in Wildlife Notes, we were having our coffee early one morning on the screened porch, when TKG looked up and spotted a fawn with the "zoomies," as she called it. After much exercise, it was time to recharge the batteries, courtesy of Mom. Picture was taken through the screen so as not to disturb them, but it still came out really well, and the experience made our day.

White-tailed doe and fawn

It's nice to live in a mostly rural area.

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


Monday, June 13, 2022

Harvest Monday - 13 June 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. We're back from a week in the San Francisco Bay Area, to attend my niece's wedding celebration, twice postponed due to COVID concerns. We added some days to justify flying all that way. It was a lovely time and we had a lot of fun. Of course, any gardener knows that going away in the peak gardening season is a problem. The Kitchen Goddess's mom watched the house for us, and did the best she could, but we came back to out-of-control weeds in some areas. It's funny how your crops get so much bigger when you aren't staring at them every day!

The arugula had bolted during our absence, so we took it all. This will keep us supplied for quite awhile.

Arugula

The spinach was also bolting. When I was a lad creamed spinach was my favorite vegetable dish, and TKG made some for me with this haul. Yum!

Spinach

We got a first picking from the salad mix rows. This is "European Mesclun Mix" from Baker Creek.

Mesclun

And this is "Rocky Top Mix," also from Baker Creek.

Lettuce mix

They look mostly alike; the difference is the mesclun mix has brassicas. Regardless, we are officially in salad season and we're very happy about it!

Some years ago I found an iris plant mysteriously growing on the edge of our woods. I dug it up and transplanted it closer to the house. It doesn't blossom every year, but when it does it rewards us with stunning flowers.

Iris

The stately Eastern White Pine is ubiquitous in the Northeast, and is famous for producing large quantities of sticky green pollen this time of year. We thought it was over, but while we were gone the trees decided to really outdo themselves. We saw pictures of pollen clouds that looked like smoke drifting over the highways. Our screened porch was blanketed on our return.



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


Monday, May 30, 2022

Harvest Monday - 30 May 2022

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. With a big push this week, the gardens are almost completely planted. All the peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, and melons were set out. Oh, and two types of basil (Thai and Genovese). I am still planning to put in another crop of sweet corn in mid-June, but that's all that remains.

For harvests, a white-stemmed variety of bok choi, called Asian Delight, was taken. These went right away into a really nice beef stir-fry.

Asian Delight bok choi

The Kitchen Goddess picked chive flowers and a few sprigs of tarragon to make flavored vinegar. For some reason we were out of white vinegar, so she used apple cider vinegar.

Chive flowers and tarragon

For continuing harvests, we cut more spinach.

Overwintered spinach

More arugula.

Arugula

And more radishes.

Radishes

And thus, more salads!

In non-harvest tidbits, the garlic is looking really strong this year, and I have high hopes.

Garlic plants

Last year I bought two mini-greenhouses at a "big lots" (i.e. overstock) store. I paid something like $23 each. I was amused to see the same unit in a catalog for Territorial Seed Company for ~$120! These have been the perfect solution to hardening off transplants--no more dragging the trays outdoors and indoors. Just zip the front flaps, and the plants are protected from cold temperatures (within reason of course). Roll them up when it's warm. I've located them just outside the sunroom, where I start all my seeds. Pro tip: make sure to tie them down so they won't blow over, as they are very light.

Inexpensive mini-greenhouses

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


Monday, May 23, 2022

Harvest Monday - 23 May 2022

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm in southern New Hampshire, USA! We finally have some harvests to report, so I'll jump right into them.

First up is arugula (rocket, roquette etc.) I planted a short row in the lettuce patch back on April 11, and while not quite as speedy as I hoped, we still got a nice amount in the first picking.

Arugula

I planted a few rows of spinach toward the end of the season last year, but they germinated poorly. I never pulled what did come up, and didn't protect it at all over the winter. So it was nice to get some now. I guess whatever snow cover we had was sufficient. I've thus learned spinach is very hardy even in our severe climate.

Overwintered spinach

I mistakenly planted twice the amount of radishes than I planned for. We pulled the first ones this week. On the small side, but good.

Radishes

So with all the above we greatly enjoyed our first home-grown salad of the season! We really like how the spicy arugula compliments the mild flavor of the spinach.

Another welcome crop was the first picking of Asian greens. These were transplanted on May 1. This year I covered them from the moment they went in the ground, and while flea beetle damage is not absent, it's a lot less than previously. The Kitchen Goddess made a delicious egg-drop soup with them.

'Brisk Green' bok choi

The asparagus is not producing as much as in the past, and I'm thinking of relocating the beds next year. Too much encroachment from the raspberries may be partly at fault. At any rate, we've been picking quantities like this every 3 days or so starting a few weeks ago. 

Asparagus

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Dave at happyacres.blog for continuing to host Harvest Monday.



Monday, February 28, 2022

Harvest Monday - 28 February 2022

It’s late winter, and we at Eight Gate Farm briefly stir from hibernation to produce the first harvest of the season…pure natural maple syrup!

Pure maple syrup

The sap will begin rising when we get stretches of (comparatively) warm days and cold nights. It could be as early as mid-February, or as late as mid-March. This year, it started on February 15 and ran for a couple of days before colder weather shut it down. It resumed a few days later. By February 24, ahead of another cold snap, we deemed we had enough sap to get a good harvest, so we pulled the taps. Our needs are not that great, but we love what we get. Pictured is 3 quarts in sealed jelly jars. This will preserve well.

Just in case you are wondering, the sap from sugar maple trees is about 2% sugar in a good year, and has a consistency like water. The standard is 40:1 sap to syrup.

You can read about our small-scale production technique here and here.

While the source itself is of course free, there are still production costs. This year we spent $30 on propane fuel for the boiler. Oh yes, one more thing. There’s a federal law that propane tanks more than 12 years old cannot be refilled. I’ve dodged this in the past, but this year one of the guys at the filling station was a stickler, and read the date stamped on my tank. It was over 25 years old (oops!), and he wouldn’t fill it. So that was another (ouch) $55 for a new tank.

Okay, the hibernation part is not strictly true. We have started our vegetables that have long maturities.

Seed starts under lights

On the upper rack in this picture you can see the alliums, parsley, and celery that were started February 15, and the lower rack has the artichoke plants started February 1. But that’s all until late March, when I’ll start brassicas and maybe peppers. There won’t be any true Harvest Monday posts until the asparagus comes in. See you then! Thanks to our awesome host Dave at HappyAcres.blog for keeping Harvest Monday going.