Monday, August 28, 2023

Harvest Monday - 28 August 2023

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. This week there were a number of first harvests of the season, and I'll start with three of the tardiest tomatoes.

Brandy Boy is a hybrid with parentage from the classic beefsteak Brandywine that we love so much.

Brandy Boy (hyb)

I love San Marzano tomatoes for making sauces, and usually they're productive, but this year the one plant is struggling, and I doubt I'll get too many.

San Marzano (OP)

Over the years I've been reducing the number of the determinate tomatoes that I used to grow almost exclusively. The disease pressure has just become too great, and determinates are most prone to get it. I tried to grow only four plants this year, two of Bellatrix and two of Plum Regal. The Bellatrix died before giving any fruit. The Plum Regal is still struggling, but will give us some.

Plum Regal hybrid paste tomatoes

I'm resigned to the reality that there won't be enough tomatoes this year to make large batches of sauce for canning. This week I made two small batches, about a liter each (see, I'm trying to be more metric). We'll keep them in the fridge, and maybe freeze later.

I like a good story about crops, and this eggplant, the gift of a friend, is called Florida High Bush. It was developed as a commercial variety in the 1940s, but has faded from use. The plant really is tall, but it isn't as productive as the hybrid Italian-style eggplants I grow. Plus, it has murderous thorns on the calyx. Still fun to try, though.

Florida High Bush (OP) plus one Ping Tung Long

I picked the first poblano peppers this week. This hybrid variety is "Ancho Gigantia" (more marketing hype). They typically have just a little heat. I'll show how we used them later.

Ancho Gigantia hybrid poblanos

Ah, sweet corn, mon amour. I picked the first "Honey Select" this week, and have been enjoying several every night. Its combination of true sweetness and crunch is hard to beat. Many of the ears are very large, with 18 rows of kernels.

Honey Select synergistic sweet corn

I love growing melons, though the amount harvested never lives up to expectations. This "Halona" muskmelon is no exception, as I think it's the only one we'll get this year. But at over 3 pounds, and with luscious aroma and flavor, I'm not complaining!

Halona hybrid muskmelon

The last first harvest was the entire crop of shallots. I've grown this hybrid variety, Ambition, for several years, and while they don't get too large, they are useful in all sizes, and store forever.

Ambition (hyb) shallots

That's a lot of firsts, if I do say so myself. Now for the general harvests this week, starting with Tuesday.

Tuesday general harvest

This was Saturday's. I still have several bunches of spring(!) onions, and as each bunch's roots are all intertwined, you can't pull one or two without snapping them. So out comes the bunch.

Saturday general harvest; spring onions on the right

The Kitchen Goddess and her mum met at the community garden plot they share to get mum's weekly fresh vegetable fix. Very impressive.

For the poblano peppers, we typically stuff them with a sausage/cheese mixture and smoke them. This time, TKG mixed ground beef and pork with onions, egg, breadcrumbs, and tomato sauce...i.e. meatloaf!

Meatloaf-stuffed poblanos ready for the smoker

I like to use aromatic wood from our own property when smoking. Last March a wild cherry tree growing at the edge of our woods had its top snapped off in a big snowstorm. I cut up some still-green branches to use for the smoker.

Cherry wood for aromatic smoking

An hour and a half at 300 degrees F. produced this delicious result.

Smoked stuffed poblano peppers

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday, that gives me so much enjoyment.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Harvest Monday - 21 August 2023

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Isn't August flying by? This is going to be a long post, so I'll try to keep the babble to a minimum. 

I picked the first "Horizon" tomatoes. I got a free sample packet last year, and liked them. I'm out of seeds, and not sure I want to buy more, but they are a nice slicer tomato.

Horizon (hyb)

I picked a couple of red onions for a recipe. The leaves are still green, so the main harvest of them will come later. This is a hybrid variety called "Barolo," and is new to me. It looks like they will get very large.

Barolo (hyb) onions

The Kitchen Goddess wanted beets, so I pulled some. The red ones are called "Eagle," and the orange ones are "Touchstone Gold." I've said numerous times that I'm not fond of  beetroot, but these were pretty good. But then, everything tastes good with Burrata cheese!

Eagle and Touchstone Gold beets

I picked the first "Littleleaf" pickling cucumbers, a new one to me. The leaves really are just half the size of normal ones. I like to eat pickling cukes fresh, as they are so crisp.

Littleleaf cucumbers

I picked the entire crop of the dry bean called "Jacob's Cattle." There wasn't a lot, because of poor germination, the fault of the June weather. The pods are finishing drying in our sunroom.

Jacob's Cattle dry beans

The beans themselves are very pretty.

Jacob's Cattle

Now on to general harvests. This was Monday's.

Monday general harvest

 I also picked some sweet corn that day.

Latte hybrid sweet corn

Here's Wednesday's harvest:

Wednesday's general harvest

Here's Friday's:

Friday general harvest

On Saturday I took all the remaining Latte sweet corn. It was much more than I could eat, so TKG cut off the kernels from the others for the freezer. This comes in handy for hearty meals in winter. I have another crop of a different variety that should be ready soon.

Last harvest of Latte sweet corn

Sunday's harvest needed two baskets! One held collard greens, tomatoes, and a lone zucchini.

Sunday harvest part one

The other had eggplants. I like eggplant, but too much is too much. I've reduced the number of plants I grow, but it outfoxed me by being extra productive this year.

Sunday harvest part two

I've set a goal to not freeze so much produce. Of course exceptions will be made, like the greens and corn. But our plan is to give away as much eggplant as possible.

TKG and her mother are continuing to get nice things from the community garden plot they work together. Although I don't often get to enjoy them, I can appreciate the beauty and quantity of the harvests.

Sample community garden harvest

One of the fun things about blogging your harvests is the ability to go back and see how things were in years past. I saw that last year at this time we were already canning tomato sauce. Not so this year!

Thanks for reading! Please join me in giving thanks to our Harvest Monday host, Dave, at

Monday, August 14, 2023

Harvest Monday - 14 August 2023

Welcome to another Harvest Monday report from Eight Gate Farm! A number of tomatoes, all indeterminates,  made their first appearance this week, including some that are new to me.

A new one is "BlushingStar." This is a good sized "slicer" with a strong disease resistance package (more on that later). This first example had a significant amount of "catfacing" on the bottom, so it couldn't be sliced, but rather, carved. I was really impressed with its flavor.

BlushingStar (hybr)

Another new one is "Purple Zebra." It sure is pretty, and reminds me of another I grow called "Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye," which has not ripened yet. Purple Zebra is beautiful on the inside too. However, I found its taste something less than I was expecting. Maybe I didn't let them ripen enough yet. I'll keep trying.

Purple Zebra (hybr)

A favorite from last year was grown again. This is "DarkStar." I don't know for sure, but suspect it's from the same breeder as BlushingStar. It has a very rich taste described as somewhat smoky. I didn't notice that last year, but this year I did get a certain note of smokiness. Very enjoyable.

DarkStar (hybr)

I grew another one I first tried last year, and really liked. This is "Genuwine," from the "Heirloom Marriage" series developed by a breeder. It's a union of Brandywine and Costoluto Genovese. These examples also had catfacing, and needed to be carved rather than sliced. Regardless they tasted excellent again this year. Catfacing is said to result from fluctuating temperatures early in the growing season, and usually affects only the first fruits.

Genuwine (hybr)

An old favorite is "Gardener's Delight." It's a reliable producer of tasty golf ball-sized fruits.

Gardener's Delight (OP)

I've grown the sauce tomato "Granadero" for several years, and had good luck with it last year. The thing about sauce tomatoes is I only get drips and drabs at the beginning of the harvest season, not enough to efficiently make and can sauce. So they have to be used fresh. As such, they better taste pretty good, and Granadero fortunately does. Same thing with the "Verona" I talked about last week; it's fine, but not significantly better than "Juliet."


I dug the entire crop of Yukon Gold potatoes. I love this variety, and it's one of the early types (planted May 11). 

Yukon Gold

I think I got a pretty good harvest, considering that wild turkeys decided the row was a great place to take repeated dirt baths. They didn't eat the tubers, just kept dislodging them with their flutterings. 

If I'd known the kinds of junk I have to put up with as a gardener, I might have reconsidered this hobby and maybe taken up golf instead!

Now on to some sample "general harvest" pictures. This was Monday's.

Monday general harvest

This was Wednesday's, an unintentional funny face.

Wednesday general harvest.

And this was Thursday's

Thursday general harvest

Here's a sample from the community garden plot worked by The Kitchen Goddess and her mother.

Community garden harvest

Do your tomato plants look like this? I certainly hope not! The disease pressure is stronger than ever, even the so-called "disease-resistant" varieties. I have to keep pruning off the leaves as the fungus marches up the plants. They look like bizarre little palm trees now. I'm beginning to worry we won't have a very good crop this year.

Sad state of indeterminate tomato vines

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

Monday, August 7, 2023

Harvest Monday - 7 August 2023

In this area, August is considered the start of the major harvesting season. That's true in my case, not so much in quantity as in variety, which makes it fun!. There were quite a few "first harvests" this week. 

I took the first "Juliet" tomatoes. This "saladette" type is a workhorse for us. It's productive and relatively disease resistant. I've got two plants going. This picture shows their size compared to some Sungold cherry tomatoes.

Juliet and Sungold, both hybrids

As much as we like the usefulness of Juliet, we always felt it was somewhat lacking in rich taste. Consequently, I've been experimenting with replacement, or rather, complimentary varieties. Last year it was "Valentine." and while that's a nice tomato, it was much smaller than Juliet. This year I'm trying "Verona." As you can see in this picture, it's about the same length as Juliet (bottom), but "chonkier." It came in a few days after the first Juliets.

Verona (top) and Juliet

Ironically, the Juliets we've sampled this year taste much better than we remembered. We will try the Veronas in a few days.

Next are two eggplants from The Dark Side: Black King and Midnight Queen. Very spooky! These are very similar-looking Italian-style hybrids. I'm growing two plants of each, and they seem to have similar maturity, but so far Black King wins in productivity.

Black King (2) and Midnight Queen (1)

Next is the Asian-style eggplant "Ping Tung Long." Some sources say it's open-pollinated, others say it's a hybrid. That doesn't matter to me, as I don't try to save seeds. I've grown it for years and really like its taste and appearance.

Ping Tung Long

I finally picked the first cucumbers, which are very tardy this year. This is a new one I'm trying called "Marketmore," a bush-type. They are quite tasty, but very juicy, so they wouldn't make good pickles I think.

Marketmore cucumbers

I picked the first pole beans. This is Fortex, and for my money, they are the best tasting green beans I've grown. I don't even plant bush beans anymore, and these are much easier to harvest!

Fortex pole beans

It's always difficult to know for certain when sweet corn first reaches its peak flavor. I've learned not to get too excited and pick a large amount too soon. The clues suggested it was ready, so on Friday I took one, and while it was good, it was not there yet. I took another on Sunday, and presto!, just right. Let the gluttony begin! This is "Latte," a bi-color synergistic hybrid, that does well here.

'Latte' sweet corn

For continuing harvests, we got more artichokes, which always makes us happy.

Imperial Star artichokes

Loose-leaf lettuce is still producing. It's unusual for us to have salads with our own tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce, as the latter is usually finished before the former come in.

Loose-leaf lettuce
I'm at the point in the season where I can show group-photo "general harvests." This was Friday's.

Friday general harvest

The Kitchen Goddess contributes this photo from the community garden plot she works with her mother, who gets all the goods! Quite a nice assemblage.

Community garden plot harvest

Finally, in Foraging Notes, I got these strange things.

Sumac "bobs"

They're the fruit clusters of the Staghorn Sumac, a native large shrub that grows in quantity at the edge of my back field. It's lovely to look at, but will spread aggressively, to the point where I won't have a field anymore. So I cut them back as often as I can. We use these as an addition to iced tea, as they have a faint lemon flavor and are nutritious. They are also used in the spice called za'atar. TKG dries and ginds them. Note: they look prickly but actually are soft like fur.

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