Monday, October 30, 2023

Harvest Monday - 30 October 2023

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm. What an amazing week of weather! For four days the temperature was well above 70, almost touching 80 (~26 C.) on Saturday. It was so pleasant to sit outside in shorts and watch the cascade of autumn leaves. All this is about to change, however.

There were no "new" or "first" harvests this week. I don't find myself going out to the gardens all that much this time of year, so I was surprised to find this beautiful head of orange cauliflower waiting for me.

Flame Star (hyb) cauliflower

I pulled the last of the beets (beetroot).

Golden and red beets

I also pulled a few carrots. There are still many more out there, as I tend to overplant them for some reason.

Newhall (hyb) carrots

I did a picking of the ripest hot peppers. The "Helios" hybrid habaneros, on the left, are just continually pumping out fruit, to the point where I'm not sure what to do with them. I don't think I need three plants for next year.

Habanero, Hot Lemon, Cayenne peppers

I made a decision to cut all the collard plants. Cold won't really bother them, but they were looking so huge and ragged it was offending my zen. The Kitchen Goddess did a nice job of picking through them and keeping the leaves that weren't too hole-y. If you don't have the Cross-Striped Cabbageworm in your area (yet), consider yourself lucky.

'Top Bunch 2.0' collard greens

TKG did a picking of raspberries. She says that no new fruit are forming at this time.

Autumn raspberries

One day she met her mother over at the community garden plot they share, and they got a really nice harvest, with leeks, parsnips, carrots, beets, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.

Community garden harvest

As I said, the weather is changing. Sunday was damp and raw. Our first frost should come maybe Tuesday night, or Wednesday night for sure. All I really have to do to prepare for this is take the last of the hot peppers. All the remaining vegetables should withstand the cold for awhile. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks a bunch to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Harvest Monday - 23 October 2023

Harvesting has slowed to a crawl, but we did get an interesting "first harvest": saffron!

Saffron crocus flowers

 Last year The Kitchen Goddess got a good deal on a box of 200(!) saffron crocus corms. She took over a small section of the fenced garden and planted them. They emerge in the spring, then go completely dormant for the summer. In fall, they re-emerge and start to flower. She's been keeping count, and so far has picked 21 flowers and carefully plucked out the red stamens, which dry for a few days indoors, then are safely locked away in an airtight container. Just a few stamens drying will perfume the kitchen.

She also did a nice picking of raspberries, which have slowed down, but this harvest weighed over 1.5 pounds.

Fall raspberries

As for me, I picked a good quantity of habanero peppers, the group on the right below. On the left were the ones already in the fridge.

Habanero peppers

We made eight bottles of hot sauce with this lot. I think we're now up to 18 bottles of this variety, using the simple, unfermented method. That should be enough.

Habanero sauce

I also picked all the ripe cayenne and Hot Lemon peppers, and took the last of the eggplant, about fist sized.

Various Italian-stlye eggplants, cayenne peppers, Hot Lemon peppers

Saturday was rainy, so we made more hot sauce using all of the peppers we have accumulated since the last effort. The group on the left is four bottles of Hot Lemon and two of cayenne. On the right are three bottles of fermented habanero sauce, and three of fermented cayenne sauce, which were finally ready for the bottle. Fermentation is supposed to reduce the heat of the peppers, and give a more "nuanced" flavor. The question in my mind is whether it is worth it or not, since I can make simple sauce in minutes.

Simple sauce and fermented sauce (the labeled ones)

I suppose you might be wondering what in the world we do with all this sauce. Truth is, we love hot sauce and use it sparingly in a lot of dishes and as a condiment. But most of the bottles are packaged up and sent to friends as holiday gifts "from the farm." We enjoy this a lot, and it's fun to hear the reactions people have.

So in that vein, I'm not done with sauces yet (except maybe habanero). If we get a frost I will cut the plants and hang them somewhere, as I observed they continue to ripen on the cut plants. Witness this Habanada plant that I cut days ago and threw into the long-term compost pile. You can see the fruits are continuing to ripen even though the plant is wilted.

Ripening peppers on wilted plant

I guess it would be a good control experiment to pick some of the peppers and see if they also ripen indoors off the vine.

Oh, and I planted garlic this week: 48 cloves of hardneck, and 8 of Elephant "Garlic" that were given to me by a friend. Elephant is actually in the leek family, but functions like a garlic, and has really huge cloves as the name implies. I'm interested to see how it does here.

That's all for this week. It's supposed to warm up considerably this coming week. But then it goes back to our normal cool autumn conditions. As it looks now, we might get our first frost around Nov. 1. I hope to be ready for it. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Harvest Monday - 16 October 2023

Our weather here is decidedly autumn-like, though there is no prediction of a frost in the foreseeable future. That can change at a moment's notice, I have learned. So it's a time to evaluate what's left in the gardens, what's needed, and what can be taken out now, to avoid a mad rush if we do get a frost.

So this week, all the tomato plants, pole beans, sweet peppers, and winter squash were harvested and removed. This led to a number of "first harvests" in the squash department. First of all, I have to relate that this year's harvest is maybe 1/5 of last year's, when we got a record 300+ pounds. And the fruit is smaller, too. It's just been that kind of year.

Here's Autumn Frost, a hybrid moschata-type, that is easily our favorite, with its deep flesh color and rich sweetness.

Autumn Frost (F1)

Then there's Sugaretti, a hybrid spaghetti squash that looks like a delicata. These will all eventually turn to the color of the one on the top right, after they've cured for a while.

Sugaretti hybrid spaghetti squash

Last year we got an abundance of the old-timey Neck Pumpkin, another moschata-type. One even topped 17 pounds. This year, only two, and much smaller.

Neck Pumpkin (OP)

And finally another moschata heirloom, Yokohama.

Yokohama (OP)

I actually think this is a good amount of squash for us, though the people we gave it away to last year might be disappointed.

While harvesting the above, I found four more of the cute Baby Boo ornamental pumpkins, that were hiding in the tall grass the vines had spread to.

Baby Boo

There was one additional "first harvest," a small Romanesco broccoli/cauliflower/who-knows-what.


I only managed one "general harvest," but it was pretty big. All the sweet or mildly-spicy peppers on the right were used or frozen. Since the hot peppers are so much smaller, I think there's a great likelihood that more will turn their full colors over the coming weeks. So those plants stayed. I left the eggplants too, although we really don't need much more of it.

Saturday general harvest

There wasn't too much "preserving the harvest" going on this week. Besides freezing the sweet peppers, a good amount went into making and canning 5 pints of "Sunday Funday Bloody Mary Mix", the one canned tomato product we had run out of from the year before. It also included our own tomatoes, onions, carrots, parsley, and garlic. Some hot pepper mash gave it a substantial kick.

Bloody Mary Mix

So I feel pretty good about the work done this week, in terms of clearing out the crops that aren't needed or won't produce anymore. It's much better to get the work done in small, unhurried increments. Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave, our Harvest Monday host at

Monday, October 9, 2023

Harvest Monday - 9 October 2023

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! This past week had a return to lovely summer-like weather. I'm sure it helped in speeding along the late-harvest crops like hot peppers.

There was one "first harvest" this week, "Flame Star" hybrid cauliflower, which I've enjoyed growing for several years.  It's strange, but I planted it the same time as last year, yet I only harvested it now, as opposed to July like the previous season. Apparently it did not like the conditions. I got another one later in the week.

Flame Star (F1) cauliflower

For "general harvests" (crops already discussed individually), here was Tuesday's.

Tuesday general harvest

I also took what I think is the last of the Anaheim (slender ones at left) and Poblano peppers.

Anaheim and Poblano peppers

The Kitchen Goddess did several respectable raspberry pickings.

Fall raspberries

This was my Friday general harvest. Note the "Habanada" (heatless habanero) orange peppers on the left. A story about them later in this post.

Friday general harvest

TKG and her mother did an outstanding harvest at the community garden plot they share. As always, everything goes home with Mom, except she let TKG have the giant fennel.

Community garden plot harvest

Quite a bit of "preserving the harvest" occurred this week. After Monday's harvest, I had enough peppers to make three kinds of single-varietal hot sauces. Ten bottles of habanero, four of cayenne, and two of Hot Lemon. A small jar was filled with a blend of sauces that would not fit in the bottles, and some of the stuff that would not go through the strainer was retained for cooking purposes in the rightmost jar.

Hot sauces

We smoked, dehydrated and ground all the Anaheim peppers. Unfortunately I let time get away with me during the smoking, so the resulting product is called "Xtra-Smoky Anaheim powder." It will still be very useful in moderation.

Smoked Anaheim pepper powder

We retained some of the larger Poblano peppers for stuffing, and smoked the rest with the Anaheims. They did not get overdone as they are thicker-walled.

Smoked Poblano pepper powder

I took all the paprika peppers in the fridge and dehydrated them (not smoked). The result has a very pleasing fragrance and color. Okay, I hear you, no more pepper powder pictures.


TKG made liqueur from our raspberries. The jar on the right was full, but has been reduced due to quality-assurance sampling. So far so good!

Raspberry liqueur

Now about the Habanada peppers. These are basically identical to normal fiery-hot habaneros, but with no heat at all.  I used seeds I saved from the plant I grew last year. I've been picking modest amounts all along, and it is winding down, so I took all the accumulated ones and began to chop them up for freezing as "seasoning peppers." As I went through, my eyes began to water. Something was up! I was not using gloves, and touched my finger to my lips, which promptly fell off (fortunately they grew back). So I made a quick decision to just lump them with the real habaneros and make more hot sauce. I guess my plant cross-pollinated with something spicy last year?

Habanero sauce

In closing, I'll show a picture I took of a Monarch butterfly and a bee sharing a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia). See? We can all get along if we try.

Monarch butterfly and bee on Tithonia

That's all for this week. The weather has now cooled considerably, but there are no frosts in the extended forecast, so hopefully we keep motoring along! Thanks for reading, and thanks once again to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.


Monday, October 2, 2023

Harvest Monday - 2 October 2023 - Blue Ribbon Edition Pt. VII

It was time once again for The Deerfield Fair, our area's largest agricultural exposition, now in its 146th year. And once again, I entered some vegetables in the exhibition, hoping for glory. This year I entered a modest 9, way down from last year's 14. I am very pleased with my results...8 first prizes and one second. Almost a sweep!

My Deerfield Fair entries

Here's a listing of the categories, my variety in parentheses, and award.

  1. Potatoes, Late Variety (Kennebec) - Blue
  2. Onions, Yellow (Talon) - Blue
  3. Onions, Red (Barolo) - Blue
  4. Onions, Sweet Spanish (Alicia Craig) - Blue
  5. Garlic (Katterman) - Blue
  6. Eggplant, Globular (Black King) - Blue
  7. Eggplant, Elongated (Ping Tung) - Red
  8. Peppers, Hot Red (Cayenne) - Blue
  9. Peppers, Hot Orange (Helios habanero) - Blue
It is just so much fun seeing all the entries, and comparing my results with others. The judging is based only on how well the entry conforms with the standards, not competing with other folks. So it's possible for there to be several first prizes for a category. On the other hand, even if there is no other entry for the category, you might not get first prize.

Okay, enough with the showboating, what about harvests this week? Well, they are slowing down in many respects, but I still managed to eke out three "first harvests." These are "Hot Lemon" peppers. I was disappointed they didn't ripen in time to enter in the fair. We make an excellent, very hot varietal sauce with them.

Hot Lemon peppers

I also got the first "Rocky Ford" melon. This variety typically has all-green flesh, so I think this one was a little overripe. But it tasted wonderful!

Rocky Ford melon

The Kitchen Goddess grew sweet potatoes here this year. Her mother always snags all the ones they grow at the community garden plot, so this is all for TKG. Unfortunately I forget what the actual variety is, but I seem to remember it's not the usual Georgia Jet.

Sweet potato harvest

As for general harvests, here is Monday's.

Monday general harvest

Here's Friday's.

Friday general harvest

On Saturday TKG picked nearly two pounds of raspberries.


I had amassed a large number of cayenne and habanero peppers, and this was even before Friday's harvest. I made two different hot sauces in mid-week.

Habanero peppers for hot sauce

Cayenne peppers for hot sauce

I used the simple method for both: boil the cut peppers in white vinegar and salt until they are soft, them blend them. The habaneros release such a fruit-candy aroma! This masks their intense heat. I didn't have enough of the small 5oz bottles, so I just put the sauces in jars for the fridge until the bottles I ordered arrive. I realize now I forgot to strain them, but that can be done later.

Cayenne and habanero hot sauces.

I also had four big ripe Guajillo peppers, enough to dehydrate, grind, and make a very fragrant, brick-red chile powder. It's supposed to have some heat, but they don't get that way in my climate I guess.

Guajillo chile powder

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and indulging me in my fair showing-off. Thanks as always to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.