Monday, July 15, 2024

Harvest Monday - 15 July 2024

Time for a weather complaint. It's been so hot for days now. When it isn't above 90F (32c), it's darn close to it. And such humidity! Gardening is a pain in this weather. Sure we expect some warm days in July, but not like this. And the rainfall we've gotten has been so scant.

Despite this, some more "first harvests" have been coming in. 

I'm always skeptical of tomatoes that promise to be extra early (be the first on your block, be the envy of your neighbors!). The "Fourth of July" variety comes to mind. Probably conditions have to be perfect for the promised maturity to happen. But I got a free packet of this one, "42 Day," and gave one plant a try. Well, it wasn't 42 days, more like 56 days since transplanting, but I got some! Having tomatoes by mid-July is a treat.

"42 Day" determinate tomatoes

Taste-wise, they are on the acidic side. But we like that. We enjoyed them.

Zucchini made its first appearance, in quantity too. This hybrid variety, called Pantheon, tastes just as wonderful as its cocozelle-type parent, but has better growth habits. I love the nutty taste and the looks of this variety.

Pantheon (F1) zucchini

Another first harvest was a fennel bulb. This wasn't the largest, but the plant was starting to look unhealthy, so I pulled it.

"Orazio" fennel

I took the first bell pepper, in the green stage. I'm hoping it will stimulate the plant to get bigger. We used it along with a store-bought red bell, plus onions and zucchini from us, in a lamb kebab. It tasted great.

Ace (F1) bell pepper

The season has progressed to the point where I can show "group photos." This was Thursday's harvest. Note the pea pods--I was wrong when I said the vines were done.

Thursday harvest

And here's Sunday's harvest, featuring another, larger fennel bulb.

Sunday harvest

That's all for now. It's supposed to get even hotter this coming week. Oh joy. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.

 

Monday, July 8, 2024

Harvest Monday - 8 July 2024

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! Here's what's come out of the garden since my last Harvest Monday post.

The big star "first harvest" has to be artichokes. Our homegrown artichokes can't compare in size to the ones coming from California, but it is always a treat to get them. They are early, and the plants are very healthy this year

Tavor artichokes

I cut the first head of "Eastern Magic" broccoli. I'm trying this as a replacement for Blue Wind, which I couldn't source this year. This is for the early broccoli slot. It actually came in extra early, 58 days from transplant, which is quite good. It's also tasty and attractive.

Eastern Magic (F1) broccoli

I'm also growing "Green Magic" broccoli. This is supposed to fill the mid-summer slot, but I harvested these just 9 days after Eastern Magic.

Green Magic (F1) broccoli

For continuing harvests, edible-podded peas are winding down, with very few new flowers on the vines. This is of course due to the extreme heat we've been having. 

Mangetout

We're using up the kohlrabi as fast as we can, but there are still a few more out in the garden getting very large (and splitting).

Kolibri (F1) kohlrabi

I took the last head of iceberg lettuce. This was starting to lose its compact iceberg shape, but it's still good and not bitter.

Red Iceberg lettuce

I also took the last "Asian Delight" bok choy, flowering but still good.

Asian Delight (F1)

Finally, all the remaining Eastern Magic broccoli had to be picked.

Remaining Eastern Magic crop

So I messed up. In keeping with the goal of growing less this year, and not filling the freezer, I meant to only grow 3 each of the two broccoli varieties. I planted 6 each. To the freezer some must go.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.


 

Monday, June 24, 2024

Harvest Monday - 24 June 2024

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! Here's a representation of harvests we have had since I last posted. There are a couple of new crops, plus continuing ones.

I took the first kohlrabi. Our Harvest Monday host, Dave, grows many varieties of kohlrabi, very successfully. This purple one, a hybrid called Kolibri, is the only one I've ever grown, but it meets our needs well.

Kolibri (F1) kohlrabi

 We also picked the first edible-podded peas. On the left is Super Sugar Snap; the right is Avalanche, a snow pea. The latter suffered from poor germination again this year. I've discarded the seed.

Mangetout

For continuing crops, lettuce is coming in strong. It's almost hard to keep up with it.


Summer Lettuce Blend mix

Red iceberg lettuce

The Asian Greens are winding down. I cut two Tatsois, as they were starting to flower.

Tatsoi

Green onions (aka scallions etc.) are being taken as needed. I really like their mild but tasty flavor.

Nabechan (F1) scallions

Finally, I cut the rest of the garlic scapes. We gave away a few. The straight scapes at the top of the picture are some from the elephant garlic I planted last fall. I've never grown this type, and really don't know what to expect.

Garlic scapes

In wildlife notes, we recently had a close encounter with a very large porcupine. The North American porcupine is the second largest rodent we have (after the beaver). It's not typical to see them in the daytime. I was concerned that this guy would stray into the unfenced field garden, so I shooed him away. In slow motion that is, as he is more of a waddler.

Porcupine

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for continuing to host Harvest Monday.



Monday, June 10, 2024

Harvest Monday - 10 June 2024

Here's another Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. We had several recent first harvests, plus continuing ones. For once I'll get right to them.

I took this really pretty Tatsoi, one of the "Asian Greens"  I typically grow.

Tatsoi

I've said before that we are big fans of iceberg lettuce's crisp juicy texture. I'm trying a new (to me) variety this year, appropriately called "Red Iceberg." It is making attractive compact heads.

Red Iceberg lettuce

I did the first cuttings from a row of lettuce mix. This is also a new one to me, from Fedco, named "Summer Lettuce Blend." I like how it is all lettuce, and does not contain any brassicas, for a more traditional flavor.

Summer Lettuce Blend

I also pulled the first bunch of green onions. This is a hybrid variety called "Nabechan," available from Johnny's. Despite the seeds being several years old, they germinated well; probably because I store them in the freezer.

Nabechan (F1) green onions

I also cut the first garlic scapes, the "flower stalk" of hardneck garlic, planted last fall. The Kitchen Goddess delicately sliced them lengthwise, brushed them with olive oil, and I lightly grilled them over a charcoal fire. They perfectly complimented some lovely steaks.

Garlic scapes

For continuing harvests, the radishes were starting to flower, so it was time to start taking them out.

Cherry Belle and French Breakfast radishes

The arugula (rocket) was also bolting, so I pulled out the entire crop. We gave away a large portion of this harvest, and kept the rest for ourselves.

Ice-Bred arugula

So you can see that salad season is well underway. That makes us very happy!

I also cut another head of "Asian Delight" bok choy. We love the versatility of Asian greens, and use them in a lot of ways: stir-fried, soups etc. In keeping with the theme of this year, I only planted half of what I used to...grow less and enjoy it more.

Asian Delight bok choy

In flower notes, I've written in the past about this unusual iris. I found it strangely growing on the edge of our woods, and transplanted it closer to the house. It wasn't the best location, as it is getting increasingly shaded, so it doesn't flower every year. But when it does, it brings us joy.

Iris

And the rhododendrons are really putting on a show this year.

Large rhododendrons

That's all for  now. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for continuing to host Harvest Monday.


Monday, May 27, 2024

Harvest Monday - 27 May 2024

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! I'm finally able to show the first harvests of crops I planted this year. But first, there is asparagus. The plants have been declining over the years, probably due to age, or the predation of asparagus beetles, which are getting worse and worse. Nonetheless, we're able to cut a handful every couple of days. That's actually all right with me...I love asparagus, but not every day.

Asparagus

Yesterday I picked the first radishes. They're the same varieties I've been growing for years, Cherry Belle and French Breakfast.

Cherry Belle


French Breakfast

I also did a trimming of the arugula (rocket). This is a new variety to me, called Ice-Bred, that I got from Fedco Seeds. They claim it is "the best arugula to be found anywhere." I don't know about that, but it seems to be turning out pretty nicely so far.

Ice-Bred Arugula

Radishes and arugula combine to make a spicy complement in our salads, the rest of which is store-bought for now, with our own lettuce to make an appearance soon.

Lastly I cut the first of my Asian Greens. This is "Asian Delight," which sounds to me like a dish offered by a fake-Chinese restaurant, but having grown it for many years, I do like this petite, white stemmed bok choy.

Asian Delight bok choy

May is the month of flowers, isn't it? Well, the poppies are a' poppin', much to our delight.

Poppies

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

Monday, April 15, 2024

Harvest Monday - 15 April 2024

We don't normally have any fresh harvests to show until the asparagus comes up, which it isn't, yet. But last autumn I tried an experiment to overwinter some leeks and carrots. We had harvested all of those we could use and still had some. Rather than pull them all and freeze them (trying desperately to not add to the freezer), why not see if they can make it through the winter in the ground, with some protection?

So I hilled them up, then covered with shredded leaves. After that, they were on their own. They didn't put on any growth, which was to be expected, and the carrot tops all withered, but the crops themselves did pretty well.

Overwintered leeks

 
Overwintered carrots

The leeks are on the small side, with the largest about thumb-sized. We haven't sampled them yet, but will soon. The carrots are all sizes and shapes. We have had them, and they are just as good as from a normal harvest. So the experiment is a success!

Of course, this was another mild winter, with not a lot of snow. We got another early spring (April 4-5) snowstorm, over 1 foot, and accompanying high winds left us without power for 30 hours. Naturally, the generator wouldn't start, but we got through fine. The wood stove does a great job of keeping the house warm. But overall the ground never really froze solid for too long a period. I'm sure that helped for these crops.

So, no more posts until the asparagus pops up. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Harvest Monday - 19 February 2024

As we have done for so many years now, we tapped two of our sugar maple trees to make pure, natural maple syrup. This year we started earlier than ever before, utilizing a warming trend that started Feb. 6. Ideal conditions are when the days are above 40 F. and nights below freezing. We had a good 6 day run before it cooled off again.

For those interested, I'm linking to posts about our small-scale production here and here.

We netted over a quart of product.

Pure maple syrup

 The result is a uncharacteristic yellowish color, and very thick and rich. This was a happy (but messy) accident, as it boiled over during the final production inside on the stove (my fault). Note the cute syrup dispenser like you find in diners. We bought it at a country store in Vermont last fall, and I love it.

One quart is half of what we typically make, but we really didn't need to make any more, having some sealted jars left in storage from last year. But this reflects what will prove to be a theme with us this year. We have decided to drastically scale back much of what we grow and produce. We find we can't get through what we've gotten, and we are out of storage space. It's fun to give stuff away, but is it really worth the work?

One example: I typically grow 16 indeterminate tomatoes. This year, I'm only planning on 4, and none will be of the sauce variety. Another example: I'm growing no super-hot peppers. I love to make hot sauce, but again, we have so much, even after giving away 50 or so bottles.

And here's an (illustrated) example. I started the first batch of seeds at the end of January. Normally I'd grow 3 flats of alliums, but this year, only one.

Onion seedlings

So this year will be interesting, and hopefully not as much work. I do hope I don't regret this. I'll keep you posted as it progresses, but for now, there won't be much to write about until spring. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always to Dave at HappyAcres.blog for hosting Harvest Monday.