Monday, September 15, 2014

Harvest Monday - September 15, 2014

The peppers are ripening! I love to grow sweet peppers that are easy to roast. All the ones shown below were roasted in my outdoor portable fire pit. I built a nice hot almond wood fire and when it had died down to hot hot coals I roasted the peppers by placing them directly into the coals. It's a really quick way to roast the peppers (other than waiting for the fire to die down), the skin chars quickly leaving the flesh nice and firm. The peppers shown below are adapted to growing in short season growing regions or cool climates. I've grown Odessa Market and Shephard's Ramshorn for a few years now, the Giallo di Cuneo Yellow bell is new for me this year. I've been searching for a good yellow pepper that won't take too long to ripen and this one seems good so far.

Odessa Market, Shephard's Ramshorn, and Giallo di Cuneo
Another new pepper in my garden this year is Stocky Red Roaster, another cool climate, short season adapted pepper. Lady Bell has become my favorite red bell pepper, it's always productive, early, and good tasting.

Stocky Red Roaster, Lady Bell, Odessa Market

Stocky Red Roaster and Giallo di Cuneo

Tarahumara Chile Colorado is a mild New Mexico type chile pepper. It's good either green or red, roasts up beautifully and also dries well. This was one of my favorites of the many Southwestern types of chile peppers that I tried last year.

Tarahumara Chile Colorado (good green too!)

The Padron plants are still producing loads of peppers.

Padron peppers
The tomato harvests are getting into high gear now. Chianti Rose is one of the healthiest plants in the tomato patch, or at least the slowest to succumb to the diseases that are running rampant in the patch this year. That tomato in the middle weighed over 2 pounds. Dave and I have a repertoire of favorite tomato dishes that we go through during tomato season. Chianti Rose tomatoes are perfect for one dish that I call Tomato Steaks, thick slices of tomato wrapped in prosciutto which are quickly seared and served with balsamico and basil. A few of these cracked as I harvested them so I wanted to use them up quickly so I whizzed up a batch of my favorite Tomato Gazpacho, perfect for lunch on the patio yesterday.

Chianti Rose

Black Krim, ugh, the plant is nearly dead, many of the tomatoes are getting sunburned because there's no leaf coverage anymore. It's a real disappointment this year and I won't be growing it again.

Black Krim
Jaune Flamme on the other hand has been a real trouper. It's growing right next to the Black Krim and showing it how the job should be done.

Jaune Flamme

Both cherry tomato plants are looking bad but hanging in there, they are putting out nice amounts of fruit but not too much. The Sweet Golds aren't cracking as much since I turned the water off for a cycle and reduced the time when I turned it back on. All the cracked tomatoes and the ones that are still around when I harvest another round have gone into the dehydrator. Many of the "good" ones go into Dave's lunch bag or my lunch salads. And I adapted a recipe from the Sierra Mar cookbook (a local resort restaurant) that warms cherry tomato halves in a mixture of brown butter, garlic, and whole wilted basil leaves. The recipe pairs the tomatoes with abalone but I used it to top planked salmon and before that I served them with pan roasted sand dabs. I think it's going to become a tomato season classic recipe.

Isis Candy and Sweet Gold

I didn't harvest any eggplant for 12 days and here's the result - loads of it. 


These are the first Sicilian eggplants I've harvested this year. Unfortunately they aren't looking their best, the plants were really set back by a serious attack of spider mites and it's showing in the eggplants. I haven't tried any of these yet so I'm not sure if they are as tasty as usual, these are usually very mild and fine textured.


After I roasted the peppers in the fire pit I set up a grill that attaches to the pit and grilled a bunch of thickly sliced eggplant. The grilled eggplant will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. I plan to use some of it to make a casserole similar to Eggplant Parmesan except that I use ricotta instead of mozzarella. The rest of the grilled eggplant can be frozen.


There were more of the usual suspects, including cucumbers...

Garden Oasis and Tasty Treat

more cucumbers, plenty of zucchini (most of it not photographed)...

Garden Oasis and Tasty Treat Cucumbers
Romanesco zucchini


Ruby Streaks mizuna


Speedy Arugula

Tokyo Bekana, gai lan...

Tokyo Bekana napa cabbage and Green Lance gai lan

and broccoli shoots.

Di Ciccio broccoli

My first significant harvest of gai lan (Chinese broccoli). I had much better success getting this variety of gai lan to germinate and survive.

Te You gai lan

I've saved dessert for last. The first melon of the year! You can see how the stem just slipped right off. It was harvested at the perfect time, this melon was nice and sweet.

Alvaro Charentais melon

I also harvested but didn't photograph enough Amish Paste tomatoes to put up another 8 quarts of canned tomatoes. The Musica bean vines are putting out a small second harvest and the Golden Gate beans are producing a few as well. And a few more Tromba d'Albenga squash were ready to harvest as well. I used a couple of the Tromba squash to make Lamb and Rice Stuffed Zucchini Boats again.

It was a huge week of harvests, here's the details:

Speedy arugula - 14.3 oz.
Golden Gate beans - 4.8 oz.
Musica beans - 10.5 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 1 lb., 14.2 oz.
Tokyo Bekana napa cabbage - 22.5 oz.
Garden Oasis cucumbers - 1 lb., .9 oz.
Tasty Treat cucumbers - 3 lb. 14.7 oz.
Bonica eggplants - 9 lb., 4.2 oz.
Salangana eggplants - 8 lb., 10.2 oz.
Sicilian eggplants - 3 lb., 13.9 oz.
Green Lance gai lan - 4.6 oz.
Te You gai lan - 1 lb., 9.2 oz.
Ruby Streaks mizuna - 7 oz.
Candy onion - 1 lb., 8 oz.
Giallo di Cuneo bell peppers - 1 lb., 2.8 oz.
Lady Bell bell pepper - 9.8 oz.
Odessa market peppers - 1 lb., 14 oz.
Padron peppers - 1b., 3.9 oz.
Shephard's Ramshorn peppers - 11.4 oz.
Stocky Red Roaster peppers - 15.8 oz.
Tarahumara Chile Colorado peppers - 3.4 oz.
Amish Paste tomatoes - 22 lb., 7.1 oz.
Black Krim tomatoes - 4 lb., 15 oz.
Chianti Rose tomatoes - 13 lb., 12.1 oz.
Isis Candy cherry tomatoes - 3 lb., .5 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 5 lb., 15.6 oz.
Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes - 3 lb., 7 oz.
Romanesco zucchini - 6 lb., .3 oz.
Tromba d'Albenga zucchini - 5 lb., 1.9 oz.

Weekly harvest totals - 107 lb., 3.6 oz. (48.6 kg.)
2014 harvest totals - 745 lb., 3.9 oz. (338 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Garden in August 2014

I've been trying to get around to this post for nearly a couple of weeks. I covered some of the garden in my Garden Share Collective post at the beginning of the month but didn't do a full tour so now I want to cover the rest of the garden. Things have actually changed quite a bit in the 12 days since I took these photos, but I do like to document the garden on a monthly basis so this is really a look back at the garden at the end of August and not what is happening now.

Here's a comparison look at the garden on July 30 and August 30.

July 30 (top) and August 30

I'll start in Bed #1 where the Fagiolo del Purgatorio beans are filling in, these had just been planted out at the beginning of the month and were growing under cover to protect them from birds or rats or whatever was munching on them. At the end of the month I had to uncover them because spider mites were starting to infest the leaves and I know from experience that they can quickly take over and kill the plants, especially when the plants are in an enclosed space. I thoroughly treated the plants with a mixture of insecticidal soap and an organic pyrethrin based spray which seems to have gotten the mites under control. I had harvested most of the Cascade Ruby Gold flint corn in the other corner of the bed and just a few stalks remained.

There's a second planting of Purgatory Beans still under cover to keep the critters from munching. The Tarbais beans on the trellis have just a few pod of beans that have yet to dry. I've been pulling the pods off of the plants as they dry because they have a tendency to split open when they become very dry and I didn't want them to pop open and go flying around.

The Floriani Red flint corn has finished setting ears and they are still filling out. It's difficult to get a perspective on the size of some of the ears in the photos, but this one is at least a foot long, although it feels like a lot of husk covering an average sized ear of corn, still, it looks impressive.

The next trellis down is where the Golden Gate and Musica beans are wrapping up the first round of beans. The plants are infected with spider mites but are putting out new flowers and new growth so I treated these with insecticidal soap and pyrethrin also.

The new planting of Australian Butter and Emerite filet beans are starting to climb their trellis. Beyond in the corner of the other bed you can see the cucumber plants that are getting a second wind. I think that they are enjoying getting more sun as the zucchini leaves die back and as they climb up the trellis where they get even more light.

Bed #2 is also home to a double trellis of Petaluma Gold Rush beans that have turned out to be incredibly vigorous. The foliage is so dense that the trellis is getting pushed over by the breeze.

They are really leaning over here. After the photo shoot I attached some cords to the trellis about mid way up and pulled the trellises upright and tied them to some stakes on the other side of the bed.  Above you can see the newly set out Romanesco broccoli and Tronchuda Beira Portuguese cabbage along the back of the bed. And below is a bit closer look at the prolific Di Ciccio broccoli plants from the spring planting.

You can see how dense the growth is on the trellises.

The beans are 4 to 5-inches long which gives some perspective on the size of some of the leaflets which are nearly as big as my hand from wrist to the tips of my fingers. Newly set out cabbage plants are in the foreground above.

I'm really glad I have a wide central path, the Alvaro and Retato Degli melon vines are sprawling all over it, and beyond the Romanesco zucchini has just about taken over. I keep pushing the zucchini branches aside so that they will grow along the path rather than across it, but it's still a squeeze to get by. Look how tall the Red Floriani corn is, the trellis next to it is over 6 feet high.

A number of melons have set, now I'm just waiting for them to get big and ripe.

Alvaro Charentais Melon

Retato Degli Tuscan Melon

Across the path from the melon patch in Bed #3 is the trellis covered with the Tromba d'Albenga squash, just 2 plants. I'm really liking this squash for a number of reasons, it saves some space because it can be trained vertically, it produces delicious zucchini type squash, produces neither too much nor too little, and it seems to be resisting powdery mildew. On the other side of the trellis are a couple of Honey Nut butternut squash vines. I wish I had grown these on a trellis also, they are not terribly productive for the space when allowed to sprawl. These are a mini squash, each one big enough to serve 1 or 2 people. The one shown below is one of the larger ones that set.

Honey Nut Butternut Squash

I always seem to photograph the next section of Bed #3 either after a harvest when everything is cut down to the nubs or not long after seedlings have emerged and there's not much to show off. This time I photographed before a harvest, an overdue harvest in fact, so it's a thicket of greenery.

I love the combination of colors and textures that are growing here.

Tokyo Bekana napa cabbage, Speedy arugula, Ruby Streaks mizuna

The lone surviving and surprisingly productive Green Lance gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and Purple pac choi are the stars in this shot.

The Purple pac choi again and closely planted Portuguese Dairyman's kale to be harvested as baby leaves.

And the overgrown chard, it always seems to be overgrown for much of the year. I don't eat much of it in summer but I like to have the plants well established going into autumn. It should produce until next spring but I noticed that the Flamingo chard has started to bolt. The other three plants will provide plenty of greens though - I just hope they don't decide to bolt early as well.

Around the corner are the newly planted Green Fingers Persian cucumbers. I planted these because I thought the other cucumber plants were going into a permanent decline. Oh well, extra cucumbers...

The other tunnel in this bed is planted with Kagraner Sommer butterhead and Sweetie Baby romaine lettuces. The larger leafy green is Te You gai lan. I decided to try this gai lan on a whim when I saw a packet of seeds I don't remember where now. The Green Lance gai lan always gives me problems, it germinates sporadically and then most of the seedlings die. Perhaps the seeds are infected with something. The Te You germinated readily and grew well, the only problem being that it is tasty to sow bugs. Everything in my garden seems to be tasty to sow bugs. But enough plants survived. Off to the far right are some extremely overgrown beets that I just haven't gotten around to harvesting. I should pull these and get some new ones started for autumn/winter harvests when there will be far less competition from the garden for my plate.

Chioggia beet

The eggplants have gotten to be big plants. It's not evident in the photo but there's a bumper crop of eggplants in there. There's also a spider mite population explosion occurring. I treated these with the insecticidal soap and pyrethrin as well. It happens every year - spider mites always want to move in and take over the beans and eggplant. They infect other plants as well but seem to really go crazy over beans and eggplant.

Here's a look at the pepper plants from one end of the bed...

and from the other end of the bed. I'm really happy with the peppers this year. Last year I had a mixed performance. The peppers were divided into two different beds last year, one planting did incredibly well and the other was incredibly disappointing. I do believe that the difference between the performances was because one planting had the benefit of being inoculated with beneficial mycorrhizae and bacteria and the other planting wasn't. The inoculated plants grew bigger and set more peppers which were larger. This year I used the inoculants for all the peppers and I'm getting great results again. It's not evident from the photos, but the plants are loaded with lovely peppers. One thing that I have frequently had a problem with in the pepper patch is the plants not producing enough leaves or large enough leaves to protect the peppers from getting sunburned. I've often times had to erect some lightweight row cover over the plants to keep the peppers from being ruined by sunburn. The only time I've had a problem with sunburn this year is when a plant leaned over from the weight of the peppers which exposed the peppers on a neighboring plant to the sun.

On to the tomato patch now. It started off beautifully this year and is quickly getting ugly. There's some sort of fungal problem, probably powdery mildew, which is infecting most of the plants. It's probably not blight since the fruits are not affected. The leaves inside the cages and on the shadier sides of the plants are most infected. The Black Krim and Amish Paste plants are showing signs of something infecting the roots, probably fusarium, because the plants are wilting and quickly dying. The tomato harvest is probably going to be short and intense this year.

Isis Candy

Sweet Gold

Amish Paste

Jaune Flamme and Chianti Rose

Black Krim

That was the garden at the end of August. Before too long I'll be back with the September tour, stay tuned.