Monday, September 18, 2017

Harvest Monday - September 18, 2017

It's interesting how quickly harvests change. Just a few weeks ago my harvest posts were dominated by green things. The latest harvests are now dominated by red, orange, and yellow things.

I'm most excited about the ripening peppers.

Shepherd's Ramshorn, Violet Sparkle
Under achieving Turkish

Odessa Market and Topepo Giallo
There aren't a lot of ripe peppers yet, but there should be more to come. I haven't don't anything special with them yet, just cut up in salads and such.

There are lots of tomatoes though, especially cherry tomatoes.

The Bees
Sunrise Bumble, Green, and Purple Bumble
The Bumble Bee types still aren't very prolific but they are tasty and I've got plenty of Piccolo Dattero and Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes so I'm not feeling deprived.

Piccolo Dattero and Sweet Gold
I used a bunch of cherry tomatoes in a Farro Salad inspired by a recipe on Food 52. I didn't follow the recipe exactly but kept pretty close to it.

Jaune Flamme
Jaune Flamme has been one of my favorites for a few years now. It's early, prolific, and very flavorful with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. I made a gazpacho this week with some of them and it came out exceptionally well.

Pantano, Mavritanskite, Chianti Rose, Marzano Fire
Some larger sized tomatoes are coming in here and there. Marzano Fire is producing a number of ripe tomatoes as well.

Baby Tuscan Kale
And there's still some green things too. I started cutting the Baby Tuscan Kale to use in salads. There's still a steady stream of broccoli and broccolini sprouts and a few cucumbers here and there. But the zucchini harvests have nearly come to a halt. The Romanesco zucchini plant has almost been done in by powdery mildew so it is about finished for the year. And then I gave the Tromba D'Albenga vines a major trim so they have been slowed down but it looks like they are putting out new growth and new blossoms so I think I should be getting some squash from them in a week or so.

Batavia Broccoli and Gagon Cucumbers
Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Garden on September 14, 2017

Summer is gasping it's last official breath now but here on the Central Coast of California it's really just getting into full swing. So here's a tour of my summer garden at it's height. (Notice the bright sunlight and general lack of FOG!)

Warning, this has turned into a very long post.........

I'll start with a couple of shots from above again.

Beds #1 and #4
Solanums and Curcurbits

Beds #2 and #3
Corn, Beans, Greens (Mostly)

The garden doesn't look a lot different from the last tour in August until you get up close.

Bed #1 Tomato Alley
Tomato Alley is easier to navigate since I spent some time trimming leaves and tying up vines. And there's finally some color from ripening tomatoes. 

Piccolo Dattero

Bed #1 Pepper Jungle
The pepper plants are much healthier than last year. Around about this time last year I was losing a battle with powdery mildew for the leaves on most of the pepper plants. And the rabbit(s) were attacking the plants as well. I suspected that the ash from the Soberanes Fire last year was at least partly responsible for the powdery mildew problem. This year I finally surrounded the perimeter of the garden with hardware cloth and had the great joy of watching a rabbit repeatedly trying to get through and failing, at least for now.

Bed #1 Pepper Jungle View #2
Here's a few highlights in the pepper patch.

Violet Sparkle

Topepo Giallo
Topepo Giallo has mostly "innies" but that one has a pronounced "outie".

Rosso Dolce da Appendere

Habanada is a Habañero with nada heat. This and one other new pepper this year are the first Capsicum chinense peppers that I've grown in a few years. I gave up on chinense peppers because they generally don't ripen before the first frost and the plants are very sensitive to cold temperatures so I usually didn't get much of a crop. It looks like I might have a chance at enjoying some ripe peppers with this one.

Bed #2 is mostly corn and beans. And at the moment it is the greatest source of frustration in the garden. Rodents have once again discovered the ears of corn. I covered all the best ears of corn with fabric but I didn't fool the rodents, they just chewed right through the fabric and kept on going when they hit corn.

This didn't help either...

So I've turned to trusty old hardware cloth. Wire dunce caps for corn.

If this doesn't work then the corn is hitting the compost. Better there than in rodent bellies.

Taos Red
Taos Red is a dry bean that's a beautiful solid red color, but I didn't know that the pods would be red too.

O'odham Pink
O'odham Pink is a bush dry bean. The plants are senescing which means dry beans are soon to come.

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The cilantro succession experiment isn't doing so well anymore, something is munching on the emerging seedlings. I beefed up the screens around the patch so perhaps that will help. (I am the Queen of Hardware Cloth).

Mareko Fana
The Mareko Fana pepper plant that came back from last year is doing even better this year. There's a bunch of really beautiful peppers on the plant and better yet they are starting to ripen. This has become my favorite variety for turning into dried pepper flakes.

Baby Aji Amarillo
The Baby Aji Amarillo pepper plant from last year is doing better than ever also. It's loaded with peppers and they're beauties. There's a couple of Aji Amarillo Grande plants growing between the Mareko Fana and Baby Aji Amarillo plants that came back from last year but I think I should just take them out because they aren't doing anything and what's odd is that they were huge last year.

Baby Aji Amarillo

Batavia Broccoli
Shown above are the 4 broccoli plants that I set out way back on December 7. Yup, 9 months ago. And they keep on producing side shoots, and some really nice ones too. Every time I think they are done I spy some new growth. In the photo below are 3 of the 4 broccoli plants that I set out on April 14. These plants are the ones that were supposed to get me through the summer after I tore out those other plants, but the rabbits dined on the first round of side shoots and the plants have struggled ever since and one of them simply gave up.

I was on the verge of pulling the newer  broccoli plants when I noticed a lot of shoots popping up through the soil at the base of a couple of the plants.

I thinned out most of them and it looks like some of them might grow to become good sized shoots so for now I'll let them grow and see what happens.

That's my patch of summer cutting greens accompanied by some fennel growing from roots that were left in the ground after I harvested the mature bulbs. I already harvested the Ethiopian Blue Mustard and started cutting down the Baby Tuscan Kale yesterday. I'm definitely going to sow more of the mustard, it's very mild either raw or cooked and I enjoyed it both in salads and wilted like spinach.

Various Carrots
The carrots have gone through a growth spurt. That's them after some serious thinning.

Old Broccolini
The Broccolini plants (aka Aspabroc) don't put out side shoots that rival the Batavia broccoli but these plants have supplied a steady stream that has been enough to keep us happy. They are shown above after a good hard trim and perhaps they'll come back but I'm going to remove them soon because their successors shown in the photo below are growing fast and should start heading up soon.

New Broccolini
The Gustus Brussels sprouts plants are looking a bit funky probably because they've been supporting a small population of aphids that I never got around to treating. The excessive heat that we experienced a couple of weeks ago probably didn't help either (the high hit 109ºF in the shade).

Brussels Sprouts

The Kalettes seem to be really happy in spite of also hosting some aphids.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
The Stick Cauliflower plants don't get to be very large, but one of them is extra small after it got attacked by something that left a lovely slime trail. Slug or snail? I don't know because I never found the culprit. Slugs and snails are rarely a problem in my garden but the extra wet winter this year seemed to cause a bit of a population boom of slugs and I keep finding one or two here or there in damp spots like the compost bins so it's probably slug damage.

Manoa Crisphead Lettuce
I finally got around to growing some lettuce and thank goodness it's a heat resistant variety because I transplanted it about a week before the heatwave hit. The extra seedlings are bunched together above for early harvest as babies. Just in time for BLTs!  The rest of the lettuce is in a cage along with a couple of succession sowings of Speedy Arugula. The cage is not only rabbit and rodent resistant but it's also easy to cover up with some fabric to provide some shade. I'm hoping that the shade will keep the lettuce mild and prevent the arugula from bolting instantly.

Manoa Lettuce and Speedy Arugula
I covered the entire bed through the worst days of the heat wave. The murkiness wasn't fog it was smoke from fires in the central part of the state. 

And we've finally come to Bed #4.

The Tromba D'Albenga vines were until quite recently not only covering the trellis but were also scrambling through the bed and along the path. All that foliage was providing cover for some rodent that was insistent about making a burrow in the nice soft soil in the bed so I gave the Tromba vines a major haircut. I should have trimmed them back long ago because they've responded by simply putting out a lot of new growth and new flowers. The Damn Rodent seems to have decided to look for new digs elsewhere.

Romanesco Zucchini
The Romanesco zucchini vines are shrinking. The powdery mildew is doing a quick takedown job on the plants. I've been cutting off the infected leaves faster than the plant can produce new ones so it will soon be history.

The cucumber vines, on the other hand, are still going strong. The Gagon vines in particular are growing like crazy. I was about to give up on them though because they were producing almost all male blossoms. Then Day pointed out to me something that I never knew about cucumbers, that they are day length sensitive which causes them to produce mostly male blossoms in the summer. So I've let the vines continue to grow to see what effect the shorter days of fall will have.

The basil plants at the end of the bed have in turns gotten huge and cut back and threatened by encroaching zucchini and cucumber vines and in spite of all that they keep coming back after I give them hard whacks. They look like a motley bunch of plants now but I'm getting enough basil to keep me happy. And can you see the squash vines that have taken over the path and climbed the fence?

Terremoto Squash
I was really close to cutting those down until I notice those two squash and there's a third one developing also. So I took pity on the vines because the 4 plants had up until then set exactly 2 squash.

Terremoto Squash

Those squash are at about the same stage of development. It's a landrace variety that hasn't been chosen for external colors so the exterior colors include blue, green, pink, and orange. The interiors are all dense fleshed and deep orange.

Terremoto Squash

The other squash I'm growing this year is Kurin Kabocha which has more compact vines and squash so it's growing on a trellis. The vines have set a number of squash, mostly pretty small but there's a couple of larger ones like that one below.

Kurin Kabocha
That's the latest in my garden.

Oh wait, I almost forgot.

I'm growing some Aji pepper plants in pots near the house to not only get extra peppers (I love Aji peppers) but to also try to coax them through the winter without taking up a bunch of space in the veggie garden. Things were going fine until some critter (rat or rabbit?) decided to start munching.

So the Queen of Hardware Cloth went to work again.

OK, that's really finely truly it for this tour. Hope your garden is growing happy.

Bye bye!