Monday, September 7, 2020

Harvest Monday - September 7, 2020

There's a few different things in the harvest basket this week. I harvested 2 main heads of broccolini on Sunday and there would have been 3 but a ground squirrel got one of them. After losing that first head of broccolini to the pest I liberally sprinkled the rest of the heads and the developing broccoli heads with ground up hot Thai peppers and that seems to be deterring the you-know-what so far.

Broccolini and San Pasquale Zucchini

And I got the first cutting of Thai Tender amaranth greens, in spite of the same danged squirrel that sampled quite a few of the leaves. I used this harvest in a baked dish of Greek Gigande beans in tomato sauce.

Thai Tender Amaranth

The first ripe Odessa Market peppers were ready to harvest. I grew these peppers from seeds that I had saved and it looks like one of the plants is a cross between Odessa Market and some other sweet pepper that was in the garden.

San Pasquale Zucchini and Tatume Squash
Odessa Market Peppers

The cherry tomatoes are ripening quickly now, especially the Sweet Golds. The Brad's Atomic Grape plants are not very healthy and many of the tomatoes are getting blossom end rot so there aren't very many of those which is disappointing because they are very tasty.

Sweet Gold, Piccolo Dattero and 
Brad's Atomic Grape

The Brinker Carrier beans produced a second crop. The vines are still putting out new growth so perhaps I'll get a third round. I'm getting a few Jamaican Burr Gherkins almost every day which adds up over time so I'm getting more than enough of those. 

Brinker Carrier Beans
Jamaican Burr Gherkins

I let the Tatume squash produce one last good round and then I cut the vines back. The plants are very vigorous growers and I had allowed the vines to run through the empty spaces in the bed but they were producing a glut of squash so I cut them back to just the vines growing on the trellis. I probably won't get a showing like this again. The San Pasquale plant is producing 1 or 2 and sometimes 3 zucchini a day and it looks like that will continue for a few weeks or until powdery mildew sets in with a vengeance.

Tatume Squash and San Pasquale Zucchini

The Tromba d'Albenga vines have been producing a few squash and then they take a rest, that's been the pattern through the summer. The vines are still healthy and resisting the powdery mildew that has been showing up lately. I expect that I could be harvesting from the plants through November if the weather allows.

Tatume Squash and Tromba d'Albenga Squash

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.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Garden on August 31, 2020

Oh Baby, It's HOT Out There!

It is far too hot today to garden so I'm taking the opportunity to write about it instead. I've taken photos of the garden twice in the last few weeks and not gotten around to writing up a post and I didn't want to spend any more time than necessary out there so today's tour is actually about the garden about a week ago.

Bed #1 is where the squash are growing this year. And there's a couple of volunteer kale plants that are likely a cross between kale and some other brassica. Tatume is on the trellis on the right and Tromba d'Albenga is on the left. The Tatume vines are super rapant growers and this photo was taken after I had cut back the vines that I had allowed to wander into the front of the bed in the right foreground. Then in the cool and foggy interlude that we enjoyed between this heat wave and the one a couple of weeks ago the vines became severely infected with powdery mildew so now the trellis is looking a bit sparse after I cut off most of the infected leaves. The Tromba d'Albenga vines in the meantime are thriving. They are more resistant to powdery mildew and most years they are the last squash standing in the garden and in some years have produced into November.

The San Pasquale zucchini in the foreground is a worthy successor to my old favorite hybrid Romanesco zucchini. One plant has put out multiple branches (vines?). It is fairly resistant to powdery mildew but I did have to trim out a number of infected leaves this week. I'm getting anywhere from 1 to 3 zucchini a day from the plant. 

I put in one Tetra Delicata squash plant, a variety that is multi-purpose with both the immature and mature squashes edible along with the tender young vines. Well, I thought it was going to be a big vigorous vine like the Candystick Dessert Delicata squash that I've grown in the past but it turns out that it is only semi-vining and not a very rampant grower. So I got one immature squash and then it set only 2 more squash that I'm allowing to mature. 

These wispy little vines are the Jamaican Burr Gherkins that I've been showing on a few harvest posts. They put out a steady stream of a few small cucumbers a day which is perfectly fine with me. They seem to love the heat and put on a big growth spurt during the last heat wave and then slowed down in the foggy interlude and now they seem to be zooming again.

Bed #2 is where the solanums are growing this year. The tomato plants are getting to the top of the trellis and the pepper plants have filled out.

The eggplants have matured and are setting a few small fruits.

Peppers are starting to ripen.


Odessa Market

Cherry tomatoes are ripening in abundance now. I cut out leaves as I harvest to expose the ripening tomatoes to the morning sun and to make it easier to harvest. Removing the leaves also allows more air to circulate when helps to cut down on foliar diseases. And it looks great too!

This end of the bed is where I've been growing successions of Speedy arugula. Three or four days ago I sowed more seeds to the left which have already germinated (6 year old seeds!). I also harvested about half that patch on the right the other day (which I didn't get around to photographing). The arugula grows so quickly in the summer that I just harvest the entire plants, once they get to the size you see below they are on the verge of bolting, especially when it gets HOT like it is now.

I only got around to prepping two thirds of Bed #3 this year and only one third of it is planted with anything productive now. Only beans. The trellis in the rear has 4 varieties of snap beans which have been producing through most of the summer. To the left is a planting of Marcella's beans which I got from Rancho Gordo, they are a variety of cannellini bean and are supposed to be more tender than the usual type. On the right are some bush snap beans that I hope will be producing when the pole snap beans finally peter out.

Bed #4 is home to the winter brassicas. In the foreground are a couple of Yellow Cabbage collards and just behind those are a couple of Purple Moon kale. Beyond that are broccolini and broccoli plants. On the right in the far corner are kalettes and beyond those are Brussels sprouts.

Broccolini heads nearing harvest time.

Broccolini "harvested" by a ground squirrel. Grrrrrr.....

Yes, I have a new pest to contend with. As if rats and mice and voles haven't been enough of a challenge, now it's ground squirrels. One of them decided to sample the tender young greens on most of the plants. Fortunately it munched young leaves and didn't (hasn't yet) attacked the crowns of the plants (other than that broccolini). My broccoli plants are just starting to develop heads which I'm fearful for. I've taken to liberally dusting all the plants and especially the crowns and developing heads with pulverized hot Thai peppers. The munching has stopped but their efforts to dig burrows amongst the plants has not. Today I put hardware cloth in the spots that they like to excavate. Dang it, if it isn't one pest it's another!

Squirrel Ravaged Kalette Plant

Brussels Sprouts Plants Attacked By Squirrel

The one non-brassica veggie that I'm growing in the bed is a couple of varieties of Amaranth that I grow for the greens. Thai Tender is in the back and Tender Leaf is in the foreground. I prefer the Tender Leaf variety and the only source that I have for the seeds is now out of business so I hope to get these plants to full maturity so I can save the seeds. Unfortunately, the squirrel has found amaranth greens to be to its liking. 

So that's the state of my garden now, actually a week ago, but things haven't changed a lot since then.

I will close with a photo that I took of the garden when the smoke from the River and Carmel fires was at its worst. There's some hills out there somewhere!

And for comparison, the view on a clear April day.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Harvest Monday - August 24, 2019

It's been one hell of a week around here, quite literally, with two wildfires burning just a few miles away and numerous others burning not too much further away. The smoke has been so thick that it's been hazardous to my health to go outside so I've only taken brief forays out to the garden to harvest or do a few quick tasks. And that's on top of the heat wave that didn't abate until mid-week. We don't rely on air-conditioning to cool our house, we can usually just open up windows at night to let in cool fresh air and that usually does a great job of cooling the house enough to get through the next hot day. But the smoke actually gets worse at night so our "natural" air-conditioning didn't work because we had to keep the windows sealed tight 24/7 which made for some very uncomfortable days and nights. And then to top it all off the possibility of more dry lightening and high winds is probably what prompted the county to declare an evacuation warning for my neighborhood last Friday and then an order to get out on Saturday. Fortunately we were given plenty of time to gather up valuables and get them out of harms way. We are also very fortunate to have a good friend who took us in, including our 3 cats. So here I sit on Monday morning, still feeling a bit dazed by the events but also feeling incredibly grateful for the kindness of friends and relieved that the severe weather was basically a no-show and very sad for those in my community who have lost homes and gratitude for the multitude of firefighters and law enforcement who are working so hard to battle the fires and protect our homes. I've got so many emotions swirling around inside of me, I just can't sort through it all yet. We can't go home yet but rumor has it that maybe the evacuation order will be lifted by Wednesday. Strike that! As I'm finishing this post I just got notification that we can go home this morning!

Anyway, this is a harvest post so I will touch on that if only briefly. My harvests weren't much different last week than the few weeks before with more zucchini and squash and beans filling the harvest basket. Jamaican burr gherkins and cherry tomatoes continued to trickle in. I also got the first ripe Odessa Market sweet pepper but that did not get photographed. And I harvested some huge leaves of Yellow Cabbage collards. It's hard to get a perspective on the size of those leaves in a photograph so there's my two feet to give you an idea. Those big leaves were not at all tough.

Yellow Cabbage Collard

Bye for now, I'm packing up and heading home!

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.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Harvest Monday - August 17, 2020

It's Monday already and I had intended to do a post about how the garden is growing before today but that just didn't happen. We are days into a severe heat wave at the moment with temperatures hitting 100ºF+  and every time I got out to the garden to photograph it nearly all the veggies were looking wilted and stressed (just like me!). I did get out there this morning before the sun started blasting everything so I got some decent photos which I'll be sharing later this week. In the meantime the garden hasn't stopped producing veggies, some of which I got around to photographing. 

The squash have been basking in the heat. Here's a representative shot I what I harvested on a few days last week. The Tromba d'Albenga was an unusually short specimen but the Tatume squash and San Pasquale zucchini are typical.

San Pasquale zucchini, Tatume squash, Tromba d'Albenga squash

I got one new veggie last week, some leaves of Yellow Cabbage Collards. I used those along with some San Pasquale zucchini to make a gratin of Zucchini, Greens, and Ricotta. Spinach or chard are usually my green of choice for that gratin but the collards were just as good. The photo doesn't give a perspective on how large the leaves can be, one that I photographed this morning is longer than my forearm.

Yellow Cabbage Collards

Tomato season still hasn't really started yet in my garden, just a trickle so far. The Jamaican burr gherkins are also producing a steady trickle.

Piccolo Dattero and Golden Sweet tomatoes
Jamaican burr gherkins

The only other thing that I harvested but didn't photograph was a big haul of Speedy arugula. 

Critter cam update. I've not had a repeat visit from the mountain lion but the list of critters is growing.

Sightings so far:

  • deer, 3 different bucks
  • gray fox, at least 2
  • possum
  • raccoon
  • mountain lion
A lot of the shots are blurry but good enough to identify what the critter is. Here's a couple of the better ones.

Gray Foxes

Blacktail Deer

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.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Harvest Monday - August 10, 2020

My husband Dave and I escaped to the Emigrant Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada for a 5-day backpacking trip last week so I didn't post a harvest report last Monday. The trip was amazing. We had perfect weather and other than the first day we saw hardly a soul.

Before we left I harvested a beautiful bunch of squash blossoms which I used in a Scarpaccia. Most of the blossoms came from the Tatume squash vines. Scarpaccia is great road trip food, delicious at room temperature and easy to eat out of hand. We munched it for lunch on the drive to the trailhead and then had what was left as an appetizer before dinner in camp the first night.


There were a few more squash and zucchini harvests before and after the trip, not all of which were photographed. Thankfully my neighbor accepted a bagful before we departed.

There weren't many overgrown squash when we returned since I picked the vines pretty clean before we left. One Tromba d'Albenga got to be big and it seems that one Tatume hid from me. The rest of the squash weren't blooming when I went through the vines before we left.

I'm still getting an assortment of beans but the purple and yellow beans are nearly done. I gave all of these to my neighbor also.

There's been a tiny trickle of cherry tomatoes and the Marzano Fire paste tomatoes are starting to ripen. The spiky little green things are a cucumber relative called a burr gherkin. This one was a freebie from the Seed Savers Exchange when I renewed my membership and it is simply named Jamaican. I've been eating them raw in salads but they are also supposed to be good for pickling and cooking. Most of the beans that I'm harvesting now are Brinker Carriers, another selection from the Seed Savers Exchange.

Here's a new addition to the tomato lineup - Brad's Atomic Grape. It's a super flavorful tomato but unfortunately the plants aren't very vigorous.

Brad's Atomic Grape

The onions are now fully cured and trimmed. 

Cabernet and Sierra Blanca

I have been putting a large container of water outside my garden because it seems that local wildlife have been enjoying it. My curiosity got piqued about just what it is that's been slurping it up. So I installed a critter camera aimed at the bucket (a large tub trug). The first couple of nights I wasn't surprised to see a couple of bucks but then the other morning I got quite a surprise to see this guy/gal below... 

The images are a bit blurry but there's no doubt that that is a mountain lion. I know they have been in the neighborhood, both of my neighbors have seen them, but I've never seen one myself. So I finally have my own proof that they are truly here.

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.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Harvest Monday - July 27, 2020

Time got away from me yesterday so I didn't get around to doing a harvest post and today has been a busy one with a visit from the plumber and the tree service so, phew, I'm just getting around to writing up a post. Better late than not at all.

Just a quickie though. I won't bore with another photo of squash and zucchini but here's a snap a zucchini dish that I tried. This is the Chunky Zucchini and Tomato Salad (Mafghoussa) from Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley's book Falastin. It's not the most appealing looking dish but the flavors more than make up for its homeliness. The veggies are first slight charred in a grill pan and then roasted in a hot oven, then cooled and cut up, then folded into a yogurt sauce that seasoned with garlic, lemon, date molasses, chiles, mint, and parsley. It is incredibly flavorful and I think it will be a regular during future zucchini seasons.

Other than zucchini I harvested the last of the snow peas before I removed the plants to make space for some pole beans. A few more small harvests of various snap beans added up to a nice haul for the week. 

A few immature Mehmet's Sweet Turkish peppers got chopped up to put in a salad.

And I got another big bunch of the Speedy arugula that self sowed when I pulled some plants that I had let go to seed to renew my seed stock. Speedy is living up to its name, the new patch that I intentionally sowed recently is already mature enough to harvest before I've gotten through the volunteers. The leaves are getting to be big but they are still mild.

That's it for this week. 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.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Harvest Monday - July 20, 2020

I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging which means that I need to rejoin Harvest Monday! Normally I would be writing up my post on Sunday but I forgot yesterday so I'll be joining the fun a bit late. It's summer which means summer squash and zucchini. I got a little carried away this year and planted 3 different varieties all at once. I guess I just couldn't wait to try a couple of new varieties that I had planned on growing last year but didn't bother with because I was anticipating another battle with the rodents. So new in the basket are Tatume (aka Calabacita) and San Pasquale. Tatume is a rampant grower and prolific producer, it's the oblong squash on the left. San Pasquale is a zucchini from Southern Italy. And then I had to have my long time favorite Tromba d'Albenga squash.

Tatume, Tromba d'Albenga, and San Pasquale

I am always searching for new things to do with zucchini and I found a winner in this recipe for a Zucchini Ricotta Tart. The Tromba d'Albenga squash was great for this because it stays firm and doesn't get watery so the tart doesn't get a soggy crust. Another recipe that I loved is Yottam Ottolenghi's Crushed Zucchini from his book Simple. The zucchini is roasted with herbs and whole garlic cloves and then lightly crushed with the soft garlic pulp and then seasoned with more herbs and lemon juice. The tatume squash shone in that preparation.

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

This basket features all the different varieties of beans that I'm growing. I'm not dealing with much of a glut of beans because the plants have had to compete with tree roots that invaded their space. There's also the last of the Oregon Giant snow peas in the basket. The pea plants were the least impacted by the tree roots so I got a generous harvest of them that lasted a few weeks. I also grew Oregon Giant over the winter. It's proven to be a resilient variety that endured light frosts with minimal protection and it has stood up well to powdery mildew which can be quite devastating to other pea varieties in my garden.

Oregon Giant Snow Peas
Brinker Carrier, Roc D'Or, Purple Amethyst, Rolande, Gold Nectar Beans

I gave onions another try this year. My experience with onions has been rather mixed over the years. The biggest problem that I have is that most varieties tend to bolt. One very wet winter ruined most of the onions with Downy Mildew. In spite of that I decided to give them a try again. I bought some seeds and then I didn't get around to sowing them until mid-December which is a full month later usual which also delayed the time when I planted the seedlings in the garden. It seems that it might have been a fortuitous delay. The white variety that I grew is Sierra Blanca which is actually the renamed Superstar that I used to grow. A lot of the Superstar onions bolted on me in the past and this year only 3 or 4 of them bolted. The red onion, Cabernet, is new for me and it too only had about 3 bolters. I guessing that the delayed planting meant that the seedlings escaped the occasional frosty nights that we have in January and the more mild February temperatures didn't trigger the plants to want to bloom. Or perhaps it had something to do with daylength. I'm not sure but I'll be trying a later sowing again this year. It's true that the onions are smaller than what I got with an earlier sowing but they are still plenty big.

Sierra Blanca and Cabernet

That about it from the garden for now. I'm trying to not get too ambitious in the garden because I am still leery of tempting critters back and quite frankly I'm enjoying spending time doing other things. 

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.