Monday, October 19, 2020

Harvest Monday - October 19, 2020

I harvested all of the winter squash that was in the garden, all of 2 Delicata squash. And those only made it into the garden this year because a friend shared some seeds with me. Winter squash just wasn't a priority this year.

Tetra Delicata Squash

I have lost count of the number of heat waves that we have endured this summer and fall. Summer actually started off with mild weather. We enjoyed our typical warm days and cool nights until about the second week of August. I remember that Dave and I enjoyed a 5 day backpack trip in Emigrant Wilderness with perfect weather in the first week of August and then after that it got hot. And we've cycled between HOT weather and okay weather since then. This last week the highs were in the mid to high 90ºF range. I haven't been loving the heat but the little Jamaican Burr Gherkins have. The rest of the garden has been hanging in there. Maybe it's the shorter days, but the 2 year old Orion fennel plants are now putting out shoots that don't want to bolt right away and some of them are fattening up a bit. The latest succession of arugula is mature enough that I have started to cut some of the most mature plants. And the broccolini is putting out numerous side shoots.

Jamaican Burr Gherkins, Orion Fennel, Speedy Arugula, Broccolini


The paste tomatoes are pretty much finished for the season although there are a few green tomatoes on the vines. Cherry tomatoes are still abundant thanks to the long lasting Piccolo Dattero vines.

Piccolo Dattero, Sweet Gold, Brad's Atomic Grape

And the Tromba d'Albenga vines are getting a second wind.

Tromba d'Albenga

Not photographed this week were more ripe sweet peppers and a few humongous Yellow Cabbage Collard leaves.

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.

And here's a bit of action that I caught on my critter camera that sits just outside my garden. I keep a big tub full of water there and it attracts a variety of wildlife most nights. This shot is of a bobcat taking a long drink and a fox waiting for its turn at the tub. It's the first time I've seen the two different critters there at the same time. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Harvest Monday - October 12, 2020

October tends to be a pretty productive month in my garden. Summer vegetables are hanging on and fall/winter veggies are maturing. I got one more significant harvest of paste tomatoes. This year was a good one for the paste tomatoes. My freezer is now well stocked with tomato paste, puree, sauce, and roasted tomatoes. I've got a good stash of dehydrated cherry tomatoes also. 

Marzano Fire

The sweet peppers have been very productive too. I didn't grow as many peppers as I've been wont to in past years. This year I grew only 4 varieties of sweet peppers and so far I been using them fresh from the garden in various ways. We love roasted pepper salads and a basketful of peppers like the ones shown below when fire roasted, cleaned, cut into strips and turned into a salad will get gobbled up in one or two sittings.



My gamble with a late sowing of eggplant has paid off. Badenjan Sesame eggplant is supposed to be a early producer which probably helped and no doubt the hotter than normal weather in August and September was a factor as well. Now that October is looking to be quite warm as well I may have a few more harvests to look forward to.

Badenjan Sesame Eggplant

Another late sown "summer" vegetable is giving me some good harvests also. The green Roland filet beans are almost done with a first flush of beans and are healthy enough that they may produce a second flush. The Amethyst Purple filet beans are now in the middle of their first flush. The purple beans lose their bright color when cooked.

Roland and Amethyst Purple Filet Beans

I've been harvesting small bulbs of Orion fennel all year long. They tend to want to bolt right away but if I cut them before they elongate too much they are tender enough to slice thinly to use in salads. The burr gherkins are now producing so many that I'm going to have to find some way to use them other than in salads.

Orion Fennel and Jamaican Burr Gherkins

The broccoli and broccolini plants are producing side shoots now. They should keep producing through the winter.

Batavia Broccoli and Broccolini

The hot weather has sent the collards into a huge growth spurt. I hope that it doesn't prompt them to bolt. I would like to try to harvest it through the winter as well.

Yellow Cabbage Collards

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, October 5, 2020

Harvest Monday - October 5, 2020

No, I haven't given up on blogging again, I've just been distracted by other things such as a trip to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument for a 5 day backpacking trip. It was a trip that came about through a series of twists and turns. We had originally signed up early this year to join a group in Alaska in June to backpack through the Brooks Range in Gates of the Arctic National Park but that got cancelled because of the Coronavirus. So we then opted to do a backpacking trip with the same group in September in the high country of Yosemite. That got cancelled because of choking smoke from the many wildfires burning in California. So the group organizer offered to lead us on a trip in Escalante and most of us hopped on board. So between dealing with our oldest cat Hank who made his final exit just days before we left, and working on making the landscape around the house more fire resistant, and getting ready to go, and being gone, and getting caught up after returning home I've just not gotten around to blogging. Being out in the backcountry was a truly welcome escape from reality.

Here's a few photos from the trip.

So, back to the regular programming - Harvests!

We have been eating a lot of broccoli in the past week. I harvested 1 big head before we left.

Batavia Broccoli

Four more heads were nearly large enough to harvest before we left and I had to choose between harvesting them small and leaving them in the fridge for a week or leaving them in the garden and letting them get oversized. I opted to leave them in the garden because the weather was forecast to be relatively mild while we were gone. I figured it would be better to have fresh extra-large heads rather than old heads that needed to be dealt with right away when I got home. I'm glad I left them in the garden, they weren't too overgrown and they were fresh and delicious.

Batavia Broccoli

There were broccolini side shoots ready to harvest when I got home also.


That's the last Tatume squash and nearly the last San Pasquale zucchini. Both plants have been hit hard by powdery mildew and have quit producing. The Tromba d'Albenga squash is more productive than ever, it always seems to be the last squash vine to quit and it's usually cold weather that does it in rather than disease.

Tromba d'Albenga, Tatume, San Pasquale

The Jamaican Burr Gherkins have been thriving in the heat waves that we've been enduring. Production slowed down in the mild weather while we were gone but has picked up now that it has gotten hot again. The bush beans that I planted in the summer for fall harvests are producing now. Both are filet types so I'm picking them while they are still thin. The purple beans are always slower to produce than green beans so I've only gotten a few of the purple ones so far.

I have managed to harvest arugula all summer long even through successive heat waves. My new approach to growing arugula in the summer is to sow the seeds thinly and allow the plants to grow to the point that they seem to be on the verge of bolting. Then I harvest the entire plants. Spacing the plants further apart seems to prevent them from bolting right away. I usually leave a few spindly plants when I harvest the bulk of the plants and the extra space lets them continue to grow without bolting. Speedy arugula is a very mild variety and the heat does make it bit more spicy but not too much for my taste. The plants shown below are some of the spindly plants that I left from the last succession. If I trim and wash and spin dry the arugula right away and keep it in the fridge in a produce storage container it will keep for about 2 weeks. I sow a new succession every few weeks.

Speedy Arugula

The amaranth is also enjoying the heat. This is my third harvest this season and if the weather stays warm I could get a fourth.

Thai Tender Amaranth

And it's well and truly tomato season. The Brand's Atomic Grape plants have never thrived but haven't died either. That's the best harvest of them so far and that's from 2 plants. Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes have ripened at a fairly steady pace over a few weeks, that's been a pretty typical harvest about once a week for the a while. They are starting to slow down now.

Brad's Atomic Grape and Sweet Gold

The Piccolo Dattero tomatoes take longer to ripen but hold better on the plants than most cherry tomatoes that I've grown. I held off harvesting before I left so there was an extra large harvest when I got home. Their flavor is average if they are picked too soon but if they are left to get deep red and  ripe on the plants they are very sweet and delicious. It takes a lot of patience on my part to wait for them to be ready to harvest because it takes a couple of weeks or so from when they start to turn red to when they are actually ready to harvest. 

Piccolo Dattero

I had one harvest of Marzano Fire paste tomatoes before we left for Utah. I turned that harvest into 5 pints of tomato paste to keep in the freezer. After I got home I got two harvests like the one shown below. The first harvest got turned into tomato puree and I'm planning on using the second harvest to make tomato sauce, all of which I will have to find space for in my freezer.

Marzano Fire

I've got loads of ripe sweet peppers in the garden now which I will have to find time to deal with this week. Odessa Market is one of my favorite sweet peppers, it's fairly thick fleshed and sweet and my favorite for eating fresh so I've been harvesting a few of them at a time on a regular basis for cutting into strips to eat raw or for chopping up to use in salads.

Odessa Market

That's representative of what I've been harvesting for the past few weeks. It's technically fall but the weather here is expected to stay warm so the summery harvests should continue for a while. 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.

Thanks for stopping by!

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.