Monday, November 20, 2017

Harvest Monday - November 20, 2017

The weather so far this fall has been mild here, a smattering of rain now and then and nighttime lows dipping into the high 30ºF's but staying away from freezing which means that I'm still harvesting some colorful veggies. Most of the sweet peppers have finished but the seasoning peppers are still ripening in the garden.

The photo above shows the harvest from one day - a few sweet Gogosar peppers, ripe Craig's Grande jalapeños from 2 different plants, orange Habanadas, Ethiopian Brown, Baby Aji Amarillos from the 2016 plant, and one small red Caribbean Seasoning. The photo below shows the harvest of ripe Gogosar peppers from the extra plants that I grew in pots.

The old broccoli plants are still producing side shoots as are the new broccolini plants. In the center of the basket above are a bunch of pea shoots. I sowed a bunch of seeds for shelling and snow peas directly into the garden on October 1 and didn't get great germination. So instead of letting the few plants sprawl around I trimmed them back to force them to branch out and make room for some more seedlings that I've got going in paper pots. The tender parts of the trimmings went into the harvest basket because I've learned that the tops of just about any pea variety are good eating. Those went into a stir fry along with some of the broccolini.

Petite Snap Greens

Another new pea variety that I'm trying is Petite Snap Greens. This pea is grown just for the unique greens. Even the tendrils on this variety are leafy which makes nearly the entire plant edible and very cool looking. You're supposed to be able to get multiple harvests from first the main shoot and then side shoots that grow back. Unfortunately I got poor germination from this bunch also. I think the problem wast that we had a heat wave just after I sowed the seeds. I'm definitely going back to my preferred method of starting peas in paper pots.

Also harvested but not photographed last week were about 3 more pounds of tomatoes, mostly cherry, and a few more stalks of celery, and a few more pods of some dried beans. I've been waiting to show the colorful dried beans that I grew this year. It hasn't been a big harvest but they sure are pretty.

And I'll end with a photo of the rest of the Santo Domingo Rainbow corn that I finished shelling last week.

Santo Domingo Rainbow

The total harvests for the year have passed 900 pounds but it doesn't look like I'll hit the 1000 pound mark this year. You can see more details of the harvests for the year by clicking on the link on my sidebar.

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, November 13, 2017

Harvest Monday - November 13, 2017

This week I'm feeling a little justified in my extraordinary battle with the rodents for my corn. I managed to save all the ears of Santo Domingo Rainbow with damage to the end of only one ear. 

Santo Domingo Rainbow
I stripped the orange and red ears separately from the blue and white ones. The red and yellow mix is particularly beautiful in my opinion. It feels wonderful to run my hands through the bowl of kernels, it makes me feel rich! They are like precious gems. Definitely precious considering the grief and work I went through because of the rodents.

Santo Domingo Rainbow
I lost nearly half of the ears of Hopi Greasy Head. These ripened earlier than the Santo Domingo and of course the rodents figured that out so they chomped through a lot of it before I figured out how to effectively deter them. I think a number of the ears are smaller than they could be because the rodents didn't wait for the corn to mature, they started in early on the silks before the ears were even fully pollinated. At this point I'm just grateful for what I managed to harvest. Will I go through the battles again next year? I'm not sure.

Hopi Greasy Head
This week is Aji Week, at least so far as peppers go. Aji Golden and Aji Angelo were the first to fill the harvest basket. The plants are large and both turned out to be generous producers. That's 1.4 pounds of Aji Golden and 1.8 pounds of Aji Angelo peppers. I was a bit worried about the Aji Angelos earlier in the season, they looked to be larger and a bit more wrinkled than what I remembered in the past.

Aji Golden and Aji Angelo
Looking back to 2013 harvests when I last had a plant growing in a garden bed I can see that the peppers this year are indeed larger than those 2013 peppers. I had a plant in 2014 also but it was growing in a pot and it wasn't happy. But in looking even further back at growing this pepper I think that the plants weren't getting a chance to prove their potential. The last time that I planted Aji Angelo into the garden was in 2009. That was before I had my current big deep planting boxes so the plants were growing in shallow soil and most likely had to compete with oak tree roots for water and nutrients. In subsequent years I grew Aji Angelo in pots which always limits both the size of the plants and the peppers. In 2013 it or a similar pepper volunteered in the garden and the plant produced some pretty nice peppers. But that was before I started using mycorrhizal and bacterial inoculants in the garden. Those inoculants have made a big difference in the health of my pepper plants. The plants are larger with larger leaves and larger peppers. I've never had an Aji Angelo plant grow as big as it has gotten to be this year so I suppose it should be no surprise that the peppers are larger also. The flavor and heat level aren't different from what I remember so I'm pretty sure that these are the real deal.

I made a pepper jam using half Aji Angelos and half Ometepe peppers to make a moderately spicy jam. Most of the rest of the Aji Angelos have been halved and seeded and are fermenting away in a mild unseasoned brine solution. My plan is to let them ferment for a week or two and then dehydrate them and grind them into flakes.

Aji Angelo and Aji Golden
Aji Golden is a new pepper for me this year. You may recall seeing them in Dave's (Our Happy Acres) harvest posts. Last year he offered seeds and I took him up on his offer and I'm so happy that I did. It's is a sweet, fruity, and moderately hot baccatum pepper, really delicious. I haven't put any of them to use yet other than to just sample them. I think that they will make a really delicious pepper jam. 

Baby Aji Amarillo
Baby Aji Amarillo is back for the third year. The first year I grew it the seed producer simply called it Aji Amarillo, but then they started carrying a much larger yellow Aji so they called the new one Aji Amarillo Grande and changed the first pepper to Baby Aji Amarillo. I've been growing both peppers since last year. The Baby version differs quite a bit from the Grande version. The plants and fruits are smaller and the peppers ripen quite a bit earlier and are more mild. The plants that I grew the first two years produced peppers that were almost entirely sweet. But the peppers from the two plants that I started this year have a surprising heat level, only medium hot but significantly hotter than what the previous plants produced so it was a surprise when I first tasted them. I kept the harvests from the 2 plants separate because as you can see one plant had larger peppers than the other and I wanted to see if there was any difference in flavor or heat as well. It turned out that the only differences are the size and that the smaller peppers started ripening earlier. I still have one plant from last year which has produced a nice crop and those peppers turned out to be just as mild and sweet as the peppers it produced last year. It's interesting that the plants started this year from the same packet of seeds turned out to be so much spicier. I used about half of the latest harvest to make a batch of pepper jam and unlike the jams I made in previous years this time I removed the cores and seeds to tame the heat.

There's still a trickle of tomatoes ripening but the trickle is about to turn into a slight drip.

Most of the sweet peppers are done except for a couple of late producers which are holding well in the garden for the moment so I've left them there since I'm still dealing with the peppers that I harvested the week before last.

Cosmic Purple
And one last colorful and new harvest - Cosmic Purple carrots. The only thing that I don't like about these carrots is that the color is only skin deep, if you scrub them the color comes right off. They aren't as sugary sweet as some orange carrots either but that's not a flaw in my opinion, sometimes I just don't want my veggies to be that sweet.

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, November 6, 2017

Harvest Monday - November 6, 2017

Last week I got caught up on the harvests that were left in the garden while I was away the previous week. And as I mentioned before there were still some colorful veggies left to harvest. The Terremoto squash vines were finished off by the heatwave that oppressed the area while I was gone so one of the first things I harvested were the remaining squash. And then the weather swung in a complete opposite direction to cold and wet so it was time to bring these inside to finish curing.

Terremoto Squash

Terremoto Squash
Terremoto squash comes in a variety of colors, some with green patterns on the skin, and I particularly like the green starburst on that one shown above. I cut into one of the squash that I harvested a few weeks ago. It was a large squash, enough to use for more than one meal. The flesh is dense, dark orange, and sweet. The first dish I prepared was a request by my husband Dave, Winter Squash in Agrodolce Sauce, which is traditionally panfried slices of squash that are served in a garlicky sweet and sour sauce that has a hint of cinnamon. I modified my usual preparation by roasting the squash slices in a preheated cast iron skillet which worked quite well for the 2 servings that I cooked up. If I needed to prepare more I would try roasting it on a larger baking sheet or go back to the stovetop method. It was a big hit, as usual, with my eat-in-chief. The second dish I prepared with another quarter of the squash was Farrotto with Roasted Squash and Chanterelles. I was very pleased with how that dish came out. Next in the lineup is a bean and squash medley with some Tarbai beans that I cooked up yesterday. I've got some homemade hominy in the freezer that I've going to add to the mix too.

The first big flush of Ometepe peppers was ready to harvest. These were the last sweet peppers to ripen but were well worth the wait. They are thin fleshed, crisp, and very sweet and I've been enjoying eating them simply sliced up raw or chopped into salads.

Rosso Dolce da Appendere
Rosso Dolce da Appendere is also a late producer so I got to pick a lot of them also.

Shepherd's Ramshorn
The rest of the sweet peppers gave up pretty much the last that they had to offer. That's the final harvest of Shepherd's Ramshorn shown above. Gogosar produced a number of nice peppers also but those plants still have a few more peppers left. The rest of the pepper varieties shown below are basically finished for the year.

Gogosar, Topepo Giallo, Florina, Turkish Sweet
Petite Marseillais, Ajvarski
The seasoning peppers are another story though.

Carribean Seasoning, Habanada
The Habanada plants are covered with ripening peppers. While the Carribean Seasoning plants have some ripe peppers they are far from being covered with them. Those just didn't do well. I guess they need something my garden doesn't offer because they set hardly any peppers. I wish they had done better because they are very aromatic and sweet with just a bit of heat, really very tasty. The Habanadas are sweet Habaneros and are totally devoid of any heat. They have a lingering fruity flavor but are not as aromatic as the Carribean Seasoning and I think they would be improved with a bit of heat. I've been snacking on them raw for lack of anything better to do with them.

There's a lot of Aji peppers ripening in the garden but I've just not yet gotten around to harvesting them. So next week will be Aji Week!

Jaune Flamme, Pantano, Jazz, Marzano Fire
Tomatoes are still trickling in but the short days and cooler weather have really slowed them down. There aren't even very may green fruits left on the vines so I think the harvests will soon be coming to an end.

Sunrise Bumble Bee, Piccolo Dattero,
Green Bee, Purple Bumble Bee, Sweet Gold
Those Piccolo Dattero cherry tomatoes are still pretty productive though, especially considering that it's November! The remaining tomatoes are ripening very slowly but even the half ripe ones are very sweet and tasty.

Back to green things.

Tromba D'Albenga Squash
The Tromba D'Albenga vines are still big and healthy but are only producing an occasional squash. The vines seem to be really resistant to the powdery mildew which took down the Romanesco zucchini weeks ago. The plants also seem to shrug off both cold and hot weather. I think it will take a hard freeze to finally take them down. 

Italian Mountain Basil

Italian Mountain basil is adapted to colder climates so it tends to stick around longer in the fall than Genovese types. It still has some really good leaves even though it is in full bloom.

Batavia Broccoli, Broccolini
The old Batavia broccoli plants are still producing side shoots. I sowed the seeds for some of the plants that I'm currently harvesting from back on November 10, 2016. Those plants are actually more productive than the other plants that I'm harvesting from now that were sowed on April 20 of this year. The new Broccolini (Aspabroc) plants are producing some really beautiful shoots now also.

Speedy Arugula
And Speedy arugula is providing me with all the arugula that I need for now. The see-saw weather doesn't seem to have stressed it out, it just keeps on producing.

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 30, 2017

Harvest Monday - October 30, 2017

This Monday's harvest report is very brief. Last Monday I harvested only what absolutely had to be harvested because it wouldn't keep in the garden until today and that was 3 heads of broccolini from the new plants.


Same Broccolini
Early Tuesday morning Dave and I set off for Santa Catalina Island to backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail and we didn't get back home until Sunday afternoon. The Island was beautiful but the already challenging trail was made even more so by record breaking heat. But we met the challenge and finished our planned 45 mile hike in 4 days. One good thing about the hot weather was that the skies were clear and the views long.

West End Catalina Island
The broccolini kept very well for the week and was still sweet and delicious Sunday evening. The tomatoes that I harvested the Sunday before and showed last Monday also kept really well. Fresh veggies for dinner was a welcome treat after the dehydrated meals that we had on the trail. Those were good because many of them featured veggies from the garden, but nothing beats fresh.

The harvests next week will be more colorful, there's still peppers and a few tomatoes left in the garden.

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 23, 2017

Harvest Monday - October 23, 2017

It was a big week again for sweet peppers but the harvests will slow down quickly because most of the plants have finished producing or are nearly done. It's been a good year with a total harvest of 61 pounds so far, and that's just the sweet peppers.

Ajvarski has become my new favorite roasting pepper. I will definitely be growing lots more of them. The peppers are large and thick fleshed and the flesh stays firm after roasting. There's something about the skin that makes them blacken quickly when I roast them over a charcoal fire and then the blackened skin peels off very easily. The shape of the pepper is also conducive to roasting, the flesh resists forming dents and the stems are not sunk into the top which makes it easier to blacken and peel the flesh around the stem. It's very sweet and has a faintly spicy aroma and rich flavor. The plants are a good size also, about 2 feet tall or more which is a good height for allowing the peppers room to develop without getting squished in the branches but not so large that they are space hogs. It's the closest I've found to the perfect roasting pepper.

Hungarian Magyar and Shepherd's Ramshorn
Shepherd's Ramshorn was my favorite roasting pepper at one time. The plants are compact, prolific, and early producers. The peppers are thick fleshed and sweet. But because the plants are on the short side it means that a number of the peppers get wedged in between the branches which distorts their shape. You can also see that the stems are sunk into the tops of the peppers which makes them harder to roast. So they are a really good pepper but not quite perfect.

I got another nice big flush of Hungarian Magyar peppers. Those are bred to be used for making paprika so I've been dehydrating them but I haven't ground any of them yet.

Rosso Dolce da Appendere
Rosso Dolce da Appendere is an Italian sweet pepper which I've been using as a roasting pepper but it's actually billed as a frying pepper. It's also supposed to be good as a dried pepper. It seems rather large and thick fleshed for a frying pepper but on the other hand it doesn't quite hold up to roasting because the flesh softens a bit too much. There's a fair amount of variability in the shapes and sizes of the peppers as you can see above. Actually, none of the peppers that I've grown even look like the ones on the seed packet. The most significant fault that I find with this variety is that the plants are too tall. The long stems can fold over with the weight of the heavy peppers and the large plants are space hogs. The peppers are good tasting but I'm just not sure that I've figured out the best use for them. Perhaps I'll try drying some of them and see what I think of them that way.
Lady Bell
Lady Bell has been my go to bell pepper for a number of years now. It's a reliable producer of sweet ripe peppers and it is well adapted to my cool coastal climate. I like ripe red bells for eating fresh or cutting into rings to dehydrate or even to roast. It's a nice multi-purpose sweet pepper.

Unnamed Turkish, Violet Sparkle, Gogosar
That's the last of the Violet Sparkle peppers. Some of them had seemingly not developed properly and had some spots that didn't ripen. There's still a number of Gogosar and Turkish peppers ripening so there will be a trickle of those coming in for another week or so. I made another batch of stuffed peppers with some of the Gogosars but used freekeh instead of rice and changed the seasonings. Dave really liked the texture of the freekeh so I'll have to write up the recipe so that I can make it again.

That little Habanada is not representative of what the majority of the peppers look like. I picked just one to taste to see if it was fully ripe. Some of the reviews of this pepper say to not pick them underripe because they have no flavor and some reviewers say they actually taste awful when they're green. And at least one reviewer didn't even like them ripe. These are billed as the first truly heat free Habanero, although there are plenty of sweet Habanero cousins around. It was indeed entirely sweet and had a very fruity flavor that lingered on the palate. I liked it.

Jazz, Pantano, Jaune Flamme
Tomato harvests aren't over yet either. Jazz just started ripening recently, Panto just put out a big flush of ripe peppers, and Jaune Flamme has been producing steadily for weeks now.

Pantano and Jazz

Marzano Fire
Marzano Fire is still putting out a lot of ripe peppers too. I've now got 10 1/2-cup jars of concentrated Marzano Fire tomato paste in the freezer and that doesn't include that bunch of tomatoes above.

Jaune Flamme

Sunrise and Purple Bumble Bee, Green Bee
The Bee cherry tomatoes are still producing a nice moderate stream of fruits. Just enough to keep us snacking.

Sweet Gold and Piccolo Dattero
Sweet Gold is just about finished but Piccolo Dattero is still prolific. I've used a lot of the Sweet Gold and Piccolo Dattero tomatoes to make dried spiced snacking tomatoes.

Tromba D'Albenga
The Tromba vines are still big and healthy but they aren't producing as many squash now. The squash develop much more slowing in the shorter days of fall. In the summer it seemed like the squash could double in size overnight and now it takes a few days.

The two Terremoto squash at the bottom of the photo are cured and ready to either eat or put into storage. The two at the top just came in from the garden yesterday. The gray-green one weighed in at 10.3 pounds and the orange one at 7.6 pounds. I'll weigh the other squash after they've cured for a couple of weeks. There's 3 more smaller squash still on the vines.

Speedy Arugula
I seemed to have gotten my timing right when I sowed the fall arugula. I can harvest a nice basketful of leaves every week or 10 days and they don't seem to be inclined to bolt. There is hot weather that is descending on us for the next few days so I hope that it doesn't push the arugula to bolt. I've been keeping a light shade cover over the plants so perhaps that will help to keep them happy.

Orion Fennel
Second generation fennel bulb! I neglected to pull up a couple of roots of the spring sown fennel when I cleared out the space and they resprouted and produced some nice bulbs. Next year I'll have to remember to leave the roots in place and interplant with a quick green that will be done when the resprouted fennel starts to size up. I accidentally did that this year when I sowed the cleared space with some Ethiopian mustard greens and some baby Tuscan kale.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
Summer sown stick cauliflower definitely produces more shoots than spring sown. I'll have to sow a few more now to see if fall sown plants can be as productive. The stick cauliflower isn't really productive for the space it occupies but it is fairly quick to produce and it is really quite delicious so I'm going to continue working with it to figure out how best to grow it.

Other harvests that I didn't photograph included more Pink Plume celery, a few wonky cucumbers, some baby carrots (thinnings), Petite Marseillais, Florina, and Ethiopian Brown peppers,  and Manoa lettuce.

In general it's turning out to be a good year in the garden even though there were some things that I usually grow that I didn't get around to sowing or getting into the garden. The annual tally so far has exceeded 800 pounds (the total shown on the side bar doesn't include the Terremoto squash) so it seems likely that I'll get close to 1000 pounds for the year which has been the average total for the past 5 or 6 years.

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 16, 2017

Harvest Monday - October 16, 2017

It's mid-October and the last varieties of tomato and sweet pepper to ripen have finally joined the party in the harvest basket. I thought for a while that the Jazz tomato plant hadn't even set any tomatoes but it was when I was in the process of whacking the vines down because of their failure to produce that I discovered some very green tomatoes lurking in the tangle of greenery so I stopped whacking and waited to see if they would amount to anything. I'm glad I waited because that first tomato turned out to be very tasty. Ometepe set plenty of peppers but they really take their good old sweet time ripening. Again, it's been worth the wait. The peppers have a medium thick flesh that is very sweet. Ometepe peppers are a good size too, about as large as a small bell pepper.

Jazz Tomato and Ometepe Pepper
Another first glimpse...

Hopi Greasy Head Corn
Taos Red Beans
That's about half the ears of Hopi Greasy Head flour corn that I rescued from the rodents. The Taos Red beans have colorful pods as well as beans. You'll get to see the shelled dry beans later.

Mareko Fana
The two year old Mareko Fana plant has produce more peppers this year than last year. It will be more than enough to restock my supply of pepper flakes.

Baby Aji Amarillo
The two year old Baby Aji Amarillo plant produced enough peppers to make a batch of pepper jam, which I haven't gotten around to making yet.

Unnamed Turkish Sweet
The Turkish pepper has some very nice specimens ripening now. Growing the plant in a cage made for a lot of wonky shaped peppers so I'm looking forward to growing them again next year and giving them room to spread their branches out so that the peppers are more straight. I'll have more than enough seeds to be able to grow this pepper again in years to come.

Florina, Petite Marseillais, Topeop Giallo,
Gogosar, Rosso Dolce da Appendere
For the latest harvest of sweet peppers I had no time to photograph each variety by itself so here's a group shot.

Marzano Fire
Marzano Fire has totally exceeded my expectations. The plant started off quite spindly and seemed rather week and it never did get to be a large plant, but it is producing a lot of really nice tomatoes. I plan on turning these into more tomato paste.

Pantano is another favorite. It's a basic red beefsteak from Italy that is well adapted to my climate.

Jaune Flamme
Good old Jaune Flamme starts early and keeps on going...

Sweet Gold, Sunrise & Purple Bumble Bee,
Green Bee, Piccolo Dattero
The Sweet Gold cherry tomato plant is petering out, which is a surprise because it usually produces prolifically through the fall. The Bee cherry tomatoes haven't been prolific but it's been nice to have a variety of colors and actually it's kinda nice to not be overwhelmed with a glut. On the other hand I'm really happy to have a glut of Piccolo Dattero tomatoes since they are my favorite. I love this one so much that I'm growing 2 plants instead of the usual 1 apiece because I didn't get enough last year.

Pink Plume Celery and Green Fingers Cucumber
The celery is finally large enough that I can cut stalks on a regular basis. There's a few cucumbers still trickling in too but not for long, the plants are looking pretty tired.

Tromba D'Albenga
Tromba D'Albenga is a reliable producer through the fall. The plants don't produce a lot of squash but I'm getting 2 or 3 nice ones every week which is plenty.

Rice Stuffed Peppers Turkish Style
This dish was too pretty to not attempt to take a photo of it. It's based on a Turkish recipe from the book Eat Istanbul (thanks Jane for inspiring me to buy the book). The recipe called for green bell peppers which I hate so I used some Gogosar and Topepo Giallo peppers instead.

Other harvests this week included a few heads of Manoa lettuce and more side shoots of Batavia broccoli. I also didn't get around to photographing the latest harvests of Ethiopian Brown, Shepherd's Ramshorn, and Lady Bell peppers. The birds have been pecking at the Shepherd's Ramshorn and Lady Bell peppers which is why I didn't photograph them.

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.