Monday, June 28, 2010

Harvest Monday - June 28 2010

Harvest Monday is here again. It's the end of June and I still don't have any "summer" veggies to harvest. The big item last week was a couple of Devoy beets. One of them had the most beautiful stems I've seen on a beet, a mix of magenta and orange. That beet had orangey-red flesh, the other one deep pink-red flesh. I roasted them, along with a golden beet that I had harvested previously, sliced them and made an arranged salad. It was very pretty with the three different colors. I used a recipe from a Greek cookbook Vefa's Kitchen.  The salad had a topping made from thick rich Greek yogurt that was seasoned with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and garlic fresh from the garden, the whole topped with chopped walnuts. It was delicious.

I have been waiting for these beets to size up and what I didn't realize was that they were sending down rather long tap roots. They got to be a bit over sized but were still flavorful and sweet. They did have a little bit of pithiness but it wasn't noticeable when they were roasted and thinly sliced. I saved the greens and I'm going to make my favorite beet green galette with them. The 2 beets together came in at 7 lb 9 oz including roots, stems, and leaves. Without the tops the roots weighed 2 lb 5 oz and I got 2 lb of trimmed greens.

The rest of the harvests were pretty much more of the same, here they are:

Devoy beets, untrimmed - 7 lb, 9 oz
Piracicaba broccoli - 7.75 oz
Capers - 4 oz
Chamomile - 1.25 oz
Dried fava beans - 2 lb, 2 oz
Garlic - 2.75 oz
Seascape strawberries - 1 lb, 9 oz

Total for the week - 12 lb, 7.75 oz
Total for the year - 245 lb, 14.25 oz
12 eggs last week

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to ogle lots more harvests.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Big News in the Tomato Patch!

I've been watching you . . .

May 3

May 28

June 18

June 24

Do you see what I see? Could it be? That tomato isn't as green as it used to be. The photo doesn't really show it very well, but that tomato is definitely starting to ripen! A ripe tomato in July will be a first since I moved to this area. It sure beats picking the first tomatoes at the end of August or beginning of September.

That tomato is Gigantesque, a cool weather adapted variety from Ukraine. It was the first tomato to set this year. This variety ripens to an orangey-red on the outside with deep pink dense nearly seedless flesh. Here's a photo from October 12 last year of 17 pounds of Gigantesque tomatoes, the peak of the harvest,  all from one plant.

Last year I posted my first photo of a ripening tomato (Black Sea Man) on August 7 . That post also shows the first Gigantesque tomato sizing up but nowhere near starting to ripen. Black Sea Man was early, prolific, and healthy, but I found its flavor to be disappointing. Gigantesque was a bit later to set, but still early, prolific, and healthy, and it was delicious.

So, I've got good homemade bread, lettuce from the garden, applewood smoked bacon, and . . .

Monday, June 21, 2010

Harvest Monday - June 21, 2010

The harvests of fresh vegetables are slowing down a bit at the moment as the garden transitions from spring to summer vegetables. The biggest item on the list is the dried fava beans. I've been doing a little reading about the uses of dried favas and am looking forward to experimenting with them. Dried favas can substituted for chickpeas to make hummus or felafel. I've seen recipes for simple purees and snacks made from soaked and fried beans. Soup is also a good use for the dried beans. And I'm sure there's much more. One thing I'm curious about is how the purple beans are going to turn out after soaking. Most of the recipes I've seen for large dried beans like these call for peeling them after soaking so I'm wondering if the beans inside will pick up some of the color, I'll find out.

The strawberries have been coming in at a nice steady pace, about 1 1/3 pounds a week for the last three weeks. And I finally tasted the first Mara des Bois! I picked 2 berries yesterday and shared them with my husband. It's a little difficult to judge based on tasting only one petite berry. Compared to the Seascape berries I found it to be less acidic and more tender. It didn't have as much aroma as a wild strawberry, something the literature about them claims, but it had a certain "strawberryness" that most commerically grown berries certainly lack. I wasn't disappointed and I'm really looking forward to tasting more.

Here's the harvest totals for the week:

Piracicaba broccoli - 5.25 oz
Capers - 8.5 oz
Chamomile - 1 oz
Golden Chard (first from new plants) - 1 lb 7 oz
Dried Favas - 2 lb 13 oz
Noga Romaine lettuce (the last head) - 9.75 oz
Snow Peas (final harvest) - 3.75 oz
Strawberries - 1 lb 5.5 oz

Total for the week - 7 lb 5.75 oz
Total for the year - 240 lb 4.75 oz
13 eggs this week

If you've got a harvest to show off or if you just want to ogle what other garden bloggers are harvesting head on over to Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Garden Tour on June 18, 2010

A lot has changed in the garden since the last tour. Most of the spring vegetables are finished and the summer ones are in various stages of growth.

Let's start with the best looking bed, tomatoes and peppers. Most of the tomato plants are reaching for the tops of their cages. The plant here at the end of the row is Katja, a cool weather adapted variety originally from Sludjanka on the shores of lake Bajkal in Siberia.

Katja has been setting a lot of tomatoes, she started setting fruit just a little bit later than than the other cool weather tomato that I'm growing...

Gigantesque is originally from Ukraine. The tomato shown below was the very first one that I saw this year and it's easily at least 4 inches across already.

There's more to be seen on the other side of the plant. I grew this variety last year and it was the best of the bunch. It wasn't the earliest, Black Sea Man was the earliest but its flavor couldn't hold a candle to the flavor of Gigantesque.

Here's another new tomato in the garden this year, Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, a green cherry tomato that was selected from Aunt Ruby's German Green beefsteak tomatoes. I hope this turns out to be green, the variety is not fully stabilized yet and some turn out to be red.

Here's a glimpse of a few pepper plants. These are the Pimento de Padrons and Poblanos.

In the next bed is the remaining Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage, about half the size of the first cabbage that I harvested (you can see the stump of that plant to the right).

The new Golden Chard plants are doing well and could produce from now until next spring. To the rear and right of the chard is the piracicaba broccoli looking a bit scraggly but still producing a few shoots. I may start a few more plants to produce a harvest this fall and perhaps next winter.

Next to the chard are a few Diamante celery root plants. This year's plants are already doing better than last year's. I was more diligent about thinning the plants early on and have made sure that they are getting enough water. They look like they are already starting to get some plump but still small roots. In the rear you can see the one and only Gigante kohlrabi that I've allowed to grow, it's the brassica with the pale green leaves. And there still a few Pimento de Padron plants back there from last year that I'm giving a chance to produce something, maybe . . .

Next are the remaining beets from my winter sowing, these are Devoy. These took a long time to mature and are now finally ready to harvest, I shouldn't wait much longer. There's a volunteer orach plant to the left. In the back are some new lettuce plants that I'm keeping shaded.

There they are, more Butterhead, and Noga and Cimarron romaines.

The poppies are just about done blooming and the seed pods are getting fat.

The beans are finally growing! There's one trellis with Garafal Oro romano beans, that's the one in front. Then there's three trellises with Petaluma Gold Rush beans, an dry bean from California. And at the far end is one trellis with Turkey Craw beans. I got the Turkey Craw beans in a trade, they are an heirloom from Appalachia and are supposed to be good as both a snap and a shelly bean. Turkey Craw beans are also used to make "leather britches", an old way of preserving the bean harvest where the mature but still green beans are threaded on strings to dry until they are leathery. The dried beans are cooked by simmering them in water with a smoked ham hock or piece of bacon until they are tender.

This bed also has Suyo Long Chinese cucumbers starting at the base of the black tower. Beyond the cucumbers are Da Fiori Zucchini, a variety that is supposed to produce more male blossoms, the best for stuffing.

The final bed is looking like a full on disaster area now.  Most of the garlic has been harvested. There's a few Sicilian Silver plants left that I'm not sure I'm going to have the patience to leave there much longer, the dang things just don't want to make a decent size head of garlic. The Portuguese Dairyman's Kale is sprawling all over the place and is slow slow slow to produce dry seed pods. And off to the far left you can see the powdery mildew blasted foliage of the purple snap peas which I hope will hang in there long enough to produce some viable seeds.

Some kale seed pods are finally starting to dry . . .

I made room in this bed to plant the eggplant.

I'm growing 2 varieties of eggplant this year. One that did really well for me last year was Diamante.  It was productive, tender, tasty and slow to be infested by spider mites or affected by powdery mildew.

The other eggplant is a new variety for me, Malaysian Dark Red, a long actually purplish Asian type.

Outside the gate, remember the mutant squash? The poor thing isn't doing all that well and it's not because the deer got to it.

Here's the culprit caught in a cinch trap.

Dang it, the plant had finally set one squash and now it has hardly any roots left. I can't tell what it might have turned out to be. Danged gophers . . .

And one last stop at the Strawberry bed. The Seascape plants seem to be happy. The 12 plants have been producing about a pound or so of berries a week.

The Mara des Bois plants that started in this bed are setting berries and the first one is ready to pick.

The Mara des Bois plants that were moved from the Rat Depredation Area are still on life support.

That's it for the latest tour. See ya next time!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Harvest Monday - June 14, 2010

Harvest Monday is here again. Sometimes it seems like I wouldn't get around to blogging if I didn't have a harvest to show off every week . . .

This week the camera is being hogged by a head of red cabbage that is certainly living up to its name, Mammoth Red Rock. Here it is straight from the garden lounging on a nice comfy chair waiting for its chance at fame and feasting.

All trimmed and ready for prime time, it came in at 6 pounds 2 ounces. It's a . . . . cabbage! And soon to be cole slaw and I don't know what else. Six pounds of cabbage is enough to feed two people for at least a week or so and then some. Thanks for the seeds Pam. :-)

The rest of the harvest was mostly more of the usual with the addition with my first harvest of a few chamomile blossoms.

The snap and snow peas are putting out one last big effort. They will be done soon, the arrival of warm weather and the steady advancement of powdery mildew is bringing that harvest to an end.

The caper harvest has really taken off with the warm weather. My potted plants are showing their appreciation of their winter repotting and trimming. The plants growing atop the wall seem to be happier than ever, in spite of the lack of a trim this winter. Last year I picked capers once a week every week from May 20 through August 5. This year my first small harvest was on May 10 and then once a week through the end of May. The last couple of weeks have found me with snippers in hand every 2 to 4 days. Each harvest is still pretty small, from about 1 1/2 ounces to 3 1/4 ounces, but all those little harvests add up, so far I've picked 12 1/2 ounces this year. Last year I picked 1 pound 4 3/4 ounces for the entire season.

The Seascape strawberry plants have been putting out a nice harvest for the last couple of weeks. I'm still waiting for the Mara des Bois plants to produce, but there are small berries that have set. Most of the transplanted Maras have survived, but they are not exactly bursting forth into new growth.

Here's the harvest totals for the past week:

Piracicaba broccoli - 3.75 oz
Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage - 6 lb, 2 oz
Capers - 6.75 oz
Chamomile blossoms - .25 oz
Sugar Magnolia Purple Snap Peas - 1 lb, 8 oz
Snow Peas - 1 lb
Strawberries - 1 lb, 6 oz

Total for the week - 10 lb, 10.75 oz
Total for the year - 232 lb, 15 oz

12 eggs last week

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday, and get a dose of gardening inspiration from the abundance being harvested by garden bloggers around the world. Show us what you've been harvesting lately!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Harvest Monday - June 7, 2010

I harvested the first snow peas this week. That's the first handful shown above, it's 2 varieties, Green Beauty and Yellow Giant. The Yellow Giant peas are the 3 smallest peas on the bottom. I'm not sure how this variety got its name, neither the peas nor the plants are yellow and they certainly aren't giant either, growing to about half the height of the Green Beautys.

We're finally getting summer-like weather which accelerated the pea harvest. I picked the 3 ounces shown above and then 4 days later another 11 ounces. The purple snap peas also started coming in quickly, barely keeping ahead of the spread of powdery mildew in the plants. I harvested enough of the snap peas to make a quart of pickles. You can see what an amazing color the pickling solution picked up from the peas.

I suspect that all the color will be pulled out of the peas by the time they are ready to eat. We'll see 30 days from now. I've found that the best way to retain the color in the cooked peas is to simply steam them.

The hard neck garlic was ready to harvest and I dug them up on Saturday. The rest of the varieties need more time. I haven't weighed the garlic yet since it still has the stems attached, but when it is cured and trimmed I'll add them to the harvest totals. Anyway, I pulled about 50 heads . . .

The only other "new" item was the first Devoy beet which I didn't take a photo of. The greens were used to make a savory galette yesterday and I roasted the root to use in a salad later this week. The color of the stems and root is an deep intense pink, not as red as a typical red beet but close, it's very pretty.

Oh, I forgot, I harvested a couple of Gigante kohlrabi that were taking up valuable space. I couldn't wait for them to size up anymore so out them came and in went the eggplant which had been sitting in the wings in 1 gallon pots.

Here's the totals for this week:

Devoy Beet - 1 lb, 8 oz (includes greens)
Piracicaba Broccoli - 14.75 oz
Capers - 2.75 oz
Gigante Kohlrabi - 14.25 oz
Sugar Magnolia Purple Snap Peas - 2 lb
Mixed Snow Peas - 14.25 oz
Romanesco Natalino - 1 lb, 7 oz
Strawberries - 1 lb, 8.75 oz

Total for the week - 9 lb, 9 oz
Total for the year - 222 lb, 4.25 oz
14 eggs this week

If you would like to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting head on over to Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rats, I Give Up

I throw in the trowel.

I Raise the white flag.


Your Win, you dirty little rat.


There's only one strawberry plant that the rat(s) didn't eat last night.

Look at this ridiculous mess. Gnawed strawberry plants in a sea of cat deterring detritus. I already lost one plant because one of boys peed directly on it and fried it to a crisp. Then the rats started in on them and I started cover the plants with my handy water bottle cloches. They were starting to grow back and then last night I was out having a nice evening in town, came home late, forgot to cover the plants, and this is what I found this morning.


 This poor little plant was just starting to recover form the first rat attack. *SIGH*

This was not meant to be a strawberry patch . . .

I'm going to try to move the plants to the other strawberry bed where I just cleared out some more space yesterday. I hope they have enough life left in them to survive the move.

Wish me better luck there.

In the mean time, more rat traps.