Monday, August 27, 2012

Harvest Monday - August 27, 2012

August 27, already! When the heck is summer going to start around here, or is it going to skip us this year, again. It was 44ºF when I got up this morning. The "heat wave" last week, or was it the week before, brought a sizzling high of 87ºF one afternoon. The tomatoes are pouting, just sitting there loaded, somewhat loaded, with green rocks, reluctantly offering an occasional treat, waiting like the rest of us for the heat to start. At least the rest of the vegetables, with the notable exception of the edamame soy beans are ignoring the coolness and pumping out the produce.

Here is the star performer, really an over performer, I can't go into the garden without looking at the vines and thinking, sheesh, I need to pick beans again. Here's the latest basketful of Neckarkönigin green beans. This looks like quite a few, but wait...

It looks HUGE in profile. It's hard to get the proper perspective on these, each bean is 8- to 10-inches long. That basketful is 2 ounces shy of 9 pounds from one harvest. And I harvested over 3 pounds 2 days before. The vines pumped out over 16 pounds of beans in 12 days, and I should have harvested more yesterday but didn't get around to it. This variety of bean seems to have a rather short and intense harvest period. If I grow them again I will have to succession sow a series of smaller plantings since I really don't want to have to deal with piles of produce that need to be preserved. I like to have a little bit in the freezer to add to winter soups, but this is ridiculous. They are a very tasty bean, I guess I shouldn't be complaining about over production. The vines are also very healthy looking, they have escaped the usual scourge of spider mites so far, so perhaps the vines will be able to bloom and set a second crop.

The cucumber vines are happily producing a steady stream of fruits. The plants are staying healthy so far, it really helps that both varieties are resistant to powdery mildew.

Zucchini, zucchini, I forgot to weigh one harvest of zucchini last week so the numbers look down, but they most decidedly are not. The oldest leaves on the zucchini plants are getting powdery mildew and rather than trying to treat the mildew I just cut off the leaves before the infection gets too bad. That seems to help to keep the infection from spreading too quickly and the plants are vigorous enough otherwise so they don't seem to be set back by the loss of the older leaves. Removing the big old leaves is probably actually helping to prevent the infection from getting worse since it helps to increase air circulation around the plants. And there was also a last little trickle of Apollo broccoli which isn't in the harvest totals because this basket of produce got photographed but not weighed. I managed to accumulate enough broccoli to make another overstuffed 10 egg frittata.

And here is the first "bounty" of tomatoes. Mostly Fiaschetto, a few Sunshine Cherry, 2 tiny little Wheatly's Frost Resistant Cherry, one Rosabec, and one Nyagous. I harvested one little Jaune Flamme yesterday which did not get photographed. The Rosabec seems to be susceptible to blossom end rot, the first 5 tomatoes to show color all had it, and I keep finding more, how disappointing.

I started harvesting the first dried pods of the Gigante beans. These will be included in the harvest totals when the beans are fully dried.

And I can't believe that I didn't get around to photographing the pile of Pimento de Padron peppers that started to come out of the garden last week! Oh have they been good. I'm so happy that the ailment that is stunting the leaves on the pepper plants is not affecting the quality of the peppers, it looks like it will be a good season for the Padrons. I'm still withholding judgement on the rest of the pepper crop.

Here's the harvest totals for the past week (what I remembered to weigh):

Neckarkönigin beans - 12 lb., 2.5 oz.
Green Fingers Persian cucumbers - 1 lb., 14.9 oz.
Tasty Green Japanese cucumbers - 3 lb., 1 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 14.9 oz.
Fiaschetto tomatoes - 2 lb., 4.8 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomato - 1.3 oz.
Nyagous tomato - 2.2 oz.
Rosabec tomato - 4.2 oz.
Sunshine Cherry tomatoes - 4.4 oz.
Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomatoes - .2 oz.
Da Fiore zucchini - 12.8 oz.

The total harvests last week came to - 21 lb., 15.2 oz.
Which brings the totals harvests for the year up to - 131 lb., 6.9 oz.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harvest Monday - August 20, 2012

The weather warmed up a bit in the past week, we had a high temperature of about 87°F one day and then the rest of the time the highs ranged between there and about 70°. The low temperatures stayed at 50°F or above until last night when it slipped down to 49°F. For the most part the vegetable garden has responded by pumping out the produce.

The Neckarkönigin beans starting coming in and I've been harvesting some nearly every other day. These are a large bean, somewhat flattened, very meaty and beany flavored. They cook up tender even when the beans start getting oversized.

The Pimento de Padrons are starting to produce.

And the zucchini and cucumber plants keep producing a few fruits every couple of days.

More zucchini and cucumbers. The small Green Fingers Persian cucumbers have turned out to be good to take on a hike for a refreshing snack.

Finally! The first tomatoes were ready to harvest. And the Apollo broccoli plants keep pushing out a few more little shoots, every time I think there's nothing left to harvest I see another few shoots coming on so I've not pulled the plants out yet.

These tomatoes are Fiaschetto, an Italian plum variety from Puglia, and Jaune Flamme, an heirloom from France. Not photographed were the first Sunshine cherry tomatoes and the first Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomato.

More cucumbers, zucchini, Padrons, and broccoli.

I continue to harvest green coriander seeds to dry, these won't be included in the harvest totals until they are dry.

Here's a batch of Pimento de Padrons ready to devour. These peppers are best when harvested very young, no larger than my thumb and preferably smaller, the larger they get the more likely they are to be spicy. I pan fry them in a generous amount of olive oil, sometimes with a smashed garlic clove thrown in, then they are served hot with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. You eat everything but the stem.

Last night I made a quick saute of green beans, zucchini, sweet corn, onion and pancetta, seasoned with cumin and cilantro. I topped each portion with a couple of eggs cooked over easy and sprinkled with sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton). It was somewhat like a vegetable hash topped with eggs. Delicious! Another night I sauteed some of the green beans with shredded duck confit and tossed in some chunks of tomato at the end just to heat them through. That was very good also. (What's not good with either pancetta or duck confit?) And another night I used part of the bounty of beans by braising them with butter and added tomatoes and basil when they were tender. Those were served with some Sand Dabs that I panfried in butter and served with a pan sauce of pine nuts, capers, and lemon juice.

I harvested enough capers this week to put my total harvest just a nudge over 3 pounds. That's a full pound more than I was able to harvest last year which was one of the coolest summers in years. Three pounds is enough to get me through the next year so I'm going to let the plants bloom and set berries so that I can save some seeds and perhaps preserve a few caper berries as well.

Here's the harvest totals for the past week:

Neckarkönigin green beans - 4 lb., 2.4 oz.
Apollo broccoli - 5.3 oz.
Capers - 1.6 oz.
Green Fingers Persian cucumbers - 1 lb., 10 oz.
Tasty Green Japanese cucumbers - 1 lb., 5.2 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 1 lb., 1.5 oz.
Fiaschetto tomatoes - 7.1 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomato - .8 oz.
Sunshine cherry tomatoes - 3.2 oz.
Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomato - .2 oz. (yes, only one, but it counts!)
Da Fiore zucchini - 2 lb., 10.4 oz.

The total harvests for the week came to - 11 lb., 15.7 oz
Which brings the yearly total to - 109 lb., 7.7 oz. (I finally broke 100!)

My harvests this year are far below what they were last year (which was a down year because of cold weather and rats), but that's because I was rebuilding the garden beds over the course of the spring and even now I've not yet had the last bed rebuilt which will keep the autumn totals down because I don't have space to grow winter squash, cabbages, and beets. I had zero harvests in March and April and only caper harvests in May. The garden started producing again in June for a total of 14 pounds of produce that month. July I harvested almost 34 pounds and the harvests for August are up to 26 pounds so far. Next year I'm looking forward to a full year with the four big beds in full production, weather and rats permitting.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Garden in August 2012

There are a lot of photos in this post, not all of them all that interesting for you but informative for me in years to come. This post has been in the making for a week or two so there are photos taken on a couple of dates. I try to do a "tour" of the garden each month but didn't manage to do one in July, tsk tsk. Anyway, let's see what's going on in August this year.

Looking down on the two most productive beds this summer, the indeterminate tomatoes are overtopping their towers on the left. In the next bed over, the Neckarkönigin green beans and the Gigante runner beans have raced up and over the tops of their trellises and are in full production.

Finally, there's a color other than green in the tomato patch!


Sunshine Cherry

The Sweetie Baby romaine lettuces have all bolted, this photo was taken last week, now there's only a couple of heads left that I've not given to the chickens. The overturned nursery flats show where I tried to get more lettuce seedlings started, but most of them died, some in the beaks of birds and the rest under the suffocating heat of the row cover that I draped over them for protection from the birds... Ah well, the next generation of seedlings await. I'm letting them size up in containers in a more protected spot before I plant them out. The Parade scallions are still marching along the edge of the bed, they are getting to be a bit big but are still delicious and not yet showing signs of bolting. I am trying to use them up though.

Further down that bed is the burgeoning Lark's Tongue Kale, that's just 3 plants. It's been trimmed up quite a bit since this photo.

Lark's Tongue Kale

Here's one of the last shoots of Apollo broccoli which I harvested yesterday. The plants are trying to push out a few more small shoots and a couple of the plants are trying to push new shoots up from the roots. I've learned that it is best to just take the plants out and start afresh with new seedlings, the tiny shoots on the old plants never amount to very much. I've got some new plants all set to go now.

Apollo Broccoli

The birds weren't just dining on tender little lettuce seedlings, they also found the mature broccoli leaves to be tasty, as well as cilantro seedlings, cucumber leaves, and bean leaves. I tried hanging a few old CD's around the garden, but the strings didn't hold up and most of them fell to the ground. But I noticed that they really flash quite a bit just sitting on ground so I left them laying around some of the more sensitive seedlings. Then I remembered that I had a roll of Mylar flash tape sitting around so I hung strips of that along the fence all around the garden and on poles near the plants that the birds were pecking at. The birds really don't like the flashing light from the tape and I suspect that they don't like the sound that it makes as the breeze whips it around. So the birds are staying out of the garden for now, but something else has been nibbling at low growing plants, either rats or voles.

The bean row seen end on.

The Neckarkönigin beans have engulfed the pole that I strung some flash tape on.

There's a lot of beans hiding in the foliage.

The cucumber tower. Some of the vines are tied to the tower and others are allowed to trail over the edge of the bed.

Da Fiore zucchini, which is supposed to produce more male flowers but I haven't really noticed much of a difference from other zucchini varieties. That's ok, the zucchini is very tasty.

I've been struggling to get some edamame soy beans to grow. First I tried starting them in paper pots. I got great germination which was probably helped by putting the flat on a heat mat, but I let the plants grow in their pots too long so they resented being planted out and most of them died. Then I tried presoaking some beans and direct sowed them, but most of the seeds rotted. Then I made one more attempt to just push a LOT of seeds directly into the soil and some of them have germinated. I'm not sure that there are enough plants coming along to make it worthwhile to let them grow on. This is the quickest maturing variety that I could find seeds for. I knew that I would have to sow them relatively late to have them mature when we get our warmest weather in September and October, but they just don't seem to like getting a cool start. This July and even now in August we have had very cool nights with the temperature often dropping into the high 40ºF's and I suspect that the edamame just don't like that.

On the left in the photo below is a new planting of bush beans (the resentful edamame is on the right). This bunch is Fagioli del Purgatorio, a very small dried white bean that is great for making salads. The name comes from the custom of eating these beans for a "Purgatorial" lunch during Lent. I like to eat them any time I can get them. I hope we get our typical long warm autumn (summer, coastal California style) so that these beans can mature and dry properly on the plants. You can also see just a peek of the new patch of Rolande filet beans growing just beyond the Purgatory beans.

Ah ha! The first Gigante runner beans are starting to dry. I can't wait to try these stewed in the typical Greek fashion.

Here's the view of the pepper/eggplant bed. The large fruited peppers are growing under the row cover.

The eggplant patch is in the back on the left and there's a patch of Profumo di Genova basil in front on the left.

The pepper plants all have runty stunty little leaves (likely from some strain of cucumber mosaic virus) but they are blooming profusely and setting normal fruits.

The problem with the runty stunty leaves is that they don't provide any protection for the large fruited peppers which were getting sunburned. The row cover should help to prevent the sunburn and it may also help to keep the peppers a tad bit warmer at night which can't hurt.

This is one of the few large fruits that wasn't getting sunburned.

Shephard's Ramshorn

The small fruited peppers are less exposed so I've not covered them up. These are all sweet peppers.

Jimmy Nardello's


Sigaretta Dolce

The eggplants are growing well, blooming and setting numerous fruits. Many of them should be ready to harvest in the next week or so.




The Manzano chile plant is sprawling all over the place.

It's growing in a pot in a corner where it gets a lot of reflected heat and it doesn't seem to like that. It always starts to show signs of stress at this time of year, but it's loaded with peppers which are starting to ripen.

This is another potted chile plant that is suffering from runty stunty disease, but it is actually producing a surprising number of good looking pods. I don't remember what variety it is and the tag got lost. This plant is going on three years old and it's the first time it has produced more than one pepper!

To end the tour, here's a shot of a rather chewed upon "red" California poppy, actually a reddish-orange version. I would love to see this poppy volunteering around garden, but I suspect that the offspring will revert to the normal orange version, that's ok, I love those too.