Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Garden in September 2012

September is fast coming to an end and I've not yet done a tour of the garden for the month. So here it is. I've been taking photos occasionally through the month so this tour covers a bit of time. We start in the bean patch back on the 19th.

In the foreground are the Early Hakucho edamame soy beans that I sowed between July 7 and 24. They were so incredibly fussy and prone to rotting in the soil and slow growing that I nearly ripped the surviving plants out. They have surprised me by actually setting some beans, at least the few surviving plants from the first sowing. The later sown plants are much smaller and just starting to bloom. The flowers on the soy bean plants are so inconspicuous that I didn't even notice the plants had bloomed until I saw the first small beans. The beans are filling out sooo slowly that I'm not sure that I will actually get to harvest anything worth eating. I'm not sure that I'll be experimenting with edamame again, but on the other hand, it has been a cooler than usual summer and fall and I do love edamame and can't find any to buy that aren't imported from China. So, there's always next year.

The Fagiolo del Purgatorio beans growing under the row cover (protection from munching rodents) underwent a sudden growth spurt and were starting to bust out of their tunnel.

About a week later, on the 25th, the plants were still growing like crazy and it was obvious that the tunnel was going to be too small.

I was concerned about exposing the plants to the full force of the (intermittent) sun after spending their lives under cover so I rigged up a roomier tunnel using rebar stakes and some old holey polyethylene 5/8-inch drip tubing. I'm not as worried about the rodents now, they like munching on the seedlings but not the mature plants and I'll just have to take my chances on them eating or not eating the young beans. I'm not very confident about getting a crop of dried beans from these plants this year, it's shaping up to be a much cooler than usual fall around here. We typically have our warmest and sunniest weather from September through October and sometimes into November, but the coastal fog has been quite persistent this year and we've had cold foggy nights and cool breezy days. At least the plants are blooming and setting beans now. Perhaps the tunnel will help to get them through the rest of the season and I can add some plastic sheeting if the weather threatens to become wet.

Next to the Purgatory beans is the second planting of Rolande filet beans that I started on June 29 and July 10. These shots were taken this morning. The plants are pretty small for having been sown about 3 months ago. The summer planting has not been at all as vigorous as the spring planting. But in spite of being quite spindly the plants are producing some good beans, although there probably won't be much more after this bunch. The spring planting produced almost 11 pounds of beans from June 14 through July 27, much more than I expected, and the summer planting is going to produce much less than I expected.  The garden is always doing the unexpected...

The zucchini plants are  occupying the space next to the filet beans. The photo above is on the 19th and the one below was taken this morning. You can see the powdery mildew on the leaves in the shot below and you can probably see that I've cut off many leaves as they've become totally infected. Last week I sprayed the plants with an organic fungicide called Actinovate (more effective and much less unsightly and smelly as milk) because the PM was starting to infect the new growth so quickly that before long I would have had to cut off so many infected leaves that the plants would have been defoliated. The newest leaves are holding up fairly well now and the plants continue to pump out the zucchinis.

Below is the cucumber tower on the 19th. The cucumbers have also become infected with powdery mildew but I treated them with Actinovate also and the newest growth is looking ok. The Persian cucumbers seem to have stopped blooming and I haven't seen any new flowers or small cucumber on them lately. The Tasty Green Japanese cucumbers keep producing a few cucumbers and I saw blossoms and a few baby cukes on the plants this morning.

Senescence is the word that comes to mind when I look at the Gigante runner beans. I've been really pleased with how these beans performed. I haven't weighed any of my harvests yet, but I have filled almost 3 quart jars with dried beans so far and there are still pods drying on the plants.

Below is the view of half the vegetable garden this morning. You can see the pea soup fog hanging low and obscuring the view of the valley. This is what we've been waking up to nearly every morning and what has been obscuring the setting sun most evenings. I'm really getting tired of it - June Gloom in September (July and August too), bleah!

I'm glad I thought to put the determinate Rosabec tomato plant at the end of the row, it really is a shorty next to those Amish Paste. The Rosabec has been quite productive but only has a few green fruits left on the vine. The Amish Paste is just starting to produce ripe tomatoes and is loaded with green and ripening fruits. It is doing quite well in spite of the cool weather and it did quite well in the colder than usual weather last year as well. The tomatoes are big, meaty, and full flavored. They make a fantastic sauce and can be reduced to an excellent paste. This variety seems to be a winner for me and I think it may become THE paste tomato in my garden. It really surprises me that an Amish variety that I would normally associate with hot summers (like Brandywines that do not grow well here) has done so well in my cool climate garden. I've been collecting seeds as I've been processing the tomatoes this week.

The photo above shows the Martian Giant plant on the left and the Nyagous plant on the right. Martian Giant is a big beefsteak type that is the last to produce a ripe tomato in this year's tomato lineup. I harvested the first tomato this past Sunday but haven't tasted it yet - tonight is the night. The Nyagous plant seems to be afflicted by one of the many diseases that can affect tomato plants, but it continues to grow and produce and the tomatoes are delicious. Shown below are the Fiaschetto plum tomatoes. These are a prolific determinate variety. These plants also seem to be infected with something that is knocking back the foliage but which is not affecting the quality of the fruits. I think that the dying foliage could actually be beneficial in my cool climate. The fruits are getting more sun and I believe that struggling plants put more energy into their fruits. Anyway, I've been drying most of the crop because these make excellent dried tomatoes (more on this in a later post). I also canned 8 pints of these the other day.

The tomatoes occupy half of this bed, the other half is devoted to mostly brassicas and lettuce and a row of now jumbo scallions.

Above you can see this year's second planting of Apollo broccoli and beyond the broccoli are some Sweetie Baby romaine lettuces. Below is the spot where the first planting of Apollo broccoli has been replaced with some seedlings of Dorato d'Asti celery and I've also slipped in a couple young lettuces (butterhead or buttercrunch, I don't remember which).

Next to romaine lettuces are newly planted seedlings of Tronchuda Beira Portuguese cabbage. And next to the cabbages are even newer seedlings of Purple Peacock broccoli.

Below is the view of the pepper/eggplant bed this morning. Bed #4 has not been constructed yet because I have just not had the time to devote to clearing the space for it this summer.

The eggplants are doing quite well in spite of a developing infestation of spider mites that I haven't dealt with yet. I got only one seed of Sicilian eggplant to germinate this spring and the single plant was something of a runt but I planted it anyway and the plant has surprised me by thriving and setting this gorgeous beauty (and others on the way).

The runty stunty pepper plants have also thoroughly surprised me be being quite prolific, click on the photos to enlarge and look closely - you will see a lot of big healthy look green peppers peeking out of the foliage.

The peppers on the Moroccan plants are held upright and are particulary conspicuous. These look like they should be spicy, but the last time I tried to grow them they were entirely sweet even though the plants were quite stressed and produced much smaller fruits, factors which generally up the spice quotient.

Here are a few highlights from the pepper patch:

PI 593480 (Morocco)

Odessa Market

More Odessa Market

Flamingo Bell

Pimenta Biquinho

And finally, a few additions to the pepper bed - some winter vegetables.

Seen above, newly planted seedlings of Diamante celeriac and then a couple days later I trimmed back the basil and slipped in a couple seedlings of Lacinato kale. And below are a couple seedlings of Flamingo chard and place holders for a couple of seedlings of Golden chard which are sizing up in pots before I plant them out.

And one last view of the part of the garden on a sunny but breezy day (see the mylar strips blowing in the breeze?). And perhaps you noticed the defoliated trees in the background. Those are evergreen oak trees which have gone through a second season of a California Oakworm infestation. Most of the trees in the area have been munched on by the caterpillars this year and many of them last year as well. Some of them got munched in the early spring, grew new leaves, and then got munched on again in the summer. The infestation is a nusiance but is generally not harmful for the trees unless they are already stressed for some other reason. The Oakworm is a native pest that has evolved with the oak trees and I imagine that there is some benefit to the trees, perhaps all that caterpillar poop (loads of it) help to fertilize the trees. It sure does make for some ugly trees and when the moths spin down out of the trees on their silk threads it becomes rather unpleasant to walk under the trees. But it is all part of the natural process so I prefer to let things be.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Harvest Monday - September 24, 2012

I've been watching all summer long while other garden bloggers in the northern hemisphere have hauled in harvests of summer vegetables. My patience started to wear thin as I saw a bounty of tomatoes and peppers and eggplant coming out of their gardens. There were ripe tomatoes everywhere, except my garden. Now, as many of them talk of clearing out their plots at the end of the season, guess what, summer looks like it has finally come full blast to my garden, right on schedule.

Here are the harvests last Monday:

Fiaschetto tomatoes

Diamond, Kamo, and Salanga eggplants

Da Fiore zucchini, Rolande filet beans, Gigante beans

The last of the Apollo broccoli

Tuesday I cleaned and weighed the green coriander seeds that I had harvested and dried in the previous few weeks.
Dried green coriander seeds

And I harvested all the ripe Yellow Manzano and Aji Angelo chile peppers (not done yet).

Yellow Manzano and Aji Angelo chile peppers

Wednesday I needed to harvest a bunch of Padron peppers before they got too big and there were a few cucumbers.

Pimento de Padron peppers, Green Fingers cucumbers,
and Tasty Green cucumbers

And the basil plants had gotten out of hand so I harvested a big bunch to make pesto. It is still very good in spite of being in absolute full bloom.

Profumo di Genova basil

Thursday I harvested a small handful of filet beans and a few peppers to use in Tomato Gazpacho. The zucchini plants are still producing a steady crop in spite of the powdery mildew.

Lady Bell, Shephards Ramshorn, and Jimmy Nardello's peppers
Rolande filet beans
Da Fiore zucchini

Sunday was the day to tackle the tomatoes. I started with my least favorite part of the job, the cherry tomatoes. I like to harvest them with the caps on which prevents them from cracking and then spoiling but it makes for tedious work.

Sunshine Cherry and Wheatly's Frost Resistant Cherry tomatoes

Next least favorite tomato harvest, the plum tomatoes which also get harvested caps on because many of them will sit a few days before I can get around to processing them.

Fiaschetto tomatoes

When I filled that box shown above it maxed out my kitchen scale so I had to move some of them to another box.

More Fiaschetto tomatoes

And then I got to move on to the rest of the tomatoes.

Amish Paste, Nyagous, Jaune Flamme, Wheatly's Frost Resistant
and the first Martian Giant

And finally the very productive Rosabecs, just a bit of BER affected tomatoes remaining.

Rosabec tomatoes

More Padrons needed to be harvested, and there were more zucchini, a few cucumbers and a nice handful of filet beans.

Pimento de Padron peppers, Da Fiore zucchini, Tasty Green cucumbers,
Green Fingers cucumbers, and Rolande filet beans

And there was a lot of eggplant that needed to be brought in and I found two ripe Odessa Market sweet peppers. The sweet peppers are the last of the summer vegetables that have yet to produce in quantity.

Diamond, Kamo, and Salangana eggplants
Odessa Market peppers

Here's one dish that I made last week with some of the bounty, Eggplant Stuffed with Pork from Claudia Roden's book The Food of Spain. These were tasty but the filling was a bit moist for my taste, it includes bread crumbs that are soaked in milk. Next time I think I'll include the bread crumbs without the milk. These were even tastier a couple of days later.

Pork Stuffed Eggplant

Some of the bounty of zucchini went into a dish that I made up to use the rest of the ground pork that I had on hand. I grilled the zucchini and some sweet onions on my stove top ridged griddle and then a made a saute with the ground pork and a bit of chopped onion, garlic and fresh Aji Angelos, some ground fennel seed and chopped capers, and some quartered Fiaschetto tomatoes that were added at the end to soften but not cook down. I arranged the zucchini and grilled rings of onion on a platter and piled the pork mixture on top. I wish I had taken the time to take a photo, but it was late, we were hungry, the camera was not at hand...

I have been making a different variation of the tomato, cucumber and sweet pepper salad almost every day. Last night I seasoned it with Merlot wine vinegar and pomegranate molasses and added bacon and blue cheese - oh yum. I'm really liking the addition of a bit of pomegranate molasses to the dressing, it's better than balsamic, well, at least different.

The final harvest of Apollo broccoli went into another frittata for my husband's lunches last week. I finally tore out those plants to make way for some celery plants that I had growing in pots. It may be a bit late to plant the celery, but we'll see.

Last night I used about 2 1/2 pounds of the eggplant to make a big batch of Caponata. That's a nice dish to have on hand for my weekday lunches.

Here's the harvest totals for the past week:

Rolande filet beans - 11.1 oz.
Apollo Broccoli - 9.4 oz.
Dried green coriander seeds - 4.3 oz.
Green Fingers Persian cucumbers - 10.1 oz.
Tasty Green Japanese cucumbers - 2 lb., 3.6 oz.
Diamond eggplant - 2 lb., 7.3 oz.
Kamo eggplant - 3 lb., 10.5 oz.
Salangana eggplant - 3 lb., 2.5 oz.
Tango lettuce - 3.5 oz.
Aji Angelo chile peppers - 9.9 oz.
Jimmy Nardello's peppers - 3.7 oz.
Lady Bell peppers - 4.6 oz.
Odessa Market peppers - 6.4 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 2 lb., 5.3 oz.
Shephards Ramshorn pepper - 4.8 oz.
Yellow Manzano chile peppers - 4 lb., 6.7 oz.
Amish Paste tomatoes - 3 lb., 13.7 oz.
Fiaschetto tomatoes - 26 lb., 8.9 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 2 lb., 9.6 oz.
Martian Giant tomato - 1 lb. (one beautiful tomato)
Nyagous tomatoes - 5 lb., 7.2 oz.
Rosabec tomatoes - 6 lb., 11.4 oz.
Sunshine Cherry tomatoes - 5 lb., 2.4 oz.
Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomatoes - 15.9 oz.
Da Fiore Zucchini - 4 lb., 8.9 oz.

The total harvests for the week came to - 79 lb., 5.7 oz.
Which brings the totals for the year up to - 310 lb., .7 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.