Monday, July 29, 2013

Harvest Monday - July 29, 2013

There has been a slight change in the contents of the harvest basket this week, but first, the usual suspects. 

Purple Peacock broccoli, a few Sugarsnax carrots harvested as needed, and Di Ciccio broccoli side shoots.

Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini, three harvests of zucchini and there's more waiting out on the plants even now. I'm afraid to see what they've done while I went and played in San Francisco for a couple of days. The Romanesco zucchini has a new nickname - QuadraZuke - it has sprouted a new stem so now I can harvest 4 zucchinis off of it at once. The tally to date for the one plant (not including what it is sporting at the moment) is 35.6 pounds. One plant, two months, 35.6 pounds (16 kilos) of zucchini. Add the 9.7 pounds of zucchini from the Ortolano di Faenza and that's 45 pounds of zucchini so far this year. Zukezilla!

But look here!

The critters have allowed me to harvest a few handfuls of raspberries and that's the second fig (half the crop) from my Violette de Bordeaux fig tree (ha, really just a bush). Not impressive in quantity but truly impressive in flavor. But not enough to add a few lines to the tally.

I only photographed one day of harvests for the past week, the basket on other days contained more runner beans, enough French Gold filet beans to finally serve two, the first 3 Musica beans, more cucumbers, and the first 3 Pimento de Padron peppers. Nothing much new in the kitchen other than my preparation of the French Gold filet beans - I prepared them simply by steaming them in a skillet with a splash of water and a tablespoon or so of butter, cooked until the water mostly evaporates leaving a buttery sauce. But what really got my husband's attention about the beans was the vinegar that I used to finish them - a Late Harvest Viognier Honey Agrodolce. The honey flavor in this vinegar is quite distinct but doesn't predominte and the fruity qualities of the viognier wine come through as well. I don't usually put in a plug for products on my blog, but I really like this unique vinegar and the producer makes a few other vinegars that I really like and they often times are the finishing touch to my vegetables or the sparkle in my salads.

The weather has returned to the usual for this time of year. I'm not complaining, it's been warm but not too warm. The fog rolls in around 7 or 8 in the evening and retreats mid morning. Plenty of sun during the day and nice sleeping weather at night. And the tomatoes are happy that the nighttime temperatures have stayed above 50ºF.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

French Gold pole filet beans - 3.5 oz.
Runner green beans (St. George and Moonlight) - 12.2 oz.
Spanish Musica green beans - 2.4 oz.
Baby Ball beet - 1.1 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 5.4 oz.
Purple Peacock broccoli - 3.3 oz.
Sugarsnax carrots - 6.8 oz.
Garden Oasis cucumbers - 1.7 oz.
Green Fingers Persian cucumbers - 9.5 oz.
Tortarello Abruzzese cucumbers - 1 lb., 7.1 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - .7 oz.
Ortolano di Faenza zucchini - 1 lb., 8.1 oz.
Romanesco zucchini - 4 lb., 5 oz.

The total harvests for the past week were - 10 lb., 2.8 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for the past 7 months up to - 250 lb., 5 oz.

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

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Varieties in the Pepper Patch for 2013

I am a confessed pepper addict, not necessarily a hot pepper addict, I am not a "chilehead", but I love peppers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I like them from totally sweet to hot but not scorching. I like peppers raw, cooked, fire roasted, and dried, but not necessarily pickled (I'm not really a fan of pickles). And the only way to really explore the world of peppers is to grow them yourself. So every year I try new ones. I usually choose some sort of theme. For a few years I tried every mild Capsicum chinense pepper (the habanero family) that I could find seeds for. I found a few of those that I really love, but when I moved to a cool growing region I had to give those up because they just don't do well here. I've tried just about every Spanish pepper I could find seeds for. Mexican peppers made an appearance one year. Then I went on a binge of mild Capsicum baccatums. I found a few of those that I love that do well in my climate and I continue to grow them, actually they are cold hardy and sometimes stick around for a couple or three years. Last year I tried every cool climate/short season sweet bell or pimento pepper that I could find seeds for and found a few that I really like and the best are back in the garden this year.

This year the new theme is Peppers From The Southwest. I have long been eyeing the selection of chile peppers at Native Seeds / SEARCH and decided that this was the year to explore some of the varieties offered there. They have an extensive offering but I focused on varieties that are mild to medium-hot and I wanted some that are more fleshy and tasty when green and I eliminated anything that was a long season grower. It was still hard to decide but here's what I ended up with:

The descriptions are lifted directly from the Native Seeds / SEARCH website.


Alcalde From northern New Mexico at 6,300'. An early-maturing native chile. Mild-medium heat, with a complex, slightly sweet flavor when red. 4" long.

Casados Native

Casados Native An early-maturing Spanish heirloom from El Guique, NM (5,500'). When green, slightly sweet and fleshier than other NM native chiles. Also has a good flavor when red. Mild. 4" long.


Cochiti From Cochiti Pueblo at 5,200', where loss of farmland has threatened this and other Cochiti crop varieties. This New Mexico native chile is sweet when green and flavorful when red. Mild to medium heat level. 3-4" long.

Isleta Long

Isleta Long Collected in 1988 from Isleta Pueblo at 4,900'. This New Mexico Long type chile has smooth skin and is fleshy when green. Flavorful, sweet and fruity when red. Mild-medium to medium. 7" long.


Jarales From Jarales, New Mexico. Various sizes and shapes. Relatively fleshy when green. Mild to medium heat. 5" long.

Negro de Valle

Negro de Valle First collected in 2000 north of Buenaventura on the plains of Chihuahua. Similar to Vallero (D020) but contains only the darker, "native, old type" chiles. Some cooks select only these dark brown chiles to the make the best chile colorado. Very productive. Mild to Medium heat. 6" long. 

Pico de Pajaro

Pico de Pajaro "Bird's beak." From Yecora, Sonora. The knobby fruit are often curved. Mild in heat. Almost 1" wide and 5-5" long.

Quatro Milpas

Quatro Milpas Grown in the mountain village of Quatro Milpas, Sonora. Fleshy and smooth-skinned. Ripe fruites are dark brownish red. Mild heat. 5" long.

San Juan "Tsile"

San Juan “Tsile”  A native New Mexico type chile still grown by elder farmers in San Juan Pueblo north of Espaola, NM. Early-maturing, mild to medium-hot. 3.5-5" long.

Tarahumara Chile Colorado

Tarahumara Chile Colorado An elongated poblano-shaped chile from southern Chihuahua. Very shiny when green. Mild heat. 1.5" wide at shoulders and 3.5-4" long.

Zia Pueblo

Zia Pueblo One of our few collections from Zia Pueblo, at 5,500'. Early-maturing, mild, and when red becomes sweet.


One more Southwestern pepper that I'm growing but is not from Native Seeds is Sonora, a mild and fleshy Anaheim pepper that should be great for fire roasting.

Sweet Chocolate

Another pepper that is new in the lineup this year is a short-season sweet pepper that I didn't try last year - Sweet Chocolate (aka Choco) Early bell pepper bred by Elwyn Meader and introduced by the University of New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station in 1965. Ripens from green to chocolate on the outside and brick red inside. Thick sweet flesh. Great for gardeners in short-season areas. (Description from Seed Savers Exchange)

Happy Yummy

And yet one more new pepper - Happy Yummy Peppers From Dave at Our Happy Acres. Dave sent me seeds for this interesting pepper that he's been growing for the past few years. I managed to get at least one plant to grow from each of the three seed selections that he sent me.


But wait, there's one more pepper that isn't actually new but that I've not grown in a few years and that is Aleppo. Years ago I purchased a plant from the and saved seeds from the peppers. It's been a few years and I'm running low on dried peppers, not to mention that my seed stock is getting a bit old so they are back.

And while I was in the garden a few of my lizard friends posed for the camera.

Western Fence Lizards

There are a number of the Fence Lizards that inhabit my garden. The Fence Lizards like to bask in the sun and don't run off quite so readily as other lizards, like the beautiful Whiptail that I've never been able to photograph. There's one Fence Lizard that inhabits the vegetable garden that allows me to get almost close enough to touch him (her?), and he's a beauty with teal scales interspersed among the scales on his back. I'll have to get him to pose for the camera one of these days.

While the Fence Lizards were obligingly posing on the rocks a Western Skink popped out nearby, and wouldn't you know it my camera battery decided to die at just that moment, but not before I got one snap.

Western Skink

This skink doesn't have the colorful tail that many of the Western Skinks have, but I did get a shot of one the other day when I was out hiking. Look at this beauty, it's hard to miss that bright blue tail.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Harvest Monday - July 22, 2013

I'm really happy that I started the Lacinato kale a little early this year, it has been producing some beautiful leaves in spite of the interest of the aphids. Well, the aphids have been quite attracted to just one of the three plants but I think I got that infestation under control so the harvests should increase soon, unless the birds become more interested... 

Here's the latest picking of kale which I first steamed in my pressure cooker for 3 minutes and then sauteed in olive oil with a generous amount of fresh garlic. It was combined with some Black Valentine beans from Rancho Gordo and served with the juices from a slow roasted (7 hours at 225ºF) pork shoulder that had been seasoned with a Korean 5-Spice rub. Yum, that was good!

I'm still harvesting the Sugarsnax carrots a few at a time, they are keeping quite well in the garden for now. The beets needed to be thinned. I used the Golden and Chioggia beets raw, very thinly sliced on a mandolin, in a salad with shredded napa cabbage, carrots, cucumber, and peanuts with an asian style dressing. It was quite good, the baby beets were not too strongly flavored. The greens were beautiful so I'm planning to use those in some No-Crust Quiches.

I love how even the stems on the Chioggia beets are striped. It's too bad that the Chioggia beets loose their stripes when they are cooked, the colors all run together to turn the roots pink, but raw sliced beets retain their stripes and are quite pretty in a salad.

I'm harvesting the first dried pods of the Greek Gigante beans. These aren't included in the tally yet, that will wait until all the beans have been harvested and shelled.

The Tortarello Abruzzese cucumbers keep coming on, that one plant that was produced from a packet of 10 year old seeds has been the surprise of the cucumber patch. The other three varieties have been struggling along but that one little runt took off and is growing like crazy and putting out cucumbers on a regular basis. The Tortarellos are at the top, then there's one Tasty Green Japanese cucumber, and one Garden Oasis cucumber. And another handful of runner beans. The production of runner beans was slowed quite a bit by the heat we had in June, but now that the weather has moderated the plants are happier and have been setting more beans. I didn't photograph the half pound of beans that I harvested yesterday and there's more beans on the way.

There's a few more veggies that I didn't photograph last week, such as the continuing avalanche of zucchini, a few French Gold filet beans, and more broccoli sprouts.

You can see from the graph below that the weather has moderated quite a bit lately and we are still getting some nighttime temperatures below 50ºF. It slowed the zucchinis down a bit (thank goodness) but the rest of the garden seems to appreciate the more mild weather.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

French Gold filet beans - 1.3 oz.
Runner beans (St. George and Moonlight) - 1 lb., 2.1 oz.
Baby Ball beets - 1oz.
Chioggia beets - 4.8 oz.
Red Baron beets - 8.2 oz.
Renee's Golden beets - 4.8 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 1 lb., 1.1 oz.
Purple Peacock broccoli - 12.6 oz.
Sugarsnax carrots - 9.1 oz.
Garden Oasis cucumbers - 5.2 oz.
Tortarello Abruzzese cucumbers - 1 lb., 4.9 oz.
Red Janice garlic - 1.8 oz.
Lacinato kale - 1 lb., .9 oz.
Ortolano di Faenza zucchini - 1 lb., 9.4 oz.
Romanesco zucchini - 4 lb., 9.3 oz.

The total harversts for the past week came to - 14 lb., 1.9 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for the year up to - 240 lb., 2.2 oz.

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Garden on July 18, 2013 - Part Two

The garden tour continues with the primary pepper bed. I planted most of my peppers under an open ended tunnel to give the plants a bit of protection from the lingering chilly nights and some extra warmth on the cooler days. I left the ends of the tunnel open because we've also had a lot of warmer than usual days and I've not wanted to have to worry about frying the plants on an unexpectedly hot day. I raised one side of the tunnel when we had the hottest weather with highs around 90ºF or more. So far the tunnel seems to be a help, most of the plants are growing quickly, even if they are not exactly the most beautiful specimens.

As usual, my plants seem to have been infected with an aphid transmitted virus that stunts and twists the leaves of the plants. Last year I thought my pepper crop was going to be dismal because of the infection, but I ended up with a great harvest. The virus doesn't seem to affect the flowers and fruits in a significant way. The biggest issue is that the leaves aren't large enough to shield the large peppers from the sun and the ripening peppers tend to get sunburned. If necessary I will replace the greenhouse plastic with lightweight rowcover later in the season. The rowcover provides just enough protection to keep the peppers from burning but still allows enough light through. The Pimento de Padron peppers dominate the view from one end of the tunnel shown above, and below are some of the many Southwestern varieties of chiles that I'm growing.

Many of the peppers are setting fruits but the first harvests are a long way off, except perhaps for the Padrons.
Isleta Long

For comparison, here's the pepper/eggplant bed last year on July 17. The plants are looking pretty small, and the eggplants are looking particularly runty with some yellowing leaves. They all eventually came around and gave me a good harvest.

This corner of the pepper bed is home to the Purple Peacock and Di Ciccio broccoli plants. They have been producing a small but steady stream of side shoots.

You can see the trellis with the returned Greek Gigante beans. The bean plants are not quite as lush looking as last year, a few of them died, but enough plants came back, many of them with multiple runners and they are blooming and setting beans in spite of the occasional heat waves. They have a few spider mites as well but seem to be more resistant to them than the bush beans.

Here's a few of this years beans that have set. I've actually started to collect fully mature dry pods off of a couple of the plants. It will be interesting to see how this year's crop compares to last year's and I'm curious to see how long the plants will continue to bloom and set beans.

This is the last of the carrots (almost) in this bed. These are Sugarsnax and seem to be holding well so far. I harvest them as I want them. Some of them have been quite big (did you see the foot long specimen in this past Monday's harvest post?), others are long but staying slim. It seems that they like a fair amount of water, the fattest carrots seem to be the ones growing closest to the drip emitters. They have been good for summer carrots, a hint of bitterness but still quite sweet.

Here's where I decided to slip in my latest attempt at getting some pole green beans to grow. I am really leery of putting more beans into this year's designated bean bed because all the beans that I've been trying to grow there are struggling so. I still can't decide if it is a watering issue there or some soil borne disease. So I'll see how these get along in the next few weeks. Behind the beans are the Spanish Black carrots that I'm letting go to seed. Most of the plants have set seeds and should be mature enough to collect soon, hopefully soon enough to allow more light for the growing beans.

The fourth and final bed is a bit of a mish mash. I didn't end up with a well thought out plan for the garden this year. Partly because I didn't get my final bed built and into production until June. Partly by the surprise return of the Gigante beans in the planned pepper bed. But mostly because I just didn't really get around to doing a proper plan. 

Black Futsu winter squash will be allowed to grow into the path and ramble around this corner of the garden.

The tunnel is home to yet another attempt to grow and hopefully ripen a few melons. These are Alvaro and Halona melons, both of which are supposed to be adapted to cooler climates. With all the early and unexpected warm days we've had this year I thought I would push my luck and give some melons a try. The last time I tried to grow melons I actually got a fair amount of fruit to set, but that was the "year of the rat" and none of the melons survived their attacks to get anywhere near ripening. Perhaps this will be the year. Stay tuned...

These are a couple of replacement cucumber vines because I thought I was going to lose my other cucumbers to the spider mites.

Here's the big surprise this year. The eggplants. Oh my, what a difference from last year.

These babies are growing by leaps and bounds. I think I got my timing just right. I got them planted out before they sat in their pots too long and I managed to plant them out at the start of our warmest stretch of weather. The hit the ground running.

Below, the plants on the left of Salangana, an Italian hybrid variety that produces elongated dark purple fruits with very few seeds. I grew it last year and loved it. The darker leafed plants in the center and right are an unnamed Sicilian variety. I got the seeds in a seed swap a few years ago. Last year I got one seed to germinate and planted it out and allowed the first fruit to set to fully mature so that I could collect the seeds. This year I got some of my seeds to germinate and some of the old original seeds to germinate as well. The plant produces a beautiful light purple and white globe shaped fruit that isn't too seedy.

On the right is a new eggplant variety in my garden - Bonica. I'm looking forward to trying this variety, Liz at Suburban Tomato says it's great.

And the overflow pepper planting is also here. These are mostly more southwestern chiles.

But there's also some Happy Yummy peppers from Dave at Our Happy Acres and Aleppo peppers and a couple of other strays.

And I managed to get a couple of Udumalapet eggplants to grow from some very old seeds and I gave the runty plants a spot.

That's it for the July garden tour, thanks for coming by and I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you would like to see all the vegetable varieties that I'm currently growing click on the Now Growing tab at the top of my blog.