Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Garden in Late October 2013

Much of the garden is looking rather tired now and it's a mess also. I'm trying to catch up after being laid low with a back problem and I'm still leery of doing any real lifting or digging. Fortunately I got most of the fall/winter garden in before my physical activities became curtailed. I've been able to keep up with harvests and light duties. Anyway, here's how the garden looked last Friday, the 24th of October.

This bed is evenly split between tomatoes and fall/winter plantings.

There's the disappointing Andine Cornue paste tomatoes. They've had more fruit ruined by blossom end rot than good fruit. I've barely harvested enough to put up a case of quart jars. In front of the tomatoes are a struggling sowing of carrots. There's new carrot seedlings under the cloth, which is actually a failed sowing of parsnips. The birds started pulling out the carrot seedlings so I had to cover them up.

The tomatoes here are Martian (not so) Giant and Chianti Rose. The plants have produced some good flavorful tomatoes in spite of being slowing overtaken by some sort of disease. In front of the tomatoes are late planted celeriac and Dorato d'Asti celery. I'm not so sure that I'll ever get a decent stalk of celery from those plants. The celeriac looks like it will produce some small but good roots.

The healthier looking tomato plant in the shot below is Potiron Ecarlate. It too has been affected by some sort of disease that is slowing killing off its leaves, but it seems more resistant and it has been putting out a lot of good tomatoes. In front is a planting of Little Jade Napa cabbage which looks like it wants to form some heads but now it's starting to have problems, the edges of the inner leaves are starting to turn brown, I'm not sure what's causing that.

Here's the fall/winter Di Ciccio broccoli plants. Behind the broccoli are Green Grape and Isis Candy cherry tomatoes.

Isis Candy has been a stellar performer this year. It is not quite true to type, it's producing grape shaped tomatoes instead of round ones, but other than that it seems like the Isis Candy that I've grown before. Actually, it seems more productive than the plants I've grown in the past, it is producing lots of tresses of tomatoes like this.

And finally, the Nyagous and Jaune Flamme plants. I've been really happy with these plants this year also. Last year I grew Jaune Flamme and it ended up being overshadowed by larger, more vigorous tomato plants and ended up not being very productive. I really liked what it did manage to produce last year so I gave it another chance this year. I planted it at the end of the row where it would get the best exposure and did it ever love that. It's been very productive and still has plenty of tomatoes left on the vine. Most of the tomato plants still have plenty of tomatoes left on the vine. I hope our current round of cold wet weather turns around and we get a few more weeks of warmth and sun. The plants in front are a late (again) planting of romanesco broccoli. They are growing well so I hope that I may get a few small heads.

Here's a jungly mish mash in the bed across the main path. The small sowing of Olive Leaf arugula has gone wild. There's a few volunteer pepper plants sporting some green peppers. An overlooked giant scallion from last year. And dominating the back corner are the amazing zucchini. They are looking rather tired from this angle. The powdery mildew is finally getting a good grip on the plants.

But the Romanesco is still pumping out the zucchini. This branch grew toward the end of the bed, over the Ortolano di Faenza zucchini plant and is now growing over the edge of the bed. That's about 4 feet from where the plant started.

Below is the main branch which has grown completely over the edge of the bed, down the side, and is now growing across the path. There are four branches on this plant. I've harvested about 94 pounds of zucchini from it, not including the big ones that got away, it's produced over 100 pounds if you add those to the total.

Let me tell you, this is not a typical Romanesco zucchini variety, it's an F1 variety that has been bred for productivity and disease resistance - wow, the breeders certainly succeeded. If you are interested in trying this particular variety you can get the seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds.

This bed was home to some of the beans that I grew this year. Here's the quickly fading trellis of French Gold filet beans and Spanish Musica romano beans.

These are the Italian runner beans that Stefani shared with me, with a bolting bunch of cilantro/coriander in front.

The end of the trellis is also supporting a couple of Australian Butter beans which should have been growing up their own trellis. Most of the planting of the Australian beans died so I took out their trellis and I allowed the surviving two plants to intertwine with the runner beans. These two plants were allowed to set seed and I'll be collecting them to grow more next year.

Around the corner are the Lacinato kale plants demonstrating how they have earned the alternative name of Palm Tree kale. They aren't looking so pretty today, they are all hidden under a shroud of lightweight row cover because the d&#% birds have been pecking them into lacy shreds.

I guess the birds prefer romaine lettuce to kale, that's where the pecking started.

Another mish mash of drying Fagiolo del Purgatorio (Purgatory beans), bolting rapini, and view of the Romanesco zucchini invading the path.

More bolting goodness - Red Salad Bowl lettuce and Cilantro on its way to becoming coriander. On the left is the volunteer Aji Angelo pepper plant. The peppers are just starting to ripen and should continue to do so through the month of November, at least until the first frost which in my experience has been as early as the end of November or the beginning of January. I suspect it might come on the early side of the calendar this year.

Let's go check out some of the peppers. Front and center are the Pimento de Padron plants. They have been somewhat of a disappointment this year. It has taken all 10 plants to produce enough peppers to meet our modest cravings. I've harvested enough to have a nice portion about once a week. All these plants were started from seeds that I got from Renee's Garden Seeds. This is one of the very few times that I've been disappointed by seeds from that company. I've grown Padrons from Franchi seeds in the past and I've grown plants side by side from both Renee's and Franchi. I observed in the side by side trials that the Franchi plants were more vigorous and more productive although the peppers were of equal quality. Now I'm convinced that the Franchi plants are in general more productive. There are only 2 or 3 plants out of the 10 here that have been fairly good producers, the rest produce only intermittently. Next year I'm going back to Franchi seeds.

Here's a couple more shots from inside the tunnel.

I clearly need to get out there and do some harvesting. And some preserving...

The chile pepper plants at the end of the row are quite happy, they have a second crop of peppers sizing up now, and look at all those blossoms.

Around the corner are the near to gone Emerite filet bean and Australian Butter bean (second sowing) plants. I got some really great harvests from these plants and I loved both varieties. Something seemed to infect the plants though, as soon as they had climbed to the top of the trellis the Emerite beans started to lose their leaves progressively from bottom to top. The Australian Butter beans were more resistant to the problem, but they too started to lose their leaves. Fortunately, the problem did not affect the beans. I'm not sure if it was a soil problem or and airborne problem, but the butter bean plants that grew in the other bed have been much healthier and only started to drop their leaves recently as the beans started to mature.

The plants growing behind the bean trellis next to the pepper tunnel are black carrots which I have allowed to bloom. Here's an umbel that is just starting to bloom.

The seeds are surprisingly hairy. I'm not sure if these will come true. Carrots are insect pollinated and easily cross with other carrots and Queen Anne's Lace. However, I would be really surprised if any of my neighbors have carrots blooming in their gardens and the nearest patch of Queen Anne's lace has got to be miles off. We'll see what happens...

The sugar snap pea planting is next to the bean trellis. By now you have probably figured out why it is wearing a shroud.

See the leaves at the bottom of the plants - yup, bird pecked. But the plants survived and seem to be doing ok, I might even be able to harvest some peas before the weather gets too cold.

And then there's the trellis with the Greek Gigante bean vines. Will they make it through another winter to come back and produce a third time? I was amazed at how productive they have been in their second year, there's a BIG basket of beans waiting for me to shell. One night soon I will have to sit in front of the fire and work on them.

Finally, in the last corner of the bed, the spring planted Di Ciccio broccoli and the summer planted chard. I planted two favorites - Flamingo and Golden, plus I took a flyer on some really old seeds of Italian Silver Rib chard (packed for 2002) and they nearly all germinated so one of them is in there and very happy to boot.

Two of the original four broccoli plants are still growing strong and keep producing beautiful side shoots such as this one. I pulled out one of the original plants to make way for the chard and I'll soon be pulling a second one that has not been all that productive. But the two remaining plants have reminded me why Di Ciccio has long been a favorite variety for me. It can be a resilient plant that tolerates being cut down hard and bounces back to put out vigorous side shoots. I also think it tastes good so it's still a winner in my opinion.

Guess what has been helping the aphids to do in my Flamingo chard? Birds? Oh yeah. What will they not peck at? As soon as I cover up one tasty crop they find something else to work on. I need a guard cat! It isn't going to happen though, my only good hunter prefers rodents and besides, he's been confined to the house for the past year. The other three couldn't catch a rat if they were put in a box with it. More row cover, it's starting to look quite spectral in my garden. Boo!

I know, it's been a long tour, but we're at the last bed so stay with me. We're looking at eggplant and cucumbers here. That tall plant is a Salangana and it's grown to be at least 4 feet tall (about 1.2 meters). It's a tall growing variety but it outdid itself this year. And it's been very productive also. And the eggplants are tasty too.

The cucumbers are my second planting. The first round was not happy about being sown too soon and never did very well, at least until I put in the second planting...

Black Futsu vines are growing inside the fence along the block wall. Melons are growing below.

These are Alvaro Charentais melons. This is the first time I've successfully grown melons here. The climate here is iffy for melons, it is often too cool for them to ripen properly, but these melons have surpassed my expectations. They grew well, set a number of melons, and ripened properly. They have been really good.

Those are Bonica eggplants draping themselves over the melon tunnel. Those were a huge success this year also.

Can you see the eggplants dangling in there?

How about now?

Here's more peppers. Look at that big beautiful Sonora Anaheim chile waiting to be harvested. There's a bunch of them in there that aren't visible.

These beauties are Happy Yummy peppers. The plant is so loaded that I had to tie it up to a stake. Most of the pepper in this bed had to be staked, they grew to be huge and their branches are loaded down with peppers. I'll be harvesting peppers through November (please don't let there be an exceptionally early frost this year!).

It looks like I'll be able to harvest one more round of amaranth greens. I doubt that they will produce another crop of leaves now that the days are short and the nights are cold.

This is one of the 6 or 7 Black Futsu squash that are maturing. This variety grew quite well and I'm happy with the number of squash that it set. Now the real test will be how tasty it is.

Squash corner. Another thing I like about this variety is that even though it rambles quite far the foliage is on the small side making it easier to direct the vines where I want them to go. It also seems to be fairly powdery mildew resistant. I would have expected the vines to be nearly dead by now, but they are surprisingly vigorous still.

The tour is finally coming to an end, just one last look back down the garden path.

But wait, before you go, you have to see my compost. This bin is full of material that I sent through a chipper/shredder. It was originally filled to the brim and then some. After a while it settled down to about the level that you see here, but then I filled it to the rim again with unfinished compost from another bin. Now a couple of months later it is basically finished.

Looks good, doesn't it! I'll stuff it into used potting soil bags like the one you can see above and let it sit until I need it. When I use it I like to sift out the chunky stuff and use the chunks as mulch around the rest of the garden. There's another bin just like this one, full of finished compost. And there's yet another bin full of dry ground up material. I've been waiting to wet down the dry bin until I can finish processing the fall garden trimmings which has had to wait because of my bum back.

Bye for now!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Harvest Monday - October 28, 2013

Ripe peppers are the hot thing this week. Well, not so hot actually, these may be hot looking but most of them are pretty mild and some are simply sweet. This first box is all sweetness, Piment doux long des Landes is a sweet frying pepper from France, Happy Yummy is supposed to be sweet (I haven't tasted it yet, and Shephard's Ramshorn is a fleshy sweet pepper that is a good all purpose sweet pepper.

There's a bit more spice here, these are all New Mexico type chiles with the exception of that one yellow pepper which is another Happy Yummy that should have some spice.

More mild New Mexico type chiles. I've been drying them for future use in chile powders and other such uses.

Dave of Our Happy Acres fame sent me seeds from the Happy Yummy peppers that he's been growing and saving seeds from. I managed to get at least one plant each from the four different strains that he sent me, the yellow peppers below are from the 2009 seeds. The peppers in the center boxes are more New Mexico type chiles and the slim red peppers on the right are Aleppo peppers (maybe I should call them Caleppo peppers). I've been drying those to grind into pepper flakes. If they are seeded and deribbed before they are dried the ground peppers have a mild heat, but they are quite spicy if the seeds are not removed before drying them.

More melons! I'm really happy with the Alvaro melons, they've produced a respectable crop (almost 14 pounds so far) and the melons have been delicious. I'll grow these again next year. The romanesco zucchini are still coming in, another 2.5 pounds this week. My single plant has produced nearly 94 pounds so far, not including the overgrown ones that I didn't weigh because I don't use them as anything other than fodder for the compost critters.

There are plenty of sweet cherry tomatoes for my husband's lunch bag.

And good tomatoes for salads and baking and quick sauces. Sunday breakfast was eggs poached in a quick tomato sauce with some sautéed onion and sweet peppers, sprinkled with some Zatar spice mix. I also braised some eggplant in a quick tomato sauce that was seasoned with capers, anchovies, garlic, and olives. A number of tomatoes also went into a batch of my favorite tomato soup.

The spring sown Di Ciccio broccoli plants are still putting out some really good side shoots.

Look how long the stems get. I cut the stems down to the lowest bud to force the plants to produce more large shoots rather than a lot of little shoots. The bottom third of the stalk is usually too tough to eat even if it is peeled, but the middle third can be peeled and cooked and the top third I cook up like broccolini. I like to cook the tender leaves from the top third or so of the stalks separately, the leaves from the previous harvest went into a fritatta. I think the leaves from this harvest will go into a batch of vegetable soup tonight.

Cucumbers are still trickling in. The threat of rain prompted me to gather all the dried beans from the late planted Fagiolo del Purgatorio beans. This will be weighed after I've shelled them and when they are thoroughly dry.

Perhaps you saw my post on Saturday about my venture into growing saffron, if not, here's a photo of my harvest this week. You won't see it in the tally below, I'll never be able to grow enough for it to register on my scale!

The weather was rather mixed last week with some atypically cool and foggy days and last night a system rolled in with some rain so it looks like the rest of the day today is going to be dreary. I probably should have harvested a few sensitive items such as the nearly ripe tomatoes but it's too late now, they've already been rained upon.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Di Ciccio broccoli - 13.1 oz. (weighed after trimming)
Garden Oasis cucumbers - 1 lb., 3 oz.
Tasty Green Japanese cucumbers - 12.8 oz.
Lorz Italian garlic - 2.5 oz. (weighed as I use it)
Alvaro melons - 4 lb., 8.6 oz.
Alcalde peppers - 7.3 oz.
Aleppo peppers - 9 oz.
Cochiti peppers - 6.3 oz.
Isleta Long peppers - 11.1 oz.
Happy Yummy peppers - 15.8 oz.
Jarales peppers - 15.4 oz.
Negro de Valle peppers - 21 oz.
Piment doux Long des Landes peppers - 5.6 oz.
Quatro Milpas peppers - 1 lb., 10.7 oz.
San Juan Tsile peppers - 1 lb., 7.8 oz.
Shephard's Ramshorn peppers - 42.1 oz.
Tarahumara Chile Colorado - 6.4 oz.
Zia Pueblo peppers - 1 lb., 4.6 oz.
Andine Cornue tomatoes - 4 lb., 8.8 oz.
Chianti Rose tomatoes - 2 lb., 9.6 oz.
Galinas cherry tomatoes - 4.1 oz.
Green Grape cherry tomatoes - 1 lb., 15.9 oz.
Isis Candy cherry tomatoes - 2 lb., 15.5 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 2 lb., 7.3 oz.
Martian Giant tomatoes - 1.9 oz.
Nyagous tomatoes - 3 lb., 4.4 oz.
Romanesco zucchini - 2 lb., 9.8 oz.

The total harvests for the past week came to - 45 lb., 13.4 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for the year up to - 744 lb., 13.1 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.