Monday, November 24, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 24, 2014

November tomatoes are such a treat. There aren't many left now, not even green ones, but the few that are coming in are full of flavor, as good as they get.

The funny shaped unpollinated Tromb d'Albenga zucchini are equally delicious. Unfortunately the latest couple of cucumbers were a little bitter, not so bad that they were inedible, but they definitely lacked the sweetness of a warmer weather cucumber.

The Christmas Bell chiles that my poor neglected potted plants produced weren't as flavorful as they should be either. They weren't bad but they lacked the unique fruitiness that baccatum chiles can have.

The Tronchuda Beira on the other hand may be a bit holey from caterpillar munching but are very tasty. This is also called Portuguese cabbage or Portuguese kale. They taste more like cabbage to me, especially the stems, and my understanding is that they are actually a primitive loose leaf cabbage. My favorite use for them is the slice them into thin shreds and add them to soups. My latest soup that featured these greens had lamb, Pavoni beans (see last year's harvest here), dried Negro de Valle peppers (also from last year), Spanish Black carrots, tomato puree, cumin, a dash of cinnamon, and cilantro.

I pulled a couple more of the volunteer Spanish Black carrots. Those two cukes weren't bitter, at least not when they were paired with blue cheese dip.

One question last week was what is the interior color of the Spanish Black carrot and the answer is a pale yellow which doesn't come through all that well in this photo. These carrots are an old OP variety that hasn't been tinkered with to make them sweet. They have a true carrot flavor, not bitter at all, but not sugary like most modern carrots. I wouldn't necessarily want to snack on them raw, but they were delicious in the soup I mentioned before.

The cooler weather and shorter days have slowed the growth of the cilantro. The fall sown seeds are bolting now, but not terribly quickly like they do in the summer. I don't weigh my cilantro harvests any more, it's generally not enough to bother with.

Another handful of Golden Sweet snow peas matured so I finally have enough to serve the two of us.

The prolific Di Ciccio broccoli produced another round of shoots. The 4 plants that I set out this spring have produced more than 36 pounds of trimmed heads and shoots. Combined with the production from the overwintered plants from last year, the total production for the year is over 44 pounds. There's been no lack of broccoli this year! I do tally it with the leaves as shown below because I don't trim them off, we eat them.

There's a few things joining the tally this week that weren't photographed. I shelled the bulk of the Purgatory beans and all of the Floriani Red flint corn.  The last of the Red Candy Apple onions hit the tally as well, the final tally for this variety of onion is 27.6 pounds and the tally for all the onions came to 89.3 pounds. I just placed my order with Dixondale Farms for next years onion seedlings...

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Purgatory beans - 1 lb., 11.4 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 1 lb., 13.9 oz.
Tronchuda Beira cabbage - 11.7 oz.
Spanish Black carrots - 5.6 oz.
Floriani Red flint corn - 5 lb., 4.9 oz.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 15.7 oz.
Red Candy Apple onion - 1 lb., 4.1 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 2 oz.
Chianti Rose tomato - 16.3 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 11.2 oz.
Tromba d'Albenga zucchinis - 1 lb., 14.5 oz.

The total harvests for the past week were - 15 lb., 15.3 oz. (7.2 kg.)
Which brings the total harvests for 2014 up to - 1164 lb., 3.7 oz. (528 kg.)

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, November 17, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 17, 2014

I'm a little sad to have harvested the last cauliflower of the year. This year is the first time that I've been successful at growing cauliflower, 21 pounds of it! The harvests were 4.7 pounds in July, 7.25 pounds in August, and 9.1 pounds this month. I'm not sure why I've finally been successful, and in the summer no less. Soil? Weather? Water? Variety? I really can't say, but it's been a delight. This cauliflower is still in the fridge. One that I harvested last week was made into soup. The little runt shown in the last photo went into a tomato-coconut curry with Tromba zucchini and rockfish.

Amazing Taste cauliflower

The Tromba d'Albenga zucchinis have produced a late flush of squash, not the biggest and most beautiful, most of them didn't get fully pollinated so they aren't as big as they were earlier in the season, but they are still firm and delicious. This was the harvest yesterday and there were a few smaller ones earlier in the week.

The photos don't make it obvious that the 3 zukes shown above weighed 1/2 pound more that the 6 shown below.

The Watermelon radishes are sizing up seemingly one at a time, which is fine by me, I don't need a glut of them.

I was able to harvest about a pound of Lacinato kale and still leave plenty of leaves on the plants.

This was one harvest of Di Ciccio broccoli shoots before I trimmed off the tough lower stalks and leaves. I tally the broccoli after I trim it.

Also harvested but not photographed this week were a few more tomatoes, more cucumbers, a couple of handfuls of snow peas, the entire harvest of Aji Angelo peppers from my one poor little potted plant, and a small handful of Padron peppers. And one more onion made the tally, only one left in the stash now.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Di Ciccio broccoli - 2 lb., 2.3 oz.
Amazing Taste cauliflower - 2 lb., 15.1 oz.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 22.6 oz.
Lacinato kale - 15.6 oz.
Red Candy Apple onion - 1 lb., 4.8 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 2.8 oz.
Aji Angelo peppers - 7.6 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 2.9 oz.
Watermelon radish - 17.5 oz.
Chianti Rose tomato - 11.5 oz.
Potiron Ecarlate tomato - 1 lb., 3.9 oz.
Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes - 1 lb., 1 oz.
Tromba d'Albenga zucchinis - 2 lb., 12.9 oz.

The total harvests for the last week were - 16 lb., 8.5 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for 2014 up to - 1148 lb., 4.4 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, November 10, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 10, 2014

There was an interesting assortment of vegetables from the garden last week. Summer veggies continued to trickle in. Chianti Rose and Jaune Flamme are proving their mettle, still producing after a difficult year for growing tomatoes. These two will be back next year.

Chianti Rose and Jaune Flamme tomates

A few more peppers ripened but these are some of the last ones left on the plants, there are very few green ones on the plants. This lot included Shephard's Ramshorn, Lady Bell, Giallo di Cuneo, Topepo Rosso, Piment doux long des Landes, and Padrons.

Another harvest of ripe peppers included NTR, Sonora, Stocky Red Roaster, and a couple that I think are Tarahumara Chile Colorado.

Cucumbers are trickling in and I harvested the first Golden Sweet snow peas.

I let some Spanish Black carrots go to seed over the past year and got some volunteers from seeds that fell. These aren't sweet carrots, but I think they will be interesting in a savory dish such as a soup or stew.

Yay, I finally got a Watermelon radish to grow without bolting. That's a 1 pound Tromba squash next to it. I should have photographed the pretty appetizer that I made with it, I used a mandolin to make thin slices, topped those with a little mound of Honey Sheepmilk Yogurt Spread (from Garden Variety Cheese), then sprinkled the top with some Merkén made from my home smoked peppers. I turned out to be quite a tasty combination of flavors.

The Di Ciccio broccoli continues to produce lovely shoots.

And the cauliflower has suddenly sized up. The first one was the biggest of the lot.

It was promptly roasted a la Ruhlman. This is absolutely delicious and so simple.

Two more were ready to harvest at the same time. One of these was made into Smashed Cauliflower, the recipe for which I still haven't written up, but it's basically cauliflower florets slowly cooked with garlic confit (I finally wrote up that recipe), butter, and a bit of stock until it's falling apart tender, then smashed with some creme fraiche. I'll take smashed cauliflower over mashed potatoes any day!

The only other things harvested but not photographed were some cherry tomatoes.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Di Ciccio broccoli - 1 lb., 8.9 oz.
Amazing Taste cauliflower - 6 lb., 2.8 oz.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 15.3 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 1.1 oz.
Giallo di Cuneo peppers - 10.2 oz.
Lady Bell peppers - 1 lb., 1.8 oz.
NTR peppers - 7.7 oz.
Piment doux long des Landes peppers - 4.2 oz.
Padron pappers - 4.8 oz.
Shephard's Ramshorn peppers - 1 lb., 2.6 oz.
Sonora peppers - 5.6 oz.
Stocky Red Roaster peppers - 3 oz.
Topepo Rosso peppers - 3.8 oz.
Watermelon radish - 15.4 oz. (inc. greens)
Chianti Rose tomatoes - 2 lb., 13.2 oz.
Isis Candy cherry tomatoes - 5.2 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 15.5 oz.
Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes - 2 lb., 7 oz.
Tromba d'Albenga zucchini - 1 lb., .7 oz.

The total harvests for the past week were - 22 lb., .8 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for 2014 up to - 1131 lb., 11.9 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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Garden in Early November, 2014 & The November Garden Share Collective

Time for another garden tour and Garden Share Collective post. This is an odd time of year in my garden. There are still some "summer" vegetables lingering in the garden but the shorter days and generally colder nights have slowed them down considerably. Most of the summer garden is finished though and I'm slowly getting through the clearing out and setting out some veggies that may or may not produce in the winter. The weather can be surprisingly warm at this time of year, the forecast for today is a high of 83ºF (28.3ºC). In a "normal" year it can be cool and rainy. Actually, we did have one of those days last Saturday, it was so refreshing and all the plants seem to be happy to have the collected dust of summer thoroughly rinsed off their foliage.

In bed #1, all the corn has been cleared out.

November 3
The Purgatory beans are drying on the vine, unfortunately I think I started them on an early demise when I treated them for spider mites and then we had days when the temperatures passed 90ºF (32ºC) which killed a lot of the foliage. Maybe next year I'll be able to get a decent crop of these beans.

Purgatory Beans
There's Golden Sweet snow peas and Super Sugar Snap peas growing up the trellis that is surrounded by remay (to discourage the voracious birds).

The snow peas are just setting the first pods. The snap peas were started later so they aren't near to producing anything yet.

Golden Sweet snow peas
Further down the bed is a patch with some Watermelon radishes that are just sizing up. And there's a patch of late planted carrots that are in desperate need of thinning. With luck I'll get a few baby carrots before I have to clear them out to set out onion starts at the end of the year or early January.

The one remaining trellis of beans is home to the spring planting of Tarbais beans. A number of the plants died after producing a crop of dried beans, but a few of them regrew and since I didn't need the space this fall I watched to see what would happen and they are actually producing a small second round of dried beans!

Here's a view from the far end of the bed. The Romanesco zucchini and green beans are cleaned out. My task for today (or at least this week) is to start replacing the drip lines in this bed and then get the garlic in. This bed is going to be planted with mostly alliums which will occupy the space through the winter and spring or early summer.

The next bed over is home to mostly winter vegetables.

The fall planting of snap beans is on the way out. The plants struggled early on, many of them succumbing to a soil borne disease (fusarium?) and only produced a modest crop. They are trying to produce a few more beans now but they aren't very good. I'll be pulling these soon. In front of the beans are late late planted celeriac and celery, I don't hold out much hope for a decent harvest from them.

But look at the Romanesco! Give it room and it will use it all up and then some. Some plants are leaning into the middle of the bed,

and some plants are leaning back to block the path.

The lacinato kale is filling it's space as well. A couple of the plants are producing really nice side shoots.

The Di Ciccio broccoli plants are putting out nice new shoots after I treated them to a bit of fish fertilizer and a liquid bloom fertilizer. That's the only supplemental feeding they've received since I set them out at the beginning of June and after producing about 30 pounds of heads and shoots they seemed to appreciate the snack.

Isn't that lovely!

The Tronchuda Beira is trying to grow behind the broccoli and next to the Romanesco. It will get a bit more sun when I clear out the old Petaluma Gold Rush bean vines. I also tuck the Romanesco foliage out of the way when it starts to elbow its way into the Tronchuda Beira's space. If given more room and sun the Tronchuda Beira can produce enormous leaves.

There's the Petaluma Gold Rush vines that I have yet to clear out. In front of the trellis is the fall/winter planting of Amazing Taste cauliflower.

It's turning out to be a strictly fall planting, the heads seemed to just appear out of nowhere in the last 10 days. Some of them are ready to harvest now, like I better get out there today while the picking is good. The heads are much smaller than the spring/summer ones but they are a respectable size.

The next bed over is where I grew mostly salad and cutting greens through the year. I slipped in a late planting of cucumbers which turned out to be enormously productive.

Green Fingers Persian cucumbers

This tunnel is full of newly planted goodies, including various radishes, baby turnips, rapini, and spinach.

Terrible photo, but this is my patch of recently harvested amaranth amidst volunteer cilantro and carrots. If the warm weather continues the plants may produce enough new shoots to provide one more harvest this month.

The other tunnel in this bed is mostly cleared and prepared for new plantings.

I've got some lettuce seedlings started which I'll set out in the tunnel. There's also a few chard seedlings that I'm going to try, although they probably won't amount to much before they bolt in the spring.

I hope that the beets that I sowed recently in paper pots will produce at least baby beets this winter. One advantage to growing these in the tunnel is that it is easy to cover the tunnel with frost cloth if a freeze threatens. The other pots have starts of escarole and radicchio, just an experiment to see what happens when I do a late planting.

The chard plants are really struggling. But I'm not surprised, these were sown way back on January 10 and were crammed into the tunnel almost all year. They were thoroughly infected with powdery mildew recently so I removed almost all their leaves. They got a bit of fish fertilzer recently so I'll leave them for now and see what happens.

The Tromba d'Albenga zucchini vines are still growing and resisting powdery mildew. They've taken a break from producing new zucchini's recently, but I just spied one in the foliage this morning and...

Perhaps these will grow rather than wither and die.

The last bed is still full of summer solanums. The eggplant was nearly taken down by spider mites in September. I sprayed with Neem and Pyganic which seemed to slow the mites but killed the flowers. Then I stripped the plants of all the worst infected leaves and gave them a dose of fish food and a bloom fertilizer. The plants are making a comeback and are blooming and some of them are setting baby eggplants.

If the weather doesn't turn too chilly later this month perhaps I'll get a harvest of young eggplant.

The remaining tomato plants are hanging in there and even producing a few tomatoes. The biggest problem now is the birds. Most of the new tomatoes are at the top of the plants and the birds were just perching up there and having a feast.

So I covered some of the plants with fine netting.

And there's a forest of clanking water bottles and strips of flash tape fluttering all around.

And tomatoes are trickling in.

Jaune Flamme

Chianti Rose

The birds aren't restricting their appetites to tomatoes. For some reason they love the foliage of the Sicilian eggplant.

And the new growth on the pepper plants.

But not all the birds are pests. The Bushtits have discovered the aphids in the fennel. It's so fun to watch these little birds maneuver themselves around the floppy seed heads. They are doing a good job of cleaning the pests out, I could hardly find any aphids when I took a close look. The also provide this service in my Meyer lemon tree, they get in there and clean out the scale, it's amazing how thorough they can be, I have never had to spray.

Now for the Garden Share Collective report.

I reported on what's been planted over the course of the tour.

Harvests, I won't go into the details since you can see those on my weekly Harvest Monday posts. Here's a summary of October harvests for the 5 years since I started keeping detailed records. Sorry, it's all in pounds, but the numbers are really here for comparison to see how this October stacked up against previous years.


Beans, Snap
Beans, Dry and Shelly

Beans, soy







Celery Root

Corn, dry













Winter Squash




One of the most glaring differences here is the total lack of eggplant harvests this October - the spider mite thing. And the tomato harvests were off as well because I had fewer plants to start with and 3 of them died before October. Some other differences, such as melons and onions were more about timing. The garden before 2012 was less productive in general because that was before I had my beds properly constructed, I went from big mounds of soil to huge boxes starting in 2012 which expanded the growing space quite a bit and also provided more protection from gophers and moles. 2011 was a particularly off year for just about everything because of the population explosion of rats which were eating everything they could get to.

So here's the plans for the next month:
-- Replace the drip lines in Bed#1, a number of the lines were "recycled" from the old beds before I had the big boxes constructed. There's now some blind spots along the lines where emitters have finally clogged from the hard well water.
-- Get the garlic planted.
-- Order the onion starts.
-- Finish cleaning out the old "summer" plants.
-- Compost - sift the oldest bin and consolidate some newer ones.
-- Continue planning the 2015 garden and refine the planned successions.
-- I'm going to try to disinfect my trellises and cages. The powdery mildew and spider mites were  awful this year and I'm hoping that a good cleaning will reduce spores and eggs, anyway, it can't hurt.

The Garden Share Collective is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month, this gives us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long-term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably.

The Collective is hosted by Lizzie on her blog Strayed from the Table, there you will find links to gardeners in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Europe, and United States. There's lots of garden inspiration waiting for you there!