Monday, August 22, 2016

Harvest Monday - August 22, 2016

It seems like I've been holding my breath in more ways than one. I keep waiting to have some sort of glut of summer vegetables to deal with, but apparently my continual attempts to moderate the quantity of what I grow is finally showing some results. I'm not complaining, it just seems weird. I'm getting a steady supply of vegetables to eat fresh and about the only thing that I have extra to deal with is some zucchini. So let's start with the new items in the harvest basket.

Sicilian Eggplant

The Sicilian eggplant is the first to be ready to harvest. I thought I might have held off too long to harvest it because the skin was turning dull, generally a sign that it is getting old and seedy, but it was actually quite good. The flesh was firm and dense and the seeds had started to form but they were still light colored and soft. I cut it in thick slices, panfried it in olive oil and served it topped with fresh sheepmilk ricotta and a fresh tomato and cucumber chunky salad/salsa.

Rosso Dolce da Appendere
I had to harvest one of the Rosso Dolce da Appendere peppers green because the tip had been damaged and the sowbugs were going to work on it. This variety of pepper is actually pretty good green, a lot more tasty than a green bell pepper, so it wasn't a total loss. I can't remember what I used it in, possibly stir fried broccoli.

I'itoi onions
And I finally cleaned and weighed the I'itoi onions which I wrote a Spotlight post about a few days ago.

Mixed Harvests

This  has been a typical harvest lately, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, and mouse melons have been coming in at a steady pace. The cucumbers are taking a break for now, that little one was the only one for the week.

Romanesco Zucchini
The zucchini in particular has been regular. My stash of dried zucchini is growing at a modest pace.

Pink Plume Celery

And there's plenty of celery to cut so we've been eating a lot of it. It's been nice to have a steady supply of celery. I like the crunch of it in salads and it's been a nice addition to the frequent veggie saut├ęs that I prepare and other veggie dishes. (We do eat a LOT of veggies!)

Pink Plume Celery

Little Rosebud Romaine Mix
A couple of the Little Rosebud Romaine Mix lettuces were starting to bolt. One was a short head and the other a tall one, neither had really formed a solid heart.

Manoa Crisphead Lettuce
This head of Manoa Crisphead lettuce was growing a bit sideways and I think it was on the verge of bolting so I harvested it. The Manoa lettuces do form a nice tight crunchy heart, not a ball like an Iceberg lettuce, but good and solid nonetheless. At this time of year the heads can bolt extremely quickly, but they keep really well in the fridge so I try to cut them as soon as I see signs of bolting. I may end up with a lot of lettuce hanging about the fridge pretty soon...

Tropea Rossa Tonda Onions
Many of the onions have cured enough to trim and bring in. The Tropea Rossa Tonda onions did pretty well this year, they formed good bulbs without too many splits and only a few bolted. That one with the long neck was one that bolted and I used it right away since it won't keep well.

Exhibition and Rossa Savonese Onions
The Exhibition onions are big. These three came in at 2.7, 2.5, and 2.4 pounds apiece. There's still a few of them that I'm still waiting for the tops to completely dry. A number of the Rossa Savonese onions split and more of them bolted also.

Typical Foggy/Smoky Morning

Well, one other thing that makes me want to hold my breath is the ongoing Soberanes Fire. There hasn't been a day in over a week without smoky skies. Some days are stinkier than others, but nights and mornings are nasty because the smokes settles in the valley and mixes with the fog. Everything has collected a fine film of ash. The fire has been burning for a full month, it started on July 22. Currently the most rugged and wild area of the county (perhaps the state) is being allowed to pretty much burn as it will. There was a huge and successful effort to keep the fire from burning through the community of Big Sur on the west side of the fire. Another massive effort kept the fire from consuming the community of Cachauga on the east side. There are crews on the ground on the southeast side spiking out (aka going coyote) working the fire line on foot and camping out near the fire. It is extremely difficult and dangerous work but there are no roads in that area so that's the only way to do it. They are trying to keep the fire from running into the southern portions of Carmel Valley. I don't know what the plan is when the fire reaches the Tassajara Zen Center. The northern end of the fire is completely contained. But the south side is just going up in smoke. Ventana Double Cone - poof. Ventana Cone - going. Miller Mountain - going going. Uncle Sam Mountain, Elephant Mountain, Island Mountain, you get the drift, there's a lot of peaks there and they're all burning. So many areas that Dave and I have hiked or have been meaning to hike are burning up. Over 86,000 acres have burned so far. The new estimated containment date is now September 30 - not likely. Funny how the containment has stayed at 60% while the fire continues to spread day by day. One damned illegal campfire. And I read recently that people continue to camp illegally and burn illegal campfires. Mind boggling.

Sorry for the diversion, but this has become my place to vent and document my frustration. So, back to the harvests.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Batavia broccoli - 8.6 oz.
Pink Plume celery - 2.9 lb.
Green Fingers cucumber - 1 oz.
Mouse Melons - 4.2 oz.
Sicilian eggplant - 1.4 lb.
Little Rosebud Romaine Mix lettuces - 1.9 lb.
Manoa Crisphead lettuce - 1.3 lb.
Exhibition onions - 7.6 lb.
I'itoi onions - 3.3 lb.
Rossa Savonese onions - 3.9 lb.
Tropea Rossa Tonda onions - 10.2 lb.
Rosso Dolce da Appendere pepper - 3.4 oz.
Camp Joy cherry tomatoes - 3.9 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 3.4 oz.
Lime Green Salad tomatoes - 12.5 oz.
Piccolo Dattero cherry tomatoes - 1.2 oz
Sweet Gold Cherry tomatoes - 7.4 oz.
Romanesco zucchini - 3.5 lb.

Total harvests for the week - 38.9 lb. (17.7 kg)
2016 YTD - 454.2 lb. (206 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.


  1. I have a long way to go before I get to a steady pace of harvests instead of the big swings, so I commend you for your success in that. I don't mind the gluts on things like tomatoes which I preserve to use over the winter but my follow through on crops such as salads and greens could use a lot of work.

    The range of that fire and how long it has been/is estimated to burn is truly mind-boggling. Thankfully they've kept it out of the most populated areas. Hopefully that remains the case as it burns on.

    1. Tomatoes are one veggie that I like to have a glut of because I do preserve them, same goes for peppers. That's why I devote a quarter of my garden to them every year!

      The fire is mind boggling to me too, not so much the scope because I am familiar with where it is burning and how inaccessible the area is. What boggles my mind is the sheer stupidity of someone lighting a campfire out there and also the incredible speed with which the fire spread. The fire crews did an absolutely amazing job of keeping the fire out of the populated areas, everyone here is truly grateful for their incredible work.

  2. Questions
    1) Where did you find sheeps milk ricotta?
    2) Do you think there is more or less fog this summer because of the smoke providing condensation nuclei?
    3) Do you think that many of the illegal campfires are from marijuana growers' workers?
    4) Is the fire in designated wilderness area (like the Ventana Wilderness)? The rules for fighting fires in wilderness areas are very different than those for other wildland and interface areas. For example, you cannot use any mechanized equipment like dozers to build a line. I heartily commend those people out there in roadless areas.

    We still have amber-colored sky at sunrise, but the air quality we breathe is not too bad.

    1. 1) Sheepmilk Ricotta - I find it at some Whole Foods markets, there's a sheepmilk cheese producer in Marin county that sells to them - they're Bellwether Farms. Check out their website, they list retailers that carry their products, maybe there's one in your area. I also get it from a local producer that I buy from directly, but I doubt she sells down your way.
      2) Oh yes! The fog seems to be thicker than ever!
      3) Interesting that you ask, there was an article just the other day reporting that various agencies had found and eradicated a number of growing operations in the area - 17,300 plants removed, 1,125 pounds of processed marijuana seized, 1,400 pounds of trash, 17 20-pound propane tanks (!), and 3 dams constricting natural water flows. No doubt they had campfires going as well. But a lot of the illegal campers are just regular people pulling off to the side of the road and making camp. You would think that they would know better.
      4) Yup, it is the Ventana Wilderness that is burning now and the fire command has been transferred from CalFire to the USFS. Those people out there fighting the fire in the wilderness have got a tough job, I'm with you with heartily commending them.

      Once the fog and smoke lift around mid-day here it isn't too bad either, but there's still a golden glow to the light.

    2. Just to be clear: you can camp anywhere in the national forest legally, at least this is true for the Angeles. It is called open or dispersed camping. The popular places are turnouts under trees. But you must have a California Campfire permit which is easily available online. This where the illegality comes in if people do not have them and use a portable stove or bbq. It is a BIG problem. But the big problem is STUPIDITY

    3. I don't know about the camping anywhere thing in the Los Padres NF, but you are probably right. Level III fire restrictions went into effect in the Los Padres on June 14 which means "wood and charcoal fires are prohibited in all areas of Los Padres NF except for designated Campfire Use Sites. The short list of those sites can be found here:

      Those sites certainly don't include the side of the road or any trail or any wilderness camp. Possession of a valid California Campfire Permit allows use of portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel outside of designated Campfire Use Sites. Too bad it's called a "campfire" permit. The permit is easily available for free online.

      Too bad they don't issue toilet paper permits as well, that's another big beef with the locals, all the TP that's just left laying around. When will campers learn to poop away from the road/trail and bury their crap.

    4. Oh, I have to add that the Soberanes Fire started in a state park that does not allow camping, much less campfires.

    5. And now I have to add that Level V restrictions went into effect today, no campfires or charcoal fires are allowed anywhere in the Los Padres NF, not even in designated campgrounds. No stove or lanterns are allowed except in designated campgrounds - that means cold meals if you go backpacking.

    6. Make that Level IV (as in 4) not V.

  3. The Exhibition onions are well-named; I can't believe how big they are. All other harvests are beautiful as always. Please don't apologize for your fire reporting. We all are concerned but glad you are safe. Well...out of the ashes and all that.

    1. Thanks Will, this fire is consuming a great deal of my attention as well as the countryside. Exhibition is an aptly named onion indeed, and I understand that in the hands of a more skilled onion grower that they can get to be even bigger!

  4. I too am waiting for your glut of summer vegetables to admire. At least you are getting a nice flow of beautiful stuff. Hearing that Tassajara may be in the path of the fire is upsetting. I have all the Tassajara cookbooks, but Edward Espe Brown's The Tassajara Bread Book is a classic that got me baking whole grain breads. I guess the monks are used to the danger of fire and have their own firefighting crew. Hope it doesn't come to that.

    1. Tassajara is a beautiful peaceful place and it distresses me that they are in such a dangerous situation. But they have been through this before, just 8 years ago, and they survived. I seem to remember that it was one monk and some helpful friends that did it. I hope that they can pull it off again.

  5. The Exhibition onions are impressive! I used one of my Sierra Blanca onions today that weighed in at 5 ounces, and I was tickled it got that big. We're having a tomato glut right now, and I'm happy about it. Busy, but happy! I'm curious as to any specific things you are doing with the I'itoi onions. I know I'm a ways from having any to use, but I guess I can start dreaming.

    Like David, I've been wondering about the Tassajara Center. We too have a copy of that bread book, and other of their well-worn cookbooks, in my wife's collection.

    1. The Exhibition onions are sweet too! I used half of one tonight, sliced and grilled to serve with broccoli and 2 of the last Candystick Dessert Delicata squashes from last year. Those squash keep a long time but do lose their sweetness so I had to doctor them with some maple syrup but they were still good.

      The Tassajara Center is not in imminent danger, but they are under an evacuation warning. I too have the bread book and a few other Tassajara books and I've been to the Center on one of their community days to have lunch. It's a beautiful place. I'll keep you all updated about the progress of the fire. Ah, but don't worry if I'm MIA next Monday, we are getting away for a breath of fresh air and I don't think I'll have time to get a post done for that day.

  6. Michelle- first off, you are in our thoughts with the fire. Truly awful, but doubly so when it could have been prevented. We have 2 going here in Oregon, but thankfully both are smaller and getting controlled. I know how bad it is to have your air filled with smoke and your heart filled with worry. As for your harvest, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your spotlight post in the onions. You have inspired me to place and order and try them myself.

  7. I have to wonder about the people who start these fires, so irresponsible and so destructive.

    Your Exhibition onions are so huge and their sweetness sounds wonderful. And it's amazing that you're still getting such beautiful lettuce and celery. There's definitely tons of tomatoes and peppers in your future, your plants are huge and loaded.

  8. Italian news showed images of a firenado a few days ago -- never even heard of such a thing before then!

    As always, enjoy seeing your harvests but I loved reading "We do eat a LOT of veggies!" even more!


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