Monday, July 9, 2018

Harvest Monday - July 9, 2018

I'll start with a catchup photo this week of the Yellow Cabbage Collards that I didn't get around to photographing for Harvest Monday last week. When I pulled the bunch out of the fridge to cook them up I decided to snap a photo first.

Yellow Cabbage Collards
collards - mid 18th century: reduced form of colewort, in the same sense, from cole + wort.
cole - a brassica, especially cabbage, kale, or rape.
wort - [in combination] used in names of plants and herbs, especially those used, especially formerly, as food or medicinally, e.g., butterwort, woundwort.

Now I know why a cabbage salad is typically called coleslaw

The collards had some bitterness to them but after a long slow braise with some grated garlic, good lard from the local artisan butcher shop, and home made poultry stock they came out silky textured but not falling apart and they were absolutely delicious. Served up with some sausage from said butcher shop and some homegrown fresh ground polenta it made for a very satisfying and delicious meal.

Tromba squash are developing in spite of the blossoms being the latest taste treat for the local rodents. I found a few Batavia broccoli shoots. And the last Violaceo di Verona cabbage was bolting so I cut it down.

Add to the mix the last of the Tennis Ball lettuces and the first Orion fennel which happened to be bolting also.

I pulled up one of the French Blue Belle potato plants and netted almost 1.5 pounds of new potatoes. I served these boiled with some steamed filet beans from the farmer's market and some best quality olive oil packed Spanish tuna and all dressed with a basil oil which is basically blanched basil whizzed up with good olive oil and touch of salt. I love that basil oil, really more of a basil puree, it's a great way to preserve a large amount of basil and the puree keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

French Blue Belle Potatoes

Here's one of my latest experiments in preserving. This is an old fashioned way to save sweet or green field corn. I used sweet corn that I found at the farmer's market. Traditionally the process starts with steam roasting the whole ears of corn complete with husks and silks in either a pit or a horno (adobe oven). The husks are pulled back from the roasted ears and the ears are bundled up and sun dried until completely dry and then the kernels are removed for long term storage. I kept it more simple. First I soaked the whole ears in cold water while I prepared my Big Green Egg for indirect slow cooking. Then I roasted the corn for a couple of hours at about 275ºF to 300ºF. After roasting I saved a couple of ears for immediate use and then for the remaining ears I removed the husks and silks and dried the ears at about 125ºF in my dehydrator. Drying took about 16 hours.

The corn comes out wrinkled and sweet and slightly smoky. Four average sized ears of corn resulted in about a cup of dried corn. The end result is called Chicos. The dried Chicos can be cooked with dried beans, added to soups and stews, or cooked and added to vegetable dishes. I've got some experimenting to do!

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.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Garden on July 4, 2018

Perhaps I should subtitle this post The Hardware Cloth Edition.

Beds No. 1 and No. 4

Beds No. 2 and No. 3
Hardware cloth is almost everywhere.

One exception is the area where the tomatoes and peppers from 2017 are growing.

The peppers are making a pretty good comeback and the tomato vines were doing well until a problem that I hadn't seen in a long time took hold.

Tomato Russet Mites. I caught the problem a little late. There were a lot of dead and dying leaves and the bottom 2 thirds of the stems were already russet colored. I stripped the dead leaves from the plants and gave them a good thorough spray with Spinosad and yesterday I sprayed again. I may just have to take them out. So it goes. I would rather lose the plants to russet mites than to rodents. Truly.

Everything else in this bed is surrounded or enclosed in 1/4-inch hardware cloth.

Baciccia Beans and Cilantro

Hank's X-tra Special Baking Beans
I know that the Pico Pardal garbanzo beans are ready to eat because the rodents started to snack. I found empty bean pods littered around the plants. The plants were surrounded by hardware cloth but they were not covered up.

The beans can be harvested when still green in the pods and prepared like edamame but I want the dry beans.
Pico Pardal Garbanzo Beans
So extra defense was required to protect the beans until they mature and dry down. More hardware cloth! Garbanzos on lockdown.

Over in Bed No. 2

Yards and yards of hardware cloth. Hardware cloth surrounding the bed. Hardware cloth covering the plants.

Hardware cloth partitioning the bed.

Hardware cloth surrounding individual plants. The Yellow Cabbage collards were doing ok for a while without individual protection. I had been spraying and sprinkling with hot pepper. Then the DR's figured out that they could come up from below and munch on the tender stems from beneath where I hadn't sprayed. So now each plant is inclosed in a sleeve of hardware cloth and I've covered the open tops with hardware cloth too.

Yellow Cabbage Collards
The critters used the same tactic to start attacking the cabbages. I harvested a couple of puny bolting Violaceo di Verona cabbages that had been nibbled and then the critters turned their attention to the Filderkraut cabbages which are trying to form heads. So I enclosed those with hardware cloth screens and covered them up with fabric.

The Batavia broccoli plants are completely enclosed now also. I managed to harvest three nice main heads and then the DR's started to steal the side shoots.

Hmm. I hope the critters don't develop a taste for celery. It's been safe in the past so the plants are just enclosed by but not covered with hardware cloth. I gave them a dose of hot pepper spray and powder just in case.

Pink Plume Celery

Fortunately the blooming Syrian Medieval chard doesn't seem to be tasty to the critters either. There's no way I could cover that jungle.

The section of the bed that is protected by the hardware cloth screens is in transition now. The pac choi is finished, lettuce is finished, and the only spring crops left are Peking Ta Ching Koo Pai Tsai, beets, scallions, and fennel. I cut back the Chinese green with the impossible name hoping for side shoots. I still haven't figured out how to grow this stuff.

Peking Ta Ching Koo Pai Tsai
Beets are slowly sizing up.

The Orion fennel is trying to burst out. Some of it is stretching out like it wants to bolt so I cut a couple of those ones down to the ground.

First in the new rotation in this bed is Prinz celeriac. I've got more space prepared for sowing carrots and parsnips but wouldn't you know it but as soon as I'm ready to sow seeds the weather clears up and turns hot. I'll wait until later in the week when the highs are forecast to be in the high 70ºF's to sow those.

Prinz Celeriac
Over in Bed No. 3 it's an almost hardware cloth free zone. There's only one cage left that has some parsley in it and I just haven't gotten around to removing the cage. First a couple of shots that show the potato patches. The first one has Upstate Abundance in the foreground which is looking pretty good. Beyond you can see the Tromba D'Albenga squash climbing its trellis.

In the foreground here is the French Blue Belle potatoes which are not looking so good. I don't have much experience growing potatoes and so what I first thought was normal senescence may actually be some sort of blight.

I sprayed the plants with Serenade and the progression of the disease seems to have slowed and there's somewhat healthy new growth showing in spots.

I would like to keep the plants going as long as possible so that I can harvest ripe potato berries. Next year I think it would be fun to experiment with growing potatoes from seed. Only the French Blue Belle potatoes produced berries.

Peek-a-boo! Found one potato had developed under some cardboard mulch.

The cucumbers are slow this year. They may have spent too much time in pots before I planted them in the garden. Regular treatments with hot pepper spray and powder has, I think, kept them unmolested so far.

The same cannot be said for the squash. The Damn Rodents have developed a taste for squash blossoms.

They haven't gotten to all of them though. Yet.

The only other things in this bed are basil and last year's Cilician parsley which I hope to collect seeds from.

And finally, Bed No. 4. Pepper Land! With a few tomatoes too.

It always amazes me how quickly the tomato and pepper plants grow. The plants look so small in my June 13 garden tour.

One of the first varieties to produce is the unnamed Turkish Sweet pepper that I got from Seed Savers Exchange a few years ago and finally saved seed from last year. It's good to see that my efforts have paid off. 
No Name Turkish Sweet Pepper
One of the first tomatoes to set was Brad's Atomic Grape. I hope I get to be the first to taste it.

Brad's Atomic Grape
Not only does the garden change and grow quickly at this time of year but the weather does too. We seemed to slide suddenly from No Sky July to Roasty Mostly Blue Sky July. The high today was forecast to hit 92ºF but topped out at 85ºF, thank goodness. I'm not complaining about the heat, especially since what passes for roasty here is pretty tame compared to the heat that's blasting southern California now and other parts of the country too.

That's the latest in my garden. Not all great but not all bad either.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ack, Where's the Sun?

It's July.

Where's the sky?

Behind that blanket of fog.

No Sky July. Sibling of June Gloom and May Gray. The primary reason why I harvest the bulk of my tomatoes and peppers in September and October. I will admit though that I much prefer gardening and hiking in this weather than on hot sunny days.

But what do you do if you're a cold blooded lizard on days like today? (And yesterday, and....)

Press yourself as flat as you can against a surface that absorbs whatever radiation from the sun that penetrates through the cold gray wet murk.

Just a quickie fun post before I get out to the garden to get some work done. I'm working up a garden tour post so stay tuned.

FYI, the black thingy with the white tip next to the lizard's left rear leg is lizard poop. And in case you're wondering the lizard is a Western Fence Lizard.

Nobody does a big fireworks display here for the 4th anymore which is just as well because the fog would spoil the fun. And a wildfire would spoil the fun too.

Happy Birthday USA!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Harvest Monday - July 2, 2018

For whatever reason I didn't put my camera to much use last week so the only harvest photo I have to offer is of the Baby Shanghai pac choi that I cleared out of the garden.

Baby Shanghai Pac Choi
Some of the pac choi was just beginning to lengthen as it tried to push up flower stalks but it was all still very good. I used a portion of it to make a stir fry with a big scallion from the garden that was harvested quite some time ago but still in excellent shape and then added to that a big ripe sweet pepper from the farmer's market and some tofu and baby shrimp. I kept the sauce simple with a mix of ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, fermented pepper sauce, and sesame oil. Dave said I hit it out of the park with that dish.

Other than the pac choi I also harvested a few of the first Sweetheart beets, an Asian green similar to kale called Peking Ta Ching Koo Pai Tsai, most of the Tennis Ball lettuce which was suffering in the warmth, and I cut the Yellow Cabbage collards down to the nubs so that I could add additional protection from the rodents. None of that got photographed.

That's all I have to report this week. Head on over to Our Happy Acres where Dave is hosting Harvest Monday, you'll find much more inspiring harvest posts there.