Planting the Fall Garden

I’ve been busy the last few weeks planting veggies for fall and winter harvest. First in the ground were bush beans. I pulled the spring planted beans which had slowed down considerably, and sowed more in their place. I also sowed another short row where the bush squashes were growing. In addition to my long-time favorite Derby, I’m also trying Mascotte (a 2014 AAS Winner), Castandel, and Jade 2. I’ve got small plantings of each of the four beans, about twenty feet total, to see how they perform in the fall garden. I grew Derby last fall and it did great, so I am hoping for a repeat this year. The bean plants are growing nicely now, though bean beetles have been munching on the leaves. I was hoping the leaves would outgrow the damage but I may have to spray some pyganic to set the beetles back.

fall planting of bush beans

fall planting of bush beans

Next in the ground were radishes and turnips. I sowed them two weeks ago, and they are ready to be thinned. I’m growing several daikon radishes, including Alpine, KN Bravo and Mini Mak. I’ll use them for fermenting as well as for fresh use and in cooking. We got a good rain yesterday and all the plants have perked up nicely. Of course it will also make the weeds grow, so I need to work on them too! I planted the radishes in a triple row to maximize the space available.

fallgardenradishes

daikon radishes

I’ve got a mix of turnips planted, including ones grown only for greens like Topper and Nozawana and ones grown for the roots like Hakurei, Oasis and Mikado. I’ve also planted Scarlet Ohno Revival, which makes hot-pink roots and tasty strap-shaped leaves. I know plenty of folks who like the roots but don’t like the greens, or vice versa, but my wife and I like all parts of the humble turnip! I planted the turnips in a double row, each row about a foot apart. I’ll mulch with straw once I get them thinned out, and they should fill in the space between the rows. As you can see in the below photo, I will need to keep pointing the sweet potato vines back to keep them from running all over the turnips.

double row of turnips

double row of turnips

Speaking of sweet potatoes, I set the slips out in early June, and the vines are growing lush now. One variety I’m growing for the first time, Murasaki, is covered in lovely purple blooms. I’ve seen the bees working the blossoms too. I think sweet potato vines are ornamental anyway, and the blooms are an added bonus.

Murasaki sweet potatoes

Murasaki sweet potatoes

Last week I set out seedlings of broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi. I started these indoors back in early July, and hardened off outdoors for a few days before planting. The seedlings are still quite small, but they have taken off quickly once they got into the ground. I set these plants out in a double row too. Then I set out another row of kale and collard greens. We love our greens here at Happy Acres, and these should keep us well supplied into early winter.

fall planted broccoli

fall planted broccoli and cabbage

I need to get this area mulched soon too, and I will likely use shredded paper and straw. I had a little damage from cabbage moth caterpillars but a spraying of Bt and neem oil took care of them. I’ll need to reapply it after the rain, since the white cabbage moths are still flying around.

fallgardencabbage

Little Jade napa cabbage

The last things I planted this week are truly an experiment. I set out plants of cucumber, squash and tomatoes in a 4×8 foot bed that was vacant after I pulled up a dead squash vine. I forked in compost and organic fertilizer before planting. We’ve got plenty of pickles already, so I planted three slicing cucumbers (Diva, Corinto and 7082). I’m using remesh cages to contain the vines.

cucumber seedlings

cucumber seedlings

For squash I set out one plant each of the yellow crookneck Tempest and Spineless Beauty zucchini. I also set one plant of Astia zucchini in a 15 gallon Smart Pot. I’ll have to work to keep that one watered, but I have successfully grown the more compact varieties like Astia in large pots.

fallgardenastia

Astia zucchini in Smart Pot

I set out two different short vine determinate tomatoes. I grew Red Racer last fall, and this 2018 AAS Winner gave us our last taste of salad sized tomatoes in 2017. I’m also trying Defiant, a short vine slicing tomato that is blight resistant and did well for me this spring. The main crop tomatoes are still producing but slowing down, and it will be nice if these fall planted ones give us some fruits. We don’t generally get our first frost until late October, so there is plenty of time for them to bear.

Defiant tomato

Defiant tomato

I still need to work up the cold frame beds and get more kale and kohlrabi planted there. Then it will be time to start other greens like lettuce and pak choi. I hope you have enjoyed this update from Happy Acres, and I’ll be back with more happenings soon!

 

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Harvest Monday August 13, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. And welcome to HappyAcres.blog, and my first official new post. Tomato season continues here, and it has been keeping me busy harvesting and processing them. I dehydrated a few more last week. I sliced some of the Roma types into about 1/4″ slices before drying. These are good for adding to egg dishes and casseroles as-is, where they will rehydrate as the dish cooks.

dehydrated paste tomatoes

dehydrated paste tomatoes

And I dried more of the Juliet tomatoes on Saturday. I cut them into quarters first, though you could also cut them in half. The quarters certainly dry faster, though it still takes the better part of a day. I’ve got the dehydrator set up out on the front porch, which keeps the heat and noise out of the kitchen while it is running.

dehydrated Juliet tomatoes

dehydrated Juliet tomatoes

Pole beans are still coming on too. It’s a mix of Musica, Fortex, Gold Marie and the first of the purple Blauhilde in the below photo. I’ve put quite a few in the freezer now for later eating.

harvest of pole beans

harvest of pole beans

I am also growing the 2017 AAS Winner Seychelles bean this year. The beans are tender and tasty, and this handful got steamed lightly before I put them on a salad. This one’s a keeper, and I plan to give it more space next year.

Seychelles pole bean

Seychelles pole bean

Robe Mountain pole bean continues to pump out the pods too. This one has been amazingly productive this year so far.

Robe Mountain beans

Robe Mountain beans

Eggplant is still producing too. The sweet peppers have been a bit slow to ripen, but I am getting a steady supply now. Cornito Giallo and Carmen peppers are hanging out with Nubia and Galine eggplant in the below photo. Most of these wound up on the grill, where they make an easy side dish. My wife also used some of the eggplant for a grilled vegetable salad.

eggplant and sweet peppers

eggplant and sweet peppers

Guajillo peppers are starting to ripen now. This is my favorite pepper for turning into chile powder. This batch is from the hybrid Minero, and I dehydrated them whole. The green one fell off accidentally while I was pulling a weed and I dried it too.

Minero hot peppers

Minero hot peppers

The first baccatum peppers are also ripening now. Aji Golden is a hot pepper that makes golden yellow/orange pods with mild heat. These came from a container plant that was covered with netting so I could save seed.  I’ve got another plant in the ground and it is loaded with green peppers. Aji Golden is incredibly productive for me, and I hope it’s doing well for those who’ve gotten seeds from me in the past.

Aji Golden peppers

Aji Golden peppers

I also got a few each of Sugar Rush Peach, Sugar Rush Cream and the red Kaleidoscope. All are baccatum peppers, and I’m growing the Sugar Rush peppers for the first time. The Cream colored ones were lacking in both flavor and heat, but the Peach ones had a lovely sweet/hot taste. They should make a tasty hot sauce when I have more of them. Kaleidoscope is one of the mildest baccatums I grow, and I most often pickle them or use fresh.

Kaleidoscope, and Sugar Rush Cream peppers

Sugar Rush Peach, Kaleidoscope, and Sugar Rush Cream peppers

It’s not going to be a great year for winter squash here, but a few have ripened so far. Robin’s Koginut and Fairy are two moschata varieties that managed to make a few fruit. The bush winter squash were a total bust, with the vines rotting before squash set on. Thankfully the vining types did a little better, no doubt since they were up off the ground during the rainy spring weather.

Fairy and Robin's Koginut winter squashes

Fairy and Robin’s Koginut winter squashes

It’s not a bad year for tomatoes though. Chef’s Choice Pink tomatoes have been starring in many sandwiches lately. Like most pink tomatoes it has red flesh, but it is the clear skin that makes it look pinkish. The large beefsteak tomatoes are big and nicely formed, and have a great flavor.

Chef's Choice Pink tomatoes

Chef’s Choice Pink tomatoes

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Harvest Monday August 6, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. First let me say this will the last Harvest Monday post from Ourhappyacres.com. Next week, please visit Happyacres.blog for Harvest Monday and to linkup with Mister Linky. And please go to that blog for all future posts from me. I intend to redirect traffic from Ourhappyacres.com to Happyacres.blog to help ease the transition. The new blog is up and running, with only a few cosmetic details to be worked out, so please check it out if you have a chance. And if you are subscribed to my blog here, you will need to resubscribe at Happyacres.blog. Mailchimp subscribers will continue to receive email updates from the new blog without doing a thing. Now on to the harvests!

The garden is keeping me busy while I prepare for fall plantings, as the summer crops keep rolling in! I got more paste tomatoes last week (almost 10 pounds), and another big bucket of Juliet tomatoes which weighed 4 pounds. I used all of them to make a big batch of unseasoned tomato sauce for the freezer, and another small batch of marinara sauce for fresh eating. It’s a real treat for me to have fresh sauce, and I try and make it often while the tomatoes are in season.

assortment of paste tomatoes

assortment of paste tomatoes

Juliet tomatoes

Juliet tomatoes

Eggplants are still producing well too. There’s the white skinned Clara and Paloma along with the light purple Dancer and the blackish Galine and Nadia in the below photo. More on them a bit later.

assorted eggplant

assorted eggplant

Pole beans are coming in now too. They got off to a terrible start, but I guess reports of their death were greatly exaggerated (by me)! Robe Mountain is the earliest of the Appalachian heirloom beans I am growing, and I got enough of them last week for a couple of meals. This variety first appeared as a mutant bean in a planting of greasy beans, and author/grower Bill Best tells the whole story on the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center website. It is a very tasty bean, tender and flavorful, and even though it has strings they come off easily when prepping the pods. Not pictured is a harvest of Musica and Gold Marie beans which went into the freezer for later eating.

Robe Mountain beans

Robe Mountain beans

I brought in a couple more tromboncinos and another Tatume squash last week. I’m getting just enough of both of these to keep us well supplied, but so not enough to have a glut. We use these like summer squash, and the Tatume got grilled for a side dish.

tromboncino and Tatume squash

tromboncino and Tatume squash

Some of the tromboncino met up with the above mentioned fresh marinara sauce plus a couple of the eggplants when I baked Eggplant Rollatini for dinner one night. I sliced the eggplant, then baked just long enough until they were pliable. Then I stuffed them with a mixture that included cottage cheese, grated Parmesan, some sauteed tromboncino and an egg for a binder. I topped that all of with the marinara sauce and baked it, and added a bit of mozzarella cheese at the end. It made for a very tasty dish, and I am sorry my wife was not there to enjoy it with me. I will make it again the next time we have the eggplant. It also freezes well, and I froze the leftovers.

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

I’ve been getting a steady supply of slicing tomatoes too. Perfect Flame is from the Heirloom Marriage line of tomatoes, and is a hybrid cross between Jaune Flamme and Peron. It’s not a big tomato, but it has big flavor! It’s my first time growing it but I think it will be back next year. I love Jaune Flamme, but gave up growing it after several years of it failing to grow and produce for me.

Perfect Flame tomatoes

Perfect Flame tomatoes

Big Brandy is another from that line, and it is a hybrid cross between Brandywine and Big Dwarf. It’s my second year growing this one, and so far it is my favorite of the ‘hybrid Brandywine’ types I have grown. The flavor is excellent, and while the tomatoes are a bit rough looking they are big and the plants are productive. This batch wound up on several sandwiches last week, including a BLT.

Big Brandy tomatoes

Big Brandy tomatoes

I’ve growing four of the Chef’s Choice series this year, all of them AAS Winners. Chef’s Choice Red is a 2018 winner, and has been very productive for me.

Chef

Chef’s Choice Red tomatoes

Chef’s Choice Yellow and Chef’s Choice Pink are big beefsteak type tomatoes. A slice of either one of these two will cover your sandwich completely! Chef’s Choice Orange is smaller, but just as tasty.

Chef

Chef’s Choice Yellow and Chef’s Choice Pink tomatoes

Chef

Chef’s Choice Orange tomato

And finally, I got around to doing some tasting of the kimchi peppers I am growing this year. I dehydrated them first, then ground them up in the electric spice grinder. Then I laid them all out on a plate with label so I could tell them apart. I am looking for something with a lot of flavor but not too much heat. Armed with a tall glass of liquid, I began the tasting. The differences in heat levels were subtle, and none were too hot though all were a bit hotter than the commercial gochugaru flakes I bought. I have to say the jury is still out on which is my favorite! The open pollinated Kimchi and Gochugaru peppers are at the top of my list, and I have saved seeds from them. But the hybrid Korean Winner is also tasty and not too hot. Last year I grew Lady Choi and it was too hot for me, but this year seems less hot. I do think more tasting with more peppers will be needed! It will be several months before I make more kimchi, so there’s no rush.

peppers for gochugaru

peppers for gochugaru

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Variety Spotlight: Jasper Tomato

This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

Today’s Spotlight is on a red cherry tomato I’m growing for the first time this year. It’s called Jasper, and it’s a 2013 National AAS Winner. After tasting the first one that ripened a month or so ago, I knew it was going to be a winner in my garden too!

Jasper tomatoes

Jasper tomatoes

Jasper was bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds and grows on vigorous indeterminate vines that have resistance to a number of diseases, including septoria leaf spot, fusarium wilt, plus early and late blights. I’ve got the plants growing in 5 foot tall remesh cages, and the vines quickly reached the top of the cage and then grew back down to the ground. I’ve seen no sign of disease on my plants this year, and they are loaded with fruit.

cluster of Jasper tomatoes

cluster of Jasper tomatoes

Jasper bears fruit on trusses of up to a dozen or more tomatoes, and the individual fruits are about 3/4 inch in diameter. They have the added bonus of keeping well both on the plant and after they are harvested. This has been a challenging year here for growing tomatoes, with lots of rain and high temperature and humidity, but the Jasper tomatoes have resisted cracking, splitting and rotting. That is important for me, as fruits that split and crack don’t keep well at all, and often start rotting while still on the vine. Jasper starts bearing early too, at about 60 days after setting out transplants.

Jasper tomatoes in the morning sun

Jasper tomatoes in the morning sun

Of course one of the most important things for me is the taste, and Jasper delivers in that department too. The deep red ripe fruits are sweet and flavorful, and wonderful for eating out of hand and on salads. Though they keep well after harvest, ours don’t hang around too long because they disappear from the kitchen in no time! I haven’t tried dehydrating them yet but they should dry well too.

Jasper tomatoes

Jasper tomatoes

I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a tomato that is easy to grow and one of my new favorites. Seeds for Jasper are available from a number of sources in the U.S. including Johnny’s, Nichols Garden Nursery and Fedco Seeds. You can read more about Jasper tomato on the AAS Winners page for it. I’ll be back soon with another variety to spotlight.

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Changes Coming Here Soon

This is just a quick message to say I will be moving this blog from my current hosting provider to WordPress.com soon. I will also be changing the domain name to Happyacres.blog. I won’t get into all the gory details here, but I have been wanting to change things for some time, and I have finally decided to do it! My plan is to migrate all the existing content, though that might happen in stages. So stay tuned for further developments.

Puddin in a yoga pose

Puddin in a yoga pose

I will still be posting here until the changes are finalized, and I’ll let you know when that happens. Meanwhile, here’s a warm, furry pic of our cat Puddin doing cat yoga on the floor. Please bear with me during the upcoming transition, and thanks as always for dropping by!

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