Harvest Monday September 24, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The pole beans took a break last week, just in time as the fall planting of bush beans started bearing in their place. I got a harvest of all the bush beans I have planted now, about four pounds total. I’m trialing three new ones this fall, but I have been growing Derby for years, and it does well for me in both spring and fall.

Derby beans

Derby beans

It’s my first time growing Castandel. The pods are a bit more slender than Derby, and with a lighter green color. This one has been called the ‘weekend bean’ since it is supposed to allow you more time between pickings. I think I will keep to my usual schedule of harvesting every several days though.

Castandel beans

Castandel beans

Castandel beans

Castandel beans

It’s also my first time growing Jade 2 and Mascotte. In the below photo they are all lined up for comparison, and from left to right we have Jade 2, Castandel, Derby and Mascotte. I should have put a ruler there for scale, but the first three beans are five to six inches long, while Mascotte is around four inches. We did a taste test on Jade 2 and Castendel, first roasting them in a cast iron skillet for one meal then cooking each in water with a bit of onion and a slice of bacon for seasoning for another two meals. I also steamed some of the Mascotte beans to add to a salad. My wife and I enjoyed all the treatments, and I look forward to more tastings of these beans.

Jade 2, Castandel, Derby and Mascotte beans

Jade 2, Castandel, Derby and Mascotte beans

The Tromba di Albenga (aka Tromboncino) has been keeping us well supplied with squash since early summer. I have to confess though that the vines have escaped the trellis, and are now wandering over the garden. It’s okay, because they are the only squash left in that area. I guess I will need to be more diligent next year in keeping them confined. The Rancho Marques vine that has been growing along the fencing has also made a run to the empty squash trellises, so it and the Tromboncino vines will likely be meeting up somewhere soon!

Tromba di Albenga squash

Tromba di Albenga squash

I’m still getting a steady supply of ripe peppers from the garden. Last week I sampled three heirloom varieties, the orange Dolce di Minervino and the red Criolla de Cocina and Jimmy Nardello. I grilled them for my lunch one day, and while all were tasty I have to say Jimmy Nardello is my favorite. It is one of the sweetest peppers I have ever eaten, and great for grilling or sauteeing. I’ve also dried them in the past, but this year we have been eating all of them fresh. I did a Variety Spotlight on them back in 2013, and I love the back story about this family heirloom pepper and how the Nardiello family brought seeds with them when they immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1887.

Criolla de Cocina and Jimmy Nardello peppers

Dolce di Minervino, Criolla de Cocina and Jimmy Nardello peppers

Hot peppers are ripening too, and I’ve been dehydrating a lot of them. In the below photo there’s Aji Golden, Czech Black and Korean Hot. I dehydrated the Aji Golden and Korean Hot, and ground them up into flakes. I’ve been using the Aji Golden as a table seasoning, and it has a mild sweet flavor. The Korean Hot pepper flakes are for kimchi.

Aji Angelo, Czech Black and Korean Hot peppers

Aji Angelo, Czech Black and Korean Hot peppers

The Czech Black peppers are much like jalapenos in size and heat. They start off blackish green in color, and turn red when fully ripe. I’ve got a potted plant from last year that survived the winter indoors, and has been fruiting ever since early spring. If I had more than a few at a time I might smoke them, but so far I’ve been using these fresh.

Czech Black peppers

Czech Black peppers

We cooked up some of the winter squash last week. First up was Gill’s Golden Pippin, the small acorn squash with a golden orange skin. I cut them in half and baked them, and they were amazingly sweet for an acorn squash, or any other squash for that matter. This one is a keeper, though I didn’t get any pics of the cooked squash. Next up we roasted a Honeyboat delicata and a smallish Thelma Sanders acorn squash. I cut these into rounds and spritzed with olive oil before roasting on a baking sheet. Last year the Honeyboat I grew was bitter and strong tasting, so this year I got seeds from a difference source (Adaptive Seeds). This year they are sweet and tasty, even sweeter than the Gill’s Golden Pippin and Thelma Sanders. I only got a few of the delicatas, but we will savor each one of them soon since they aren’t good keepers.

roasted winter squash

roasted winter squash

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. There are no rules or regulations, and wonky veggies are always as welcome as the prize winners. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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2018 Allium Review

All the garlic has been cleaned and weighed now, and as I suspected it was not a great year for it. I believe the combination of a colder than usual winter and a super wet spring made for problems. I lost a lot of bulbs over the winter, and several more rotted as they were sizing up in June. I discovered that when I started digging them. We will have plenty to eat, though I wonder how long some of the bulbs will keep given the wet soil conditions at digging time.

harvesting the early garlic

harvesting the early garlic

A tough growing year like 2018 helps me weed out the cultivars that can’t handle the growing conditions in our garden. As Warren Buffett famously told Berkshire Hathaway investors one year at their annual meeting, “you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” Lots of my garlic was swimming naked this year, both figuratively and literally, when we got 10 inches of rain in June as the bulbs were maturing!

Xian garlic

Xian garlic

Last year the artichoke variety Simonetti made the largest bulbs, and that’s true again this year. But last year they averaged 3.05 ounces each, while this year they averaged 2.17 ounces. All of the varieties were smaller this year, with some of the bulbs being so small as to be barely worth peeling and using.

Simonetti garlic

Simonetti garlic

I tried a new artichoke variety from Baker Creek called K’s Backyard that made the second largest bulbs, with an average weight of 1.74 ounces. I plan on growing it again next year for sure.

K's Backyard garlic

K’s Backyard garlic

And the silverskin Sicilian Silver was third largest. The silverskins are the best keepers for me, and I count on them to keep us supplied in garlic when all the others are gone.

Sicilian Silver garlic

Sicilian Silver garlic

As for the onions, the bulbing types were a complete washout. They never sized up, many of them rotted too, and they all went straight to the compost bin. After finding some lovely sweet Candy onions at the farmer’s market, I decided I will stop trying to grow them here. I don’t have to grow everything myself! The shallots all did poorly too, and I won’t be growing them again.

Thankfully the multiplier onions did much better. The I’itoi onions did just fine, and though I lost a few of them they make so many bulbs I have more than enough to replant for next year. We use these mostly as green onions or scallions, and they are so prolific I have stopped growing scallions from seed since they keep us supplied nearly year round. They multiply into big clumps of bulbs, and you can see in the below photo this batch is beginning to sprout and is ready to be planted. I have planted them already in the greenhouse, and in a couple of containers. I will plant more in the ground later.

clump of I'itoi multiplier onions

clump of I’itoi multiplier onions

The other multiplier onion I grew is the Yellow Potato Onion, and while it didn’t do as well as it did last year it did make enough bulbs for us to eat and for replanting. My goal is to get it and the I’itoi onions established so I have perennial onions I can replant every year like I do the garlic. The small potato onions are perfect for dishes that call for a small amount of onion, and I find them very useful in the kitchen.

clump of Yellow Potato Onions

clump of Yellow Potato Onions

The total haul for the 2018 garlic harvest was 13 pounds, down from the 22 pounds I harvested in 2017 from about the same amount of bulbs planted. I’ll be replanting the garlic here in late October or early November, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it all keeps until then. I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2018 allium harvest here at Happy Acres, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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Harvest Monday September 17, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s still bean and pepper season here, and both have been keeping me busy lately. I harvest the pole beans every couple of days or so, and this week I got a nice haul of the Robe Mountain greasy beans. It’s been a great year for beans here, despite the problems I had early on with germination. It looks like we may surpass even last year’s epic harvest. I may need to either plant less in the future, or else eat more beans!

Robe Mountain beans

Robe Mountain beans

I also got the first harvest of the fall planted Mascotte beans. These filet type beans are a 2014 AAS Winner, and it’s my first time growing them. I don’t usually grow filet type beans since I think they sometimes get tough too quickly, but Mascotte seems to be quite tender so far. The plants are loaded with flowers and developing pods too.

Mascotte beans

Mascotte beans

In pepper land, I got a big harvest of Red Ember peppers last week. This one is a 2018 AAS Winner, and the peppers are thicker and a bit bigger than most cayenne types.

Red Ember peppers

Red Ember peppers

I’ve had two jars of peppers fermenting on the kitchen counter for a week now. One has sweet peppers that I plant to turn into a fermented pepper paste. The other has a mix of sweet and hot peppers, plus onion and garlic that will be a fermented pepper salsa. I’m using the silicone Fermilids which allow CO2 gas to escape but keep oxygen out. I’m hoping this will help prevent Kahm yeast from forming on the surface, which happens to me occasionally when fermenting peppers. The yeast is harmless, but it can lead to an off aroma or taste in the finished product. I used some of the Red Ember hot peppers plus Carmen and Cornito Giallo sweet peppers for the pepper salsa.

peppers fermenting

peppers fermenting

I also got a few more of the Nora peppers. Nora is a sweet pepper used for making Spanish pimenton (paprika) powder. Though the peppers are small, they have thick walls, so they make more powder than you might think. The plants are loaded with green ones too, so there will be more to come. I dehydrate these whole, and remove the seeds before grinding up into powder. I got the seeds for planting from Secret Seed Cartel.

Nora peppers

Nora peppers

And I also harvested a good bit of the Kaleidoscope peppers for dehydrating. These baccatum peppers have little to no heat, and I’ve never tried drying them and grinding into powder. I usually pickle them or use them fresh, but the overwintered plant is loaded with so many peppers I need to get creative. They dried quickly, and the powder is sweet tasting with no heat at all.

Kaleidoscope peppers

Kaleidoscope peppers

I cut the first two of the Turkeyneck hybrid winter squash last week. They were even bigger than I expected, and the two together weighed in right at 18 pounds. There are at least 6 more of them on the vines too. The neck is solid flesh, and makes a tasty puree when baked and processed. I’ll let these cure for a bit before we use them for anything.

Turkeyneck winter squash

Turkeyneck winter squash

I also found one more of the Gill’s Golden Pippin acorn squash. It was hiding in plain sight on the vine, because the bright gold color really stands out. I’m hoping to get our first taste of these soon, since some have been curing for a month or so now. It’s my wife’s week to cook, but I would gladly help prepare these for her (hint, hint) so we could get a taste.

Gills Golden Pippin squash

Gills Golden Pippin squash

In non-harvest news, I bottled up the first batch of kombucha I made using hibiscus tea. The tea is naturally caffeine free and has a tart flavor and lovely red color, and the finished kombucha keeps the color nicely. I have one bottle of raspberry and one plain hibiscus kombucha in the below photo. I’ve tasted both of them, and I have to say I’m a fan. I’ve got another batch brewing already. The raspberry flavor is sort of a shocker. The raspberry flavor is there, but with no sweetness at all. I want to use raspberries in regular kombucha next.

hibiscus flower kombucha

hibiscus flower kombucha

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. There are no rules or regulations, and wonky veggies are always as welcome as the prize winners. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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Harvest Monday September 10, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The remnants of storm Gordon came through over the weekend and dumped three inches of rain on us over a two day period. Added to an inch we got on September 1st, and we have four inches already this month. That’s the way it’s been here all year, boom or bust. A wet spring was followed by a dry summer, and now it looks like a wet autumn. Oh well, nothing we can do about the weather, so on to the harvests! It’s still pepper season here. I got a taste of two last week that are heirlooms but new to me, the red Criolla de Cocina and the yellow Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes (aka PASS).

Criolla de Cocina and PASS peppers

Criolla de Cocina and PASS peppers

I also got quite a few of the familiar faces that have been showing up for several weeks now. In the below photo we have Jimmy Nardello, Carmen, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso, Sweetie Pie and Orange Blaze. We have more sweet peppers than we can eat fresh, so I have been dehydrating some and now I want to try fermenting a batch to make a pepper paste with them. Michelle (From Seed To Table) did an informative post last year (Fermented Peppers) that covers the method she uses for this one plus several other ways she used fermented peppers last year. I started the batch of sweet peppers for the paste yesterday. I also have a recipe for fermented pepper salsa I want to try that uses both sweet and hot peppers plus onions and garlic.

assortment of sweet peppers

assortment of sweet peppers

Tomatoes are mostly taking a break now but I did get a few from one of the Artisan Seeds hybrid test varieties I am growing this year. This one is a striped purple mini beefsteak, or supposed to be.  I have to say the flavor was so-so, and the color was more “purplish” than being a dark purple. It’s been a tough year for tomatoes though so I’m not sure if the flavor of these is representative. The red striped mini beefsteak I grew last year had an outstanding flavor, but has been a shy producer this year.

mini beefsteak tomatoes

mini beefsteak tomatoes

Speaking of tasting, I also cooked up one of the Koginut winter squashes last week. My wife and I both agreed it was not really all that tasty, and had a somewhat bitter flavor to it. It was just one squash, but hey – first impressions are important! On a brighter note, the vines for the Turkeyneck squash are loaded with fruit. I’ve counted at least eight of them, and they are still blooming. Last year this was voted “best tasting” of all the pumpkin types I grew. This one looks to be about ready, so I suspect I will cut it this week. The neck on these is all solid flesh, so I would imagine this one will weigh in the 4 to 5 pound range.

Turkeyneck squash

Turkeyneck squash

Another winter squash coming on is Rancho Marques. It’s a land race moschata type from Native Seeds/Search. I figured if it did well in Arizona it would do well in our summer heat too. So far it has held up well, and it has set on a couple of big round squash.

Rancho Marques squash

Rancho Marques squash

It’s been a great year for pole beans, especially the Appalachian heirloom varieties. I got a bucket each of Bertie Best Greasy Beans and NT Half Runner beans. I’ve learned to take more than one bucket when I go to pick the pole beans! This time I had to come back and get a third bucket for a few more beans I found. I wanted to keep them separate for processing.

Bertie Best Greasy Beans and NT Half Runner beans

Bertie Best Greasy Beans and NT Half Runner beans

NT Half Runner has been incredibly productive this year. I got 2.5 pounds of them last week, most of which went into the freezer.

NT Half Runner beans

NT Half Runner beans

Bertie Best Greasy Bean is smaller but also very productive. We ate this batch. I love shelly beans, and the great thing about this variety is you don’t even have to shell them! The beans fall out during cooking, and the pods are edible as well as the beans. They do have strings, but I have become fairly adept at stringing them. I find it’s no more work than shelling peas or beans, and actually a rather pleasant task.

Bertie Best Greasy Beans

Bertie Best Greasy Beans

I wound up baking three loaves of sandwich bread and a couple of batches of zucchini brownies to donate to a bake sale. The whole wheat and rye breads are two I make for us all the time, while the Ooey-Gooey Zucchini Brownies were new to me. The All-America Selections folks shared the recipe, and even though it calls for fresh grated zucchini I used frozen since I had no fresh at the moment. The frozen worked just fine, and I was sure to use all the liquid that came out as well as the solids since the recipe depends on the liquid to moisten up the brownies. My wife and I both gave them two thumbs up, and I confess that more than a couple of brownies did NOT make it to the bake sale! I did neglect to get a photo, but I will the next time I make them. The whole wheat bread was not camera shy though.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

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. There are no rules or regulations, and wonky veggies are always as welcome as the prize winners. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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Fall Garden Update

The fall garden is pretty much all planted now, and I thought today I would give an update on its progress. We have a fairly long growing season here, and I generally plant cool season crops in both spring and fall since they don’t do well with our summer heat. I’ve got kohlrabi growing in both the main garden and in one of the cold frame beds. The cold frame are covered in bird netting at the moment, and I will add Agribon later in the season for frost protection.

kohlrabi in cold frame bed

kohlrabi in cold frame bed

I’ve got another cold frame bed planted in shorter varieties of hybrid kale. It’s Prizm in the below photo, and I also have Darkibor, Starbor and the o/p Meadowlark planted in that bed. The bird netting does not keep out the white cabbage moths and the caterpillars have done a bit of damage on the kale and kohlrabi leaves, but I have been treating with Bt. I also have a lot of taller kale varieties planted in the main garden area.

kale in cold frame bed

kale in cold frame bed

Moving to the main garden now, I have a few warm season veggies that I planted  for fall. I have Astia zucchini growing in a 15 gallon Smart Pot. This variety does quite well in containers, and I am hoping it will give us a few fruits this fall. I also have a plant of the yellow crookneck squash Tempest planted in the ground. Squash bugs are still abundant around here, and in fact you can see one climbing up a leaf stalk in the below photo. That bug mysteriously ‘disappeared’ after the photo was taken. So far I have been able to keep on top of them with only a few plants still going. They have been bad here this year, but with most of the squash vines gone they have less to feed on now.

Astia zucchini growing in Smart Pot

Astia zucchini growing in Smart Pot

Near the squash plants I have a few late planted tomatoes growing. I planted two short vine varieties I had growing this summer, Red Racer and Defiant. If they give us even a few more tomatoes in October it will have been worth the effort. Red Racer is a 2018 AAS Winner that makes clusters of salad sized tomatoes. The fruits remind me a lot of Mountain Magic, but on determinate and well-behaved vines. Defiant is a medium sized red slicing tomato with resistance to a number of diseases, including early and late blight. They are both off to a good start, and I should be seeing blooms on them before long.

Defiant tomato

Defiant tomato

I set out broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi plants on August 6th, and they are sizing up nicely. I’ve had caterpillar damage on them too, and likely some slug damage. The napa cabbages are starting to head up already, and the stems on the Kossak kohlrabi are swelling too. Both of those will get used for kimchi and kraut when they are ready.

napa cabbages

napa cabbages

I sowed seeds for four varieties of bush beans back in late July, and they are all blooming now. Mascotte is the first one to set pods. It’s my first time growing this 2014 AAS Winner. It’s also my first time growing Jade 2 and Castandel, and they join my long time favorite bush bean Derby. I hope to compare notes on how they all do here this fall. They had some bean beetle damage early on, but they recovered after I sprayed a couple of times with pyrethins to knock back the beetles. You can see in the below photo that Mascotte is loaded with blooms, and the first filet beans are setting on now just 41 days after sowing.

Mascotte bush filet beans

Mascotte bush filet beans

I sowed seeds of radishes and turnips back on August 3rd and 4th, and some of the turnip green are big enough to eat. I’ll likely wait for cooler weather to harvest them, though I have to say a big mess of greens does sound pretty tasty. Topper is one grown only for the greens, and it has been the fastest growing this fall, with Nozawana close behind it. I’m also growing Hakurei, Oasis, Niseko, Mikado and Scarlet Ohno Revival. We love both the humble turnip root and its greens, and hopefully this planting will keep us well supplied on into early winter.

Topper turnip greens

Topper turnip greens

I hope you have enjoyed this update on how the fall garden is doing here. By this time of year I’m always getting a bit weary of all the garden work, especially when it’s miserably hot and humid like it’s been lately, but later on I will be thankful I made the effort to put out the fall veggies!

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