Harvest Monday September 20, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. The weather has turned a bit more autumnal, with cooler mornings now and less humid air. The days are still hot though with high temps over 80°F most days. The harvests are turning towards what is typical for us here in September. Peppers and beans rule the day, with winter squashes coming in as they mature on the vines.

September harvest

The sweet peppers are ripening now, and old favorites like Carmen and Jimmy Nardello are keeping us supplied. Sweetie Pie is my new favorite mini bell pepper, and our two plants are loaded with fruit this year. It is shaped somewhat like a pimento pepper, with thick walls and juicy sweet flesh when ripe.

sweet peppers

The eggplant has slowed down but we are still well supplied.  With it and peppers available, I see things like caponata and ratatouille appearing on the menu soon. I also plan to use both in a polenta casserole, and I may make another batch of baba ganoush while we have the eggplant.

eggplant harvest

The Appalachian pole beans are giving us three or four pounds of beans each week now. We eat them frequently, and I am freezing the rest. These beans tend to make a lot of ‘shellies’ if you let the pods get bigger, and that makes for a tasty and nutritious addition to soups.

pole beans and eggplant

The neck pumpkin type of squashes are maturing now, and I cut several of the Centercuts last week. I also found a green one plus a big tromboncino that we spiralized and baked as a side dish.

Centercut and Tromba squashes

The blackeyes are setting on now, and I have the pink-eyed purple hulled variety planted this year along with the pale Lady peas. The purple pods rub off on my hands as I shell them, which makes for purple thumbs for a bit. They are a bit easier the shell though than the Lady peas, and the peas themselves are a bit bigger.

purple hull and Lady cowpeas

The tomatoes are really winding down but I found Cherry Bomb and Juliet last week, along with several green tomatoes which were breaded and fried for a seasonal side dish one night. My wife never ate fried green tomatoes until we met, but she is now a fan of my treatment. I slice the tomatoes and lightly salt to bring out the moisture, then dip in a 50-50 mix of flour and stone-ground cornmeal. Finally, they get pan-fried in olive oil until browned and softened. We only do this once or twice a year, and it is always a treat!

green and cherry tomatoes

I found a few ripe slicers too, mostly the pink Damsel and Chef’s Choice Orange. Chef’s Choice Orange may well be the last big tomato we get this year, and my one plant has outperformed even its usual prolific yields.

slicing tomatoes

Fall flowers are showing up now, though the hardy hibiscus have been blooming all summer really. The helianthus has gotten its second wind and is covered in cheery yellow flowers, while the asters are just now coming into bloom in various shades of purple and blue. Butterflies are visiting the asters, while hummingbirds sip the nectar from the hibiscus flowers.

hardy hibiscus Midnight Marvel

hardy hibiscus Midnight Marvel

Helianthus ‘Low Down’

Aster 'Wood's Purple'

Aster ‘Wood’s Purple’

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 you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Harvest Monday September 13, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. My usual harvests now almost always include beans, and one day they also had a few winter squash joining them. I have been busy freezing all the beans we don’t eat fresh, and we should have a lot for winter use.

September harvest

Thelma Sanders is one of my favorite winter squashes. This heirloom is a somewhat shy yielder in our garden, but the squash are always sweet and flavorful. We most often cut them into slices and roast in a cast iron skillet in the oven, which brings out the nutty and sweet flavor in them.

Thelma Sanders squash

I got my first decent haul of hot peppers last week. I had right at two pounds of them, which was enough to start a batch of fermented hot sauce. Flaming Flare is a fresno type pepper with medium heat, while Red Ember is classified as a cayenne even though it has thick walls and a milder heat level than most other cayenne peppers I have grown. Both are AAS Winners and both always do well for me here. The plants are still loaded with fruit even after this harvest.

Flaming Flare and Red Ember hot peppers

Flaming Flare and Red Ember

To ferment them, I removed the stem end and cut in half. I like to remove as many seeds as possible, since I don’t think they add anything to the final product. I wear gloves during this process to keep the hot peppers off my hands. After preparing, I added 5% sea salt by weight and mixed it up well with the peppers. I let them sit out on the counter overnight before packing into a jar and topping with a “pickle pipe” that lets fermentation gases escape. I will likely leave these sit for a week before processing into hot sauce.

preparing peppers before fermenting

fermenting hot peppers

The garden is still keeping us well supplied with eggplant. I believe the harvest in the photo includes Machiaw, Orient Express and Nadia.

eggplant harvest

We used the big Nadia to make eggplant sandwiches we had for lunch one day. After roasting the eggplant and sweet peppers, we spread hummus on a mini naan then added the veggies and topped with a slice of cheddar cheese. We had extra tomatoes, eggplant and peppers on the side, and it made for one of our favorite seasonal meals that we enjoyed outside on the screened porch.

eggplant sandwiches with roasted peppers and sliced tomatoes

We are getting enough slicing tomatoes to eat, but not enough to have a glut of them. We did a tasting one day with a Benevento and a Chef’s Choice Pink. Both were tasty to me, but I decided I slightly preferred the Benevento. On the other hand, my wife preferred the Chef’s Choice Pink. That is one reason I like to have a number of varieties planted! I have to say I would gladly eat either of them, and they both will likely be on my planting list for 2022.

Chef’s Choice Pink (l) and Benevento (r) tomatoes

I had a question from a reader about the avocado squashes. Picked at the green stage, they do have small seeds inside that are edible along with the flesh and skin. I remove the seeds if they get larger, but for the most part I chop them up and cook the whole thing. The one in the photo was sautéed in olive oil until tender and served up as a side dish, which is my favorite way to prepare them.

cutting up Early Bulam avocado squash

In other news, I baked a batch of Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns last week. This is one of my favorite bun recipes, and this batch had about 40% whole wheat flour and was topped with an Everything Bagel mix.

Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns

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 you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Fall Garden Update

We’re in the busy period now where summer veggies are coming on, and it’s also time to plant and take care of the fall veggies. Today I’ll share a quick progress report on how the fall vegetable plantings are doing. I set out kale and collard plants early last month, and they have taken off nicely. I set out most of the collard greens in a bed where broccoli and cabbage were growing earlier. The bed had been prepped with lots of compost in spring, so all I did was work it up with a digging fork and add some organic fertilizer. You can see in the photo that the weeds are growing too! I need to weed and mulch with straw soon before they get really out of hand..

Yellow Cabbage collards

The other end of that bed was covered in weed barrier fabric and had been planted with bush summer squashes. Those plants are all done for and were put on the compost pile. I used scissors to cut a slit in the material and sowed turnip greens (Topper and All-Top) in half the area. I sowed white ‘salad’ turnips (Hakurei) in a nearby area using the same method. All the turnips are coming up now and hopefully they will be easier to keep weeded with the fabric.

turnips

I replanted a couple of bush zucchini at the far end of that bed. It’s a bit late to be planting squash here, but the plants were started in pots last month and should get off to a quick start. I set out a couple of zucchini in grow bags, and I can move them inside the greenhouse if an early frost threatens. I’ve had good luck growing the squash in these bags, though the yields are lower than those I plant in-ground. At this point I’m just looking for a few fresh ones to extend the season a bit.

late planting of zucchini

I also set out  a few collards in another bed that was covered in weed barrier fabric. They seem to be growing a bit faster than the ones planted in bare soil. And they are definitely less weedy!

Yellow Cabbage collards

I have been experimenting with this woven black polypropylene fabric this year and so far I am pleased with the results. This White Russian kale planted in it is also off to a great start.

White Russian kale

While I try and limit my use of plastic in general, and especially in the garden, I am also getting to the point where I don’t have the energy to devote to gardening that I used to have when I was younger. So I am looking for any and all ways to assist me, and the weed barrier fabric is one way. The bed where the collard greens are planted in bare ground needs weeding repeatedly, while the bed next it has been weed free for months since I put the fabric down. The fabric can be reused, and I look forward to more experimenting with it next year.

collards need weeding

Back in July I sowed a section of one bed in cowpeas for an edible cover crop. They are now setting pods and ready to begin harvesting. I’m growing two varieties this year, one called Quickpick Pinkeye and Fast Lady Northern Southern peas. The cowpeas and mulch will keep down weeds plus add organic material and nitrogen to the soil, while giving us some tasty peas.

Quickpick Pinkeye peas

In spring I planted several eggplants in containers and they kept us well supplied until the in-ground plantings began bearing. The container plants have slowed down, so I trimmed them back a couple of weeks ago and gave them a drink of fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer. They responded with a flush of blooms are are now setting fruit. I have Fairy Tale, Gretel and Patio Baby growing and all have done well in containers.

Fairy Tale eggplant

I have one more fall planting I made, and that is a bed of kohlrabi I set out behind the greenhouse. I have Kolibri and Terek planted there, and it needs to be weeded and mulched too. Those should be ready to eat sometime next month, and give as a bit more fresh kohlrabi before winter sets in. I have spread Sluggo pellets on the soil to help keep the slugs under control, since they are usually a problem with the kohlrabi.

kohlrabi plants

I decided not to set out any broccoli this fall, since I grow it in the winter greenhouse and that usually keeps us well supplied. I also decided to skip planting cabbage. I do have some other greens like mizuna started and I will try and find a home for them soon. I hope you have enjoyed this update on what’s happening here at Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday September 6, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. The summer harvests continue here but at a slower pace. I’m finally getting a decent harvest of sweet peppers here. Carmen and Jimmy Nardello are two of my longtime favorite sweet peppers. They are generally early to ripen, and that has been true to form this year. I roasted these in the oven, which we then used for a side dish one day and on a pizza.

sweet peppers

Jimmy Nardello peppers

The pole beans are off and running now, and I got a big haul of them last week. There were also a few more of the short vine Health Kick tomatoes that ripened. I turned those into a thick sauce we used on the pizza, then froze the rest. There were over three pounds of the beans, and I have been harvesting them a couple of times a week as they size up. These heirloom beans never get tough, so there is no rush to harvest them like most modern varieties.

beans and tomatoes

I’m growing one new variety called Gizzard this year. This is a multi-use bean that can be used as a snap bean, a shell bean or allowed to dry before using. It is colored much like Turkey Craw, which I have been growing for several years now. There were two pounds alone of the Gizzard, so I cooked up one pound and froze the rest along with the other beans. They were tasty, with lots of mature seeds in them which gives a rich flavor as well as makes them a good source of protein. They do have strings, like all the pole beans I’m growing, but I can sit and string and snap them fairly quickly. I find it’s no harder than shelling peas or dried beans.

Gizzard beans

We are past peak tomato season, but still getting plenty to eat. Cherry Bomb is still pumping out lots of tasty and sweet cherry tomatoes. We’ve been enjoying these on salads mostly as well as snacking on them.

Cherry Bomb tomatoes

It has been a great year for eggplant too. We most often roast or grill them. Nadia and Galine are big purple Italian types, and Asian Delite is the skinny one with bright purple skin and a mild white flesh.

eggplant harvest

I used one of the big ones to make Baba Ganoush last week. I roasted the cut eggplant until a bit charred on top but still soft inside, then scooped out the flesh and mashed with a fork. I added tahini, olive oil, garlic and a bit of chopped flat leaf parsley from the garden. Sprinkled with a little paprika on top and served with toasted pita bread, it made for a tasty side dish for lunch one day.

roasting eggplant

Baba Ganoush with toasted pita bread

I planted a really different kind of rudbeckia in the Wild Garden this spring, and it is just now beginning to bloom. Henry Eiler grows four to five feel tall and has petals that are rolled instead of flat. I think the overall effect is striking, and the flowers are attractive to both butterflies and bees. We don’t deadhead these or our coneflowers, and the finches and other birds love eating the seeds from the seed heads that form.

Rudbeckia Henry Eilers

The Leucanthemum Sweet Daisy Birdy in the Wild Garden has gotten another flush of blooms. This Shasta Daisy is a 2021 AAS Winner and looks to be a good addition to our lineup of summer bloomers. It’s attractive to butterflies and bees too, and the rabbits and deer leave it alone.

Sweet Daisy Birdy

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 you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Harvest Monday August 30, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. As we near the end of August, the summer garden is still keeping us well supplied with warm weather crops like tomatoes and eggplant. And last week, the sweet peppers finally began ripening as well. Sweetie Pie and Carmen are two dependable and tasty performers for me, and I have both these AAS Winners planted in ground. I have lots of hot peppers both green and ripe coming on, and I have used a few of these already as needed.

August harvest

August harvest

The pole beans are setting on nicely now. I have at least four different varieties yielding, with the rest of them blooming. I am freezing what we don’t eat. I string and snap the beans, then blanch in boiling water for three minutes before they hit the freezer. I find if I freeze them on freezer paper lined cookie sheets I can break them apart more easily for later use instead of having them all in a big frozen blob. We use the same treatment for blackberries and blueberries, though of course they don’t need to be blanched.

harvest of pole beans

harvest of pole beans

Paste tomatoes are winding down, and I’m not exactly unhappy about that. I made another batch of tomato paste last week as well as another batch of freezer sauce. Granadero, Juliet and Health Kick have all done well and made a lot of sauce, ketchup and tomato paste.

Granadero and Juliet tomatoes

Granadero and Juliet tomatoes

I also used the paste tomatoes for a fresh marinara sauce to make a casserole dish of grilled Eggplant Parmesan Casserole. I baked the sliced eggplant in the oven  instead of grilling since it was so hot outside. After assembling the casserole, it finished in the oven until it was bubbling and cheesy. It’s comfort food for me and my wife, and we had leftovers for the freezer as well.

Eggplant Parmesan casserole

Eggplant Parmesan casserole

Slicing tomatoes are still coming on strong. Benevento is a new release from Artisan Seeds. This hybrid beefsteak is red with yellow stripes outside and solid red flesh on the inside. It has a great flavor, and the fruits keep well both on the vine and after harvest.

Benevento tomato

Benevento tomato

Benevento tomatoes

Benevento tomatoes

I have been growing Chef’s Choice Orange for several years now, and this 2014 AAS Winner always does well for me. It and Chef’s Choice Yellow are the only two large yellow/orange tomatoes I am growing. We have enjoyed these on sandwiches and as a side dish. Any extras wind up in sauces along with all the other tomatoes!

Chef's Choice Orange tomato

Chef’s Choice Orange tomato

Pink Cherrywine is another new release from Artisan Seeds. I think the flavor compares favorably with Sunpeach, which is a pink cherry tomato I’ve grown for several years now.

Pink Cherrywine tomatoes

Pink Cherrywine tomatoes

This time of year, meal planning usually revolves around which veggies are available. One meal I made last week featured roasted eggplant and sauteed avocado squash along with a prosciutto and parmesan stuffed pork tenderloin. Most of our entrees are not so elaborate, but this one was easy to put together.

dinner with roasted eggplant and sauteed avocado squash

dinner with roasted eggplant and sauteed avocado squash

This spiderwort plant has gotten its second (or third) wind and is blooming again. I have heard some call it a weed, but the bees absolutely love this native plant. We have several planted and one or more has been blooming pretty much all spring and summer.

spiderwort

spiderwort

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 you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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