Harvest Monday August 19, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’m still getting a decent amount of tomatoes here, at least the ones for processing. There’s about 12 pounds in the below photo, which I turned into sauce, dehydrated tomatoes and frozen whole tomatoes. It’s not been the great year for tomatoes here but we are getting enough to restock our supplies.

tomatoes for processing

dehydrating Juliet tomatoes

It does look to be a good year for squashes though. I’m bringing in quite a few of the winter types now including Naked Bear, Scarchuks Supreme, Tetra delicata, Cream of the Crop and Celebration. The Tromba d’Albenga and Centercut are still coming on strong too, We got our first taste of the Scarchuks Supreme and it was outstanding, so I look forward to eating more of them.

Naked Bear, Scarchuks Supreme and Tetra squash

Cream of the Crop, Celebration and Tetra squash

Tromba d’Albenga, Centercut and Scarchuks Supreme squash along with Bride eggplant

Centercut is truly the squash that keeps on giving, and has kept us well supplied. We’ve shared it with friends and everyone wants more of it! We’ve been eating it quite often here, and I decided to try freezing a bit for later use in soups.

Centercut squash

It’s been a great year for the pole beans too. We’ve been eating them as often as we like, and putting the rest in the freezer.

Robe Mountain and Bertie Best Greasy beans

Musica beans

Musica beans

Peppers continue to ripen. We got the first of the Jimmy Nardello peppers this year, a big flush of them at one. This is one of my favorite sweet peppers, with a taste that never disappoints me. I grilled a couple of these along with the first Lemme’s Italian pepper (no pic).

Jimmy Nardello peppers

And Carmen and Cornito Rosso peppers are ripening, They’re hanging out with a cucumber and another Centercut squash in the below photo.

Corinto cucumber, Cornito Rosso and Carmen peppers, Centercut squash

I also got a few hot peppers to do a taste test. These are all AAS Winners, including Chili Pie, Red Ember, Emerald Fire and Flaming Flare. Most of these got juiced along with a cucumber to be used in flavoring homemade kombucha. The rest wound up in a salsa I made.

Chili Pie, Red Ember, Emerald Fire and Flaming Flare peppers

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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Variety Spotlight: Centercut Squash

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.

Every once in a while a new vegetable variety comes along that’s a real game changer for me. I’m talking about something that is truly different, and truly wonderful both to grow and to eat. My latest find is called Centercut Squash, and it has been an exciting addition to the lineup of veggies I’m growing here this year.

Centercut squash

Centercut is a hybrid C. moschata squash from Row 7 seed company. It’s a winter squash that is treated like a summer squash and eaten when the fruits are young and tender, before the skin toughens up. The listing at Row 7 declares it “a new chapter for the heirloom tromboncino, and an answer to ho-hum zucchini.” While seed companies are always a bit prone to hyperbole, in this case I believe they are not exaggerating. The young fruits resemble tromboncino squash, but with a darker green skin. As they get larger I think they look more like neck pumpkins, which is likely also in their parentage.

Centercut squash ready to harvest

Centercut grows on long, rambling vines that are best trellised. I planted mine in the corner of the garden and let it vine up along the fencing. Like other moschata squashes, it is resistant to squash vine borers, and in my garden has held up very well against the squash bugs. My two plants have been quite prolific, and so far have yielded over 15 pounds of squash with no signs of letting up. It’s best to harvest the fruit young, while it’s about 8-10 inches long and the diameter is banana sized or smaller. The neck is solid flesh, the seeds are confined to the small cavity at the blossom end of the fruit.

young Centercut squash

As great as Centercut is in the garden though, it’s in the kitchen where it really shines. The flesh is less watery than a zucchini, and has a sweet nutty flavor. We’ve enjoyed it roasted in the oven, and sauteed on the stove. Both methods bring out the flavor, and the flesh gets tender and soft. To roast in the oven, I cut in half lengthwise and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. I put it in a cast iron skillet that’s been preheated in a 400°F oven and pop it back in the oven to cook. I flip the squash over once or twice during cooking, and it’s generally done to my tastes in about 30 minutes or so.

Centercut roasted in cast iron skillet

It’s also good sauteed on the stove. I like to add a little garlic or some onions, and though I haven’t tried it yet a few chopped herbs would be nice. I can also see adding a few tomatoes or peppers to the skillet. Anything that goes with zucchini will go with Centercut, and a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over the finished squash would also be nice. We’ve shared a few of the squash with others and our friend Ange sent me a pic of how she prepared hers sauteed with a little onion. Thanks Ange for sharing the photo and letting me use it here!

sauteed Centercut squash

I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a new squash that is easy to grow and truly great in the kitchen as well. Seeds for Centercut are only available in the U.S. from Row 7 seed company, and proceeds from their seed sales helps support public plant breeding research at Cornell University. And thanks to chef Dan Barber and breeder Michael Mazourek for creating this wonderful variety of squash! I’ll be back soon with another variety to spotlight.

 

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Harvest Monday August 12, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I got a big haul of tomatoes last week. I got 15 pounds on Saturday, enough to turn into sauce plus more for tabbouli salad and general eating. I got almost 7 pounds of 1999 AAS Winner Juliet, which never fails to deliver for me here in my garden. Health Kick has also done well.

Juliet tomatoes

Golden Rave, Mountain Magic and Granadero tomatoes

Health Kick tomatoes

I’m picking the pole beans every couple of days now. Robe Mountain, Musica and Rattlesnake are setting on with Bertie Best and others starting to bloom. It looks like it may be a great year for beans, and I have already been freezing the extras. Robe Mountain is a so-called “greasy” bean from the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center. Bertie Best Greasy bean is another one from them. They have a wonderful collection of old-time bean varieties, and I’m growing several of them this year.

Robe Mountain pole beans

The eggplants have slowed down we we are still getting a decent amount. Machiaw, Bride and Shoya Long are great when roasted or stir-fried. Sadly, you couldn’t sell these 100% organically grown eggplants in a grocery or farmer’s market. They are too “wonky” – misshapen and with blemishes on the skin. Gardeners learn pretty quickly that’s often the way fruits and veggies look, and it doesn’t affect the taste any!

eggplant

The peppers are finally starting to ripen. I picked the sweet mini bell Orange Blaze last week, along with Korean peppers Lady Choi and paprika peppers Hungarian Magyar which I dehydrated. Orange Blaze is hanging out with Seychelles pole beans in the below photo.

Orange Blaze peppers and Seychelles beans

Hungarian Magyar and Lady Choi peppers

I got two ripe Piquillos and three of the Gernika last week. Reader Jeanne sent me some seeds last year of these two Basque peppers.  Gernika is usually eaten green and prepared like Padron peppers, but these got away from me and ripened. I will try them green next time. Piquillos are often slow roasted over an open fire, but we roasted ours in the oven. Neither of these peppers has any heat, and I look forward to eating more as they set on.

Piquillo and Gernika peppers

Winter squash are starting to mature now. I got several last week, including Cream of the Crop, Gill’s Golden Pippin and Baked Potatoes. These are all acorn types, and should be ready to eat right away since they aren’t long keeping squash.

Cream of the Crop and Gill’s Golden Pippin squashes

Baked Potatoes winter squash

The tromboncino vines are still producing. We’ve been sharing these since they are so prolific. It looks to be a good year for the squashes too, both the summer and winter types.

tromboncinos

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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August Garden Update

It’s been a while since I did a garden update, so today I’ll share a quick progress report on how it’s doing. We’re in the busy period where summer veggies are coming on, and it’s also time to plant the fall veggies. I’ve been planting quite a few things lately, starting with some late bush beans. These should start bearing in late September, and give us more snap beans for a month or so until the first frost.

late planting of bush beans

The pole beans are starting to bear now. The vines are growing lush, what with all the rain we’ve been getting. The first to bear have been Musica and Robe Mountain, with Rattlesnake not far behind. I’ve made a note to myself to leave more space next to the peppers, tomatoes and pole beans.

pole beans setting on

I planted a double row of pepper plants next to the pole beans, and the two have grown so well it is hard to navigate between them! My scaled down garden plans for next year will idle at least 40% of the rows/beds, which will let me give more room to the veggies that need more space.

the garden jungle

I pulled the rest of the summer squashes to make room for fall brassicas. The winter squashes are beginning to mature, and it looks like it will be a decent year for them. Trellising really pays off for the vining types, as it makes use of vertical growing space plus keeps the squashes up off the ground. This one is Thelma Sanders, an heirloom acorn squash we really enjoyed eating last year.

Thelma Sanders squash

I have Tromba d’Albenga growing on a trellis also. I have to keep rearranging the vines to keep them on the trellis, and I may have to prune the vines eventually to keep them in check. That strategy worked well last year. Trellising also makes for straighter fruits for the tromboncino, though they can still get caught on the vines or trellis and wind up twisted.

tromboncino squash

I used a remesh tomato cage to confine the vines of the 898 butternut squash. This variety from Row 7 Seed came about when Chef Dan Barber and vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek got together a few years ago to reimagine the butternut. They weren’t kidding when they said it “fits in the palm of your hand!” They aren’t quite ready to harvest yet, but should be in about 2-3 weeks time. The cage has worked well to keep them up off the ground.

898 Butternut Squash

I set out transplants for collard greens last month, and they have taken off quickly. Last year I set the plants out too late and they didn’t have time to size up before cold weather set in. They are already as big in August as they were in October last year! I have high hopes for adding collards to our usual harvests of fall and winter greens. I planted a mix of heirloom varieties and modern hybrids, and we will see what performs well and how they all taste in the kitchen. I also hope to make collard kraut if there are enough leaves for it. I got this idea from an episode of A Chef’s Life that was all about collard greens.

collard plants

I also set out broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi plants this week, and sowed seeds for turnips and radishes. The white material on top of the soil is a dusting of organic fertilizer I added along with more that I worked into the soil before planting.

fall brassicas

The brassica seedlings all had 3-4 trues leaves each, and are about 5 weeks old. That’s the size I like them to be, before they get rootbound and the growth slows down. I set these out directly from the 72 cell plug flats I sowed the seeds in. I plan on setting kale out tomorrow, and that should get me caught up with my planting of fall veggies.

broccoli seedling

There’s always more to do though, and I need to work on the compost bins next. The corner posts have spread out and let the removable slats fall away, which lets the contents fall out! It doesn’t help that we have nighttime visitors rummaging through the pile, likely possums or feral cats. I spread blood meal on top of the pile which seems to deter them. What I need to do is fix one side, then shovel everything over to that side while I fix the remaining side. That should give me a good workout!

compost bins need repair

And the next big project will be getting the new greenhouse installed. It’s been ordered, and should ship in a couple of weeks. I’ve got the site cleared and in pretty good shape, so not much more needs to done until it arrives. I do need to keep the weeds beat back since some of that area will be used to make planting beds inside the new greenhouse. I have a contractor who’s going to do most of the difficult work for me, including hauling off the old greenhouse after the new one is finished. I’ll share more about that project as it progresses.

site for new greenhouse

I hope you have enjoyed this brief update on the state of the garden here in August. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

 

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Harvest Monday August 5, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re getting a bounty of summer veggies now, so many that I think I will share a few group photos of what I’ve been bringing in.

squash and eggplant

Chef’s Choice Orange, Chef’s Choice Red and Damsel tomatoes

Centercut and Tatume squash

cucumbers and Naked Bear pumpkin

eggplant and squash

Centercut is a new hybrid squash released by Row 7 Seed company. It is a moschata type squash that is used at the green immature stage. We’ve really been enjoying these roasted in the oven. The vines have been prolific so far, and like tromboncinos the real trick is to harvest them while they are young and before they get too big.

Centercut squash

And Naked Bear is a small pumpkin grown for the hulless seeds. I got about a half cup of seeds from this one, and after soaking for a few hours in salt water they were off to the dehydrator.

Naked Bear pumpkin

inside of Naked Bear pumpkin

The pole beans are producing now. Musica and Robe Mountain are setting nicely, with a few Rattlesnake beans also joining the party. Most of the varieties I have planted will be a bit later.

pole beans

I got enough okra one day last week to officially qualify as a “mess” of okra! All the plants are not yet blooming, so harvests will pick up once they do. Meanwhile this was enough to enjoy roasted for a side dish.

mess of okra

Meanwhile, I’ve started setting out the fall veggies. I grew these in 72 cell plug flats, and transplant directly from there to the garden. I set out kohlrabi last week, and I will be working to get the kale, cabbage and broccoli in the ground soon. I set out collard greens about three weeks ago, and they are doing well. I also sowed a short row of bush beans last week, and I will sow turnips and fall radishes next.

fall brassicas

Finally, I got caught up with my bread baking last week. We were running low on our bread supply in the freezer, so I baked a couple of loaves. One was a crusty sourdough bread I baked in the Breadtopia clay baker, and the other was an Emmer Whole Wheat loaf. I used my Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe to make the emmer version, using 4 ounces of whole grain emmer flour and 4 ounces of of white whole wheat flour along with the other ingredients. It had a lovely flavor, and I will be making this one again for sure.

no-knead sourdough bread

Emmer Whole Wheat andwich loaf

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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