The good in the title of this post is the Good Mother Stallard pole beans. They have taken quite a long time to produce, at least a month longer than Cherokee Trail of Tears and Rattlesnake, but I have finally started harvesting them. GMS makes plump beans that sort of remind me of the French Horticultural variety in their size and shape, though the color is different. I bought some of these beans last year for cooking, and decided to try and grow them myself this year. The results so far look promising, and I believe they will be worth the wait. They are a good bean for cooking, that much I know already.
It has been a great year here for summer squash. I’m still harvesting the Striata d’Italia zucchini and the Enterprise and Gentry yellow squashes, which is amazing for September. Normally the vines have died out by now, but these three are still going strong and rambling all over the place. I have hauled in over 150 pounds of summer squash already this year. Needless to say the two of us can’t eat that much, so we have given a lot of it away. We are still enjoying them while they last though. And there’s plenty in the freezer for later use. I took the big zucchini in the below photo and made stuffed zucchini with it one night for dinner, topped with some dairy-free Daiya cheese.
The winter squash have done great too, and I have harvested 150 pounds of them as well, with quite a few large ones remaining on the vines. We’ve been giving these away too, though we have held on to most of them since they aren’t perishable like the summer types. One notable performer is Kumi Kumi (or Kamo Kamo), which is a New Zealand heirloom variety that can be used as both a summer squash and a winter squash. This variety is not for small gardens, as it has vined all over our fencing in two different directions! We haven’t tried it as a winter squash yet, but it is very good when used like zucchini. The green ribbed skin matures to a yellow/orange color.
And now for the terrible news, at least to me, and to our honeybees. My wife’s first visit to the hive was not a happy one. We opened up the hive prepared to harvest 7 or 8 frames of honey that were capped and ready (20-25 pounds), and what we found was a hive literally covered with the larvae of the small hive beetle (SHB). This pest crawls in the hive and lays eggs on the frames, and when they hatch the larvae start eating everything in sight, including the wax, honey, pollen and young bee larvae. It was not a pretty sight to behold.
Mind you, I had last visited the hive just a little over a week earlier, and saw no signs of the beetle larvae. But the tiny eggs hatch in 2 or 3 days, and can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. The bees can defend the hive against a small number of beetles, but when the numbers are this big they don’t stand a chance. The queen and the bees have left the hive, so we will start over next year with some new bees. Beekeeping is not a slam-dunk, easy operation for sure, and I had no delusions that our hive would escape problems. Pests like varroa mites, wax moths, and small hive beetles are always a possibility as are diseases like foulbrood and nosema. Still, this one caught me totally by surprise, as the hive was going strong and we were harvesting an incredible amount of honey. So it goes.
What’s significant in the above photo is what’s not there – no honey, pollen, bee eggs or bee larvae, just hive beetle larvae and their slimy residue. The only silver lining I can find in that cloud is that when we start over next year, my wife will be heavily involved in all the operations. She has already volunteered to paint the new hive – this time in pastel colors. How cool will that be! I’m surprised she isn’t wanting to tie-dye or marble the exterior, given her fondness for those activities with fabric and other media. At least we have a good amount of honey harvested to hold us until the next harvest, which might not be until 2015. We will see, and hope for a quick buildup next year with the new bees.
Enough of the bad news from the beehive. I’ll close with more good news from the harvest department. I’m still getting a steady harvest of eggplant, and now more and more ripe peppers are ready. In the above photo we have Dancer Eggplant along with the round Alma pepper and the long slender Dulce Rojo. Both it and the Alma are good for making paprika, which will be the subject of an upcoming post. And I harvested quite a few of the Italian eggplants last week to make a batch of Baba Ghanoush.
Many of the peppers are winding up in the dehydrator, where I am drying them for both paprika and chili powder. That’s some of the homemade paprika topping the Baba Ghanoush in the above photo. It is my new favorite thing right about now! I’m getting all sorts of ripe peppers, from Anaheim and Biggie Chili to Aji Dulce, Trinidad Perfume and Aji Angelo. I want to do some taste tests on the new peppers once I have a few more of them. I also have lots of the Happy Yummy peppers ripening now. I am trying to accumulate enough of them to make a fermented hot sauce. Last year I used them to make a lovely orange colored Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce, and I will probably make some more of that too.
It was great news yesterday when I found one more ripe Ambrosia melon. I thought they were done for the year, but this one managed to ripen. It was ‘only’ three pounds, but it made for a tasty and unexpected treat.
And last but not least, a summer planting of Verde da Taglio Chard has produced its first harvest. It was lovely chopped and sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic. The dozen plants should keep on producing until really cold weather hits.
That’s about it for this harvest news roundup. To see more gardening news, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA!