Harvest Monday August 15, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I had a mixed bag of harvests last week. One of the smaller ones volume-wise was big on flavor though. I cut enough of the Corsican basil to make a batch of pesto. I have been using this basil for other things, and I really like the flavor, so I decided to see how it would do for pesto. My wife and I both liked it and it got the HA four thumbs up rating! Michelle (From Seed to Table) did a Spotlight on it earlier this year, which is where I first heard about it. I planted it over in the Wild Garden with intentions of letting it bloom for pollinators, but I have been using it so much it has not had a chance to bloom yet! I think it has a better flavor than other purple leaf basils I have grown in the past, less ‘spicy’ than Dark Opal or Amethyst, and the plants are vigorous as well.

Corsican basil

Corsican basil

Tomatoes are coming on strong finally, though I am still losing quite a few to rot. Juliet is doing quite well though, as it usually does here. I harvested almost two gallons of them on Friday, along with some of the paste types and slicers.

Juliet tomatoes

Juliet tomatoes

One of the standout newcomers in the tomato patch this year is one from Artisan Seeds called Marzano Fire. This was developed from the classic San Marzano paste tomatoes grown in Italy, and likely has some Speckled Roman in its lineage as well. It’s great for sauces, with thick flesh and relatively few seeds. I also haven’t seen any blossom-end rot on these tomatoes. I used these and Juliets to cook up a batch of Homemade Tomato Paste yesterday. It took about three hours to cook the sauce down and another three hours in the dehydrator to make the paste. It sure shrunk down ten pounds of tomatoes!

Marzano Fire tomatoes

Marzano Fire tomatoes

The hybrid slicers have been doing reasonably well this summer. My old standbys like Better Boy, Celebrity and Jetsetter have been joined by Chef’s Choice Orange for many sandwiches and side dishes. The newcomer Garden Treasure has been a prolific producer, and the large tomatoes have a nice balance of acid and sweet flavors. Garden Treasure was developed by University of Florida tomato breeding program, and was derived from the heirloom beefsteak German Queen tomato. Currently, the seeds are only available through a $10 donation to the UF Tomato Research Fund, which gets you seeds to both Garden Treasure and Garden Gem. I’ve gotten my money’s worth from both these tomatoes, and I have enough seeds left to plant them again next year.

Garden Treasure tomatoes

Garden Treasure tomatoes

I’m bringing in more winter squash as they mature in the garden. In the below photo we have the first Honeyboat Delicata squash I harvested. Unlike most delicata squash, this one has tan skin with green stripes instead of the usual cream colored skin. This squash weighed a bit over one pound. I cut it into slices, tossed it with a little olive oil and salt, then roasted it in the oven until browned and tender. The flesh is sweet and flavorful, and even the skins are edible. We love our delicata here for sure, and this is our favorite (and simple) treatment.

Honeyboat Delicata squash

Honeyboat Delicata squash

roasted Honeyboat Delicata

roasted Honeyboat Delicata

I grew Honeyboat last year and it was one of the sweetest delicata squash I have ever tasted. This year I have several others I am trialing, including Hessel’s Sugar Loaf. In the below photo there’s another Honeyboat on the left and Sugar Loaf on the right. These are the two squash that were crossed by author and plant breeder Carol Deppe to create Candystick Dessert Delicata, which I am also growing this year. According to Deppe, the normal curing time for delicata types before eating is seven to fourteen days, so I will wait at least another week before sampling the Sugar Loaf.

Honeyboat (L) and Sugar Loaf(R) Delicata squash

Honeyboat (L) and Sugar Loaf(R) Delicata squash

Besides tomatoes, it has also been a good year so far for eggplants. That’s the oval Galine and long Millionaire in the below photo. I’ve gotten a lot of these two lately, along with the striped Fairy Tale.

Galine and Millionaire eggplant

Galine and Millionaire eggplant

As pretty as the eggplants are to me, the bowl they are sitting in is even prettier. My wife made more of her clothesline cord bowls recently, using some cord she dyed using a familiar Happy Acres fruit: blackberries. You can read about the process she used here on her blog Dyeing with Blackberries. I love the color, and it’s especially precious since I knew every blackberry personally! I also got a handkerchief/bandana in the process, which wound up with a more muted color.

clothesline cord bowl

clothesline cord bowl

blackberry dyed bowls

blackberry dyed bowls

I’ve been using the eggplant in quite a few dishes, including stir fries and in a Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables I made last week. I roasted eggplant, sweet red peppers, zucchini and yellow squash and combined with cooked quinoa, olives and halved cherry tomatoes, adding crumbled feta cheese right before serving. I used the Corsican basil in this dish also, skipping the mint and pine nuts called for in the recipe and letting the basil have a prominent role. I served it up with some fresh baked whole wheat Lavash bread, and my wife and I made a meal of it. Actually it was two meals, and the leftovers were even tastier!

quinoa salad with lavash

quinoa salad with lavash

It also promises to be a good year here for peppers. The plants have grown large and lush with our ample rainfall. I got my wife to get a pic of me out in the pepper patch the other day, standing next to one of the overwintered baccatum peppers. I am close to six feet tall and you can see the plant is almost as tall as I am. This is the Malawi Piccante pepper, used to make ‘peppadew’ style pickled peppers, and it is loaded with green ones. You can see the little round peppers on the plants, as well as lots more blossoms. The overwintered Aji Angelo plant is just as tall, and just as loaded with peppers. I have to call my overwintering experiment a success, and I think I will try digging these plants up again in fall and potting them up for the winter. I will surely have to prune them back quite hard to get them in the house!

me hiding in the pepper patch

me hiding in the pepper patch

The other peppers are gradually starting to ripen. In the below photo you can see (from top to bottom) Boldog Paprika, Topepo Rosso and Celia Dulce. I dried the Boldog peppers to see what kind of paprika they would make. It’s dark red and has the slightest amount of heat. I think they would make nice smoked paprika, which I will do later in the season. I like to pickle the Topepo Rosso peppers, though they are also a nice shape for stuffing, like a pimento. The Celia Dulce is a Mexican heirloom pepper I’m growing for the first time, shaped much like an elongated mini bell, and they too have just a slight touch of heat.

Boldog Paprika, Topepo Rosso and Celia Dulce peppers

Boldog Paprika, Topepo Rosso and Celia Dulce peppers

I’ll close with an update on our bluebird babies. It would appear they have fledged the nest. My first clue came when I went into the yard yesterday and both parents starting swooping me in a protective manner. Then I looked over at the nest box, and one young bluebird was half in, half out. It looked like it was channeling The Clash singing Should I Stay or Should I Go! I haven’t got any photos of them out and about yet, but if I do you can bet I will share them here.

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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