Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re heading into summer veggie season here, and the weather is all summer all the time here, with temps in the high 90°F range last week. Cool for us this time of year is a high in the 80’s, and any morning temp below 70°F is a cause for celebration! The summer crops love it though, and we have been rewarded with a nice supply of squash and beans. I have to say the zucchini plants are mostly done for though, with a squash bug explosion that attacked them worse than the other types. I plan on starting a few zucchini plants for a fall crop, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I do have one Astia plant growing in a Smart Pot that promises to crank out a few more zukes, and so far the squash bugs haven’t found it.
Even as the zucchini plants are going away, a zucchini substitute is just now coming on. I got the first Tromba d’Albenga last week, a big one that weighed two and a half pounds. I usually harvest them a bit smaller but this one surprised me! The vines are quite vigorous, and more squash are setting on already so I am hoping for a good crop on this one. In years past it has produced abundantly, and I imagine those who have grown a tromboncino squash know exactly what I mean. We spiralized this one and roasted it in a cast iron skillet. Since the flesh is much drier than a zucchini, it browned up a bit and turned out quite well. I can see us cooking it up that way again, seasoned with just olive oil and a bit of salt.
The Derby bush beans are also winding down just as the pole beans are starting to set on. That was my strategy, to plant a small amount of bush beans to give us an early taste and then lots of pole beans to supply us throughout the summer. The Derby beans produced quite well, and I have gotten right at 5 pounds of beans from a 10 foot row. The first pole beans to set were Early Riser and Trionfo Violetto. It’s my first time growing Early Riser and this flat podded bean from Adaptive Seeds seems to be living up to its name.
The Gold Marie and Musica beans weren’t far behind, and a few of the Rattlesnake beans should be ready today. Fortex is just starting to bloom. The pole beans have turned into a ‘speed dating’ site for the Japanese beetles, which is unfortunately an annual event. So I visit the beans daily with a cup of soapy water and invite them for a swim.
Another summer veggie starting to come on is eggplant. I have a couple of plants in containers, and the Patio Baby plant was the first to set fruit. This 2014 Regional AAS Winner is a true mini eggplant, making perfectly proportioned little fruits that are about 2 to 3 inches long. We used these in a mixed veggie stir fry, and the eggplant was mild tasting with tender skin. It’s my first time growing this one, and based on early results I need to grow more of them next year! I also want to try a few grilled. It will be awhile before the large fruited ones are ready, but the smaller Fairy Tale should give us a few before long.
The spring crops aren’t completely done though. I cut a big head of Late Flat Dutch cabbage last week. It’s hard to judge the size in the photo but it weighed a bit over six pounds. I have two more heads of cabbage in the garden, and the broccoli is still trying to make side shoots.
I have really been enjoying eating the radish kimchi (kkakdugi) I made with our daikon radishes. The Sweet Baby daikons have a pinkish purple streaked flesh that turns a solid shade of color after fermenting. The kimchi radishes are crisp, tart and mildly hot, and I eat them fairly often as a side dish. The spring radishes are all gone now but I will be planting a fall crop soon, and Sweet Baby is on my grow list for sure.
My wife and I slipped away last week for a quick trip to Berea, Kentucky. We each attended a couple of classes in their annual Festival of Learnshops. I took one class on Making Natural Artisanal Sodas and one on Shiitake and Oyster Mushroom Log Inoculation. Both were quite informative, and I came home with two logs (one each Shiitake and Oyster) plus a kombucha scoby. I drink kombucha occasionally, but I had resisted making it myself since it would be something else to feed and keep alive. I already have water and dairy kefir grains, a ginger beer ‘plant’, plus my sourdough starter to keep going. But I couldn’t resist, and now I have my first batch of kombucha brewing. Grow little scoby! It may take a couple of batches to get the hang of making it to suit my tastes. The instructor brought a batch of blueberry booch to the class to sample which was quite tasty, and that helped convince me to make my own. His tasted way better than any commercial ones I have bought.
While we were in Berea we also visited their annual Craft Festival. There were lots of artists there selling and displaying their works, as well as live demos. In the below photo I’m standing by one of the 12 hand sculptures scattered around town. They are part of the 2003 Show of Hands public art project, featuring the designs of twelve artists with ties to the Berea area. They moved this one in for the craft festival. To me the six foot hands are also symbolic of Berea reaching out to visitors as well as the artistic community. I wore one of my wife’s custom dyed tee shirts for the occasion, since she is my favorite artist. And let me also say how happy I am to have a wife who doesn’t mind when I load two big logs in the trunk along with our luggage for the trip home!
And I can’t resist sharing a pic my wife got of our cat Puddin. She has taken to lying on the floor on her back lately, but this latest pose makes us think she is practicing cat yoga. It’s not like the cat-cow pose though!
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!