Harvest Monday June 18, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The weather has been brutally hot lately. I’ve been trying to get the garden weeded and mulched, and I have to work early in the morning before it starts to heat up. I was out there yesterday by 6AM and it was already hot. I worked for two hours before taking a breakfast break (cool fruit smoothie) then went back out for more. Yesterday afternoon it got up to 98°F, and the console on my weather station had the message “DANGER! High Heat Index – Heat Exhaustion or Heatstroke Likely.” The heat index or ‘feels like’ temperature was 120°F at that point, so the warning was timely. There’s no real end in sight, though the forecast calls for slightly cooler temps by mid-week with more rain.

The warm weather veggies haven’t been minding the heat so far, and the flush of summer squash is starting. In the below photo it’s the striped zucchini Flaminio, Spineless Beauty, the yellow crookneck Tempest and the Italian heirloom Rugosa Friulani.

summer squashes

summer squashes

I’ve started eating the kimchi I made a few weeks ago and I believe I have finally gotten the hang of making it to suit my tastes. I cut the last head of the green napa cabbage, this one was Soloist. Other than the usual slug damage they’ve done quite well this spring. I’ll likely make another jar of kimchi with this baby. I’ve already eaten half a quart jar of it so far, I’ve been enjoying it so much.

Soloist cabbage

Soloist cabbage

I also pulled several more of the Kossak kohlrabi. I’ve been fermenting a lot of these, making kohlrabi ‘pickles’ and kohlrabi kraut. These 6 weighed around 11 pounds total. The fermented brassicas are more easily digestible for me, not to mention they keep well and are very nutritious. Of course I also like the way they taste!

Kossak kohlrabi

Kossak kohlrabi

I’m pretty sure the lettuce does not like our warm weather, but it’s at least still edible. This is a cutting from Lava Lamp, a wildly colored romaine from Wild Garden Seed. I cut it before it was fully headed up, and I intend to grow it again this fall when hopefully weather conditions will be more favorable.

Lava Lamp lettuce

Lava Lamp lettuce

I also cut some of the Simpson Elite lettuce for a wilted lettuce salad we had for dinner last night. This lettuce has held up quite well in the heat, which is one reason I keep growing it year after year.

Simpson Elite lettuce

Simpson Elite lettuce

I found the first blackberries ripening last week. These are Natchez, which makes large elongated berries. I’m guessing it won’t be a great year for the blackberries since I neglected to tip prune the canes last year. That reduces the amount of fruiting area, and let the canes grow to over six feet tall! On the bright side, the deer should have a harder time eating them unless they bring a step ladder! I may need one myself to reach all of them though. The blackberries don’t usually mind hot weather, though ones exposed to the sunlight may get sunburned spots on them.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

Our garlic stores from last year are about used up, at least the ones that are still edible. So I pulled a couple of the early ones for fresh use. These are Red Janice, and the outside skins are a pretty shade of red. The cloves inside are white though. Fresh dug garlic may be hard to peel, but I think it makes up for it with a strong garlicky flavor.

Red Janice garlic

Red Janice garlic

On a sad note, last Friday we had a surprise visitor to the bluebird nest box. I went out after dinner to close up the greenhouse, and I heard the bluebirds fussing loudly. I went over to the nest box, and at first glance it looked like one of the babies had stuck its head out the opening. As I got close, I could see it was the head of a snake. I neglected to get any pics once I opened the box since I was more concerned with getting the snake out and seeing if there were any babies alive inside. There weren’t, and I can only assume the snake had a substantial meal. It slithered off quickly once it left the box.

snake in bluebird nest box

snake in bluebird nest box

This box had not been used by the bluebirds in a couple of years and I had not installed a predator guard on it like I did on the one they usually use. I have ordered another guard and I will install it ASAP so this shouldn’t happen again.  The guard also deters raccoons and cats from climbing the pole and getting in the nest box. I didn’t get a positive ID on the intruder but I believe it was a Grey Ratsnake. I did the math before I opened the box and figured it was highly unlikely to be a poisonous snake since we have only one native to our area and this was definitely not a copperhead. I’ve been hosting bluebirds in nest boxes for over 30 years now, and thankfully this is only the second time I’ve seen snake predation. The next day the adult bluebirds were still afraid to go in the box, and I can’t say I blame them. They could have easily been the next meal for the snake.

PVC nest box on pole with predator guard

PVC nest box on pole with predator guard

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


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13 Responses to Harvest Monday June 18, 2018

  1. Will - Eight Gate Farm - NH says:

    We may be getting some of your heat today. I too have been getting urgent weather alerts lately, but they only are warning about cold water temperatures, so don’t fall out of your canoe! I thought I had problems with the aggressive House sparrows hassling the bluebirds, but that’s nothing compared to your snake! Of all your lovely harvests, the thing I’m most envious of is your summer squash. My plants are just an inch tall.

  2. Phuong says:

    So sad about the little baby birds. It must have been a shock to see the snake in there.

    I can’t believe how hot it’s been. It feels like it’s been in the 90’s for months. It looks like blackberry and squash season is upon you, so great. And that’s a ton of luscious kohlrabi.

  3. Shawn Ann says:

    Having trouble getting my comment to post…Hope this shows up.

    Oh my goodness that snake! I thought I had a bad critter week!
    Oh the heat is terrible. I just can’t get out in this stuff and I am resorting to sprinkler watering. It’s just too much!
    You have so many beautiful things growing in your garden! It’s nice to learn about your varieties and what works well especially in this heat!

  4. Michelle says:

    Feels like 120ºF! That sounds absolutely horrid. I wilt when the temperature gets over 80º and we don’t have the humidity to add to the misery. It seems like your garden is taking it in stride though, look at all those lovely veggies.

    I can’t imagine a snake or anything else being able to get up the pole that supports the nest boxes. What a shock to find one crammed in there. I usually rejoice at the sight of a snake in the garden because they eat rodents! But yeah, they eat birds and lizards too so they aren’t the perfect natural pest control.

    • Dave says:

      The support pole is 1/2″ metal conduit pipe slipped over a piece of rebar that’s stuck in the ground. The snake was at least 3 feet long, and I would have loved to see it climb the pole.

  5. Mike R says:

    The zucchini look very nice. I’m hoping to get the first one in a few days. It’s a shame about losing the bluebirds. I hope the parents get the nerve up to start a new brood in the same box. The gray ratsnakes are common around my house, in fact I encountered one on the workbench a few days ago. I have noticed that when they show up, the moles seem to disappear, so they also do a lot of good.

    • Dave says:

      It was my first time seeing the ratsnake, but I know they are around here. I knew they ate rodents, and if they help with the moles then that’s even better.

  6. T says:

    Yikes about the snake! Where I lived previously we always had a sparrowhawk feasting on the baby sparrows nested in our alleyway every year. It’s something that happens naturally but feels really awful 😞
    Your zucchini looks lovely.

  7. Lorraine Barnett says:

    We are having the same gruesome weather as you. We have the hint of rain in the next several days but we’ll see. So far we have had pretty much nothing. My cute little kitty, Lyle, got a nest of baby birds that had unwisely been deposited in a watering can in my flower garden. Made me sad but once they find a nest, there is no deterring them! Single focus!! Lyle is so cute….it’s hard to stay mad when he eats baby birds, sleeps in my hanging flower box, destroying the flowers, and rolls in my newly planted beds. Good thing those kitties are cute!

  8. Sue Garrett says:

    Is that early for blackberries as it is here? I usually bend the ends of blackberry canes to create an arch. That is so sad about the snake but I guess it has to eat.

  9. Margaret says:

    Great harvests, especially the lettuce – I wanted to get Simpson Elite again but it wasn’t available at any of the seed houses I ordered from this year.

    How sad about the bluebirds – that is a great track record though and hopefully once you get the guard up, the last such incident. 120?? Wowzer – that’s beyond hot! I’m not sure what I would do if temps got up to that high – I’m not an early bird, so probably I’d be doing a lot of 15 minute in and out sessions throughout the day.

  10. Mrs pickles says:

    Finally linking up again after a long break!!
    Great looking harvests. And a snake oh my i would have fainted!!

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