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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