Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. First I want to thank everyone who sent kind words about our cat Ace’s passing last week. Ace was one of those special pets, with enough personality for at least three cats. It’s safe to say we are still grappling with his sudden exit. Having said that though, we are happy to have another special kitty still with us, our 12 year old Puddin. Puddin has seen a lot in her time, from three houses to multiple cats and even kids and a dog before her original humans took her to the shelter and then we took her in. She has a sweet disposition and is quite a lap cat. She has been getting extra attention from me and my wife, at least when she is not sleeping.
And now on to the harvests! The broccoli is not happy with all the heat we’ve been having, but I did get a couple of decent heads last week. I’m hoping for some side shoot production, but the quality isn’t the greatest given the growing conditions. It’s almost time to start seed for the fall brassicas, which should at least have cooler weather as they are maturing. In addition to brutally hot temperatures, we got 10 inches of rain in June. That has made gardening a challenge, as too much of a good thing is as bad as not enough.
The summer squashes aren’t real happy with the weather either. I’ve lost a couple of plants already due to stem rot, with more looking sad. These two white scalloped squash made me happy though.
And I got a decent harvest of yellow squashes last week. I’m growing the crookneck Tempest for the first time, and it is a real keeper. Bred by Johnny’s, it may be the best tasting yellow squash I have ever grown. So far it has been prolific too. The striped yellow zucchini Sunstripe is no slouch either, and I’m growing it for the second year now.
I dug all the early garlic last week. I have a feeling it’s not going to be a great year for garlic here. The plants never really looked all that good, and despite my top dressing them with fertilizer this spring and watering with fish and seaweed fertilizer, they never greened up like they should. I’m guessing all the rain has washed the nutrients right out of the soil, or else drowned the roots. We’ll have plenty to eat though, and hopefully it will keep long enough for me to replant this fall. It looks like the onions were a total bust, except for the perennial ones like I’itoi. After buying some lovely local onions at the farmer’s market this weekend, I have decided to not grow the big ones next year. I need to remind myself I don’t need to grow everything, and I’m better off concentrating on growing things that I can’t really buy around here. I’itoi is a keeper though, and so are the Yellow Potato multiplier onions.
Garlic is one thing I do plan to keep growing. Xian is one I’ve been growing for several years now. These I dug don’t look bad, just smaller than usual. I’ve got them curing now, and I’ll weigh them in a few weeks once they are dried and trimmed up.
We’re getting enough blackberries to eat and freeze. These are Natchez, the earliest of the two I have planted. The Apache berries are just now starting to turn. I made a test planting this year of two new cultivars from the University of Arkansas breeding program. Osage is an upright thornless variety, while Sweetie Pie is a thornless trailing type with a high sugar content. It will be next year before we get our first taste of these.
My wife has been busy harvesting the blueberries. She tells me it’s Chandler and Elizabeth that are giving us the most right now. We eat some fresh and then freeze the rest.
The bush beans are still coming on despite the heat. Derby is a real winner here in our garden, and I’ve been growing this 1990 AAS Winner for many years now. I plan on sowing more seed in July for a fall crop.
Red Racer tomato is a new favorite here, making lots of salad sized tomatoes with a good blend of acid and sweet taste. I trialed this 2018 AAS Winner last fall, and it was a hit here then too. The plants are determinate, and bear a big crop early before dying back. They are giving us exactly what I wanted though, and we have been enjoying them on salads and even on tacos we made last week.
And last but not least, I got the first ripe peppers. I sort of cheated, because this was a plant from last year I overwintered indoors. It bloomed inside, and I plan to save seed from it as well as use the peppers. It’s Czech Black, and the fruits go from a blackish purple to dark red as they ripen. It is similar in size to a jalapeno, but in our garden it’s a bit milder in heat than most jalapenos. I have another plant going in the ground which is just now blooming. I used one of these in a jar of fermented curtido I made last week, where hopefully it will give just the right amount of heat.
I’ll close with a wildlife note. It brought joy to my heart to find 5 bluebird eggs in the nest box last Wednesday. The parents wasted no time in starting a new nest after the snake incident wiped out the last brood. This box is mounted on a pole with a predator guard which should keep out the critters.
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!