It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Harvesting is keeping me busy lately, which is not a bad thing at all. Last week I got more squashes, plus the first harvests of snap beans and tomatoes of the year. The beans are all bush types, and while I only planted a few feet each of three kinds (Provider, Slenderette and Mascotte), they are all loaded with pods! The cherry tomatoes are also ripening, including some of my favorites like Sun Sugar, Sunpeach and Cherry Bomb. Summer squashes are winding down, as are the acorn types, but we’ve had a good amount of those this year. I’ll have more on the squash situation later.
Thelma Sanders squash is one of my favorite winter squashes, though it is usually a shy producer for me here. My wife and I enjoy eating every one we get though, and it has a sweet nutty flavor when roasted. I’m looking forward to getting a taste of these soon.
Eggplant is not a shy producer for me at all, and we are still getting loads of them to eat. The container grown Fairy Tale, Gretel and Icicle have been producing for over a month now, and aren’t slowing down yet. I have harvested over 16 pounds of it so far this year in total.
And the in-ground plantings are now producing as well! I got a mix of Asian and Italian types last week, including the purple and white striped Annina which produced three fruits for us. I used those to make eggplant sandwiches. For that I sliced them thin and roasted the slices on a sheet pan. We spread a piece of bread with smashed avocado, layered on the eggplant, then topped with a piece of cheddar cheese. I also plucked one jalapeno pepper to use to make a cherry tomato salsa with some of those first tomatoes. The salsa made with homegrown tomatoes was a real treat.
I’m still baking sourdough bread, though less in summer when it’s hot outside. I baked a loaf last week in a Pullman pan, and I was pleased with how it turned out. It makes for a dense loaf that can be thinly sliced and used for sandwiches or turning into crostini. The no-knead recipe is also easy (King Arthur’s Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread, and even though the bread takes about 18 hours from start to finish there is very little hands-on time required.
I’ve also been experimenting with creating my own whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread recipe. So far the taste has met my expectations, but I’m still getting the hang of making a decent swirl that doesn’t have too many gaps in it. Regardless of the visuals, it makes a tasty snack when toasted and satisfies my cravings for cinnamon.
In other news, we got some much needed rain last week, more than two inches total. That’s the most rain we’ve gotten at one time since April, and the vegetable garden plants are loving it! It’s still been hot and humid, though that is not unusual for us this time of year. I’ve been working in the garden early in the morning, before I eat breakfast, to beat the heat.
We occasionally have hawks visit us here at our place, and last week I saw one perched on one of the garden fenceposts. A friend believes it is a Red-Shouldered Hawk, though I am leaning towards it being a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. Regardless, it is quite impressive when it takes flight, with a wingspan of almost 3 feet.
In less positive news, we had a new (to us) pest show up this year attacking the squash plants. Usually it is squash bugs, but this pest is a yellow beetle that looks a lot like the beneficial lady beetle. It took me a while to identify it, but it is called the Squash Lady Beetle (Epilachna borealis). It is yellow in color, and a bit larger than the red ladybug.
According to one source: “Larvae look like small yellow hedgehogs, covered in spiky black hairs.” That is an apt description! I found them everyone on both the summer and winter squash varieties.
Some of the leaves have been almost completely skeletonized. The summer squash are nearing the end of their production cycle, so I’m not entirely unhappy about that. But most of the winter squashes are just getting going, so I have been hand picking all the adult beetles and larvae that I see. So far that has been hundreds of them! I’ve also been spraying with a pyrethrin and neem oil mix, and hopefully I can get them under control before the winter squashes are gone. It’s always something that wants to eat our crops, and I’m sure most gardeners can identify with that.
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 please take a minute and check out what everyone is harvesting!