Harvest Monday June 24, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Our harvests continue to get more summer like, with berries joining the mix now. I got a nice picking of Natchez thornless blackberries last week. They are big and juicy, and the thornless canes make harvesting painless.

Natchez blackberries

My wife handles the blueberry harvest, and she has been bringing them in nearly every day as they ripen. We eat some of them fresh, and freeze the rest for later use. Chandler is one of our favorites,  and makes the biggest berries of the ones we have planted. Elizabeth isn’t quite as big, but has great flavor.

Chandler blueberries

I am still getting lettuce from the spring planting, though the quality is declining as the leaves don’t really appreciate the hot weather we’ve had here. Annie Oaky is a recent introduction from Wild Garden Seed that is a mini oakleaf type with dark red leaves.

Annie Oaky lettuce

It colored up well for me, and the leaves add color to our salads when mixed with the green leaf varieties I also have planted. I love the Wild Garden Seed lettuces, and Frank Morton is always coming up with new varieties to please the eyes as well as the palate.

leaf of Annie Oaky lettuce

As for summer crops, the container eggplants are still setting on and giving us lots of small fruit. Patio Baby and Fairy Tale both do quite well in containers, and are among my favorites for use in the kitchen. This batch wound up on the grill, which is one of my favorite ways to cook them.

Fairy Tale and Patio Baby eggplant

The pickling cucumbers are now setting on in the greenhouse. The first to fruit this year was Excelsior, and I also have Vertina planted. I don’t can pickles any more, but I do like these for quick pickles and for fermented creations.

Excelsior cucumbers

The summer squash varieties are setting on fast and furious too. I got a mix of yellow and green squash last week that included Tempest, Zephyr, Spineless Beauty, Clarimore, Bossa Nova and Flaminio. It has wound up in a lot of dishes, included a frittata I made for our lunch yesterday.

summer squashes

I’ve frozen a lot of the squash already, and I’m even including it in my fruit smoothie I have for breakfast most mornings. We’ve also been putting thinly sliced Tempest squash on salads, along with cucumbers, blueberries and lettuce from the garden.

salad with homegrown goodies

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!

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Harvest Monday June 17, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I continue to harvest a mix of both spring and summer veggies here. I made another cutting of side shoots of the broccolini and sprouting broccoli. We’ve been enjoyed these roasted in the oven on a sheet pan. They cook quickly, and the roasting really seems to bring out the flavor in them. This is a mix of Burgundy, Happy Rich and Apollo.

broccolini and sprouting broccoli

And I made another cutting of garlic scapes. This will be the last of those for the season, and it won’t be long before I start digging the early garlic. I turned most of these into garlic scape pesto, which we enjoyed on a pizza we made for dinner one night.

garlic scapes

The spring planted curly kale is holding on despite the hot weather. I made a cutting of Darkibor to go with a dish of Kale and Sweet Potato hash. The kale isn’t as sweet as when it’s grown in cooler weather, but still tasty. The cabbage moths haven’t found it yet either, though the bird netting I have over the cold frame might be helping to keep them out.

Darkibor kale

I pulled six of the purple Kolibri kohlrabi. All the kohlrabi so far has had slug damage to the skins, but it hasn’t affected the eating quality. These six weighed right at three pounds, and we’ve been enjoying them raw and in stir fries. I might use a couple of them for a jar of fermented kohlrabi pickles, which is my wife’s favorite fermented food.

Kolibri kohlrabi

I got another small harvest of Patio Baby and Fairy Tale eggplants from my container grown plants. These got cut in half, tossed with olive oil, and dusted with the three C’s (cumin, coriander and cardamom) before we grilled them.

Patio Baby and Fairy Tale eggplants

And speaking of summer veggies, I got the first of the summer squashes last week. Normally I might expect one or two to be first, but this year there were six that came ready all at once! It’s the green Spineless Beauty and striped Bossa Nova, plus the yellow Tempest and two-tone Zephyr.

summer squashes

I’ve grown Zephyr in the past, but it came back to our garden this year after tasting Tempest last year and reading about the breeding work that went into both of them. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a press release from 2017 that  announces the release of Tempest and a bit about Zephyr as well. Zephyr looks like a yellow squash that has been dipped in green paint on the blossom end, with some stripes mixed in. I think it is as tasty as it is visually striking, and I look forward to doing more tasting in the future when more squash sets on the plant.

Zephyr squash

Another summer cucurbit came from the greenhouse, where I have our cucumbers planted. The first to bear this year was Corinto, which is one of my favorites for the greenhouse. The dark skinned fruits are early and tender, and this first one got turned into Quick Refrigerator Pickles.

Corinto cucumber

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!

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Scaling Back

When we moved to Happy Acres back in 2007, I couldn’t wait to work up a spot for a vegetable garden. Due to the heavy deer presence, it had to be fenced. The area is about 40 feet by 45 feet, which I have divided into 10 beds. We can grow a lot of food in there, enough for me and my wife and some to share with others. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time and effort to manage a space that big.

vegetable garden

I always knew as I got older I would eventually cut back on the amount I planted, and that day has finally come. I’m having a hard time keeping up with the demands of the large garden. Partly it’s because I have other interests, and partly it’s because I don’t have the energy I used to have. Whatever the reasons, I have decided to reduce the size of what I plant next year by at least 20%. My wife sort of rolled her eyes when I first told her this, since she has heard me say it before. I managed to convince her that this time I meant it. I seem to be working in the garden more and enjoying it less, and I have no one to blame but myself. I can idle two of the ten beds, and plant them in green manure cover crops like buckwheat, oilseed radish and oats.

sweet potatoes planted

Yesterday I got the last of the summer vegetables planted. I tilled, hilled up a 45 foot long ridge about 10 inches high, then planted 34 sweet potato plants I had potted up in 3.5 inch pots. I started most of the slips myself, though I bought a couple of varieties to trial here this year. All that took me about two hours. That’s typically how much time I spend in the garden each day this time of year, at least until everything is planted, weeded and mulched.

vining squash mulched

I still have quite a bit of mulching left to do. My mulch of choice is straw over newspaper or cardboard. I use cardboard to cover the bigger areas, and paper to go around the smaller spots. I also use shredded paper around many of the plants. All that mulch eventually breaks down into organic material for the garden, and that has helped keep the content of organic matter in the soil in the 7% to 8% range according to soil tests. I also add quite a bit of homemade compost to the soil at planting time.  I hope to get the rest of the mulching done in the next few days.

partially mulched peppers

And that will be just in time to start seeds for a fall garden! Actually, I already have seeds started for collard greens and some of the sprouting broccoli. I will start the rest of the brassicas after the first of July. I’ve already scaled back the plans for the fall garden, and hopefully that will leave me more enthusiastic about gardening than I am right at the moment. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday June 10, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re getting more variety in our harvests now, as more of the spring veggies and even some summer ones are ready to harvest. I pulled a trio of Beas kohlrabi for eating last week. Beas is the first white-skinned kohlrabi variety, and these were nice sized and weighed in at around 8 ounces each. They had quite a bit of slug damage on the skins, which won’t effect the eating quality any. I am mindful these could not be sold in a grocery, which is a shame since so much of our food here in the U.S. goes to waste, often because it doesn’t look perfect. But this is the way our veggies look around here – perfectly imperfect!

Beas kohlrabi

The first two Patio Baby eggplants I cut were pretty much picture perfect though. I’ve even managed to keep flea beetles off these container grown plants, with occasional sprays of a Pyganic and neem oil mix.. There are more fruits setting on the eggplants, and these first two got roasted up on a sheet pan along with other veggies.

Patio Baby eggplant

Along with the first eggplant, we also cut the last asparagus of 2019. We had a good run of it, getting 20 pounds in all, and decided to let it grow out now. My wife has been busy weeding and mulching it again, and that should be the last we have to do to the beds until winter when we cut down the ferns. I say “we” but she pretty much does all the hard work in the asparagus bed herself.

last asparagus of 2019

I’m cutting more and more of the spring planted lettuce now. I’m growing Ruby Gem for the first time, and this baby romaine from Renee’s Garden Seeds did quite well for me. I’ll be growing it again this fall for sure.

trio of Ruby Gem lettuces

Ruby Gem lettuce

I also cut Slobolt and Flashy Trout Back last week. They both had a little slug damage, but not as bad as the kohlrabi. The Slobolt wound up in a wilted lettuce salad, one of my favorite seasonal treats.

Slobolt lettuce

I cut some colorful Miz America and Red Kingdom mizuna to go in a frittata we had for lunch one day. Neither has started bolting yet, so we will enjoy them while we can.

Red Kingdom and Miz America mizuna

Last but definitely not least, I cut more of the broccolini last week. This included the main heads of Artwork, and side shoots of Apollo. I also cut the first of the spring-planted Burgundy purple sprouting broccoli.

Apollo, Artwork and Burgundy broccoli

I cut these first spears of Burgundy just 60 days after setting out the plants. Most PSB is planted in fall and harvested in winter, but Burgundy is good for all seasons. It was bred and developed in the UK, and I look forward to seeing how it does here in summer and fall. I got my seeds for Burgundy from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Burgundy broccoli

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!

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Harvest Monday June 3, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I managed to get a lot done in the garden last week, and the summer veggies are almost all planted. It’s a good thing too, because Saturday I broke a glass coffee cup in the kitchen and cut my right hand bad enough it needed two stitches. Thankfully it wasn’t any worse than that, but it will be a few days before I want to use a digging fork or a shovel again. Meanwhile the spring veggies continue to keep us well fed, with a few new faces in the harvests. I made another cutting of the spigariello, which I sauteed briefly in olive oil along with chopped garlic and a few hot pepper flakes. I enjoyed it prepared that way, and my next experiment will be to treat it like kale chips and roast the leaves on a baking sheet.


I pulled the first of the kohlrabi last week, this variety was Terek. I enjoyed one of them raw for lunch one day, served with a simple yogurt dip. These three were a nice size, and averaged around 8 ounces each. The kohlrabi all has slug damage, but it’s only on the skins and once peeled they are crunchy and sweet inside. The rainy weather has made the slugs more difficult than usual to deal with.

Terek kohlrabi

I also cut the first baby pac choi. Mei Qinq is my go-to variety for a small green stem pac choi that is bolt resistant and cold hardy. I cut two of them last week for a side dish I made for dinner. I have several more growing in a container and sizing up.

Mei Qinq pac choi

I cut these two in half lengthwise, sauteed for 5 minutes in a skillet, then served them up with a warm miso-ginger sauce. The sauce also had mirin, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha sauce and lime juice. I loosely followed this recipe, adding a bit of soy sauce to the dressing and tweaking the other ingredients to taste. It was so tasty I wish I had fixed another pac choi! My wife was out of town and didn’t get to try it, so it will be back on the menu soon so she can get a taste.

baby pac choi with warm miso-ginger dressing

And I got the first garlic scapes of the season on Saturday, before my visit to the ER. These came from the early maturing Turban types like Red Janice, Uzbek and Xian. We typically use these in stir fries, pesto and Daphne’s Garlic Scape Salad Dressing. They are a real seasonal treat for sure.

garlic scapes

I cut the main heads from two Aspabroc broccoli plants last week, and a side shoot from Apollo. I’m trialing several baby broccoli types this spring, and it looks like they are coming on in succession. In addition to my old standbys Apollo and Artwork, I planted Aspabroc, Happy Rich, Atlantis and Burgundy. Artwork will be the next to be cut, with Burgundy and Atlantis just showing signs of budding. Burgundy is listed as a sprouting broccoli that can be grown both spring and fall, so it would be an interesting addition to the lineup if it does well here.

Aspabroc and Apollo broccoli

And I cut more butter lettuce from the greenhouse, including the last of the Mirlo which has done so well for me this spring. The season for lettuce is about over here, as the weather is heating up.

Mirlo lettuce

We had a couple of interesting visitors in the garden last week, one moving a bit slower than the other. A box turtle showed up outside the garden gate, and thankfully I saw it before stepping on it or tripping over it. It was in no hurry to leave, so it was easy to go get my camera and get it to pose. I had to stand still fora few minutes before it reluctantly stuck its head out just a bit.

box turtle

And a few days later, I looked out in the back yard around 10AM and there was a skunk nosing around the grass, looking for food. It was raining at the time, but the skunk didn’t seem to mind. I don’t know if it was looking for worms, or bugs, or what, but it ignored me while I snapped a pic of it. It was moving pretty quickly, and wasn’t in the mood to stand still like the turtle.

skunk in backyard

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!


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