Monday, August 22, 2016

Harvest Monday 22 August 2016


The drought continues despite our getting about an inch of rain last week. I am getting a few small harvests here and there. It is no big deal for me but some of the small farmers around here are going to be hurt. A freak -15F freeze in the middle of 70F weather in February wiped out the peach crop in New England. And some of the orchards are having to irrigate their apple trees for the first time in recent history. Surprisingly the corn is pretty good. Ears are much longer than usual and they are very sweet. But a neighbor up the street who grows a field of corn to sell has corn stalks at knee level in mid-August because he can not irrigate.

The patty pan squash is a Sunburst which is supposed to have a central green spot in the center around the blossom end, but the green has bled out of the center.

I harvested the last two Golden Acre cabbages because their quality was not improving, cooking away in the sun. In addition, the cabbage caterpillars seem to have made their appearance and were chewing on one of them.

The Swiss chard has rebounded with the rain and slightly cooler weather. The coloring on Pink Passion is more attractive than earlier. Some of the leaves do have cercospora spots on them.

I am harvesting tomatoes as soon as they color a little to avoid loss to the birds and chipmunks. I have talked to other gardeners who are having the same problem. The big tomato above is my one and only Mortgage Lifter, an impulse purchase. That plant is not going to pay my mortgage, but so far it is my largest tomato.

More tomatoes. The birds have really attacked my Black Beauty tomatoes so I am removing most of them. One I picked earlier is now showing some red on its green areas. The black color comes from exposure to sunlight so the undersides are green. Apparently the green will turn to red as they ripen. And to top off a smashing year, late blight has arrived and is affecting most of the tomato plants.

The Pink Berkeley Tie Dye I picked green is now almost ripe after sitting on the kitchen counter.  The colors are very attractive, random green stripes on a pink background.

The peppers are happy enough that they are starting to flower. This is Lemon Drop.

Likewise for the Ancho Poblano peppers. They are now almost a meter tall and starting to flower.

Sunday I started some dill pickles fermenting. I had to buy the pickling cukes from a farm stand since my cucumber vines are mostly dead. The garlic and dill seed are from my garden, however. And the grape leaves covering them and in the bottom came from wild grapes in the back yard.

I am also trying a lacto-fermentation of garlic cloves, hoping I can preserve some more of my garlic harvest. This is a quart jar slightly more than half full. It was a tedious job to peel all that garlic, even using a silicone rubber tube designed to peel garlic. The brine is just a basic brine: 2 cups (450 ml) of unchlorinated water and 1 1/2 Tbsp (26 .) of sea salt. The brine looks cloudy in the photo because I added a teaspoon of whey to get the fermentation started. Garlic does not produce a raucous ferment and will need to ferment for about a month.

That is what happened in my garden last week. To see what gardeners around the world are harvesting, visit Dave at Our Happy Acres, our host for Harvest Monday.

PS I was planning to post this early Monday morning but we had a freak storm go through the area at 3 AM. They are not sure if tornadoes or microbursts were involved, but whatever, it took put a tree down in my driveway and across the power lines. So no power until  9 AM. And we did get a lot of rain in a very short time, which will definitely help.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


  1. Yikes! I'm glad that you and your house are ok - that sounds like some storm!

    I hadn't heard of cercospora - had to look that one up. And not good about the late blight. I have something going through a couple of the tomato beds too, but I'm uncertain if it's blight or not. It seems a bit different as the browning started on the little leaves that top the tomatoes instead of on the main leaves. That Tie Dye tomato is certainly gorgeous - hopefully it tastes as good as it looks!

  2. Great harvests in spite of the challenging year. The Pink Berkeley really is quite handsome. I'm very interested in your lacto-fermented garlic...please keep us updated with the process.

  3. I can only imagine what the drought is doing for farmers. I truly hope they have crop insurance. I'm sorry to hear about your tree but not about the rain. We had one go down about a month ago, narrowly missing the garage. It took 4 truckloads to haul it all off.

    I've made the lacto-fermented garlic before, and I usually put several cloves in with mixed 'pickles' like the giardiniera and kohlrabi pickles. It will definitely keep that way, for months really. I usually it eat all before then though.

  4. Your pepper plants look healthy and happy, hopefully you'll get a good harvest. You are definitely getting some freaky weather and droughts are a terrible thing. It sounds like it's been a hard year.

    Very interesting black tomato, what do you think of it's flavor?

  5. This sure is a challenging gardening year.
    Here is an easy method to peel large quantity of garlic:
    1. Place garlic cloves in a container and cover with luke-warm water.
    2. Allow to soak for at least 5 minutes.
    3. Drain and peel, if peel is not coming off easily, soak a few minutes longer.
    4. Rinse and drain peeled garlic cloves.
    5. Spread on a clean dish towel and pat dry.

  6. Thanks goodness you and your garden are alright after that early morning storm. So sorry about the tree.Your pepper plants look great right now. Hopefully you will be blessed with some peppers soon. I am just reading about lacto-fermintation, so I read about your experiments with interest. The garlic really looks inspiring. Please let us know how it turns out.

  7. It seems like everyone is having a strange summer this year - heat, drought, too much rain, fires, whatever...

    Nice that you got some rain, but at the cost of a tree, how sad. And you have critter problems too. I've lost track of the number of rats that I've trapped.

    Pink Berkeley Tie Dye is a beauty.


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