Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Harvest Monday Host

Dave of Our Happy Acres will be the new host. Dave has been a regular on Harvest Monday since 2012. He grows a lot of interesting vegetables and varieties. This year I'm growing Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash because of how he described it. And I can't wait to try my first bite. He is always informative and fun to read. He will make a great host. So come Monday head on over there to link up.

And I just couldn't resist. I harvested my sweet potatoes on Tuesday. Do you remember the experiment where I used mycorrhizae as a soil amendment? It seemed to help my corn a bit, but not a lot. The piles on the left side are with the amendment. On the right is without. I don't see much of a difference if at all. The difference I do see is large piles (each pile represents a single plant) on the sides. The sides are where there is a lot of brick paving. So the biggest difference is which ones get more heat. Those were the ones that grew bigger, especially the ones at the corners.

Mostly the Purple grew into large tubers, but the above Garnet got pretty big too. Mostly the Garnet set a lot of tubers and some grew huge and some didn't. Almost all the Purples grew huge.

Purple top, Garnet bottom

All in all it was 61 pounds, split about half and half. Though I had more Purple plants, the Garnets got the good spot near the paving, so it evened out. 61 pounds is huge. Last year I got 42 pounds. Sadly though there is some insect damage, so I'll have to cut around that when using it. But still a wonderful harvest. I'll be curing them for a few weeks before I use them. I can't wait to eat sweet potatoes again.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Harvest Monday, 28 September 2015

I started Harvest Monday in 2009. It wasn't my original creation. The Ottawa Gardener started it but only kept it up for a few months. I thought a regular harvest celebration was a wonderful thing and I kept doing it, then I started hosting it. I've been blogging for even longer - 8 1/2 years. I started for very different reasons than other people. I was crafting and not using a good portion of my brain doing that. Though I loved crafting, I wanted to challenge myself in other ways. Writing was very very hard for me. It used to take me hours to write a post. After a few years it became much easier, but I kept with it for the community. You all are such wonderful people. But it is time for me to move on. I'll still be gardening and preserving the harvest, just not blogging anymore. I might put up an end of the year post to finish out my totals. I do hate when things aren't completed.

I would love if Harvest Monday or a monthly harvest celebration still existed. So if anyone would like to continue the tradition and play host, email me. Personally I've always thought it should be split into two. A northern gardener that did June-November and a southern gardener (probably Australian) that did December-May. I didn't do it that way because everyone begged me not to. If we do get volunteers, I'll let you know next Monday with a link to their blog(s).

Anyway onto this week's harvest. Early in the week I had a very nice harvest of broccoli, a small bit of zucchini, and some celery and parsley. And the first of the fall carrots. I finally used up the last of the June harvested carrots. The fall carrots really aren't that big yet. The storage ones are bigger, but will stay in for a month or two more before the big harvest of those. The fresh eating ones just aren't getting a lot of sun right now so are growing slowly. But I am getting enough to harvest and they taste pretty good.

I had a total of three small harvests, just picking what I needed to give them as long of a growing time as I can.

And I had a very respectable zucchini harvest. The bottom one got large, but was still quite firm and good.

And I was hoping that this weeks would go over 500 pounds as it would be a nice number to go out on. But I'm half a pound short. I was really hoping to be able to dig up the sweet potatoes, but I never got a chance. I will for sure this week. I don't want them to get too cold and the night time temps are starting to dip lower. I suspect that this year's totals will be over 600 pounds, but I won't know until the end of the year.

  • Broccoli, 1.90 lbs
  • Carrots, 1.66 lbs
  • Greens, 0.22 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.38 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 2.35 lbs
  • Weekly total, 6.51 lbs
  • Yearly total, 499.56 lbs, $1059.41

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 show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Harvest Monday, 21 September 2015

I had very few harvests this week. I picked the last of the cucumbers. Then I pulled the dead plants. The zucchini are still producing in a small way. And I had one picking of the ever reliable chard. Though I forgot to take a photo, it looks like every other week I've picked chard. A nice huge tub of it. And I grabbed some celery during dinner and neglected to take a photo of that too.

This week I used up the last of the carrots that I picked in July. I'm hoping the next batch of carrots are ready for this coming week, but I haven't checked them. I don't want to lift up the row cover and let any of those nasty carrot flies in.

Usually I'd be picking my fall brassicas starting now, but that bed ended up first with a horrible case of aphids then with alternaria. I ripped up the whole bed and tossed the infected plants. I'll have to buy my cabbages and kohlrabi from the farmers market this week if I want any. Hopefully the fungus won't spread to the neighboring kale and turnips.

I now have two beds I've put to bed for the fall. This one and one of the two sisters beds that had finished producing.

  • Cucumbers, 0.59 lbs
  • Greens, 1.87 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.06 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 1.51 lbs
  • Weekly total, 4.03 lbs
  • Yearly total, 493.05 lbs, $1041.46

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 show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Harvest Monday, 13 September 2015

I harvested broccoli not once, but twice this week. The first was all the side shoots from the spring planted broccoli. The second was the first of the summer planted broccoli to produce.

The amaranth was big enough again to harvest. It is trying to put out flowers at this point, but I keep cutting the plants back when I see the first buds. You might also notice in this and the rest of the above photos have cucumbers and tiny zucchini in the baskets. I'm surprised to be getting cucumbers still. They are still tasting good too. The plants are almost all dead. I think one plant has survived the wilt so far.

I had another tub of the prolific chard.

But the big news is the first of the squash to be picked. Last year I lost some squash because I let it sit out on the wet ground for too long. This year I've been more proactive in testing if the squash is ready.

This year I've been trialing two new squashes for me. The Thai Rai Kaw Tok is the green one in the photo and the very aggressive vines overtook one of my butternuts. Also they have set three more squash, but it remains to be seen if they will ripen in time. The Upper Ground Sweet Potato squash has set its first squash, but I don't think it has time to ripen. We will see. One of my butternuts really went crazy and set a lot early on (seven) and won't produce anymore. But the other two squashes have some immature ones on the vine still. Right now I'm at 40 pounds. Last year broke 100 pounds for the first year ever. I don't think I'll get near that number, but if I'm lucky I'll get close to 75. But only if they hurry up and size up and ripen. Trailing new squash never gets me the best return, unless of course I find a really productive one. And so far in my garden, nothing beats Waltham butternut. And luckily for me it is one of my favorite for taste too.

The Thai Rai Kaw Tok is interesting. It doesn't look so much bigger than the butternuts, but it is twice the weight of the largest of them. It weighed in at just over 7 pounds. It is also not orange yet though it has an orange patch on the bottom and orange spots. It also has an interesting bloom on the surface. Dave has grown these in the past and says they get orange after a couple of months in storage. I'm glad I read his description as I wouldn't have even checked if they were ripe enough to pick. I don't usually pick my winter squash green.

  • Broccoli, 2.94 lbs
  • Cucumbers, 2.00 lbs
  • Greens, 2.39 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 1.18 lbs
  • Winter Squash, 40.44 lbs
  • Weekly total, 48.93 lbs
  • Yearly total, 489.01 lbs, $1030.81

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 show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Good and the Bad

Sweet potatoes in the rain

We did get rain which is good, but they were predicting 1-2" and maybe more. I was so hopeful. But like other high predictions we have ended up with just over half an inch of rain. We needed so much more. I looked this morning and in the last month we have had 1.4" of rain. Our lowest month typically has 3.5". September is one of our wettest months at 4.5" on average. I can only hope that this rain was a shift from the pattern of summer thundershowers to the fall longer rains. We often get tropical storms coming up the coast and hitting us in the fall. We could use that. Right now the trees are starting to lose leaves from lack of rain. New England is known for its beautiful vibrant colors in the fall, but when the leaves curl up and turn brown, fall is not so pretty. The farmers have suffered too this summer. Though the apple and peach harvest was large, the lack of rain seriously hurt the corn crop.

When I went out after the rain, I saw this - holes in the Agribon. These are made by the squirrels thinking that the cloth will hold them up. It won't. The fabric is too fragile. So I took some time and repaired the damage. Then I went under the cover and sadly found that the root maggot fly had gotten in. I killed the ones I could find. They tend to like walking on the ground and are easy to squish. But only if I can find them. I'm sure there were plenty that I couldn't.

The good news is that the bok choy seedlings are up.

They came up well. I did a bit of thinning. Now I just have to cross my fingers that the root maggots won't be too bad. I did put out a couple of homemade traps for them. They are just some small white plastic containers with soapy water in them. Yellow would be better, but white does catch them.

Other good news is that my Brussels sprouts are really growing well. After two sprayings of soap the aphids seem to be gone. I've got some nice spiders in there helping out too. The tallest in there is about 4.5' tall. It is just huge. I only made the cover to go to about 4', so it is straining to get out.

If you look carefully you can see the stem is starting to curve. It wants to keep growing up, but there is no room. At some point it is going to lift up that row cover. I really want to take it off, but the butterflies are still around. I don't have swarms of them anymore, but on a sunny day I regularly see them in the garden.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Harvest Monday, 6 September 2015

There were some large harvests this week. Though technically the onions were harvested a while ago, I only weigh them in once they are cured and braided. I only braid the best of the onions, the rest go right to the kitchen for immediate use.

The last of the melons were harvested. The melons weren't as good as last year. This year they got wilt and slowly struggled. I don't think melons are as susceptible and seem to resist it fine unless the cukes are near them. Or at least the only two years I've had trouble with it where the two years the cukes and the melons grew close. I'll be better next year. That said the yield was good again. Not quite as high as last year, but within 10%.

There were plenty of cukes, some of which weren't shown. The zucchini have slowed way down. They get barely any sun now and powdery mildew has hit hard. But I'll take tiny zukes over no zukes. Nothing else had time to grow at this point. The garden has too much shade. So I'll just let them put out little bits now and then.

And did you notice my first Chinese cabbage? I had to pick it as it was dying. I think I let them dry out too much and that one was hit the hardest. I've got to water better. Usually this time of the year is wet and cools down, but the unusual hot dry weather is continuing.

I picked the corn last week. It was s dismal corn year. Last year I got about 46 pounds. This year it was only 26. I was blaming it on the aggressive squash, but I had one block that had just the typical butternuts under them and they didn't size up well either. I don't know why they did so badly this year. But at least what we got was delicious.

My old reliable came in again this week.

And a nice pile of broccoli rounds out the vegetables.

The only perennial fruit on the tally is the raspberries. When I remember to pick them I'll go out in the afternoon and store them for breakfast. Right now it is my favorite way to eat them.

  • Alliums, 13.94 lbs
  • Broccoli, 2.83 lbs
  • Corn, 2.33 lbs
  • Cucumbers, 6.02 lbs
  • Greens, 1.51 lbs
  • Greens, Asian, 0.74 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.13 lbs
  • Melons, 16.30 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 0.42 lbs
  • Weekly total, 44.21 lbs
  • Yearly total, 440.06 lbs, $929.38

  • Raspberries, 0.27 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 100.55 lbs

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 show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

This and That

I haven't been posting a lot recently. Not much was going on in the garden. This last week I did get a few things done though. My zucchinis have gotten a bad case of powdery mildew and quit producing. All of their female blossoms started to get very very small. So I cut them back severely. I'm not expecting to get much from now on more due to low light levels than the mildew. Probably just tiny zucchini. But something is better than nothing.

I harvested the last of the melons. There were a few small melons left on, but they rarely taste that good when harvested in late September, so I pulled the vines and planted with bok choy. It is too late to plant in the main part of the garden, but in the circle garden it gets less shade in the fall. The light levels though have gotten much less and they may or may not size up well. It is worth the chance. Usually I'd plant overwintered spinach. But I decided this year to forego that and try something new.

I didn't take a before photo, but the landscape of the garden has changed now. I picked the last of the corn and then took down all of the stalks. So now it is much shorter. And I have seas of squash growing all alone.

I braided the last of the onions, which you will see on Monday. And tore down the drying rack. I also cleaned up around the compost piles as they were getting kind of ratty. I need to get a new broom. My old one barely has any bristles on it. It makes my brick path really hard to clean.

This year I tried to keep the morning glories from climbing up the compost pile. Obviously I wasn't totally successful. They sure are pretty, but they are hard to clean off and get in the way of the drying rack. And they make it hard to access the piles themselves. So I ripped them down again. It is sad to see them go, but now I can get to the leaf pile again.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Harvest Monday, 31 August 2015

I would say that summer is almost over now, but this coming week is supposed to be in the 90s again. I was really hoping for a return to more normal weather. Often the pattern start to shift in September. At least the corn and melons have liked the heat.

There has been a lot of corn and melons. Not all of the photos made the cut. Most of the melons got frozen for smoothies as I just can't eat 20 pounds of melons in a week. I did have some help though as I had my mother and MIL visiting at the beginning of the week and my aunt and uncle over the weekend. Sadly two of the melons rotted out before they ripened. Though they were on bricks their undersides rotted. I should have turned them over more to dry out, but I didn't know how prone to rotting Diplomats were. I never have to do that with my Halona melons. They do taste good though and produce well if you can keep them from rotting.

In addition to melons we had two apple harvests. I decided after the first one that the apples were at the perfect stage and the rest needed to be picked before they over ripened. I put nylon footies on my apples when they first start to form to keep the insects out as I don't spray my trees. Ginger Golds are such a wonderful early apple.

I split the bounty in half and I got one basket and my townhouse mates got the rest. As you can see a squirrel sampled one even through the bird netting. And a few apples had some minor insect damage. Mostly they were good enough to serve to guests.

I didn't take a lot of photos, but I'm still getting zucchini and cukes. There are only a few cucumber plants that are still producing. But it has been enough to keep me in cucumbers everyday. I've even gotten enough zucchini over the last couple of weeks to freeze some.

Though they don't always get weighed - or rarely get weighed - sometimes I do remember and the herbs get on the tally.

Chard and amaranth were both picked. I didn't pick any of my own broccoli, but since I had guests I did buy some at the store. I had enough of the other veggies to keep my guests supplied.

Below you might find it weird that I put melons on the vegetable list and not on the fruit list. But the fruit list is really for perennials. And melons are grown more like the vegetables. For the perennial fruits it really is a milestone. This is the first year I've picked over 100 pounds. Last year was at 71 pounds, so it has been a very nice fruit year.

  • Corn, 6.80 lbs
  • Cucumbers, 2.63 lbs
  • Greens, 2.72 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.19 lbs
  • Melons, 20.61 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 2.56 lbs
  • Weekly total, 35.50 lbs
  • Yearly total, 395.86 lbs, $1234.77

  • Apples, 28.66 lbs
  • Raspberries, 0.41 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 100.28 lbs

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 show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Garden Share Collective - August Redux

The GSC has changed this month. It is now on the last Monday of the month instead of the first, so I've got my title as August again. Also it now has themes every month. This month is Size. For me I'll talk about the size of my garden. For me size of the garden is limited by the size of the yard.

Our shared backyard looking over the fence of the vegetable garden

I live in a fairly urban area in a townhouse that shares a yard. Officially our shared yard is 9000sqft (835sqm). It is landscaped with a mix of ornamentals and fruit. One apple tree is tiny as it just doesn't want to grow, but the other (on the far right) gave us about 30 pounds of apples this year. On the left are the raspberries which are grazed upon whenever anyone is out eating at the patio table.

Front yard in front of my door

The front yard has my two peach trees and just out of the photo are my three gooseberries, a juneberry, and a border of alpine strawberries. All except the juneberry and the one new peach tree has produced well over the years.

Since all of these are on our shared property, we share the harvests and upkeep too. Though in reality I tend to do more work than anyone else. No one else in the two townhouses is a gardener. Though they mow, edge, and weed, the reality is they don't always know what a weed or plant is. Occasionally things get left in that are weeds and things get pulled that aren't. Sometimes it just doesn't get done unless I do the work anyway. The perennial garden I wouldn't let them touch as it was just put in the spring and I didn't want them weeding out things I grew from seed.

What looks like a driveway across from the perennial garden is really a private road which dead ends here. Technically we don't own it, but those that live on private roads are responsible for the upkeep. Which means I get to upkeep the wall on the other side of the road. And when I say, "I get to", it means I have an agreement that the wall garden is all mine. I do all the work. I pay for anything I put in. But I reap all the benefits. In a way I like that a lot better, as I don't have to ask to change anything. I grow fruit trees there, with a front border of strawberries. I'm not sure how many feet it is, maybe 60 linear feet (18m) of useable space for my trees. It is about 2.5' wide. Though I've gotten plenty of strawberries over the years, all the trees are too young to bear yet. Maybe next year.

Though we technically share the yard, by agreement, the veggie garden is mine. Most of the vegetable garden is in the side yard. Much of it used to be paved, but we had the pavement removed to make more room. I have about 565 sqft (52 sqm) of raised bed. In the side yard there are eight raised beds, each 4' wide and 16' long.

Since the yard isn't that big, I made the paths between the beds very small. Just 19" (.5m). Sometimes the paths get so overgrown it is hard to walk down them. Especially when the squash grows big. There are a few small patches that aren't in the raised bed area. A small spot by the driveway fence has two of my currants and some cilantro and zinnia. On the left of the brick path are some mint pots (hiding the gas meters) and a plum tree. Also scattered in the corners are herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon.

August is all about cucumbers, zucchini, onions, melons, and corn in the garden. I have harvested other things like broccoli, chard, amaranth, and herbs. I know in most gardens solanums and beans are huge in late summer, but I can't eat those, so my harvests are more limited in scope.

Around the corner in the back yard by my back door is the circle garden. So named for the herb circle in the middle. I grow my heat lovers here. The sweet potatoes and the melons. The sweet potatoes won't get harvested until late September, but the melons are in full production right now. This space is counted in the 565 sqft of raised bed. On the left and out of the photo is my compost area. I have a four bin pallet composter. And two smaller black plastic composters that we use for composting kitchen scraps (the covers keep the pests out) and holding finished compost. A whole four foot deep section all along the back fence (maybe 30' long) is reserved for that and general storage and the very small garden shed. The compost gets the largest area as that is the most important. Compost keeps the garden growing.

August has seen a renewal on the preserving front. I've frozen about 11 cups of zucchini. I've cured, braided and hung the yellow onions and shallots. The red onions will follow soon. And I've frozen some cut up fruit for my morning smoothies - 2 gallons of peaches and 2 1/2 gallons of melon. Right now my favorite smoothie is a blueberry melon smoothie. I'll be sad when all the melons are gone. My biggest problem on the preserving front is about size. I really should have bought a larger freezer. I'm quickly filling up the available space. For some things size really does matter.

This post is part of the Garden Share Collective hosted by Lizzie at Strayed From the Table.