Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Is Icumen In...

If you've never read poet Ezra Pound's irreverent take on the medieval poem "Summer is icumen in" you should! It always cracks me up and summarizes nicely my own feelings about the season. Except for December and the days leading up to Christmas of course.
We got our first real snowfall yesterday and it's beautiful and Merry Christmassy. Here is the garden in winter mode:
 There is much brush needing to be cleared around it that I never got to during this incredibly hectic fall. And though a rest from garden work is nice, looking at this just makes me sad! I look forward to spring already. Here's a look at more snowiness by the house:
Erg, the season of shoveling, sloppiness and frigid cold (our highs are supposed to be in the 20s this weekend!)
But spread beneath the Christmas tree, those harbingers of hope, the new seed catalogues! This is the first time in five years I haven't sat down to devour them as soon as each one arrived. I just haven't had the time and likely won't until after the 25th. So my annual seed orders will be placed a little later than usual this year.
Something to look forward to in the quiet days that follow the holidays!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Back From My Travels

Happy Harvest Monday everyone! I feel completely out of sync with my routine having been away for nine days during this busy holiday season and I'm trying to get it  together again with Christmas right around the corner. Hope I don't have to travel during the holiday season again anytime soon! Still, it was wonderful to see my older son after the better part of a year since he moved away from here. Lookin' like a happy mom! And look at all of that green!

Well, from 70 plus degrees Florida back to 30 degrees Connecticut has brought me face to face with what's left of the harvest, which isn't much. I still have carrots in the ground and they haven't been mulched. But I was able to harvest a handful of bite-sized ones this week which were very sweet eating. Most of them ended up in a kettle of split pea soup.
 This may well be the last harvest of the season for me. I still have more carrots out there, as well as some kale and Brussels sprouts, but they are all looking the worse for wear. Time to hunker down for the winter and dream of next year's crops. But who knows, maybe I'll get a few more bits out of the garden yet.
In the picture above are my dried scarlet runner beans. The photo isn't the clearest in the world, but the beans really are pretty. When cooked they are very "beefy" and filling. Now that I've admired them enough I plan to soak and boil them like I do with all the dried beans I purchase, then freeze in 2 cup portions, ready to use in any bean recipe I choose. I prefer this to buying canned beans because they are not loaded with sodium prepared this way, are a lot cheaper and once frozen, they are just as convenient.
That's it for this week's Harvest Monday report which is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions each week. Time to get inspiration from the southern hemisphere!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Still Harvesting Monday...

I'm happy to be able to say I'm still getting some harvests from the 2013 garden, even if they are getting smaller and more spread apart!
 This week I pulled a few small carrots and two very little fall cabbages that were used in a nice stir fry.
 There were also a few greens: mostly arugula, some chard, beet greens, tatsoi and a leaf or two of lettuce. I pulled a few more French Breakfast radishes as well.
And later on there were a few more carrots and Brussels sprouts. I planted twice as many Brussels sprouts this year as last but look to be getting about half as many sprouts! Go figure!
I am way behind on the fall garden winterizing as seems to happen every year when I tend first to get struck down with a cold, then the many scheduled activities take their toll and I lose my momentum. I am leaving a week from today for Florida to visit with my parents, brother and his family and my son for the Thanksgiving holiday which will further put me behind. But today is gorgeous out and I hope to take advantage of it this afternoon. And maybe a glimpse of green in the Sunshine State will lift my post summer spirits again! The first seed catalogue for the 2014 growing season arrived this week too, so let the garden dreaming begin!
Daphne's Dandelions is our host for Harvest Monday and I am looking forward to seeing what is being harvested around the country and the world this week! Head on over for a little garden inspiration!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leek Greens, Or Waste Not Want Not

I've mentioned before on this blog that my husband is a vegetarian, so over the years I've learned a bit about cooking without meat. And I've found that one thing that helps me to make a very flavorful meatless gravy for his holiday mashed potatoes are the tough leek greens that might otherwise get tossed right out into the compost pile. Well, that is where they eventually end up, but not before I've made a flavorful broth from them.
 All I do is cut up the green stems into pieces and stew them with water for about two hours. Sometimes I let them sit overnight in the fridge afterwards. Then just strain the liquid out and voila, a nice golden broth that I will freeze for now and use later as a base for gravy or soup. With some added spices and salt it makes a meatless gravy that has some real depth of flavor to it and I feel like I've wasted a lot less of those nice leeks I grew!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harvest Monday

My posting has slowed down because I feel like I haven't had much of interest to write about lately. We are gradually moving into winter, with temps this week predicted to plunge into the mid twenties at night and not get out of the forties during the day. But I still have a harvest to share this week:
I have quite a few leeks out there yet. They are not huge like my Welch forebears are famous for, but they are just fine in the potato-leek soup they ended up in! It's a favorite around here and perfect for cold days. I also harvested a few Kossak kohlrabi that were planted for fall. They didn't get very large either, but again, they work fine for some fresh vegetable in a cold season. It will be interesting to see how things keep with the really frigid nights that will be hitting the garden.
 I finally got around to planting the garlic last week. Discovered unfortunately that my German Red did not keep well at all, so planted a very tentative row. All the other varieties held up great. I planted about half as much as last season, because I really did plant way too much and I need the space for other things in the spring. In the photo above, you see I have the bulbs still at the surface, but no fear, they were pushed down three inches, covered and then mulched.

Thought I'd take a picture of the Brussels sprouts. You can see all the fallen leaves in the pathways, so there certainly is some neatening up to do down there. I'm still in the process of winterizing things. So that's it for this week's Harvest Monday report! Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners have been bringing in this week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Harvest Monday

With the change in seasons I think I completely missed Harvest Monday last week! October became very busy and it looks like November is getting even busier. The calendar is filling up faster and faster and I am having to squeeze in garden time all while fighting the inevitable desire to curl up on the couch near the woodstove with a good book instead. My two week long cold didn't help any either! Though it was mild, it did sap my energy.  I only have one photo of this week's harvest:
 It is eleven pounds of parsnips that I pulled from the garden today. I decided to bring in all the parsnips because I've been noticing more and more vole activity down there and sure enough, a number of the parsnips had their lower roots nibbled off. I don't want to provide those varmints any excuse to stay around and breed in there!
The parsnips came in all shapes and sizes, from the long cones you hope to get to squat short ones, to some that defy the imagination. Overall, it was a great harvest and the total for the season was around 15 pounds.
Maybe if I can't beat the rodents I should join 'em! My church group had a harvest costume party and this is how I dressed:
There's a tail too, but you can't see it. Thought I'd dress up as a famous cooking rat. Not to be confused with a parsnip-eating vole!
I also harvested Brussels sprouts this week but seem to have forgotten to get a photo of  them. They weren't very large and I believe I had better results with last year's batch despite the fact that I planted what I thought were better varieties.
The harvests have slowed down to near nothing now and I doubt there will be much more this season. What is still growing? Well, Brussels sprouts of course, leeks, kale, some carrots, kohlrabi (there are a few Kossacks bulbing up enough for a meal, but the Kolibri are just leafy),arugula, and tatsoi. Oh, it makes me sad to see the season ending! I'll be posting some thoughts on the 2013 season coming up.
I still have to plant my garlic! Today was a little too chilly for me, but it's supposed to warm up this week, so I hope to get it planted tomorrow or Wednesday. There is still plenty of winterizing to do too.
Now to check up on the other harvesters at Daphne's Dandelions, our gracious Harvest Monday host. I love to see what's going on in the southern hemisphere and dream of spring and summer!

Friday, October 25, 2013


We had our first frost this morning, so it's time to say a sad farewell to the summer growing season! The next few weeks will be all about cleaning up in the garden and spreading compost and mulch, planting garlic and  preparing things for next spring. Unfortunately, accompanying that first frost is my first head cold of the season too, so my energy level is pretty sluggish at the moment. No matter, the freezers are full and the jars of tomatoes, applesauce and sauerkraut are gleaming, and there's still fresh harvest to be had from the garden, including these roots:
 I have three beds of carrots still growing which are quite small, but tasty. Some local voles have discovered them and I find some are missing daily, but they've left a few for us. The radishes are still healthy and producing some bulbs which are less mild than the spring ones, but still enjoyable to crunch in a salad. And there are plenty of parsnips! This year is the first time I've had success with them, which makes me extremely happy. Tonight I decided to make a great recipe with the parsnips and carrots that a friend gave me a few years ago. It's a medley of the two root vegetables roasted with a bit of butter, water and dill and really tastes delicious for all its simplicity!
 I play around with the quantities to suit what I have on hand, but the basic recipe calls for 1 and a half cups each of julienned carrots and parsnips, a tablespoon of water, two tablespoons of butter, dillweed (I use a tablespoon of fresh or a teaspoon of dried) and half a teaspoon of salt. Put it all in a covered casserole and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Done!
This goes well with any main course and it seriously highlights the great flavor of the roots, especially the parsnips. More frost is coming tonight by all reports and this recipe suits the chilly evenings we're getting now when comfort food is what a body needs!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Harvest Monday

Each Monday Daphne's Dandelions hosts Harvest Monday where gardeners link posts about their latest harvests. It's a great way to be inspired wherever you grow and in whatever season you are!
This is a true autumn week around here. The trees are really beautiful and the days are cool and crisp but quite dry. This morning we had a temperature of 35F, so no frost, but the closest brush with it yet.
 Above are the very last of the tomatoes, save a few Matt's Wild Cherry that always linger on till frost. The brown dirty looking pods are dried Scarlet Runner Beans that have a very pretty purple bean inside. The last of the trombocino were picked, as well as a few Brussels Sprouts and a bowl of Gold Marie Vining beans.
 In the middle picture are some roots: carrots (very tiny, I haven't mastered growing good carrots yet) some parsnips, a good sized handful of French Breakfast radish and the last large beet from my very first planting in the spring. It is a golden variety as you can see. The later plantings of beets never did produce bulbs. I don't know why, but this is always the case for me even when the planting is just a few weeks after the first one.
I'm still harvesting small amounts of green beans and those Chinese Red Noodles are the very last ones from the vines. There is one Jimmy Nardello pepper and one bell pepper of unknown variety. What a difference a year makes! Last year I had loads and loads of peppers, but this year a mere handful. The trombocino squashes you can see by comparing them to the green beans are very tiny, the immature ones that I picked because the vine was dying, so they weren't going to get any bigger.
What is left in the garden? A surprising amount, though it's coming in slowly. There are plenty of Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks and kale. There is some lettuce, arugula and tatsoi, bok choy, kohlrabi, carrots and a tiny bit of chard and spinach. There is cabbage, but unfortunately most of it is unusable due to bug damage. My fall peas were a disaster. They sprouted and started growing well but stopped at about half a foot tall, blossomed a bit and shriveled up and died. The same with the fall spinach. I usually do well with it, but this year most of the large bed I planted sprouted and disappeared.
Despite the setbacks I have almost harvested as much produce as I did in all of October last year, so I will certainly surpass that total with ten more days to go in the month. I still have a lot to learn about Fall gardening, but every year I've seen some improvement so optimism reigns around here!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Product of Twisted Genes??

I spoke to my 81 year old mother on the phone yesterday. She and my dad, who is 86, live far away from us in Florida so I don't see them often. She was complaining how exhausted she was because for the past several days she'd been busy scrubbing her driveway. Scrubbing her driveway???? Ai ai ai!!! I can think of a million better ways to expend ones energy, but she is probably a product of her German upbringing and I'm sure her mother instilled that craziness in her. You could eat off her floor and feel comfortable about it.
My American grandmother on the other hand could have been featured on an episode of Hoarders. The few times we visited her when I was a child I remember the piles of stuff, taller than I was, that you had to steer through just to get to a useable chair in her house. It was utter chaos.
Why am I writing about this? Because as both a gardener and a housekeeper, I seem to have a constant battle going on between these two sets of genes that are warring in me. I like neat and tidy, but I leave bits of detritus in my wake wherever I go. It's been a lifelong struggle and I can't tell sometimes if I'm winning or losing it. I think in the garden I've moved a small step closer this year in the tidiness battle. I won't comment on the house part of the equation! However...
 This photo actually covers up some of my evil ways, but you can see the wheelbarrow, the tipped over watering can and the hose and sprinkler just lying around. And in the photo below you can see how long the wheelbarrow's been standing there by the rain water that's sitting in it! It's hard to discern, but there's also a tin can just to the top left of the marigolds that had been used to drown squash bugs. Everywhere I look there are little tools and plant containers just where I dropped them.
What to do, what to do? Obviously I have to change my bad habits. My husband is the complete opposite, but after 38 years he has just gotten used to me I guess. I have done a little better this year in terms of garden neatness. At least I got a handle on the walkway weeds and they did not get out of control like they did last year. Not perfect, but much, much better. The picking up after myself is slowly improving too, but has a long way to go. I suspect someday when I'm long gone, those that come behind will be tripping over my tools for years to come.
But on to something a bit more positive than my bad habits. I've enjoyed seeing some of the last of the trombocino doing its best to put out fruits. It is the only squash vine that's still alive and relatively strong.
There are about eight of these little guys trying to grow before the frost comes. I can't say enough of how glad I am that I grew trombocino, because it really produced where my bush zucchinis failed spectacularly. The vines do take over the world though!
It's forecast to get colder next week, but still no frost predictions. I still have kale, parsnips, carrots, green beans, arugula, bok choy, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts growing well. My fall cabbages look like lace they were attacked so badly by cabbage worms. My bad for not covering them. I also dragged my feet planting out my fall lettuce seedlings, so they are quite tiny, but some are planted in window box planters and can be protected, so I may get some salad out of them yet.
I've begun the process of getting things ready for winter by pulling out two of the green bean patches and some of the dead tomato plants. As various beds open up I've been bringing in cartfuls of compost to build up the soil for next year. And in the process, bit by bit I'm picking up after myself a little. Let the battle of the twisted genes begin again!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mid-October Harvest

It's Harvest Monday once again, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions, where gardeners are sharing with each other what good things their vegetable gardens are bringing in each week. And today is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada, so I'd like to wish all my Canadian friends a very happy Thanksgiving, especially my niece-in-law Kelly who is from Nova Scotia!
The garden is slowing down indeed, but still giving a very nice and diverse harvest. We don't have any frost in sight, although I did wake up this morning to a temperature of 38F this morning, brrrrrr. Since my summer crops...cucurbits, nightshades and beans... are either pretty well done for or I've harvested more than enough, I won't mind the onset of frost, which will get rid of many pesky bugs and sweeten up the parsnips, carrots, kale and Brussels sprouts.
 I had a nice surprise in these beautiful French Breakfast radishes! I'd somewhat forgotten all about them, when I noticed a patch of lush greenery and went to inspect it, finding these fully ripe little gems. Too bad the little bit of lettuce I had growing was eaten by critters, as they would have combined into a nice salad!
 I pulled out two of my green bean patches after getting a final harvest from them. There are still two more small patches that are producing until the frost comes. I love green beans, but am getting a little tired of them now. I know, in the winter when we're eating the frozen ones, I'll look back fondly on the fresh-picked beans of summer.
 The lone Long Island Cheese pumpkin sits on the back stairway. It weighs four pounds and is the last of the winter squash to be picked. I harvested about the same number of squash this year, but doubled the poundage as they were almost all much bigger than last year's crop. That is good progress, since winter squash is well-loved around here!
 Friday brought in an overloaded harvest basket! Spread out on the kitchen table are the contents: kale, a bowl of mixed greens (arugula, lettuce, tatsoi, chard, beet greens,) scallions, carrots, radish, parsnips, bok choy, celery, parsley, dill, beans, a few tomatoes, and a long, skinny trombocino. The surviving trombocino vine is desperately trying to put out a new batch of baby squashes before the season ends, but they are developing quite slowly and it remains to be seen if I get any more.
The healthiest plants in my garden are my marigolds. They are incredible this year and I'm so glad to see them blooming away in the garden, a beautiful splash of color in the fall landscape.
I am now in clean-up mode, clearing finished growing beds and putting on a layer of compost as each bed is cleared. I have also to decide where I'm going to plant the garlic for next season and will tackle that job in a few weeks.  Hopefully the garden will be well prepared for next spring once I finally put it to sleep for the winter.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Harvest Monday: I Can't Believe Its a Week Into October Edition

Good Harvest Monday everybody! We are having the remnants of a tropical storm passing through here today, so although it looks like October, it feels more like a muggy day in June. The rain is welcome though, since we've been bone dry for weeks. The harvest, which had slowed way down picked up a little today, not least because I was finally able to get into the garden in between raindrops and other activities.
 This is the view directly out my front door. We are quite surrounded by woods and as you can see, the autumn leaves are falling fast. We'll soon be raking them up for the compost piles.
 The garden is at the foot of our hill and looking rather raggedy, but the marigolds are huge and blooming profusely which gives it a cheerful look. I missed them last year when I dropped the ball and never got any of my little marigold seedlings planted out. This year they are really wonderful. And the harvest is still coming in. I hadn't checked my green beans in a week, because the plants looked so sad, but when I did today I ended up picking two more pounds of them. Many of them were a bit larger than I generally like, but they'll get eaten anyway. The big ones work well in soups.
 We're at the tail end of the tomatoes. Most of the plants are all but dead and I'm picking them off the vines more green than red, but they've been ripening well indoors. This morning I took several bags that had accumulated in the freezer to make into tomato sauce which were then canned. Although the plants were diseased early, and I'm far from where I want to be in the tomato production department, this year I canned as many stewed tomatoes as needed and had enough to make quite a few jars of sauce and even one batch of salsa. That's a first for me and I'm very pleased about it. If I sound unreasonable in my expectations you have to understand that I always plant between 45 and 50 tomato plants so what I harvest is really not much for the amount that are planted out. The problem has always been the limited sunlight and disease.
 Every time I think the Gold Marie Vining beans have to be about finished they hand me another pound of beans. This has happened several times in the past two weeks and I've been giving them away. The Chinese Red Noodles on the other hand really are at the end of their road and we will miss them. I also harvested the last of the Hakurei turnips, smallish because insects had skeletonized their foliage, and I pulled a few of the fall carrots to see if they were developing at all. It seems that I may get some after all if the voles stay away from them, which is iffy.
There's no frost in sight for our area yet so there should be time for some nice harvests ahead. I have yet to have a really good fall garden. This year while I finally learned to get those fall brassicas planted at the right time, I failed to protect them from marauding insects. So the fall cabbages and broccolis look nice and large, but they've been ravaged, which is a real shame. I always seem to forget that the insects in fall can be and are even worse than the summer ones and I'm less on my toes about it then. Well, something learned again!
While it seems that many of my veggies underperformed this year, those that did well must have really done well, because I have harvested over 200 pounds more than last year's total which was tallied at the beginning of December. I hope that means I am becoming a better gardener. It certainly means that the soil is slowly but surely being improved and the bit more sunshine we're getting since D took some trees down has made a big difference. He plans to take some more down for next year which will be great.
Now to head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to check out all the great harvests everyone else out there is bringing in. I hope you gardening bloggers know what a great source of inspiration and instruction you are! I have learned so much from all of you!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvest Monday

We have had the most beautiful first week of Autumn here in Connecticut. The trees are rapidly changing color and the temperatures have been perfect. It's been extremely dry though and the harvests are slowing way, way down.
 I don't have much to share this week. And for whatever insane reason, Blogger chose to put my pictures in sideways and I have no idea how to rotate them to the correct position. Big sigh here. I harvested two of the final three winter squashes. One is the only Kabocha squash I managed to grow and the other is a mystery hybrid, probably a mix of Waltham Butternut and Long Island Cheese. I'll be interested to see what the squash tastes like. I always plant all my various squash in one big bed and it never occurred to me that they might be cross pollinated to produce the odd mixed one. The final squash is a Long Island Cheese that will stay on the vine until the first frost is forecast.
In this second photo are my other harvests of the week. I am almost at the end of the tomatoes and harvesting them with just a pink blush to finish ripening indoors. As you can see, there are more beans, although the Red Noodles are just about finished. I got one final good sized Trombocino, more Hakurei turnips, a parsnip, a few French Breakfast radishes and teeny-tiny carrots, two peppers, one small eggplant, a small handful of dill and my one and only nicely sized watermelon. Alas, the watermelon was not ripe! At all! I tried my best to judge it by all the tricks I'd read about, but oh well, another year perhaps. And in the bowl are a variety of greens, a few lettuce leaves, arugula, tatsoi and swiss chard, enough for a salad.
Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions where you can go and see what other gardeners are bringing in this week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Season and Nature's Free Gift

One of the subtitles of my blog refers to frugal living, yet I've never written any posts on the subject. I'm not sure I have anything to add to the subject that hasn't been written about in countless blog posts, but frugality is a running theme to my life as a retiree. When my husband and I both retired early we were determined to do everything we could to keep the lifestyle we enjoy but to do it on a much smaller income, which meant learning to tighten the budget in every way we can without feeling deprived. The information I found online was so helpful to me and it's also what led me to discovering the world of blogging and the sharing of information online.
One of the hints I read and took to heart was never to waste things and never to pass up any offers of free edibles, so when at times a friend offers me, say, a bushel of peaches or apples I won't say no. And friends do offer, because as one person put it, "I know you'll do something with these" as opposed to their going to waste. Two years ago for instance, I was given a load of apples which made wonderful apple pie filling, but that source is dried up now since the friend that gave them has since acquired a farm-girl daughter-in-law who also likes to cook and can. And I was sorry about that because that apple pie filling was very handy throughout the year! But nature provides if you keep your eyes open and this is what I found:
 Are these not about the ugliest apples ever? They are scabby and misshapen and absolutely organic! They come from a very old apple tree that is growing behind a nineteenth century building on our church property. We use the building as a "mission house," that is, we let missionaries from far off places live there for free when they are in the States as a help to them. The building was once the town poor house in the days when such things existed so I'm pretty certain this apple tree is a nineteenth century tree too. The variety is nothing like any you'd find today. It seems like a kind of russet, is tart-sweet and the texture is a little different in a way I can't describe. I only know of one person who has ever bothered with these apples, a gal living in the mission house a few years ago who made a small batch of applesauce. So I decided to gather a bunch and see what I could do with them since nobody else seems to care about them.
 I made applesauce. Eleven pints of it! I'm a pretty experienced home canner, but I've never done homemade applesauce before and I've learned something the hard way. That stuff is like napalm! To bring it to the boil they want you to, it pops and blubs like hot lava and I have the burns to prove it. Now I know that next time I need to have oven gloves on and an extra long wooden spoon for stirring!
 And I made my apple pie filling, enough for ten pies. I freeze it in individual pie amounts that later can be thawed and thrown into a pie crust before baking. I also made a huge apple crisp, because we are a divided family here. I like apple pie. My spouse likes apple crisp.
 I also learned to really appreciate the amazing gizmo you see pictured above. A girlfriend lent it to me: a peeler-corer-slicer. Even with that helpful tool it took me about eleven hours to get all those apples peeled and prepped because none of them were truly round and all of them had spots that needed cutting out. But without it, I'd still be peeling and slicing and my hands would be crippled. I can foresee an unfrugal purchase in my future!
It was a good day two days' work to get all this done and I guess the point of this story is that there are some great gifts of nature out there, but it takes keeping your eyes open and it takes time and work! Still, it's a great feeling to have these done. There's no way I'll be making ten apple pies this year, but in the past the fillings have been great gifts for friends who are busy and appreciate a shortcut to a nice fresh apple pie themselves. There is more of nature's free gift on that tree, but I think I'm about appled out now and besides those burns need to heal!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Harvest Monday

I can't believe another week of September has gone by already! I had every intention to do another garden post between the Harvest Mondays but the days just flew. It has been a busy week. I actually went shopping twice. To the mall. Nowadays that seems like something out of a different life, but I needed a dress for a wedding we were to attend this weekend and boy, those aren't so easy to find these days! The Bible club for children that I administer at my church started up this week so I was running around preparing for that too. All I really got done garden-wise was harvesting and preparing and canning tomato sauce and a batch of salsa. The garden looks pretty lame but the harvests are still coming in.
 Here they are in all their glory: my eight butternut squashes and one buttercup. Four years ago after every single one of my winter squash plants died squashless, to paraphrase Scarlet O'Hara I said "As God is my witness, I WILL grow a winter squash!" Each year since there has been improvement. Yay! I actually grew nine butternuts this year, but the smallest broke off its stem and began to decay, so I cooked the good (and not quite ripe) part. Not only are these the most butternuts I've ever grown, but they are also the largest, so I'm quite pleased. I actually like the taste of buttercup squash better and the one in the photo is a beauty. I was able to grow three others which are a bit (or a lot) smaller. At the top left of the photo above the squashes are two honeydew melons. My melons all did very poorly, with only three getting to a usable size. These two weren't fully ripe, but still tasted good.
 My honeydews are so rare around here they are taking another bow in this pic! Above also are the first of my fall Hakurai turnips. They turned out beautiful and I still have a batch growing which will be picked this week. The bowl is full of arugula and as you can see I got one Lipstick pepper and a couple of the last cucumbers.
 Pretty close to the last eggplant, peppers and tomatoes were brought in this week too. Just when I think the Gold Marie Vining beans have had it they put out another batch of yellow beans for me. The Chinese Red Noodle beans are still coming in nicely and I'm still getting more green beans than we need.
 My scallions were another interplanting success. I planted them in spring between the early cabbage and they are looking very good now. On the plate you see two tiny watermelons. The vines were dead, so I picked them. They made two tasty mouthfuls. I have one small watermelon that actually has some size to it (maybe about the size of a duckpin bowling ball) and I'm anxious to pick it, but I think it's not quite ready. It'll be another first for this garden. Like winter squash, I have a long way to go to successful melon growing!
 There's still plenty of kale! The late summer bugs are doing a number on it though!
And lastly, more beans, beans, beans! That the Harvest Monday haul this time around! Be sure to head over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what gardeners all over the world are harvesting this week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Harvest Monday Mid-September Edition

Although the garden is really winding down, there have been some good harvests this year and at the midpoint of September we have already harvested more than last September's total. My fall plantings are maturing at a very slow pace, so whatever we get out of them is questionable. There are rumblings of frost predictions for tomorrow night, but it is very unlikely to get that low here. Our first frost is usually in mid-October, so it would be quite a blow to get one a whole month early.
 I didn't take many photos this week. Not pictured are the 2 and 1/2 pounds of parsnips I pulled to thin the beds, because I posted that already last week. Some critter is grazing on the parsnip tops now, so I wonder how that will affect the growth of the other roots. I'd like to leave them in the ground until after the frost next month. Most of my harvest has been tomatoes as you can see from the two pictures here. I'm getting a great amount of kale both from the spring planted kale and now from my fall plantings. They've been the only really robust plants of the fall garden so far.
 It has been a terrible year for eggplant and peppers in my garden. The three eggplants pictured are very small and the few left out in the garden are even smaller. No ratatouille this year! Also not pictured, I picked two Anaheim peppers which will go into a batch of salsa I hope to can later in the week. Beans are still coming in both from my bush bean beds and from the Kentucky Wonder beans that are just now ripening. The Chinese red noodle beans are peaking this week. I still get broccoli side shoots even though the plants are looking decidedly ragged and the two Lemon cucumbers pictured above are just about the last of the crop, as the vines have pretty well succumbed to powdery mildew.
And finally, here are my first ever dried beans. They are called "Aunt Jean's", ordered from Fedco. They seem to be a sort of yin-yang bean. I don't think I even got quite a pound of them, but I'm looking forward to making a pot of baked beans with them later in the winter. I'm trying to dry my runner beans too since we've been swimming in all the other beans around here.
That's it for this week's Harvest Monday report which is hosted over at Daphne's Dandelions!