Monday, August 22, 2016

Harvest Monday - August 22, 2016


The big news lately is that our drought seems to have finally ended.  We have had quite a bit of rain over the past week - so much so that I’ve actually turned off all of the drip timers for now.  The grass and ornamental beds (and weeds, unfortunately) are loving it.

This past week, the harvest story begins with the corn:

Dorinny Sweet

These were the only cobs left after a few rainfalls.  Prior to the rain, there were easily 10 or so cobs on the plants.  I’m actually thinking that my pepper spray worked at keeping the mystery muncher away from the corn.  However, once the rains washed it away, the cobs quickly disappeared.

And this is the truly sad part of the story.  I didn't do my homework on when to harvest the corn.  I should have harvested the corn before the rains.  Because it was ready.  But I didn’t realize it was ready.  Until it was too late.

The cobs that I did end up harvesting looked pretty good – although they were quite small once the husks were peeled back:

Small, but they filled out not too badly
But when we ate them, they were a bit starchy – a telling sign that they were over-mature :(  Oh well, another year, another lesson learned.

And now for the tomatoes:

In this basket:  Brandywine, Taxi, Sungold, Costoluto Genovese
and the mystery cherry tomato
A nice bowlful of sugar snap peas joined the tomatoes in this basket:

From top left:  Taxi, Super Sweet 100, Sungold, Sugar Snaps
And then the annual graduation from harvest basket to harvest box, which is when you know that you have hit the tomato peak:

From top left:  A single Mountain Magic, Sungold, Juliet,
Taxi, Cherokee Purple, Bloody Butcher

Top row:  Mystery cherry, Speckled Roman, Juliet
Middle Row:  Cherokee Purple, Costoluto Genovese, Brandywine
Bottom Row:  Opalka, Amos Coli, Orange Blossom, Sungold 

From the top left:  Juliet, Sungold, Mountain Magic, Taxi, Bloody Butcher
Now this is something you don't see everyday:

Don't think I've ever seen a growth quite like this before
This was, in fact, a record tomato week with over 33 kilos /72 lbs of tomatoes harvested.  And it wasn't only a stellar week in terms of quantity, but it was also the earliest that I have ever hit the tomato peak.  Up until now, my best week had been back in 2014 when I harvested 67 lbs of tomatoes in early September.

The peppers are also doing really well, with a lot more colour showing up in the harvest basket:

From the top:  Pepperoncino, Melrose, Odessa, Jimmy Nardello,
Stocky Red Roaster, Jalapeno & Corne de Chevre in the middle

One of the Stocky Red Roaster plants had leaned over into the Melrose plant so I ended up picking a couple of green ones by mistake.  We don't mind green peppers around here, so we will still make good use of them.

A Tromboncino squash joins a basket of peppers:

Tromboncino together with a pepper medley
One of the Tromboncino's got stuck between the two trellises and had to be surgically removed:

Stuck Tromb
And here he is with a few cucumbers friends:

From left to right - Tromboncino, Garden Sweet, Lemon,
Summer Dance, Suyo Long
Several eggplant were harvested, including the first Long Green eggplant, together with another cucumber:

Ping Tung, Long Green and Chelsea Prize cucumber
And speaking of firsts, I also harvested two napa cabbages.  These guys are pretty big when you harvest them:

Mini Napa
Once trimmed of all the coarse and chewed up leaves, however, they are less than 1/2 their original size:

Mini Napa - trimmed
I have a few more napas in the bed, but their heads are not quite firm enough to harvest yet.  Hopefully they don't bolt before then.

A couple of Romanescos and a scallop squash were harvested:

Still having issues with pollination on the Romanesco's obviously....
The Speckled Cranberry beans are colouring up and they are simply gorgeous:

Speckled Cranberry
These are being harvested for dried beans and I’m not exactly sure when they are fully mature (i.e. just before they start to dry out), so I’ve not harvested any yet.  But they're just so pretty I had to share.

The Cherokee Trail of Tears, however, I have grown before, so I’ve harvested a bunch of mature pods and am letting them dry out on newspaper.  These don't get included into the tally until they are dried and shelled.

In the past I've waited until the pods are almost completely purple before harvesting which has worked out well, but I'm wondering if they need to be completely purple, or if I can start to harvest them when they are fully formed and just starting to turn purple.  So this year, I've decided to do a bit of a test and am harvesting some of the pods at the earlier stage and keeping them separate from the others.

Cherokee Trail of Tears
I pulled out all of the Oceanis (filet bean) and Provider (snap bean) plants as rust had taken over and the rains was only making things worse.  We loved Provider, but I doubt I’ll be growing Oceanis again – they were not very tender and the flavour was also lacking.  This is not altogether a bad thing as that means I get to try a new variety next year with no reservations :)

And lastly, I also harvested a few of the larger Ailsa Craig onions as their tops had flopped & we were expecting rain:

Ailsa Craigs
I probably should have harvested more of them, but I just didn't have the time.  These are in the garage curing right now, so they won't be added to the tally for another few weeks.  I'll likely harvest the rest of the onions in a piecemeal fashion, harvesting only those whose tops have flopped over.  I mentioned previously that most of the onions are not doing well in terms of size this year, so I'm waiting as long as I can in the hopes that they get just that little bit bigger.

Also harvested this week but not photographed were a nice bunch of Romano beans.

My harvest totals this week were:

Romano Beans – 562 grams (1.24 lbs)
Chinese Cabbage (trimmed) – 892 grams (1.97 lbs)
Cucumbers – 1,674 grams (3.69 lbs)
Eggplant – 374 grams (0.82 lbs)
Snap Peas – 172 grams (0.38 lbs)
Sweet Peppers – 1,258 grams (2.77 lbs)
Hot Peppers – 810 grams (1.79 lbs)
Summer Squash – 3,959 grams (8.73 lbs)
Tomatoes – 33,050 grams (72.86 lbs) – a record week!

Total for Week – 42,751 grams (94.25 lbs)
Total to Date – 122 kg (268.95 lbs)

To see what everyone else has been harvesting over the past week, head on over to Our Happy Acres where Dave is our host for Harvest Mondays.

I'll end this post with a photo that inspires me to let more volunteer dill grow throughout my garden:

Awwww.....

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

34 comments:

  1. Great harvests, Margaret. 33 kilos of tomatoes will keep you busy. Too bad something is getting your corn. For me, corn is too much of a hassle to grow considering I can go up the road to a farm stand and pick out perfect ears for 50 cents an ear.

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    1. Thanks David - We have corn stands around us but I'm still up for the challenge of growing my own...but if this keeps up, who knows how long that will last.

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  2. Wow, what an impressive tomato harvest! The peppers are no slouch either. I'm sorry you had as much trouble as I did with Dorinny. Do you think you'll grow it again?

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    1. I do think I'll grow it one more time, Will. It's sort of reminding me of my squash in that there always seemed to be "one more thing" I can try.

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  3. Wow, boxes of tomatoes! I'm still weeks way from that stage of the tomato harvests. I would be crying over that corn, there's nothing more frustrating than garden raiders. Those Swallowtail caterpillars are another thing though, I love to watch them munch through the flower heads of my fennel plants!

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    1. Oh, you know about garden thieves all too well, don't you Michelle! I'm LOVING the caterpillars - each day I go out there to see how they are doing. They were munching on a solitary plant that came up in an empty pot of soil so I moved the pot right next to a huge dill plant that came up in one of the tomato beds so that they would have more to munch on.

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  4. A great harvest, especially those tomatoes. A shame about your corn but it will be all the tastier for the wait when you harvest next year's crop.

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    1. So true, Jo - it's always the scarce & difficult to come by harvests that seem to be the most appreciated.

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  5. Wow on those tomatoes! You sure have some lovely ones there. I got 23 lbs today and that is going to keep me busy. I can't imagine 72 lbs of them. When I grew corn I ALWAYS had a hard time telling when it was ready. I had to pull back the husks and look at the kernels to know for sure. And bugs always got mine. Now I do like David, and go get it from a nearby farm. I've got pepper envy too, still waiting on many of mine to ripen. It's great looking at yours though!

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    1. I've dealt with about 1/2 of the harvest so far and today I'm tackling the other half...and then I'm sure I'll be out there picking again, so the boxes won't be empty for long :)

      I grew corn only one time before - in that tiny first garden of mine over 20 years ago, and from what I recall, earwigs were a big problem. What's funny is that's about all I recall about growing.

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  6. Your tomato pictures look like they came from a seed catalog! So many varieties, and a huge harvest for one week. Those Taxis are such an intense yellow color. I love the caterpillars. I have a couple large dill plants but no caterpillars so far.

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    1. Thanks k! The Taxi tomatoes are truly a favourite - not only are they so pretty, but they actually have a fresh, tangy flavour which is rather unusual (I find) for yellow tomatoes, which tend to be a bit bland.

      Keep an eye on that dill - the caterpillars were a bit of a surprise discovery when I was picking a bit of dill for a dip and they appeared seemingly overnight.

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  7. Oh good, I'm so glad you've had some beneficial rain! Your comparisons of various cultivars is always so interesting. I was thinking the same thing about dill for next year. But then I started worrying about accidentally stepping on a caterpillar or picking a tiny one with a cut flower. I'll have to think about ways to make the planting in a good place. ;-)

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    1. The rain has been refreshing, Beth, to say the least, and it looks as if our heat is down to normal levels - finally!

      Oh yes, the volunteer dill - I was pulling it out of the pathways and "bad" spots like crazy in the spring, but I let it grow wherever it would be ok to flourish - it's worked out well so far.

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  8. Such a bounty Margaret. You have worked hard to bring this to fruition. Congratulations on the record tomato harvest.

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    1. Thanks Susan! I've been wanting to leave a comment on your posts for a few weeks now, but I no longer see a comment field on them. I recently upgraded to Windows 10 and have had other quirky things happening since the change, so I wasn't sure if this was a change in your format or something on my end.

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  9. Margaret- what an AMAZING harvest week you have had. I am imagining you and your kitchen buried with 732 lbs of tomatoes right now :) Sorry to read about the corn. The few times I have tried to grow it the raccoons always got it before I did. Like yourself I found pepper to be a good repellant, but only as long as it didn't rain. The good news is, any failures or disappointments in the garden just lead to a good excuse to look through next year's seed catalogs ans try something new.

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    1. Thanks Lexa! Well, that's awesome to hear that someone else has had success with the pepper spray - I wasn't really sure if it was the pepper spray or something else that allowed the cobs to stay on the stalks for as long as they did. So I guess the trick is to be vigilant about re-spraying after a rainfall...easier said than done, I think!

      And that is SO true about failures and variety disappointments - a "reason" to purchase more seeds is always a good thing in my books :)

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  10. Hi Margaret--so sorry about your corn.
    The tomatoes--oh, the tomatoes!! Lucky lucky you! My brandywines continue to stay that maddening green! I'm tempted to attack them with a heat lamp--haha! Hopefully soon, though.
    And yes--September is the tomato (big slicers) season at my place....that usual 4-5 days right before the first frost. I really need to rethink where I live, I think! Ha!
    Well, great and beautiful harvests, dear lady. Enjoy the bounty.
    :)

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    1. Thanks Sue! I think this may be the earliest I've ever had brandywines ripen before...will have to check my notes on that ;) Fingers crossed that they start to ripen up for you very soon. They are forecasting a warm fall this year for us and you are not too far, so perhaps this will extend out your way? Not that these forecasts are that reliable, but I figure it's at least one little shred of hope for a few more ripe Brandywines on your plate :)

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  11. What a disappointment about the sweetcorn, but those tomatoes most more than make up for it!

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    1. That is so often the case, isn't it Sue? When one crop suffers, usually there is another that flourishes.

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  12. Beautiful tomatoes! Our "volunteer dill" equivalent this year was nasturtiums, which got destroyed by black bugs..

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    1. Thanks A.J.! Oh, that's too bad about the nasturtiums - I grew some, deliberately, but they didn't do very well in the less then moist confines of a planter I placed near the herb bed. So not a good nasturtium year for me this year either.

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  13. Look at all those tomatoes! I bet you had mountains on your counter and in your fridge. It can be nice and overwhelming when they come on like that, I usually take a week off from work and can up a storm.

    That's terrible about your corn thief, would a short electric fence help?

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    1. Ha, ha...you know you have a lot of tomatoes when you have to take time off work to deal with them!! And you are right - it is both great and a bit overwhelming. Love the bounty, but it also feels good when the counters are once again cleared of produce :) As that seems to be the only crop to suffer from the thief, an electric fence would likely be too costly. But I am toying with the idea of a chicken wire enclosure.

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  14. I too have given up growing corn and just get from the farmers market. How do farmers keep the critters away, I wonder?
    What did you do with all those tomatoes and future harvest? Must spend hours dealing with them.

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    1. I wonder that too - I don't see any electric fences around the corn fields in our area, so why don't the raccoons and other critters go for the all-you-can-eat-buffet? As for the tomatoes - I'm just writing up a post about that, but in brief I can tomato puree/salsa & freeze chopped tomatoes, roasted tomato sauce, oven-dried cherry tomatoes and even whole tomatoes when I'm really short on time.

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  15. Hi! Lovely and large harvest!! I did not know there was a correct time to harvest corn. Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy! Yes, I definitely left the corn too late - it wasn't as sweet as it should have been, but at least it was "ok" and not inedible...what a waste if that had been the case!

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  16. I've never had any luck with corn, so I'm glad that an experienced gardener likewise has struggled with it. Those tomatoes are amazing!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer - it does seem that corn is one of those crops that many don't bother growing because of all the issues. I'm not ready to give up quite yet, though :)

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  17. Glad your drought it ending. It's so disheartening to watch our gardens dry up and then those water bills are enormous! Well here in Tennessee they are! gail

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    1. Oh, all the rain is a very welcome relief. We are on well water, so our main expense is hydro running the well pump. As you say not cheap, but the drip irrigation has helped cut down on the cost...a lot!

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