Monday, October 17, 2016

Harvest Monday - October 17, 2016


The big addition to the tally this week was the squash.  I had actually harvested them the week before but didn't have time to clean them up and include them in last Monday's tally.

Coming in first place was, not surprisingly, the butternut squash - 12 squash were harvested from 2 plants:

Butternut Squash



I think this is almost twice as much as I harvested last year so I am more than thrilled!

About half of the squash were not fully ripe, but they had all started to change colour, indicating that they had reached their full size.  I placed all of the unripe squash on a sofa table that I have in front of a south facing window in the family room.  They will stay there for a few weeks until they are fully ripe.  Last year I used the same method of ripening up the butternuts and it worked out really well.

Squash ripening station

All of the ripe butternuts still need to cure for a few weeks in a warm spot, but they don't need direct sunlight, so those were placed in front of the fireplace.  I call it "fall décor" :)

I also harvested a few other varieties of winter squash (all from the straw bales).  None of these were overly successful in that I harvested 1 or 2 squash from each (and zero from at least one variety) and all of them were not ripe either:

Miben squash - these are huge!
I've placed a large butternut next to them to provide perspective.

When it comes to the bale squash, the only one that I'm 100% sure of in terms of identity is the Miben, pictured above.  I've had to make educated guesses for the others as I have not grown any of them before and all of the vines were tangled together:

Thai Rai Kaw Tok (bottom left) & Jing Orange

There was one squash that I harvested only yesterday as it was hiding underneath a bunch of leaves.  I have NO idea what it is as it doesn't look like any of the ones that I grew (based on the seed packet & online photos, anyhow):

Sort of looks like the Jing Orange, but it's a strange shape.

You can see in the photo that it does look like it's starting to turn a yellowish colour.  I've place it by the window together with the other squash and we'll see what happens.

Although I'm not concerned about the butternut squash ripening, when it comes to the other varieties I'm not as confident since they are all new to me varieties.  I've included them in the tally, but if some end up not being edible, I'll adjust my numbers accordingly at that time.

I finally harvested the 4 pots with sweet potatoes:

One sweet potato tub before being tipped

The harvest was decidedly underwhelming - just under 6 lbs. of potatoes (2.6 kg) from 4 pots.  Now, had this harvest been from one pot, I would have been thrilled, but not from four 10 gallon (35L) tubs/bags.

I kept the harvest from the green tubs and black grow bags separate and there was quite a difference between the two:

Sweet Potatoes
Harvest from green tubs (left) and black grow bags (right)

The grow bags produced fewer larger potatoes while the green tub potatoes were more numerous but smaller.  Overall, the total yield from the grow bags was about 14% greater than the tubs which is not a huge difference.  We love sweet potatoes and I have a few more ideas to try so I'm not ready to give up on them quite yet.

I was also disappointed at the volunteer potatoes I harvested:

Harvest from volunteer potatoes

That's it - 3 large potatoes plus a couple of tiddlers.  I was thinking I would harvest at least 3 or 4 times that amount based on the lush foliage in the bed earlier in the season.  Oh well, any little bit helps considering the lackluster performance of the official potato bed this year.

The late sown dry beans - Arikara and Calypso - were harvested.  None of the pods are dry yet but they did appear to be fully mature and the plants were definitely on the decline.  The pods are now drying out on newspaper in the basement.

Arikara (left) & Calypso (right)

We've now had 3 frosty mornings and a few more beds have been cleared & cleaned up for the winter.  Surprisingly, one of the tomato beds is still not that bad and I'm harvesting any tomatoes that are just starting to change colour on a regular basis.

Tomatoes and eggplant

We are now in one of our fall warm spells, with daytime highs in the high teens/20's (65-77F) so it looks like I may be able to continue picking for at least another week or so.  I did, however, decide to pull up the eggplants and all of the remaining fruits were harvested.

I also cleared out the pepper bed.  If there were only one or two full sized peppers on the plant, I harvested them, even if they were still green (we don't mind green peppers, especially in cooked preparations).  There were, however, several plants that had a lot of peppers that were just starting to ripen up.  For those, I decided to try something a bit different - pull the plants up, roots and all, and hang them upside down in the garage.  I do see some of the peppers colouring up, but I'll have a better idea as to whether or not this will work by the end of the week.

The broccoli is still pumping out the side shoots:

Broccoli

I pulled several rows of carrots including all of the Amsterdam Maxi.  These were a disappointment in that they were tiny compared to the other varieties:

Amsterdam Maxi

I didn't crop out the edge of the bed to give a bit of perspective on how small these were.

I also harvested about half of the Starburst Mix and many of these were the complete opposite of the Amsterdam in that they were monsters:

Starburst Blend - some were 2" across the top!

When it comes to size and uniformity, I would have to say that the Mokums are the best, so far:

Mokum
Not too big, not too small....just right :)

Each of these varieties taste really good, although I've not done a side by side comparison to check out subtle differences.  I'm growing 6 varieties in total so I'll have to remember to do that once I pull the rest of the bed.

I've finally hit the 500 lb. mark (what is it about that number that's so appealing in terms of a goal?) and it looks like I may even make it to 600 lbs. as there are still over half a bed of carrots to harvest as well as the garlic & onions to tally.

My harvest totals this week were:

Broccoli - 306 grams (0.67 lbs)
Carrots - 2,780 grams (6.13 lbs)
Eggplant - 596 grams (1.31 lbs)
Sweet Peppers - 346 grams (0.76 lbs)
Hot Peppers - 540 grams (1.19 lbs)
Potatoes - 710 grams (1.57 lbs)
Winter Squash - 26,067 grams (57.47 lbs)
Sweet Potatoes - 2,611 grams (5.76 lbs)
Tomatoes - 2,172 grams (4.79 lbs)
Raspberries - 28 grams (0.06 lbs)

Total for Week – 36,156 grams (79.71 lbs)

Total to Date – 257.67 kg (568.06 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.

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

38 comments:

  1. That's interesting about pulling the entire pepper plant and hanging it up. Please be sure to let us know if that works. You may be disappointed in several of your harvests, but to me it all looks great.

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    1. Well, it looks like my experiment will be a success with some varieties but not others. I already see a few peppers going soft, but there are a few others that are ripening up.

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  2. It looks like you got a nice haul of butternuts. And I like the idea of winter squash as fall decor! I have some sitting on the floor in the kitchen, where they are more like tripping hazards. The sweet potatoes do look nice, even if it wasn't as many as you were expecting. I think it would be good to do more experimenting. How many were in each pot?

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    1. With all my note-taking, I didn't put down how many slips I planted but from the pictures it looks like I did 3 per pot. I also noticed that I didn't transplant them outside until July 3rd (probably as I didn't have the drip installed until then). So in a way, this bodes well for another attempt next year when I plan to get them planted out a month earlier than that.

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  3. Great job on the butternut! And the sweet potatoes as well, you cleared my harvest several times over.

    I had a similar problem with new squash varieties grown all in a tangle and not entirely sure what one of them is. I'll see when I cut it open I guess.

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    1. Thanks Susie! Yes, the squash identification is tricky, especially as several of my varieties are oddball and only available from one source so there are no online photos of them at different stages.

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  4. The butternuts in the first picture look like a family of upside down shmoos. 500 pounds. You should be proud!

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    1. Thank you Jane - I am quite happy that I hit the 500 lb mark, especially as there were several not-so-stellar harversts - I would say it's a milestone year in the garden. Ha, ha...they do look like shmoos, don't they :)

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  5. Yum--sweet potatoes! We haven't had any from our CSA share yet, so I hope we get some next time. All your produce looks so healthy and tasty!

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    1. Thanks Beth - Sweet potatoes are not a common CSA item in our area and we don't grow any at the farm, which is too bad as I could really use a lot more than what I harvested!

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  6. You really do ride a weather roller coaster at this time of year! The shape of the mystery squash reminds me of a hubbard squash. Amsterdam Maxi sure didn't live up to their name, should be Amsterdam Mini. Wow, 12 big butternut squashes from only 2 plants. Nice!

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    1. Well, Michelle, you gave me a burst out laughing moment...Amsterdam mini...ain't that the truth! I didn't grow any hubbard type squash but with seed packet mix-ups I wouldn't be surprised if one of my vines was not what it was supposed to be. Hopefully it ripens up and I ends up tasting ok.

      I'm so happy with the butternuts - and the fact that they keep for so long makes it that much more satisfying.

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  7. I love sweet potatoes too. I often eat one for lunch as a meal. Do you have drainage holes in your plastic tubs where you grow the potatoes? What type of soil medium have you found to work best? I'm still a newbie when it comes to growing potatoes. By the way, I love that you used your harvest as fall decor while it is ripening.

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    1. I'm all for using food as decoration and nothing says fall like a family room full of squash :)

      The grow bags have holes along the bottom and lower sides and I drilled 20 or so 1/4" holes in the bottom of the green tubs. In fact, some of the roots escaped out the bottom of both the grow bags and tubs and there were a few mini-tubers developing underneath the pots!

      As for the soil, I used a mixture of 2 parts garden soil (from one of my beds, which is nice and hummusy - is that a word?), 1 part bagged manure and 1 part potting soil. The soil was nice and light, not compacted at all, even at the end of the season. I'm actually thinking that I may not have had enough nutrients in the soil as I didn't add any additional soil amendments...that's one more change I'll be incorporating next year and I'm also thinking of replacing some of the garden soil with compost. I'm a newbie when it comes to sweet potatoes too - grew them for the 1st time last year - so I'm still on the steep side of the curve :)

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  8. Yay-Mokums! Always a winner here. It's all I grow anymore.

    And lucky you with the sweet potatoes. I know you are a bit disappointed, but really, considering our northerly location--YOU WON!!! Getting a SINGLE sweet tater is victory, north of Indiana!
    I still have not dug mine. My freakish warm weather continues and so they are still growing ( I hope!).
    Happy October and congrats on yet another VERY impressive harvest.

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    1. Oh, thanks so much Sue! You are indeed a "cup half full" person...thank you for the sweet potato encouragement :)

      We've been enjoying the Mokums for a while now - always have a bag of them all cleaned up and ready to munch on in the fridge - a keeper!

      I hope you continue to enjoy your freakish warm weather :) and it rewards you with a nice, big harvest.

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  9. That's a great harvest of butternut squash. I've never really been very successful with this variety of squash myself but it's one I often buy. I've found peppers to ripen well when picked green from the plant, I've just left them in a dish and it hasn't taken long for them to turn red. It will be interesting to see why happens when they're left on the plant to ripen in this way.

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    1. Thanks Jo - it's funny but the butternuts are the only winter squash I've had success with so far. I'm so glad they are also one of the best tasting and great keepers - it's not often that great yield, taste and storage align!

      I haven't had the best luck with green peppers ripening off the plant unless they have changed colour by at least 50% already. If that's not the case, they usually start to go soft before they get ripe. I think peppers need a certain temp/humidity and my kitchen just doesn't have the right conditions.

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  10. Good job on the butternuts and an interesting variety of squashes, even if they are a mystery. The pepper trick will be neat if it does ripen some of the peppers. I have a couple of sad looking Lemon Drops that are loaded with green peppers.

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    1. Thanks David - I'm just hoping that some of the non-butternut varieties ripen up well so that we can actually eat them!

      It's the Lemon Drops that prompted me to try the hanging thing as they too had a TON of unripe peppers on the plant. I was going to pot them up but then read about this method, which would be much simpler...if it works that is.

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  11. Nice butternut harvest! I love the multipurpose use of winter squash as food and decor ;) I do the same thing! I will be envious of your sweet potato tubs when I have to start digging. If you need extra sweet potatoes, just drive around 12 hours south and I can hook you up with plenty (although you may be required to do some digging!). Your carrots look lovely. Mokum has grown well for me too, although it'll be awhile before I'm harvesting fall carrots here.

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    1. 12 hours for a load of sweet potatoes doesn't sound all that bad...don't tempt me! :)

      I do think Mokums are here to stay. I sowed the carrots pretty late this year, but it turned out to be a good thing because of our super hot summer - I'm sure they are much sweeter after getting a nice bout of cool weather this fall.

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  12. I'm once again impressed by your skill and harvest. Even my zucchini were a bust this year, though it was a great year for me for tomatoes (theoretically – that is, it was until my own person Squirrelgeddon). I love squash, so please set an imaginary place for me at your table when you enjoy it.

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    1. My zucchini are always an iffy proposition. You should try the tromboncino...they are a climber, so don't take up much space and soooo yummy! They have done better for me than traditional zucchini.

      You know where I live so if you are EVER in the area, I would be more than happy to drop some butternuts on your back seat :)

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  13. Envious of your great harvest of veggies. How big was the green pot you gree sweet potatoes in? Nancy

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    1. You know, I thought it was 35 gallons but as it turns out, it's 35 litres (10 gallons) and the pots and the grow bags were more or less the same size.

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  14. I think your crops look really good Margaret, and you should be proud of them, especially passing the 500lb mark.. well done to you\1

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    1. Thanks! I'm happy with our harvests even though there were some that were not that great. But there were others where I have to pull back on...I'm still growing WAY too many cherry tomatoes!

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  15. Congrats on reaching 500+ pounds. I would say you had a successful sweet potato harvest. Did you plant the same sweet potato varieties in both containers? Looking forward to learning about your pepper experiment.

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    1. Thanks Norma. Yes, all the slips were the same variety and the pots were put in pairs, one pot and one grow bag in each location - the only difference I can see is the black plastic vs. green pot. I suppose it's not a huge surprise considering the black plastic probably created a toastier environment for the plants.

      As for the peppers, mixed results so far....I'll have the details on Harvest Monday :)

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  16. We would really like to grow sweet potatoes so will be keeping track of your methods.

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    1. I'm hoping to get better results next year once I change up a few things.

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  17. Yum, I love winter squash. Add a little butter and brown sugar - what could be better?

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    1. Not much, Jason! And the fact that they store so well means that we can enjoy all that goodness for months to come!

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  18. Only just got round to reading your post... Re the Amsterdam carrots: I think this type is specifically bred to remain small, isn't it? It is the variety I use for growing in my plastic crates. I'm not going to try Sweet Potatoes again. I think they will only do well in a greenhouse over here. Grown outdoors they always produce a very small crop.

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    1. Well, according to the William Dam catalogue description, Amsterdam Maxi can be harvested as baby carrots or allowed to mature where they will get 6-8" long & 1" wide - which is significantly larger than any of those I harvested. I think the widest one was 1/2" and most were in the 4" long range. They were in the ground for over 3 months, so I would have expected them to be larger than that!

      I'm not quite ready to give up on the sweet potatoes yet - and I know you've been mulling around the idea of getting a greenhouse, so perhaps there are more sweet potato adventures in your future too :)

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  19. I love butternut squash and sweet potatoes... They're fantastic for roast dinners or soups :)

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    1. So very true - and the fact that they last so long in storage means you can enjoy them all winter long :)

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