Monday, September 28, 2009

Harvest Monday, September 28, 2009

Sadly, other than lettuce and a few pea pods this will probably be my last substantial Harvest Monday. So for a little while longer, I will continue to enjoy reading about other’s Harvest Mondays at Daphne’s Dandelions.

The onion harvest was pretty pitiful. I planted only three squares from bunched onions and they took a beating earlier in the season with all the rain and the cool temperatures.

This is the harvest from two squares:

The third square (not pictured) had only 1-inch bulbs so wasn’t really worth it. I am going to try mulching and overwintering these to see what happens. No curing necessary as these have already been mostly used up in tomato sauce and chicken enchiladas that were made over the weekend. The rest of the small onions left will probably be used up this week. I need to plant way more onions next year and will probably use onion sets instead of bunched onions.

The zucchini and yellow summer squash were still producing a few fruit before the frost, and the fast break melons were ripening one by one:

These late melons are by far the best tasting. There has been little rain this month and I have not been watering the garden much. I have read that this helps to concentrate the sweetness of the melon and it seems to be true.

The last of the watermelons were harvested on Friday before the frost. This is a normal sized Crimson Sweet:

Two more mini watermelons were found hiding under the foliage, one Yellow Doll and one Crimson Sweet:

More beans:

We continue to snip lettuce leaves almost daily for salads:

The garden is pretty much finished. Cool nights, diminished sunshine, and the frost we experienced over the weekend have brought things to a close here at the garden spot this season. Now I am looking forward to cleaning up, preparing the beds for winter, and planning for next year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas with Dan’s Green Chili Sauce

When I blogged about my pepper harvest last week, Dan from Urban Veggie Garden Blog reminded me of a recipe he posted earlier in the season for Green Chili Sauce to use on Chicken Enchiladas. I had some extra Big Chili Peppers that I harvested, roasted, and froze last weekend that were just perfect for this recipe.

Yesterday was a busy day, I was also cooking a large batch of tomato sauce that I will divide into containers and freeze for later use. So I used my slow cooker to cook the enchilada filling while I accomplished the tomato sauce and other projects.

Dan’s Green Chili Sauce

2 lbs green chili's, roasted & peeled
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
juice of a 1/4 lime
2 tablespoons oil
1-2 hot peppers (optional)
1 cup good chicken stock
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until chunky. If you have excess sauce it can be frozen for later use.

Chicken Enchiladas

8 6-inch warmed tortillas
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
1/4 c chopped onions
1/4 c chopped green chili peppers
4 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp taco seasoning mix
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp lime juice
1 c shredded cheese (Monterey jack and/or cheddar)
Sliced pitted ripe olives (optional)
Chopped tomatoes (optional)
Sliced green onion (optional)
Chopped cilantro (optional)

In a slow cooker, combine chicken, onions, green chili peppers, garlic, and taco seasoning mix, ground coriander, pepper, and chicken broth. Cover and cook on low 7-9 hours (high 3 to 4 hours) until chicken is tender. Shred chicken by placing two forks back to back and pulling meat apart. Stir to combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low while you blend up a batch of Dan’s Green Chili Sauce.

To the slow cooker, add 1/2 cup of Dan’s Green Chili Sauce, sour cream, lime juice, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Cover and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes or until thickened.

Place about 1/2 cup of the filling on top of each warmed tortilla, roll up, and place seam side down on a lightly greased 12x7.5x2-inch baking dish. Top with Dan’s Green Chili Sauce.

Cover and bake in a 350ºF oven for about 35 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese, and optional olives, tomatoes, green onions, and/or cilantro. Bake uncovered 5 minutes or more until cheese melts. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

K and I both thought it was absolutely delicious and will be made again. Thanks Dan!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Frosty Morning

We did have a killing frost overnight. I went out to snap some pictures of the frosty plants before the sun’s rays hits them. I don’t know yet if the plants I covered escaped damage. I won’t know until later this morning after the sun has warmed and melted the frost crystals and I remove the coverings.

Frost damage results from the liquid inside individual cells freezing and forming ice crystals. The ice crystals expand and rupture through the cell walls. When the sun warms the plant, the crystals melt, the fluids drain out of the ruptured cell walls, and the leaves wilt.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome Fall: Frost Tonight

Fall comes quickly in the Garden Spot. It begins with the diminished sunlight the garden receives each day. In addition to the shorter days, the sun has shifted to setting behind the trees at the edge of our yard casting shade across the garden by late afternoon. The plants respond by slowly reducing their growth. They struggle to produce that final fruit or vegetable, they devote all their energy to growing and ripening it. The foliage shows signs of stress as they struggle to give up their final offerings. When the frost does come, the plants are weak, ragged, and tired.

The nights are much cooler slowing the ripening of the melons and the final watermelon that are still in the garden. Even reducing the yield of the pole beans this week that have been so prolific for me all season.

It’s time to start fall cleanup of the Garden Spot. The bush beans need to be pulled. They stopped producing a while ago. I left them as they provided some ground cover and prevented weeds from growing. Also the deer chose to munch on these instead of other plants in the garden:

The cucumber vines stopped producing a few weeks ago too and were killed by the light frost we experienced earlier in the week:

The zucchini and yellow summer squash have slowed down in production and been ravaged by powdery mildew:

The self watering containers that had blight tomato plants in them will require special treatment. The water needs to be drained, the stumps from the tomato plants need to be removed, the soil need to be allowed to freeze to be sure there is no live tissue for the late blight to survive on. The containers need to be carefully stored in the shed where they will not be damaged during the winter:

The paths between the beds need to be weed whacked one more time. The plants sprawled out of the garden making weed whacking difficult, so I let things be for a while. But it needs to be taken care of before grass goes to seed:

Some of the garden will continue and will be covered up for the frost expected tonight:

The pepper plants once released of their heavy fruit last week, have put on a surprising burst of new growth as daytime temperatures remained in the high 70s:

The fall lettuce is growing really well and we are enjoying salads from the new growth:

The peas have formed small pods that will be ready for harvest soon for stir fry:

There are a few more melons that are almost ready. So these will be covered with a heavy blanket tonight:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Harvest Monday: September 21, 2009

Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from their gardens in different parts of the country.

Last weeks harvest included several Fast Break Melons. There are still about 6-7 more that are so close to being ripe:

A couple mini-watermelons were picked as the vines they were on had died back. Here they are along with a few zucchini. The smaller one is a Yellow Doll, the larger is a Crimson Sweet:

Here are a few Early Prolific Straightneck Squash and the last of the Ichiban Eggplant:

The remaining peppers were harvested on Friday. Here are the Jalapeno that came from my one plant that I grew from seed:

There were two baskets of the yellow peppers. These came from the plants that were supposed to be Jalapeno, but turned out to be some sort of banana pepper:

There were three baskets of Big Chili Hybrid Hot Peppers:

And three baskets of bell peppers that included New Ace Sweet Bell, King Arthur Sweet Bell, and Sweet Hybrid Bell:

Saturday morning I picked three colanders of Kentucky Wonder pole beans:

Perfect timing as I really wanted to try out my new pressure canner. It worked beautifully! Every single jar sealed and I didn’t have any loss of liquid as I have experienced previously. I did two batches of seven jars each:

We had our first light frost Saturday night. We covered the garden and hoped for the best. All is well. We didn’t lose anything and I found only little damage on a few melon vines that peeked out from under the covering.

We are expecting much warmer weather next week, so hopefully the rest of the melons will ripen soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pepper Harvest Time

I decided to harvest the peppers yesterday.

I was trying to allow them to ripen and color up as much as I could before our first frost. But I was finding damage from insects and/or chipmunks:

I didn't want to lose any, so I picked them all yesterday (my off day from work). It was quite a harvest:

I had some help. Out of all the peppers Bradie could have snuck off with, she chose a Jalapeno:

Don't worry, after taking a few pics, I promptly took it away from her.

My plan was to chop, measure, and freeze the peppers in freezer bags in the amount used in my favorite salsa recipe. That way I can just take a bag out of the freezer and have all my peppers ready to use.

First I had to char the pepper skins on the Big Chili and mystery banana peppers so their tough skin could be peeled off easily. The easiest way for me to do this is on the barbeque grill:

With the grill on high, I laid out the peppers and let them sit over the heat until their skins began to bubble and turn black:

Then I used tongs and turned the peppers until all sides were charred. I had to do two batches to get them all done:

I covered the charred peppers and allowed them to sit for about 10 minutes so the heat would loosen the skins for easy removal. Then I put on some gloves, and ran them under water, and pulled the charred skin off. Sorry the pic is so bad, but I think you can get the idea:

When all the charred peppers were prepared, I began chopping, and chopping, and chopping. I have a small food processer, but it doesn’t chop consistently, it leaves some large chunks and almost purees some of the peppers. So I resorted to chopping by hand. It was a long day of pepper preparation, but I ended up with nine batches of mixed peppers for future salsa batches: