Monday, August 30, 2010

Harvest Monday: August 30, 2010

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 his or her gardens in different areas. Here is an overview of what was harvested in the garden spot this week.

The tomatoes continue to pour in and I am thankful for each and every one. I’ve been busy making and freezing sauce so we can enjoy the harvest long into the winter months:

The pole beans are producing abundantly. The Japanese beetles are gone, leaving behind lacey leaves on the Kentucky Wonder pole beans, but the Purple Trionfo pole bean leaves are almost untouched. The Purple Trionfo pole beans are also more productive. A proven winner in the garden spot this year:

The Japanese eggplant have begun to fruit and I was able to harvest enough for a meal. Although, the most productive plant is a surprise:

The fruit is supposed to be purple, but one plant is producing all white eggplant. They came from the same seed package and the size and flavor of the fruit is the same as the purple.

The peppers seem to be lagging behind this year. I may have to start the seedlings earlier next year. The plants are now filled with small fruit, but they may run out of summer before they fully develop. I did have enough Bell, Anaheim, Jalapeno, and Cayenne peppers for a batch of salsa this weekend:

The melon patch has mostly died back. Most of the melons have been harvested, only a few Sugar Baby Watermelons remain in the garden. Finally, the first Sugar Baby Watermelon was ready for harvest:

We sliced into it and found the flavor to be very good. It was so worth the wait. There are five more Sugar Baby Watermelons in the garden that I expect to be ready soon:

The mid-summer planting of zucchini has begun producing:

I know the calendar says Fall is coming soon, but it doesn't feel like it yet. We are going to have another spurt of 90-degree weather over the next week. Some of the tomato plants are beginning to show signs of stress and disease. However, the San Marazano’s in the Square Foot Gardens are green, healthy, and full of heavy fruit. They responded to the rain we had last Wednesday by putting on another few inches of growth. I had to tie them up so they wouldn’t crowd the fall lettuce and spinach.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Preserving the Harvest: Zesty Salsa and String Beans

The ingredients for a batch of Zesty Salsa all from the garden:

Bell, Anaheim, Jalapeno, and Cayenne peppers. Roma and San Marzano tomatoes. Copra onions, Red Romain garlic, and Cilantro (not shown).

I roasted the tomatoes and peppers on the grill:

When the tomato skins cracked, they were removed from the grill. The peppers were grilled longer allowing the skins to blacken before removing. The tomatoes and peppers were allowed to cool until easily handled, then skinned, seeded, chopped and added to the pot along with jalapenos, onions garlic, and other recipe ingredients. I let it simmer, then placed the salsa into half pint jars and processed in a boiling water canner. There was some left over for eating. Grilling the veggies added a nice roasted flavor to the salsa. I wore gloves when handling the hot peppers, but one must have had a hole in it because a finger burned for hours after. I finally soaked it in milk and it seemed to help.

While I had the kitchen messed up and the canner on the stove, I canned a batch of beans. I had prepared the beans for canning earlier in the day:

I had enough beans to can a second batch, but ran out of time by the time the pressure canner cooled down with the first batch. So I removed the jars, placed the beans in the fridge, double checked that the stove was off, left everything else out, and went to bed. I finished the second batch this morning using up the last of my pint jars. I blanched and froze the rest of the beans.

As the canner cooled this morning, I went out to the garden to harvest whatever was waiting for me and give the garden a good watering. Temperatures may reach 90 today and I can already feel the humidity creeping up to uncomfortable.

I ended up with 14 pints canned beans, 2-quart freezer bags of beans, and 8 half-pint jars of salsa. Combined with the 37 cups of tomato sauce frozen on Saturday this amounts to my most productive weekend preserving so far.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Preserving the Harvest: Tomato Sauce

I began yesterday morning sorting through the tomatoes on the windowsill and counter pulling out the ones that are ripe. I washed them well, pulled the stems and piled them up for processing into sauce later in the day. I also grabbed a few of the frozen gallon bags of tomatoes from the downstairs chest freezer and placed them in the sink to thaw out:

We ran a few errands, did some groceries, and picked up some more freezer containers and canning jars for the weekend.

Once the groceries were put away, I chopped some garlic and onions and set them aside while we got busy with the tomatoes.

Have I mentioned that I love my new food strainer? It really cuts down on a lot of steps to making sauce. All I do is cut the raw tomatoes into small chunks and crank them through the strainer. The skins, seeds are separated out from the juice and pulp. Mine is a Victorio Food & Vegetable Strainer, but there are other similar products:

I got busy cutting up the tomatoes, and K cranked them through the strainer. It took about an hour to process all the tomatoes into juice and pulp and it filled my two largest pots. The house smelled so good as the sauce simmered all day and into the evening. It cooled overnight and was transferred into freezer containers this morning and stored in our chest freezer downstairs.

There are still a lot of tomatoes on the counter and more coming in each day. Another batch of sauce will be canned later for longer storage. I am also planning on making some salsa and a batch of ketchup.

First, I’ll be making a batch of relish and canning some of the bean harvest that came in this week.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Harvest Monday: August 23, 2010

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 his or her gardens in different areas.

An abundant harvest again this week from the garden spot. The amount of tomatoes harvested each day is astounding. Most are laid out on the kitchen counter and windowsill until completely ripe, then washed and frozen in gallon sized freezer bags.

Pole beans are producing a colander full every day now. I’ve been blanching and freezing them but will begin canning some soon.

Onions were pulled and laid out on a garden bench to begin drying. They are now hanging in the shed to finish curing.

A few cayane peppers were harvested. These will be dried for red pepper flakes.

This weekend I made my first large batch of tomato sauce from this years garden tomatoes using my food strainer for the first time. I received the food strainer as a Christmas gift from my parents last year and it cuts down a ton of time by removing the tomato peeling and seeds from raw tomatoes. The sauce simmered all day yesterday and will be divided up and stored in freezer containers tonight. I am looking forward to doing it all again next weekend. There are 6 one-gallon freezer bags full of tomatoes in the chest freezer and more tomatoes coming in each day. This year’s tomato harvest is making up for last years disappointing loss to late blight.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New England Clam Chowder

After digging potatoes last week, I had a craving for some home made New England Clam Chowder. I searched a bunch of recipes before I found one that sounded just perfect from The Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine.

The clams and clam juice were purchased locally. The potatoes, celery, onions, and herbs were from the garden. The chowder was thick, luscious, and delicious:

The recipe for “Cliff House Clam Chowder” (along with some other tempting recipes) can be downloaded from The Cliff House website.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Always Learning

I had a few “Whoops!” moments in the garden over the last week.

First and not really surprisingly are a few very overgrown cucumbers:

These were found among the extra plants I planted along the edge of the yard. We have had enough cucumbers this year and I have not been picking them every day like earlier in the season. I’ve made all the pickles we can consume in a year. A few cucumbers are still used for salads. But the last time I brought a batch to work to give away, there were a lot of leftovers. These overgrown cucumbers were added to the compost pile.

The second was my first eggplant that I allowed to over ripen:

The first fruit began forming a few weeks ago. The plants had a difficult time producing as the Japanese beetles were devouring the blossoms as soon as they opened. I watched this fruit form and grow long. Then, I noticed the dark glossy color was gone!

I pulled out the seed package and read that this variety of Japanese Eggplant only grows to 6-inches! I allowed the first one to over ripen thinking that it was going to grow larger. Luckily there are more fruit growing. Below is a comparison of the overripe with one harvested today:

The third was my first two Charantais melons:

The melon patch has two kinds of cantaloupe growing intertwined among each other. The corked skins fooled me. I thought the melons above were Fastbreak and was waiting for them to slip from the vine. Turns out they are Charantais melons and ended up splitting from over ripening. We ate them anyway. They were a little mealy textured.

Hopefully now I will be better at judging the optimum harvest time of these items.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harvest Monday: August 16, 2010

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 his or her gardens in different areas.

It was a great week in the garden spot. Below are some of the bounty that was harvested:

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Harvesting the Dark Red Norland Potatoes

Whew! It has been a busy week. I am looking forward to this weekend and spending some quality time in the garden. There is a lot of harvesting, cleanup, and fall crop planting that needs to be accomplished.

First on the list is harvesting the mid-season potatoes:

Two varieties of potatoes were planted on May 2, 2010 in the east garden, Dark Red Norland, a mid-season variety, and Kennebec, a late season variety.

5.5-pounds Dark Red Norland seed potatoes were planted in three rows that are 8-feet long. Almost 15-pounds of new potatoes were dug a few pounds at a time beginning July 4th as needed for consuming right away. Two rows were allowed to mature. It’s been about 2-weeks since the foliage has died and I stopped watering:

I also noticed the last time I dug some potatoes that the skins were much thicker and the red color no longer rubbed off easily. They were ready to be harvested.

I decided to dig them up early this morning while it was still cool and slightly overcast. I dug them by hand so I could avoid damaging them with a shovel or digging fork:

I filled my little garden cart. It's on wheels and can be easily moved around:

I followed Laura’s method for storing potatoes at The Modern Victory Garden website. I’ve been saving boxes and shredded paperwork a little at a time for this process:

I weighing the harvest in batches as I went along and saved out the small potatoes to use for seed next year:

Two paper boxes of Dark Red Norland Potatoes for storing and about 5-pounds of seed potatoes were boxed up in a smaller box. These will be stored in the coolest part of the basement. Some bite sized potatoes will be roasted up for dinner tonight:

The final tally for the Dark Red Norland Potatoes for the year is 46-pounds. I can't wait to see what the Kennebec Potatoes will amount to. So far I am very pleased with the result of my first year growing potatoes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Harvest Monday: August 9, 2010

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 his or her gardens in different areas.

The most exciting harvest this week are the tomatoes. After losing all my tomato plants to late blight last year, I may have overcompensated a bit this year in the amount of plants in the garden. Personally, I don’t like tomatoes and usually plant mostly paste varieties for making sauce and salsa. Roma and San-Marzano paste tomatoes are the varieties I am growing this year:

K loves fresh tomatoes and I wanted to plant a couple eating tomatoes for him. I had both Early Girl and Bush Boy seeds on hand. More seeds germinated than I planned and I found room in the garden for all the healthy seedlings. Seriously, is it possible to have too many tomatoes?

I made a batch of salsa with Cilantro, Onions, Peppers, and Tomatoes from the garden. I had to purchase a few Jalapeno and Bell Peppers as mine are just beginning to fruit. The picture below shows some tomatoes and the first Cayenne, Anaheim and Bell Pepper harvest of the year:

The windowsill is in constant rotation. The ripe tomatoes are washed and frozen as the new harvest is added to the windowsill:

Two gallon sized freezer bags have been filled and frozen for later processing into sauce:

Other harvest this week included more Fastbreak Melons:

Dark Red Norland Potatoes (3.375 pounds) and another Fastbreak Melon:

Some small carrots and some onions:

Three bunches of celery were harvested, sliced, and frozen for later use in soups and stuffings:

There are still a lot of cucumbers coming off the vines. I have made a couple batches of pickles and will use some for a batch of sweet relish. The rest will be given away:

This is the best year we have ever had for Blueberries. Every day we pick a bowl full and have frozen some for use future baked goods:

 This weekend, the cured garlic was also trimmed and cleaned up:

The bulbs on the left are Romanian Red which will make a return appearance in the Garden Spot. On the right are Purple Glazer. The bulbs are small and fragile. I want to try another variety.

Just a reminder, if you are planning on growing garlic, now is the time to get your order in. I purchased my garlic seed bulbs from last year. I noticed this year they are already sold out of many varieties.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.