Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvest Monday: September 26, 2011

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their garden yield for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting each week and how they are enjoying their homegrown produce.

I missed Harvest Monday last week not because I didn't have any garden bounty to share, but because I was so busy all weekend with preserving the harvest. It was almost a carbon copy of the previous week anyway. The last of the tomatoes were turned into yet another batch of canned "Seasoned Tomato Sauce" (Ball Blue Book of Preserving), 12 pints of string beans were canned, and some applesauce was made and canned.

New this week is the first few harvests of Concord Grapes:

Concord Grapes

Concord Grapes

This is the best harvest of grapes we have ever had all thanks to K's ruthless pruning of the overgrown vines a few years back. Some will be used to make grape jelly and I may try to make some wine. Some say Concord Grapes don't make a good wine because they are too acidic and too low in sugar, but I am willing to give it a try. I have made wine from kits in the past, but this will be my first attempt at fruit wine and I will be following the recipe of wine guru, Jack Keller.

The last of the basil was harvested:


The leaves were showing dark splotches of damage from our cooler nights. The basil was made into pesto and frozen. I only remembered this weekend to start some basil seeds so it can be grown on the kitchen windowsill over the winter for fresh leaves. We are going to miss fresh basil on our Pizza Pie Fridays for a little while.

I haven't grown many winter squash in the past. This was the first year and only because of the extra room the garden expansion gave us:

Sugar Pie Pumpkin


There are three more pumpkins still in the garden that are almost ready for harvesting and a few butternuts that are just beginning to show signs of ripening.

The deer continue to graze on the south end of the garden. These are the last zucchini and summer squash harvested from the partially eaten vines along with some beets that were pulled from the ground as the deer munched on the green tops:

Summer Squash and Beets

You can tell it is the end of gardening season because I don't even care what the deer eat at this point. They have consumed most of the old squash vines and bush beans that had finished producing any way. So they are actually helping me clear the garden for winter. We will see how this goes next year.

Thankfully there are no more tomatoes that are in need of immediate attention. However, the marathon weekends of canning and preserving will continue another couple of weeks with apples, grapes, string beans, and squash still coming in.

The poor garden is looking pretty neglected right now. The weekends have been filled with canning and preserving and there is less daylight in the evenings after work to tend to things. The paths need to be mowed, potatoes need to be dug, and the remaining tomato plants need to be pulled.  An extended warm period has resulted in new fruit grown for the peppers and eggplant.

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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Harvest Monday: September 12, 2011

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their garden yield for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting each week and how they are enjoying their homegrown produce.

I have been putting off the majority of my canning by freezing my tomatoes as they ripen. As of this week, the chest freezer was officially full. With a counter top full of ripe tomatoes, I had no choice but to get chopping.

I made a double batch of Zesty Salsa on Saturday. This seems to be the most time consuming canning project for me. I roasted the tomatoes and peppers on the grill before chopping. The tomatoes were grilled just until the skin splits eliminating the need to blanch the tomatoes. The skins slip right off in the same manner. The peppers were grilled until the skin is charred on all sides. Then they are placed in a glass bowl with a dinner plate on top. This makes it easy to skin the peppers before seeding and chopping.

I am slowly using up the remainder of the small onions harvested earlier in the season. I took some time and cleaned the onions the night before. These were simply chopped in the food processor and added to the pot. In the end, 16 half-pints of salsa were canned and extra was refrigerated to enjoy during the week.

Roasted Zesty Salsa

Sunday began with washing, weighing, and running the remainder of the ripe tomatoes through the Food Strainer to make a batch of "Seasoned Tomato Sauce" (Ball Blue Book of Preserving). I let the sauce simmer for most of the day until thickened. We used some of the sauce for dinner, reserved some for later in the week, then canned 9 pints.

Tomato Sauce

Pole Beans are still producing. I delayed picking them last week because it rains from Lee stayed around all week. There were quite a few beans ready for me to harvest this weekend. These have been washed and stored in the refrigerator for now, but will require another batch of canning during the week.

Mixed String Beans

A few squash were harvested:

Zucchini, Spaghetti, and Delicata Squash

A nice batch of apples collected and will be used for apple sauce:


The first fall raspberries are beginning to ripen and we are harvesting a handful every day or so:


I harvested yet another paper box full of partially ripe tomatoes, then pulled most of the plants.


Boy, it felt good to remove the ugly, diseased plants from the garden. I left some San Marzano tomatoes in the SFGs for now because they still have a lot of large green tomatoes on them. But their days are numbered too.

Overall, the garden is winding down and I feel as though the gardener is winding down as well. I don't seem to be very well organized or motivated for fall gardening. I think it's because it coincides with the busiest part of the summer garden harvest and preserving.

I did attempt to plant a few fall crops a few weeks ago. Some Red Acre Cabbage, Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, and Swiss Chard seedlings were planted into the garden. Most are doing ok, but the Kale was promptly eaten by slugs. My fall carrot bed is a also bust this year. A neighborhood cat has decided that the SFG makes a nice litter box.

More deer are coming to the yard tempted by the fallen apples. The new part of the garden is near one of the trees. The squash, beets, and onions must have been like a salad bar for them. They grazed mostly on the squash foliage, and beet greens. They also ate an immature Butternut Squash and nibbled surface holes in three Pumpkins. It may be time to try some deer repellent methods so I can keep my squash harvest this year.

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

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harvest Monday: September 5, 2011

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 garden was harvested heavily a week ago in anticipation of Irene's destructive force.  As a result, there wasn't a lot in need of harvesting. This week was more about preserving the harvest.

The nights are much cooler now making mornings a perfect time for canning. Friday evening I washed, and cut all the string beans that were picked during the week. Early Saturday morning, 18 pints of beans were canned:

Canned Beans

I also canned my first batch of applesauce from some of our freshly fallen apples. It was more labor intensive than I expected and yielded half than estimated after trimming and cooking.  Hopefully the apples still ripening on the trees will be in better condition and will require less trimming:


The diseased tomato vines are still hanging in there and providing the usual glut of partially ripe tomatoes. The Roma Tomatoes are almost finished, but the San Marzano plants still have an abundance of green tomatoes on their vines. An additional challenge began this week...get the tomatoes before the stinkbugs pierce their flesh. Ugh!

Roma and San Marzano Tomatoes

Partially red tomatoes are pulled from the vines each day and join the rest to finish ripening inside. I still have two paper boxes full of partially ripe tomatoes that were pulled last week before Irene. The countertop is in constant rotation.  Fully ripe tomatoes from the countertop are washed, placed into zipper bags, and frozen. Partially ripe tomatoes from the boxes take their place and the rotation is repeated.

Each gallon bag of tomatoes weighs around 4 pounds and at least 6 bags were placed in the freezer this week.  Needless to say, our chest freezer is almost full with mostly tomatoes. I will need to make and can a batch of sauce soon to make some room.

A new contribution to the tomato pile is Big Boy Bush Tomatoes I grew for K to enjoy. These began ripening over the last few weeks:

Big Boy Bush Tomatoes

The Cucumbers, Yellow Summer Squash and Zucchini are petering out but still provide a manageable amount of fruit:

Zucchini, Yellow Summer Squash, and Cucumbers

It is unfortunate that the Dark Red Norland potatoes began dying back several weeks ago. I say "unfortunate" because they had 3-weeks less growing time than last year. I dug up part of the bed and found that indeed there were few large and mostly small potatoes.  Below are some of the larger ones:

Dark Red Norland

I believe the smaller yield can mostly be attributed to less maturity time or maybe a nutrient deficiency rather than the new potato method. The Kennebec potatoes are just beginning to die back and exploring along the edges of the bed are proving to me that there are a lot of potatoes under the soil.  I will know more later in the season when the Kennebecs are ready for harvest.

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