Monday, 5 December 2016

Harvest Monday: December 5, 2016

Well, we've had some wonderful weather this past week but I am not going to be duped - I fully expect a nasty winter here!  I just wish it would contain itself to a shorter period of time!  And it started again last night with a few inches of snow.

I was driving back from the shops yesterday and saw a woman clipping dogwood branches along the ditches near my house.  And I thought, wow, I have lots of those in my yard, what a great idea!  So I snipped a few.  And grabbed a few berries from the yard for extra colour ... which I think are holly??

Feel free to speculate otherwise, I'm terrible with knowing what's what around here - I've moved a lot over the years and always getting used to local flora takes a while (Canada, you are beautiful everywhere!).

Anyway, on to the harvest.  My final harvest for the season are these Brussels sprouts.  I do have some greens hanging out in the greenhouse (arugula and spinach) but there has been very little sunshine.  And the rutabaga in the ground is not maturing well so I'll see how it looks in the spring (along with the parsnip which I am intentionally leaving).  In the picture below, you will see a rosemary plant that I am overwintering inside as well as the one remaining "mystery" squash (yes, OK, we know now it's basically just a spaghetti squash)  I've left it upstairs to use first instead of the properly matured squash stored in my cold room.

Although this is the last harvest from my garden for the season, I have all sorts of plans for things I've already harvested and will share anything of interest over the winter.  And now I will pop over to Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are doing this week with the Harvest Monday collection.  Wishing a happy and fruitful week to all!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Harvest Monday: November 14, 2016

This is my first harvest of Palla Rossa Bella radicchio - it has such wonderful colours!  As far as I know, it is supposed to form a head but has not done so at this point (or at least is just starting to). Some of these were in a container since the summer but really weren't sizing up at all due to insufficient space.  And some were in a raised garden but only for a couple of months now (with more to come in that bed).  So it's not much but enough for a meal or two.

And I've pulled some more parsnips.  And at the bottom right of the photo, you'll see some immature rutabagas - I thought I'd see what they looked like and they are definitely not ready yet.  They haven't sized up well considering they've been in a raised bed since July - I don't have high hopes.  If they aren't big enough to make use of within the next few weeks, I might just leave them and see if they will overwinter (I suspect so, but not sure about my very cold winter temperatures).

And Mom, since you were just asking about this (does anyone else remember the mystery FrankenSquash - to coin Dave's term for it - growing out of my compost heap)?  I knew it was not a summer squash early enough on from the tough skin.

And was it ever hard ... I needed a cleaver (with a couple of drops onto the counter) to crack it open, hence the uneven split in the two halves. It resembled spaghetti squash although I had never seen (and certainly not grown) any variety with such dark green skin.  And that is exactly what it turned out to be although the flesh didn't come away quite as stringy as regular spaghetti squash.

Please stop by the Harvest Monday collection at Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are doing this week.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Harvest Monday: November 7, 2016

Most of my "outdoor" time this past week has been cleaning out my garage so I can fit my car back into it for winter - there is nothing pleasant about scraping ice off the windshield for 4-5 months.  However, I did get around to a bit of cleanup in the yard.

First up were the jerusalem artichokes shown above.  These are planted in a space that is obviously not well suited to growing these sunchokes.  Which is good and bad.  Because they spread very easily (any piece of broken off root left in the ground will regrow), it is good that they don't grow as well as they could in a better location. But bad because they have only flowered once in the three years I've been growing them.  I really bought them only for the flowers although I do like to eat them roasted now and then.  The picture shows about half of the three pounds harvested.

And I decided to harvest all of the horseradish root that was growing in a small container.  As with the jerusalem artichokes, leaving any bit of the root will likely result in more horseradish next year as it is also a bit invasive.  I dumped the container of soil into another area of the garden so it's possible I'll find some growing next year.  I usually keep horseradish around as it is helping in staving off Colorado Potato Beetles.  I will mince it then add some vinegar and salt to preserve it.

The only other item harvested was a small bunch of spring onions while cleaning out that garden bed.  I will be heading over to Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are doing on this Harvest Monday.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Harvest Monday: October 31, 2016

Happy harvest Monday, happy Halloween (whatever happened to spelling it Hallowe'en) and happy b-day to my brother!  What a day.  I arrived home around 4am last night from a visit to my family in BC ... got back to my car after the flight and my battery was dead so waited for the auto club to give me a boost.

I'm pretty much sleeping the day away but popped out to the greenhouse (thanks Glen for watering while I was away!) and picked the last of the peppers.  These are definitely the last, as the plants all died.  The greenhouse is not heated and there is a small gap under the door (need to do something about that) so when the temperature drops below freezing, the plants die.  So the plants were dead, but the peppers were totally fine still, although not as mature as they should be.

This is 4 pounds of peppers, mostly Feher Ozon (along the top).  Also included in the harvest (sort of left to right, bottom) are a few jalapenos, Hungarian Hot Wax, King of the North, Gypsy and Super Red Pimiento.

Once I get myself caught up after the holiday, I look forward to seeing what everyone else has been doing the past couple of weeks.  Linking in here to Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Harvest Monday: October 17, 2016

I harvested these beans in mid-August when the plants were drooping over from too much rain.  I couldn't be bothered to stake them up (they are all bush beans) so harvested them a bit early.  But better than having them rot in the ground as happened the previous year with my Borlotti bean crop.  I left these for a couple of weeks to dry and eventually got around to shelling them all and finally here are the results.

From left to right in the main photo:  Vermont Cranberry, Black Turtle, Jacob's Cattle and Canadian Wild Goose.  Other than the Black Turtle, the beans were all purchased from Heritage Harvest Seed.

I haven't tried any of those yet, but a portion of the black beans (pretty much my favourite food) went into these stuffed peppers along with some of my recently (last week, in fact) harvested sweet potatoes.  SO GOOD!

The only real harvests this week were a handful of Albion Hybrid parsnips (just to check them out, no rush):

And these two pretty carrots:

The carrots were found while getting a raised bed ready for the garlic that I planted this weekend.  NOTE TO SELF: garlic planted alphabetically West to East: Gem Purple Stripe, German White Rocambole, Hungarian Rocambole, Leningrad Porcelain, Music Porcelain.

And a few more peppers from the greenhouse (two each of Gypsy, King of the North, Hungarian Hot Wax):

The green tomatoes (Chocolate Cherry) that I picked before the frost were layered in newspapers with the few ripe ones available.  They have since been dehydrated and stored in the freezer.

This post will be submitted to the Harvest Monday collection hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.  Please stop on by his site to see what other gardeners are doing this week!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Harvest Monday: October 10, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to all of us Canadian gardeners, eh!

And holy peppers! With a risk of frost expected Monday morning, I spent some time Sunday harvesting anything I could find that might be damaged, including 10 pounds of peppers!  I was waiting as long as I could to harvest these as most should have ripened to red or yellow and I'm not a huge fan of green peppers.  But I wasn't about to take a chance of losing them.  I've had such a great year for peppers as the weather was consistently hot through most of the summer.

This latest batch (shown above from top left) includes: Gypsy, a single Super Red Pimiento, jalapenos, a big bunch of King of the North bell peppers and finally some Ancho.

And had some of the largest jalapenos I've ever grown!

It was just as well that I harvested the peppers. Even if there was no frost, the temperatures are now below 15 degrees C on a regular basis so unlikely they were going to mature much more.  And the critters (most likely voles) have been doing plenty of damage so quite a few ended up in the compost.

This riper batch, mainly Feher Ozon, was picked earlier in the week from the greenhouse (where I still have a dozen plants in containers).

I harvested a batch of both ripe and green chocolate cherry tomatoes earlier in the week and did a final sweep after seeing the frost warning.

And grabbed the last few beans.

A bit of a surprise harvest was this rhubarb.  The plants had quite a revival in recent weeks once the weather cooled off.  I don't think I've ever harvested rhubarb after June but it looked so good I thought I'd freeze some.

Sweet potato plant in a fabric grow bag

With the frost warning, I knew it was time to finally harvest the sweet potatoes.  Definitely not worth the effort for me considering the yield (and having spent months babying those darn slips all spring).  I had three slips planted into a fabric grow bag and another three plants in a small plot - and this is all I ended up with!

Sweet potatoes and the last of the beets

Nice to have a few and I'm very much looking forward to eating them but I don't expect I'll grow those again.  But I will grow celery again!  This was my first try and I'm pretty happy with the results (a few loose spears on the left and the rest of the plant on the right).

I am linking in to Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.  I look forward to seeing what other gardeners have on the go this week!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Harvest Monday: October 3, 2016

I have not had much time in the yard this past week.  I have harvested the odd greens and such, but not enough to bother with pictures.  I did harvest the last two melons (below) and found two other large melons that should have been picked much earlier (the critters got to them before me).

So I thought I'd take the opportunity for my annual funny veg shots ... what do you think these look most like?!  I'll be linking up with Harvest Monday posts hosted by Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are doing this week!

And I hope to see some of your weird veg shots too!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Harvest Monday: September 26, 2016

Carrots and Queen Anne's Lace ... can you tell the difference?  I am not quite fully educated on the "weed" known as Queen Anne's Lace but I can usually tell which is which before pulling up the root.  I put the word weed in quotes because not everyone thinks of it as undesirable and it is edible.  I personally consider it a weed that has cleverly disguised itself as a carrot (greens look the same but the root itself looks like parsnip).

L to R: Q.A.L., Parsnip, Carrots

But it is not so much a disguise as it is an actual carrot.  From what I've read, domestic carrots are a cultivar of this wild carrot.  I used to think how amazing nature is that a weed looking just like carrots happens to grow among carrots (like some brilliant defense mechanism hoping the bunnies will nibble on the weeds instead).  Since the carrot seeds (if I understand it correctly) have been cultivated over years from this wild carrot, then I guess the wild carrots are likely coming from the same seeds as some sort of hybrid??  

With this weeks harvest, I've added another 5 lbs of carrots (shown above) and that's the last carrot harvest for the season.  Other harvests include more peppers, some Delinel beans and a  batch of basil that was made into pesto and frozen for later use.

King of the North,  Xanthia

K of the N, Hungarian Hot Wax, Gypsy peppers

And a new harvest this week ... apples!  These are Haralson apples, and the first time the tree has produced any.  The tree was here when I moved in a few years ago and I was actually considered removing the tree as I wasn't sure it would ever produce.  Good thing I waited!  I only got three pounds but good enough for some apple crisp.

I also had another (4 lb) Hale's Best Melon which went to a friend.  While dehydrating the latest harvest of chocolate cherry tomatoes, I finally got around to grinding up the Feher Ozon peppers for a paprika.  I added some to another batch of squash mac 'n cheese and I LOVED IT!  The paprika smells wonderful and was a great addition to the dish. The photo below shows three trays worth of peppers after dehydration and just before I ground them.

Please stop on by at Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are doing this week with their own harvests!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

2016 Garlic Problems and 2017 Garlic Plans

In my previous post on the garlic harvest this season, I mentioned two concerns which I was unsure about.  As promised, I spoke with some experienced garlic growers at one (of many) local garlic festival recently as to what might be the cause.

Firstly, I will start with what may be the cause of losing almost one quarter of my crop (so about 20 or so bulbs).  Only one of the few gardeners I spoke to had an opinion - fusarium wilt.  This is a soil-borne disease, and he recommended not planting anything in the soil for at least five years.  So that's a problem, because as soon as I had harvested the garlic I used the space (two raised beds) for some fall crops including rutabaga, radicchio and a few fresh bean plants.  I guess if the soil is infected, I might see some reaction to these other plants but they all seem fine so far (already harvested some of the beans).

But I do say "if" the soil is infected.  When speaking with this garlic grower, he referred to the bulbs as "waxy".  I had not thought of that description but it seemed fitting  So I googled "waxy garlic" which led me to this link from Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  The photos shown on that website are perhaps a bit more extreme than mine, but the description of the affected cloves as "amber and translucent with sticky, soft, jellylike tissue" is a good match for what I see with mine.  This, however, is not a disease, but is rather associated with high temperatures during growth, and particularly near harvest time.  We definitely had a hotter than average spring and summer this year, so this could certainly be the cause as well.

So I'm not sure that I know the cause at this point.  I did believe I had verticillium wilt (similar to fusarium wilt) a few years ago when I had tomato problems, but had not really had issues since that one year. Either way, the bulbs were tossed as they aren't edible (or at least I didn't try as they don't look very appealing) and certainly won't be used for seed garlic.

On the second issue, I asked about the bluish-green colour on some of my bulbs.  He had no idea as he had not seen anything like it.  He did not believe it be an issue with eating the garlic though.  The colour has deepened a bit more since the first photo but it's still hard to get a good shot with my camera.  Either way, I've eaten some, it tasted good, and I'm still here (whew!) - but I do not plan to use any for planting.

Well, what will I plant then?

I really liked the varieties that I planted in 2016, despite the issues I just wrote about.  Perhaps I picked all good varieties, or I'm not enough of a connoisseur, but they all taste great!  I have often stated in the past that no other garlic is as good as Red Russian, the kind I've grown for a number of years and is most common in this area of Ontario.  But the German White and both the Mennonite and Majestic Porcelain are all very tasty with a good bite to them.  I haven't eaten a lot of the Music garlic, but I've grown it before and always enjoy it.  And the Red Russian that I grew this year came out as big as the other varieties which is not my usual experience (the bulbs are usually smaller) and has its usual great taste.

Anyway, I just walked around the garlic festival and was my usual impulsive self and just bought from people who seemed nice with good product!

I bought a mixed bag of four varieties (one of the same sources as last year), two of which were the same as 2016 - the German White Rocambole and Music Porcelain.  And two new ones (with an Eastern European theme which seems common with garlic) ... Hungarian Rocambole and Leningrad Porcelain.  I haven't done a ton of research on these two new ones although I did see several websites that mentioned how hot the Leningrad garlic is (great news!).  I don't know yet how many plants I will get of each as some of the cloves are quite small and I'll likely only plant the medium to large cloves.

And I purchased a sleeve of Gem garlic (also shown in the main photo) from Riverside Garden of Almonte Ontario. I didn't see anything on their own website about this garlic but found this reference to it at Territorial Seed:

Late-season. This rare jewel was rediscovered at a germplasm collection in Washington State. A glazed purple stripe strain, it produces 4-6, hefty, wedge-shaped cloves per head. Our taste-testers describe its flavor as pleasantly spicy, hotter than Music, but not overpowering. Stout, productive plants have shorter, dark green leaves and ivory-wrapped heads streaked in violet.

So wow, germplasm collection ... yes, I had to look up what that meant, and no, I still don't understand.  But I tasted some at the garlic festival before purchasing it and I loved the taste and heat of it.  The seller did point out that some of the cloves were on the smallish side so, again, I'm not sure how many cloves I'll get out of them.

I still have to figure out where these are going as I usually get them in the ground in early to mid October. Although I have several spaces cleared already, I do not have as many options as I normally would as I planted a number of crops for a later harvest in the fall.  I'm sure it will all come together as it usually does.  :)