Monday, 22 August 2016

Harvest Monday: August 22, 2016

The summer veggies keep rolling in, with a distinct lack of zucchini or other summer squash (as noted in my recent update on my squash plants).  But peppers and tomatoes are doing very well so far and are the majority of my recent harvests.  The above basket includes more Gypsy (left side of basket), which left longer than I had previously turn this lovely deep red.  In the middle are more orange Xanthia, in the upper right some King of the North, Jalapenos on the bottom and some San Marzano plum tomatoes I picked at the same time.

And more tomatoes ... these are mostly Big Rainbow (with the yellowish tinge) and Red Brandywine, plus more San Marzano plums.  The yellow one is a Dixie Golden Giant (not exactly "giant-ish") of which I've had just a few so far.

I also needed some green onions and carrots to make my old style potato salad and grabbed a few other items while I was in the garden.

Seeing the larger bulbs on these spring onions, I went out later and did a better thinning job hoping to get more of these.

And another last harvest of peppers late Sunday... L to R: Xanthia, King of the North plus a Super Red Pimiento at bottom centre, and more Gypsy on the right.

I have not harvested any more of the Croatian Chard (Blitzva) this week, but thought I'd share a salad made with the harvest from a week or two ago.  It is most often sauteed and served as a side dish (with potatoes) but it is more tender than Swiss chard and I quite enjoyed it raw in this salad that included candied nuts, dried blueberries, feta cheese and a balsamic vinegar dressing.

This is my submission to Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.  Please pop over to see what other gardeners are doing this week.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Gazpacho Recipe

With not quite enough tomatoes and peppers to start canning up jars of salsa or tomato sauce, but enough that I needed to do something ... a batch of gazpacho seemed the perfect solution!

This makes two full litres.  It is wonderful served with some crusty bread on the side. I had some leftover which served as the sauce base for a lasagna dish later in the week.

1 english cucumber
2 red peppers
1 hungarian hot wax (or other mildly hot pepper) - optional
3 lbs tomatoes
1 small red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt and pepper


Everything goes in a blender or food processor to be pureed.  But I split up the ingredients to keep more texture with some.

1) Roughly chop the cucumber (with skin on), peppers and tomatoes.  Pulse in a blender until mostly smooth but retain a bit of texture instead of completely smooth.  Remove to a large bowl.

2) Chop onion and garlic and pulse in blender until fully smooth.  This is why I do it in separate batches as I do want the onion and garlic to be fully smooth.  Add this to the tomato mixture.

3) Pour in most of the white wine vinegar and olive oil but not all in case you want to adjust the taste.  I used a nice aged variety I had on hand) along with a good extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt.  Give it a taste and adjust if needed.  Or wait until after it has chilled.

Chill for at least two hours.  I ended up adding a bit more vinegar and olive oil after the flavours had better set from the chilling.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Update on Hay Bale Squashes

I had planned on posting monthly updates on the squash plants I am growing in hay bales this year, but I am just a bit behind following the July 9th update.  And what a difference!  Here is a wider viewer not shown in the July post for comparison to the one above taken earlier this evening:


This is a new location in an attempt to hide from the squash bugs.  Not so lucky, but I've managed them ... so far!  I dealt with cucumber beetles since early in the season and, in the past month, have started to deal with the squash bugs (not to be confused with a stink bug, just squash bug).  I kept up with them for a while, but had some days where I wasn't able to get to the plants, and, more recently, the vines are such that I'm having a hard time getting into the centrally-located leaves without stepping on the plants.  So I'm not quite as diligent and they are spreading. 

Between the bugs destroying the leaves and me pulling off entire leaves to drown the attached bugs, some of the vines are starting to lose some foliage.  And I definitely have at least a few weeks before any of the squash are fully mature.  But not too bad for other vines that are stretching out ...

So here are some of the squash/pumpkins I have so far - not great considering the size of the plants, but I've never had great yield before and refuse to be disappointed by anything I get considering the bugs I've had to deal with.

2 Marina di Chioggia, two others not as mature

I think Cinderella pumpkin?

Waltham Butternut, 1 of only 3 or 4

Sweet Dumpling, 1 of a few

A single Dickinson pumpkin (but a big one)

1 of 3 too small Long Island Cheese

1 of just a few Spaghetti Squash

Unless I'm confusing the few butternuts I have, I see no sign of the Japanese Pie that I planted.  That was a heritage variety I chose for it's supposed ability to better withstand bug attacks.  And same for the two Tromboncino squash plants - the singular variety of summer squash I had planted as it was known for its vigorous growth which can help when bugs get in the way.  Very disappointing as I've had no summer squash to eat while others are inundated!!  And my old standby, Table Queen Acorn ... also nowhere to be seen.

And here's a victim of something ... did it rot first and then attacked by bugs, or the other way around?

And a final question to anyone reading this - does everyone have as hard a time as I do killing off things that grow in the compost?  Every year, I plan to have the best composting year ever with constant turning over of the pile for aeration, etc.  And well ... every year something pops out that I don't want to disturb.  Like this squash plant.  No idea what it is (yet) but if it doesn't form a fruit soon, I will pull it simply because it won't have time to mature.  But in the meantime, I keep a watch because I'm oh so curious what it might be!!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Harvest Monday: August 15, 2016

The long-awaited rain in our area finally arrived the last few days, very much welcomed.  For some crops, though, it was not ideal ... namely the bush beans.  I have several varieties of beans this year for drying, with some already falling over and laying on the soil.  Although some were not quite mature enough, I decided to pull all of the beans to avoid further damage.  I will let them dry out for a week in their pods and then shell them for storage.  The baskets above include black turtle beans, Vermont Cranberry, Jacob's Cattle and Canadian Wild Goose (although how much of each I'm not sure as they got all mixed together during the harvest).

With rain in the forecast, I also decided to pull the onions.  I had decided not to grow any this year as I don't seem to have much success generally, but somehow ended up planting some anyway.  Although they aren't particularly large, I am actually pretty satisfied with what I got this year (but will remind myself not to grow them again next year!).

Most of them are between golf ball and baseball size, but are delicious and will be useful when salsa making time starts in a few weeks.

And these peppers will be useful in many ways!  These are Xanthia, but I also harvested about the same amount of other varieties including jalapeno and some other sweet bell pepper types.  Some of the pepper harvest came from this broken limb of King of the North peppers ... the plant had fallen over from the weight of the fruit and I did a terrible job staking it and the branch broke off.

I've still only had a handful of tomatoes but was not expecting a lot this year anyway (and have not bothered to take pictures).  But I am still getting lots of great greens including more of the Croatian Chard (delicious, and tastes more like spinach than Swiss Chard), Tuscan Kale, Swiss Chard and the frilly looking green on the left is Fizz Kale.

While cleaning out the main bed with the bean plants, I realized that several of the potato plants nearby had been overgrown with weeds.  Oh well ... potatoes are one of those plants I don't spend a lot of time on.  I have volunteer potato plants popping up elsewhere so I'm not too upset.  But I will dig them up soon and see if there is anything under the weeds.  In the meantime, I had a potato bag that also wasn't overly successful with only a single plant (out of three planted in the bag) that produced and here are the results (along with some chocolate cherry tomatoes):

This is my submission to Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.  Please check it out to see what other gardeners are doing this week.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Harvest Monday: August 8, 2016

I've had two new harvests this past week, but the main story is all about the peppers.  They are starting to turn colour in larger numbers.

Super Red Pimientos:

Gypsy (a variety of sizes from different plants):

Plus a few King of the North bell peppers as well as the first of the jalapenos and a few Feher Ozon, both shown below.  The three Feher Ozon peppers (on the right) were on a plant that was falling over and had only the three peppers so I picked them early (they should turn a deeper orange, maybe even red).

The beans above were the second harvest of the week.  And on to the new harvest!  I decided to pull out the collard plants due to poor growth so harvested what I could of the leaves.  They have been well nibbled, mainly slugs.

And on the right is a plant that I had not intended to grow, but was given seeds by a friend early in the season so popped a few in the ground.  This is Blitva, or Croatian Chard.  Blitva is also a traditional Croatian dish with the greens paired with potatoes (which is likely how I'm going to use this batch).  It has grown much faster and larger than the Swiss Chard plants I have in the ground, which I've barely had a chance to harvest any of.

And last is just a small bouquet of bunching onions hanging out on my counter until they get used.

I'll be linking up with Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.  Stop on by to see what other gardeners are doing this week!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Green Beans with Bacon and Hard-Boiled Egg Vinaigrette

This yummy side dish was inspired by one made now and then by Dave @ Our Happy Acres, Asparagus Mimosa.  Mimosa, as defined by my go-to culinary reference Larousse Gastranomique, is a salad (presumably dressed with some sort of vinaigrette) topped with chopped yolk of a hard-boiled egg.  So this is a quickie variation on that with the entire hard boiled egg chopped then mixed with a vinaigrette.  It's a great way to add some protein to a veggie side dish (maybe healthier without the bacon, but come on ... it's bacon!).

I used a vinaigrette I had made recently for a massaged kale salad.  But really any vinaigrette (preferably homemade) will do.  Try this link for a simple method for making your own. 

Dice one or two hard boiled eggs and stir in 2 Tbsp vinaigrette per egg.  If you are making the vinaigrette at the same time, add the eggs to the vinaigrette before shaking it together to help it combine.

Just boil the green beans (which are actually these Royal Burgundy beans from my garden that turn green when cooked) just enough so they still have a good bite to them.  Arrange on a plate and top with some pieces of cooked bacon.

Spoon over the beans and bacon and enjoy.  It's a delicious appetizer!

Monday, 1 August 2016

Harvest Monday: August 1, 2016

Despite having a long weekend away from work (today is a Civic Holiday), I haven't had as much time to harvest as I'd hoped but for good reason - enjoying BBQ's with friends most days. Still, I've managed to pick a good variety of goodies from the garden, including these potatoes shown above (L to R: Linzer, Pink Fir Apple, Irish Cobbler).  This harvest was a result of cleaning out one bed of potato plants that had died off a few weeks ago (prematurely it seemed to me).  I still have those same three varieties in one other bed plus individual potato bags as well.  So hoping to get some more substantial harvests later on.

And I've had just a few tomatoes to nibble on as most are still green and need some time.  These chocolate cherry tomatoes were devoured quickly, still hot from the sun.

I have been giving away beans and only keeping enough for the odd meal.  Last year, I had blanched some and froze them in bags.  Most got used throughout the winter, although sometimes a bit reluctantly.  I'd rather let friends enjoy them fresh now without bothering to save myself any.  And I still have just a couple of beets now and then; I still struggle to grow them very well but do have a few more on the go.

This little bit of kale was just perfect for a large salad.  And that little side shoot of broccoli?  Well, I am happy to get a little bit of broccoli but hardly enough to do anything with at any one time.  I only grew broccoli this year to use up the seeds as I've generally given up on ever being successful with broccoli or cauliflower.

I would prefer to focus space and energy on one of my favourite crops - peppers!  They are generally pretty pricey and can easily be frozen.  Although I do need to look into purchasing a smoker as last year I had some challenges with my single burner BBQ unit.  Or maybe a dehydrator?  I need to decide what to do with these Feher Ozon - a sweet paprika pepper - as they seem to be rather plentiful.  They are also very top heavy so I've had to do a quick fix recently to keep them from toppling over (I may or may not stake them, these wood pieces seem to work for now!).

And lots of other peppers on the way (I feel like I keep saying that ... it does take a while to ripen up!).



Hungarian Hot Wax


Another Feher Ozon - turning orange!

And finally this ridiculous scene - I can't believe I have actually started to feed this thing because it's so darn cute.  I've been giving this baby squirrel some leftover nuts and it comes back every few days for more.  But I soon came to my senses after thinking it was so cute running around my feet looking for more food and then it tried to nibble on my toe ...