Monday, October 31, 2016

Harvest Monday 10/31/16

Last weekend we camped in the mountains of North Carolina and explored the Blue Ridge Parkway to view autumn leaves.  I missed harvest Monday last week because of our trip, so today's report is a two week harvest.  I love autumn with all the beautiful leaves, blue skies, cool weather and garden harvests, especially pumpkins!

Autumn along the Blue Ridge Parkway
In honor of Halloween, I'm updating the status of my big pumpkin that fell off the vine before it ripened.  I'm happy to say it is much, much more orange than before, but it does have a soft spot on one side.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my big pumpkin continues to ripen and not rot.

My slowly ripening Dickinson Pumpkin
On the topic of pumpkins, I harvested another almost 2 lb Seminole pumpkin.

Seminole Pumpkin
I have gotten creative with cooking pumpkin.  My latest concoction is pumpkin pizza.  Instead of tomato sauce I used pumpkin puree with onions, garlic and fresh thyme.  I topped it with sauteed sweet potato greens, onions, mozzarella and parmesan.  I thought it was delicious!  J refused to try it, so I don't have a second opinion to report.

Pumpkin, sweet potato leaves and onion pizza
The biggest harvest over the past two weeks are peppers at 7.4 lbs.  I chopped and froze a bunch of them.  The rest have been roasted or sauteed with eggs for breakfast.  Peppers broke my harvest record this year at 77 lbs while last year I had 68 lbs.

Peppers and more peppers
I finally picked a descent amount of tomatoes this week.  I haven't harvested many tomatoes since August.  It looks like we don't have a first frost in the ten day forecast, so maybe I'll get even more tomatoes.  Our average first frost date is usually the end of October, but this year it looks like we should make it to at least the middle of November.

Paste Tomatoes
Green beans and okra continue to produce a bit each week.  Roasting is still my preferred cooking method for okra.  On our camping trip we cooked green beans and potatoes over the fire one night and bell peppers and onions another night.  We also had pumpkin muffins along with the greens and cheese hand pies I had made previously and froze.  It's fun to take the garden harvests along on a camping trip!

Green beans and okra
The first of the fall peas ripened in the garden.  Germination was not very successful, so I doubt there will be very many peas this fall.  We devoured these as soon as I took the photo!

The first of the fall peas
I finally shelled the dried cowpeas that have been sitting in the garage for at least a month.  This year was a very good year for cowpeas.  These jars hold 8 cups and there's still some cowpeas in the garden.

Dried Cowpeas
This is the season of digging in the garden for me.  The peanut leaves began to yellow, which meant it was time to harvest.  I dug up the peanuts and now they are drying on the fence.  I'm hoping the squirrels don't steal them all!  They need to dry for at least a week.  For once I am happy to see no rain in the weekly forecast so that my peanuts can dry.

Peanuts drying on the fence
Peanuts hang all around the garden.  The peanut harvest appears to be abundant this year.  We will see how many I end up with after the drying period.

Peanut harvesting and drying

Two Week Harvests (lbs):
Peas 0.14
Peppers 7.40
Okra   1.36
Green beans  2.39
Tomatoes   4.14
Eggplant 6.38
Melon  3.93
Winter squash 1.94

Yearly Harvests: 933.8 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday on Our Happy Acres.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Harvest Monday 10/17/16

We had perfect fall weather this past week and I spent some time cleaning up the garden.  What I really need to do is start digging up all the sweet potatoes.  The coming week is predicted to be warmer and the first frost is nowhere is sight for the next ten days, which means I will procrastinate digging up sweet potatoes!

Late fall garden with abundant sweet potato vines
With such nice weather, I spent time just being in the garden while procrastinating hard work like digging up sweet potatoes!  It won't be long until all the green will be gone, so it is time to savory the garden and all the critters that enjoy it as much as I do.

A bee enjoying marigolds
Some critters that enjoy my garden are not on the guest list, including this giant grasshopper.  I'm suspecting that he may be responsible for my disappearing fall seedlings!

Giant grasshopper on chard
As for harvests, the eggplants continue to produce well.  The plants have bent over with the weight of fruits.  I'm getting tired of eating eggplants, so these were passed on to a coworker.

Florida Market Eggplants
I spotted another giant grasshopper in the green beans.  Luckily the beans continue to provide harvests even though the leaves are looking munched and sad.  This week I roasted green beans with potatoes with a creamy tarragon dressing.  Delicious!  I have tarragon growing in the herb bed, but it is something I don't use often.  This dressing recipe may change that.

Garden of Eden and Blue Coco Beans
I harvested another little Seminole pumpkin at about 2 1/2 pounds.  I counted at least a dozen more little pumpkins growing on the same vine.  They may not all ripen before our first frost, but it has definitely been my best pumpkin year ever.

Seminole Pumpkin
The okra plant that toppled over from all the rain ended up toppling over in the opposite direction.  I attempted to right it again and broke a major part of the stem.  I decided to just leave it toppled over.  Despite all its troubles, I did harvest a bit of okra this week.  The tomatoes are slowly trying to make a comeback.  I will take all I can get!

A few tomatoes and okra
Peppers were the most abundant harvest this week at 3.9 lbs.  I have now harvested more peppers this year than last year.  I've been roasting and eating them with plans of freezing the extra.  However, for some reason I never seem to have extras.

Basket full of Peppers
Last week I harvested sweet potato leaves and this week I cooked them into these greens and cheese hand pies.  I really like these although I did change the recipe a bit to use whole wheat flour and coconut oil.  I froze a bunch of them before baking.  I hope they taste good after being frozen.  If so, I may be using a lot of sweet potato leaves to make hand pies to keep in the freezer.

Sweet Potato Greens and Cheese Hand Pies

Weekly Harvests (lbs):
Peppers 3.9
Okra 0.3
Green beans 1.6
Tomatoes 0.3
Eggplant 2.4
Winter squash 2.6

Yearly Harvests: 906.1 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday on Our Happy Acres.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Harvest Monday 10/10/16

This week we finally met autumn.  The temperatures are cooler and the skies are bluer.  Well, except for a few days of rain from hurricane Matthew.  We're far enough inland to miss the major path of the storm, but we did end up with about three inches of rain.  It thoroughly soaked the garden to the point of the massive okra plant toppling over.  I feel as though my okra plant is not of normal size.  Most of the ones I see in other gardens are tall, but have one or two main stems.

The giant okra plant toppled over from the rain.
The good thing is that picking okra is much easier now!  I did attempt to right the plant and propped it up with bricks and stakes.  The trunk didn't break, so it may survive.  If not, I've had plenty of okra from this one plant, 12 lbs to be exact.

Basket of eggplant, okra, edible gourd, Seminole pumpkin and a few tomatoes and cucumbers
Besides okra this week, I harvested another Seminole pumpkin that was almost 3 lbs along with a rather large edible gourd.  The remaining cucumber plants are putting out a few fruits.  The tomatoes appear to have lots of green tomatoes on them now, with a few making it into my basket.  I hope they have time to ripen.  So far the ten day forecast does not show any lows anywhere near freezing.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have a late frost like last year.

Peppers were plentiful this week at 4.5 lbs.  The ones I don't eat this week will get frozen.

Basket of Sweet Peppers
Green beans are in the running for most resilient crop this year.  They have steadily produced since early summer.  This week I harvest 2.3 lbs of green beans.  I roasted a pile of them and then blanched and froze the rest.

Garden of Eden and Blue Coco Beans
I picked another cantaloupe at almost three pounds.  Several of the remaining melons cracked from all the rain and were swarmed by ants.  A couple of melons remain, so I may have a few more before the season ends.  I'm still not tired of eating melons.

Hale's Best Melon
In a few weeks I will need to start digging up the sweet potatoes.  The vines are growing rampantly.  I trimmed several of the vines to prevent them from taking over the young carrots, so now I have a pile of sweet potato greens to cook.  I wonder if they can be frozen like other greens?  When I harvest the sweet potatoes, I'm going to have a ton of leaves.  In the past they have gone to the compost, but this year I may experiment with freezing them and see how they do.

Sweet Potato Greens
Saturday it rained and rained and rained some more.  I decided to bake and puree one of my medium sized Dickinson pumpkins.  From a 7 lb pumpkin I got about 10 cups of pureed pumpkin.  From that I made pumpkin soup, a triple batch of pumpkin muffins and some treats for Domino's 7th birthday.

Pumpkin soup with grilled cheese and homemade pickles
Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Treats for Domino's 7th Birthday
If you recall from last week, I had the tragedy of a giant pumpkin falling off the vine.  It seems to slowly be turning a bit more orange.  I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that it'll ripen.  Domino is also keeping his paws crossed because he's imaging all the treats that I can make from a pumpkin that big!

Weekly Harvest (lbs):
Peppers  4.5
Okra  0.95
Cucumber  1.45
Green beans  2.33
Tomatoes   0.24
Eggplant 1.74
Melon  2.73
Winter squash 2.86
Sweet potato greens  0.71
Gourd  1.31

Yearly Harvests: 895 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday on Our Happy Acres.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Harvest Monday 10/3/16

A tragedy occurred in the garden this week.  I had a giant Dickinson pumpkin growing along in the last row of my garden that is referred to as the squash jungle.  Any pumpkin that is 20 or more pounds is considered a giant in my garden.  Yesterday I discovered that he had broken from the vine!  I'm hoping it'll still ripen if I leave it in the sun.  We will see.

Not Quite Ripe Dickinson Pumpkin
In better news, my eggplants produced well this week at 5.3 lbs.  I roasted many of them and then made a double batch of Szechauan eggplant with some green beans and tofu.  My Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd vine also seems to be perking up and producing again.  We finally got some rain and cooler weather.

Eggplant and Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd
The Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd vine continues to grow.  I don't understand how the vine is still alive.  The base of the vine looks completely dead with wilted and brown leaves, but yet the vine continues to grow along the fence.  The amazing thing is that this is one plant.  It has produced 10.5 lbs of gourds so far this season, which sounds productive for one plant, but not so great when you see the size of the vine.

Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd vine taking over the fence
The peppers continue to plod along.  I've been roasting some of them, sauteing others and freezing the spares.

Antohi Romanian and Marconi Red Peppers
I also harvested an Armenian Cucumber, which hasn't happened in a month or two.  Surprisingly, this cucumber managed to dodge the pickle worms that have been infecting the other cucumbers.  I also continue to pick cantaloupes.  They appear to be getting smaller and smaller as the season goes on.

Armenian Cucumber and Cantaloupes 
Green beans and okra continue to do well.  Steamed green beans are a staple around here, making an appearance for dinner multiple times a week.  I really should freeze some more green beans.  I've also been roasting okra and mixing it with other vegetables.  My one okra plant has produced over 11 lbs this year.

It seems the tomatoes may be making a comeback.  There are several green tomatoes, so hopefully they'll have time to ripen before our first frost, which is typically around the end of October.  It also depends on those leaf-footed bugs that have been sucking the life out of my tomatoes.  I haven't seen as many in the garden lately, but perhaps that's because there aren't many tomatoes.

Leaf-footed Bug aka Destroyer of Tomatoes

Weekly Harvests (lbs):

Peppers 3.8
Okra   1.0
Cucumber  1.4
Green beans  3.0
Tomatoes  0.2
Eggplant 5.3
Melon  7.4
Gourd  2.2

Yearly Harvests: 876.2 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday on Our Happy Acres.