Sunday, October 30, 2011

Harvest Halloween Monday

Sized up for winter.
Not many photos these week
The garden remains productive. I noticed that many of the broccoli seems to have another round of side growth of good size. I definitely will be growing more Fiesta next year. The Chard is superb this year. It tastes like Spinach, which I hadn't noticed before. Maybe I just wish I had more Spinach in the ground.

The late plantings of carrots seem to have grown out to a good size. I hope that these are good representatives. We have about 15' of carrots. Also in that bed are beets, chard, and leeks. Many of the beets are of picking size also. I'm not expecting a lot more growth of of any of these this year.

Sweet Potatoes
We also dug the sweet potatoes. The yield was underwhelming to be generous. Many of the tubers did not fill out. They were the right length, but remained thin. Shari peeled, steamed and froze what we got. Next year I'll put them under plastic for the entire season. The undersized tubers may have a use. I am going to try to ave and sprout them in the spring.

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harvesting purple broccoli seed

We love our Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It is easy to grow, early to produce and tasty to graze on. It is a great bridge vegetable, delivering a fresh vegetable when most others are just going into the ground. I also love the plant. It is super stout, going into the ground near the end of the summer and then shouldering whatever winter throws at it. Around here (Tacoma WA) winter doesn't throw much at us. The Territorial catalog tells you that purple broccoli is hardy below 10°F. We are unfortunate if we get below 20°F, a far cry from the sub-zero temperatures I imagine elsewhere. The broccoli plant itself is pretty amazing in how it copes with freezing temperatures. As the temperatures get closer to freezing, the plant introduces more sugar into its system. This lowers the fluids freezing point, natural anti-freeze. The plant also draw moisture away from its leaves, so expansion during a freeze isn't as likely to burst its cells. This behavior isn't unique to the purple broccoli plant, of course, but it is the one that we plant, watch slump against the ground during a freeze and bounce back when the temperatures rise again, pretty amazing.

Seed Harvesting
I harvested seeds from a couple purple plants that I let go this spring. There was nothing to it except to give them time to complete their cycle. The seed pods come on super thick, eventually drying and cracking down their mid-line. Each pod has about twenty seeds divided into two rows. The seeds pop easily from the pod once it is dry. Some shaking and scuffing of the pods within the confines of a bucket was all I needed to do to extract nearly every seed. I gathered just over two ounces of seed in no time at all. I am very confident that they'll grow. What I don't know is what they will grow into. Broccoli will cross pollinate with any other brassica, however I may be out of the woods. I didn't have any other brassica growing during the time that the purple broccoli were flowering. I'll have to wait another year to find out.  The purple broccoli for Spring 2012 is already in and ready for the winter. This year's seed harvest quality won't be proven until the Spring of 2013. 
If you want to try some of this seed yourself, let me know. I have enough to grow what we need for ten years in these couple ounces. I'd be happy to send you some.

The final product, 2oz of seed,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jalapeno remains

Remains of the jalapenos, the parts that were not canned. After taking this, it occurred to me that this would make a great brine for pickles. 

The other parts, the solids, were extracted with the food mill and canned as puree.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harvest monday, night

The last eggplant, super tasty.
The last eggplant is on the left of the board, snuggled up with the broccoli. A handful of chard are on top, their stems below. The eggplant was sauteed with the chard stems, tomato and some green onion. It was then tossed with a red sauce and some penne. The chard leaves were lightly steamed. The broccoli was for Luke. I was inspired by Diary of a Tomato. While not following it exactly, I ended up with a very tasty dinner last night and lunch today.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The season of broccoli

We continue to go to our backyard store prior to dinner these days. There are green onions to pull; broccoli, chard and cauliflower to cut; and what can only be called gobs of tomatoes to graze on. Some things have been picked clean. I cooked up the last of the green beans tonight, finished picking over the front bed of canning tomatoes this week, harvested the jalapenos and the last couple eggplant. On the maintenance front, we had a nice weekend. I was able to take advantage of it, cleaning and prepping beds for garlic and winter. 

It's a long way up, but he'll make it.
It is a nice time of year. The garden is more relaxed, less demanding this time of year. It is still growing, be is slowly, but still providing plentifully. 

Our broccoli has is the clear over-achiever these days. Our dozen plants have been producing consistently for a few weeks now. The second variety, Fiesta, has put out huge heads. The one here is 4lbs. I don't think we'll get much more out of these, but the other variety, Packman, are still full of side shoots. We should get another couple weeks of of those. Many have started to go to seed, but that hasn't deterred me. I can say that broccoli flowers are just as tasty as their non-flowering siblings. Eaten raw or in stir-fry, they are just as good. Don't let a little flower deter you.

Luke's vegetable sculpture. 

Just over 4lbs of peppers - jalapeno & Big Bomb,
neither really much more spicy than a bell,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Monday

Relegated to hang out with the recycling and garbage cans.
Thankfully, this isn't from this year. This technique (or is
it a trick?) did work. Most of these tomatoes found
their way into canning jars. 
Back to the present, here's an interesting mix of summer
and winter pickings. There are still a few eggplant
after this one. This butternut was on the small side, but
went very well with the potatoes, broccoli and beets
that shared my dinner plate.
Each of these beets was a pound. I was afraid
that the may have turned tough, but
was happily disappointed. They were excellent.

The last of the beans were tasty, along with mounds of
broccoli, chard, and tomatoes and jalapenos in last night's stir fry for
today's lunch.
The chard is plentiful and sweet all the
way to the end of the stalk.

Head over to Daphne's Dandelions for more Harvest Monday folks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A walk around the beds today

We have 3 San Marzano. They are loaded, but always late.

A handful of beans is all that remains from our plants. The
plants have been mostly relocated to the compost pile.

Behind the beans are a few tomatillo plants. We'll get a
few from these.  Tomatillos grow great around here,
producing nicely until is freezes.

The broccoli continues is proliferation. This is a central
head from a Thompson. We have a few of these and
many Packman. The Packman continue to produce load
of side shoots.

The Brussels Sprouts are beginning to form. Will they
make sprouts by the time winter really sets in?

An outstanding head of cauliflower.

..and one that has started to bolt. I'll steam it up just
to make sure it is bitter and horrible.

The cabbage, Danish Ballhead, are really
starting to form heads.

This little Sunshine Kabocha is just a little too late. It
is cute, but won't amount to much.

That little Sunshine, above, came from this bed. It was home
to squash, lettuce, and potatoes this year.

After taking out the squash, I added fertilizer and put
some Broccoli in. I'm curious to see if anything comes o
 something planted out this late. I have another ten plants or so. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Sun" dried tomatoes

These tomatoes are sun dried, in as much as the sun is the source of all life in our solar system. With respect to our local frame of reference, we continue to use our oven's drying mode effectively. It takes about eight hours at 145 to turn these Amish Salad tomatoes from their plump selves into their shriveled counterparts. The results are good. I really like the texture and sweetness of a dried tomato. We use them on pizza, in tacos, and really anywhere we'd ut a tomato.

If you have the means to dry, it is a great way of preserving and saving space.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Harvest Monday, October 3rd

If you haven't been to Daphne's Dandelions yet, you should check it out ( She has a nice set-up and a nice set of links contributed each Monday. I linked back here this morning, though I don't have many new photos to add for the past week, regarding what we harvested. We did process another 40 pounds of tomatoes last night. They are in the pot, ready to be reduced and canned. Our harvest Monday this week is really regarding the stored potential of the garden as we enter the Fall. The garden is in pretty good shape now and hopefully will continue to contribute into the winter. The post below contains a walk-through of our various beds and me rambling about what's there.

Harvest potential - the Fall & Winter garden

We don't have a root cellar or some space that is great storage for vegetables over the winter, though we do keep wishing for one. On our side, however, is our locale. Tacoma, Western Washington really, is generally very mild mannered when it comes to winter weather. Our freezes are not deep or long lasting. Consequently, we are able to keep many things in the ground. Last year was my first attempt to keep full garden beds. They were not fully by any means, but we did have carrots, onions (green), beets, chard, kale, collards and leeks far enough along to pull & cut them for quite awhile. It worked pretty well. The chard died a quick death during an early, surprising, freeze. The beet tops died along with it, but their roots were just fine below ground and I continued to dig them out as needed. The leeks, kale and collards withstand anything our weather will throw at them.

This year, I managed to get more variety in and much of it grown to a good size. New additions for this year are more brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. I still didn't get as much in as I thought I originally had. There should be more carrots and beets, at least.

Below is me walking around the garden beds, talking to nobody in particular. I didn't know how Blair Witch-like the camera work was until I watched it once.