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!!