Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday–30 July 2012

Not much to show this week. Tuesday was busy and by Wednesday I had some stomach bug that put me out of action for three days. First got to the garden on Saturday and found a few things overgrown, but everything is edible assuming my appetite comes back. We also have said several days of rain so I did not have to worry about watering.

I picked two pounds of beans, some of them a little large. Actually I welcome larger beans because it is a reason to make stewed beans with tomatoes. That’s comfort food to me and they freeze well, so a good way to use up the older beans and excess tomatoes.


An assortment of small tomatoes, Juliet, Sun Gold, and Black Cherry. The cherries are very tasty but I’m not sure I like Juliet. Kind of tough and dry, not very flavorful. Fortunately none of the tomatoes split from the sudden rainstorms. I left a medium sized Cherokee Purple on the vine to sun-ripen for a few more days. Hope it’s still there. Yesterday I got an email from a fellow gardener who had surprised a poacher at the garden. This person drove their minivan right up to the gate of the community garden, got out with a shopping bag, and proceeded to do her produce shopping among the various plots. Most items I have plenty of at this point, but I have special plans for that tomato.


Some of the squash got away, which happens. They are actually larger than they look in this photo. I think these two types of squash are still edible when fairly large, but I really did not need more squash right now. I think I might try stuffing the zucchini and turning it into a main dish. The cucumbers are two pickling cukes.


I got some bad news while picking the beans. I noticed some small discolorations on some of the beans, like a wet spot. As I got down the bed, I found the reason. In the picture below you can see black lesions on the beans, sure sign of halo bean blight, a bacterial bean disease from infected seed (see an earlier post). The wet looking spots are the early stage of the infection. As it progresses, a lesion appears with a cream-colored center. You can see that on the bottom bean on the right. As the infection proceeds, you get the sunken lesions you see on the top, which turn black from secondary infection. I was surprised because usually the leaves are affected first, with brown lesions surrounded by a yellow halo, but this hit the beans first.


This is a bit disappointing. I cleaned up the garden debris last year and the disease is not supposed to overwinter in New England. I rotated the beds and made sure I had seed from reputable sources. And it is supposed to be less likely to infect bush beans. All I can do is remove infected plants and hope it doesn’t spread further (wet, windy weather like we had the past few days will do it).

That is all from here. To see what other gardeners around the world are harvesting from their gardens, head to Daphne’s Dandelions and join the fun.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday-23 July 2012

The summer crops are coming in now: beans, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers.The summer squash are looking good so far. I have been using trap boards in the garden to catch squash bugs and then stomping them. They haven’t done a lot of visible damage yet and I have been hand-picking the egg clusters.
The Sunburst squash is still cranking out fruit. As others have commented, true to name it seems to produce a burst of fruit at the beginning and then takes a break for awhile. So far the fruit has been produced around the base of the plant near ground level. As the plant grows, it lies close to the ground and spreads outward from the center.

Sunburst patty pan squash

The Costata Romanesco, however, seems to grow skyward, Someone tried to describe its growth habit to me as enthusiastically upward, but I couldn’t quite imagine it. Now I’m seeing what they meant. The first fruit were produced at the base of the plant ground level, similar to a regular zucchini, as pictured below.

Costata Romanesco squash

Now that those fruits have been produced and picked, flowering and fruit production is growing upward, several inches off the ground. You can see that below and notice that another cluster of flower buds is forming about 6 inches further up the plant. I might have to stake this one to keep it from collapsing if it sets multiple fruit at once.

. Costata Romanesco squash

Half the bean patch is now being picked. Below is a photo of Provider, which produces about a week before Fresh Pick. I usually plant a 4x4 bed with bush beans, half Provider and half Jade (or this year, Fresh Pick, a new bean developed by Dr. Calvin Lamborn, the breeder who developed Jade). Unfortunately, I miscalculated the number of beans I would need and soaked and inoculated only enough seed to plant 4 squares of each. So I decided I would plant the second half two weeks later. That way I would have four consecutive weeks with a quarter of the bed coming into production. Seemed like a good idea at the time. What I found was the first half of the bed grew rapidly and after a few weeks started flopping over onto the younger bean plants. I think it is still a good idea but next year I need to run a low fence down the middle of the bed to keep the two halves out of each others way.

Provider bush bean

Here is a side-by-side comparison of Provider (on the left) and Fresh Pick. I wish I had also grown Jade so I could compare it to Fresh Pick. Compared to Fresh Pick, Provider is shorter, a lighter green color, thicker, easier to pick and about a week earlier. Despite its looks, it is a tender bean with good beany flavor. I like to use this one for dilly beans. Provider has dark colored seeds so it germinates better in cooler soils than Jade or Fresh Pick, which have white seeds with a greenish cast.

Provider (left) and Fresh Pick bush beans

Fresh Pick is a darker green, long and slender. It seems a little easier to pick than Jade, which had very tough stems that sometimes required a scissors. Johnny’s describes Fresh Pick as being plumper and darker than Jade, with more disease resistance. Both beans tolerate hot weather and produce over a long period. I plant once and as long as I keep them picked, they produce well into cold weather in September.
This is an early picking of Provider, just a few beans to try them out.

Sunburst squash, Provider beans, and snap peas

This is a second picking of Provider, about a pound of beans. I also picked my first Jalapenos and an Aruba sweet pepper, plus a couple of Juliet tomatoes.

More Provider beans

This is the first large picking of beans, each pile about a pound. That’s Provider on the left and Fresh Pick on the right.

Provider (left) and Fresh Pick bush beans

The Jackson Classic pickling cuke is doing well and starting to climb the trellis. I wish the slicers would be a little more enthusiastic, they were all planted at the same time.

Jackson Classic pickling cucumber

I already have two pickling cucumbers that will be eaten fresh. Tomatoes included Juliet and Sungold cherries.

Pickling cukes, tomatoes, snow peas and squash

I have also gotten a handful of tomatoes from my Black Cherry plant. They are large fruits, about an inch in diameter, with purplish shoulders, and are very tasty. I am also looking forward to sampling the Matt’s Wild Cherry, shown below. The plant is doing pretty good compared to what it looked like when I transplanted it. The clusters of fruit shown are actually smaller than they appear in the photo, maybe the size of the nail on my small finger.

Matt's Wild Cherry tomato

The other tomato I am excited to try is Big Rainbow. The plant below has four large fruit set.

Big Rainbow tomato

The tomato below is Cherokee Purple and it has two medium sized tomatoes set. The one at the top is now starting to color so I may get a tomato next week. Unfortunately, this plant is showing signs of being infected with late blight, so I may not get more than these two. Too bad because it is one of my favorites and makes a great slicer.

Cherokee Purple tomato

That’s what is happening in my garden. To see what other gardeners around the world are harvesting from their gardens, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New England Summers


We have had a hot, dry summer here in New England. I know people elsewhere have had it worse. The Midwest and Southwest have been baking and have seen lots of violent weather. The Southeast has seen lots of violent weather. So we are fortunate in a way, but we are still hot and irritated and you have to understand, few homes here have central air conditioning. We never needed it before the last few years and my home does not have the ductwork to add it. So we sweat in our shorts and wait for a break. Fortunately(??) I grew up in St. Louis before the days of air conditioning. The kids slept upstairs in a red brick house without even a fan. I have a lot of experience imagining I am lying in a cool mountain stream, not at all bothered by the 100+ degree temperatures in my bedroom. I have put that skill to good use the last few years.

At last we did get our break in the weather. The last few days have been gorgeous, with moderate daytime temps in the 80s and low humidity with a cool breeze. This is our “native” New England summer weather, back again. Tonight after dinner (Thai chicken red curry with lots of veggies from the garden) we honored another New England tradition and headed to our favorite ice cream stand, Rota Springs Farm in Sterling, Massachusetts (farm pictured above and ice cream stand below).

Rota Springs Farm Ice Cream

New England has the highest per capita ice cream consumption in the country and our favorite flavor is coffee (just as our favorite coffee is Dunkin Donuts). The area outside of Boston abounds in farm-based ice cream stands like Rota Springs. An advantage of Rota Springs is that they also sell meatball subs made from their own ground beef (guaranteed to be free of pink slime). I get the sugar-free caramel pecan ice cream to keep my carb consumption in check, but I only do this occasionally to avoid the unpleasant effects of the sugar alcohols they put in sugar-free sweets.

So we are enjoying the weather and looking forward to another pleasant week. While temps are moderate, we still have not had any rain, so hand watering at the garden is still needed at least every other day. If the weather holds, the next excursion might be to Kimball Farms in Lancaster, Massachusetts, which has a clam shack next to the ice cream stand. I’m imagining staying cool with a clam roll or lobster roll, with onion rings and a Sam Adams followed by ice cream.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday–16 July 2012

Well, it is definitely summer now! The past few days’ highs have been in the 90s and we are looking at another week of 90+ weather, with occasional thunderstorms. Plus all the bugs and disease. At least we are now getting some summer crops which makes up for it. Powdery Mildew has arrived in the garden, affecting some summer and winter squash plants (but thankfully none of mine). Last year I had a lot of trouble with PM, which killed my zucchini after just a few fruits. It turns out there is a simple, organic spray based on milk that helps prevent PM infection. You can find the recipe in my post on the BCG blog here. A follow-up inspection showed the plants in the photos there had significantly improved and were showing only a few spots of mildew after spraying with the milk solution, so it seems to be pretty effective as well as easy and cheap.

I had my last two endive plants bolt but the escarole has been hanging in there. This is one of my last two heads, weighing in at about a pound.


Some more chard and the last of the mustard, which has now bolted. I pulled the mustard and will replant at the end of August.

Chard and mustard

While pulling a large weed that I found after I removed the row cover from my squash, I disturbed the roots of this red onion, so I decided it was better to pull it. The garlic scapes were given to me by another gardener. I found the entire scape except for the bulb at the top to be woody and inedible. So what is the deal with scapes, I thought they were edible? These had not formed a coil so I assume they were not cut too late.

Red onion and garlic scapes

My first peppers, two Hungarian wax peppers. And more snow and snap peas, close to the last of them. The heat is getting to them.

Hungarian wax peppers and snow peas

So I lied when I said the lettuce was finished. These were volunteers from the compost applied to the raised beds. The red lettuce was found growing in the beets. Good thing I’m a casual weeder. You get gifts like this from being lazy.

Volunteer lettuces

I decided to cut the last head of escarole, figuring it would last longer in the refrigerator than in the garden given the heat we are experiencing. At the bottom is my first squash, a Costata Romanesco.

Escarole and a Costata Romanesco zucchini

The squash are now starting to produce. The yellow patty pans are Sunbust, a great squash with a creamy texture and nutty flavor. Below them is my second Costata Romanesco. Broccoli sprouts to the left and snow/snap peas to the right. At the bottom of the photo are my first tomatoes, four Sungold and a couple of Black Cherry. Note that a pair of the Sunburst squash seem to have fused together.

Sunburst patty pan squash with other veggies

A twin Sunburst patty pan

This week I should be picking beans from the Provider bush beans, with the Fresh Pick beans probably a week later. There will more squash and a few tomatoes. The cucumbers seem to be taking their time getting going. You would think they would like the hot weather. Well, hopefully that means they will have a long, productive life and not succumb to disease right away.

That’s all from my garden last week. To see what others around the world are harvesting from their gardens, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday–9 July 2012

This was still a transition week between spring and summer crops. Almost all the tomatoes have set fruit now, along with some of the peppers and eggplants. The pickling cukes are starting to flower along with the first planting of bush beans. Some of the summer squash have flower buds. But with all the promise, there is nothing to harvest except the remaining spring-sowed vegetables.

This is the second picking of Tokyo Cross white turnips, and a lone radish. The rest of the radishes have bolted and were pulled. A few of the turnips show tunneling around on the surface of the bulb but no apparent penetration. I don’t know if this is the cabbage root maggot or nematodes. Anybody know?

Tokyo Cross turnips

The endive and escarole are getting crowded in their beds. I harvested two very large heads of endive which I cleaned up and placed in the refrigerator. Even though I was too lazy to tie up the heads to blanch the, the hearts are nicely blanched just from being cramped in the beds. There were a lot of small slugs in the heads so cleaning them was a chore. We already have had one salad, made with a warm bacon dressing and sprinkled with bleu cheese crumbles at Mark Willis’ suggestion.


Finally, another cutting of chard and mustard. The chard still looks fine but the mustard is thinking about bolting. This mustard along with a previous cutting provided us with a large pot of greens fixed Southern style with bacon drippings and served with pepper vinegar.

Chard, parsley, and mustard

That’s what I harvested from my garden last week. To see what others have harvested, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions for Harvest Monday around the world.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Smoked Salmon and Lemon Risotto

Smoked salmon and lemon risotto

One of the luxuries we treat ourselves to occasionally is smoked salmon. I usually plan this for the Fourth of July. I am from the Midwest where barbeque (and folks, hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill are NOT barbeque) is the traditional thing to do on the Fourth. In New England, I learned that poached salmon with egg sauce is considered the traditional dish. I love poached salmon, but it seems a little too formal and it is not done outdoors on a grill so it misses the point.

My adaptation is to smoke the salmon on a grill, using a light smoke like alder or apple. I am using apple this week. The other thing I am using is a Smokenator insert for my Weber kettle, which turns the kettle into an indirect smoker. This is not a cold smoker and the salmon is not cured or brined before smoking. Salmon filets (I found some wild Alaskan Sockeye) are placed skin side down on a double sheet of foil, salted and then sprayed with cooking spray. Half the usual amount of charcoal briquettes are loaded in the Smokenator to keep temperatures down and plenty of wood is used to provide a heavy smoke.  If using filets the fish is smoked for about 1-2 hours until fish flakes when checked with a fork. Be careful not to overcook. It will be served with a lemon risotto (recipe below) and steamed and buttered snow peas. Strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Lemon Risotto

This is a versatile dish from the Piedmont region of Italy. Serve it as an appetizer or a side with fish, chicken or duck. You can also add peas or asparagus or tiny Maine shrimp and make it a main dish. The egg yolks give it a nice sunny yellow color. The recipe is from Perla Meyers’ excellent cookbook, The Peasant Cookbook: A Return to Simple, Good Food. The book is now out of print but if you can find a good used copy, it is well worth acquiring.

•    3 egg yolks
•    ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
•    1 ½ t0 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
•    5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
•    1 medium onion, finely minced
•    1 ½ cups Italian Arborio rice
•    4-5 cups hot chicken stock
•    Salt and freshly ground white pepper


1.    Combine the egg yolks, and Parmesan cheese and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk until well mixed and set aside.
2.    Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in a heavy, two-quart saucepan. Add onion and cook until softened but not brown. Add rice and cook until well coated with butter and opaque white. Add ½ cup chicken stock and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until all liquid is absorbed before adding more.
3.    After about 20 minutes, taste the rice. It should be soft but still somewhat chewy. Add remaining stock ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly, until rice is creamy but not runny. Be careful to not drown the rice in too much stock. Season with the salt and pepper.
4.    Remove the pan from the heat. Add the egg mixture and fold it into the rice. Taste the rice, correcting seasoning and adding lemon juice if you like. Stir in remaining butter.
5.    Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Harvest Monday - 2 July 2012

This week’s harvest is a little more varied. The snow peas are producing large amounts of pods. This pile weighed in at a pound and a half. And I am starting to get some side shoots from the broccoli.

Snow peas

Most of the salad bed is bolting and turning bitter. I cut a large bag of leaf lettuce to use in wilted lettuce salad, made with a hot bacon dressing.

Black seeded Simpson leaf lettuce

I also cut a large amount of the lettuce for salads during the week, but this is probably the last of it until fall.

Assorted lettuces

These are Tokyo Cross turnips, along with a few radishes. The roots were beautiful and free of cabbage root maggots. I don’t need the extra protein in my diet..The turnips are wonderful, sliced up and braised with a little butter. They were mild and sweet, but the greens need to be stripped off the stems which were too fibrous.

French breakfast radishes and Tokyo Cross turnips

Another picking of snow peas yielded another pound of peas. We will have plenty of snow peas for the Fourth of July. Instead of the traditional New England dinner of poached salmon with egg sauce and peas, I do a variation which is a concession to my Midwestern instinct to barbeque on the Fourth. I slow smoke the salmon (a whole one if I can find it) using apple or alder wood. We serve it with a creamy lemon risotto and this year, with a large serving of steamed snow peas. The best part is the leftovers. Cold smoked salmon for breakfast for a week, with the left over crumbs going into scrambled eggs.

Snow peas

Finally, the mustard and the chard continue to grow prolifically and fortunately, the mustard does not look like it wants to bolt yet. And flea beetle damage is still minimal although the pests are back with the warmer weather.

Chard and mustard

That’s what came from my garden last week. To see what others have harvested, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions for Harvest Monday around the world.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Garden Update 1 Jul 2012

The garden is at the point now where the warm weather crops are starting to take off and in a few weeks I should start getting beans, summer squash, and yes, even the first cherry tomatoes. Full size tomatoes and eggplant are probably not going to be ready until late July or August.

The beans are starting to grow vigorously and the first bush beans planted should start flowering in a week or so. The bean bed below shows they have greened up considerably after their jaundiced start. I suspect maybe the nitrogen-fixing bacteria take some time and some warm weather to start working ( I did use innoculant). The beans on the right were planted two weeks later than the beans on the left. Fresh Pick are at the bottom and Provider at the top.

Bush beans

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