Monday, October 23, 2017

Harvest Monday - October 23, 2017


The season is coming to an end as are the harvests.  In a way, I'm relieved - it's been the kind of year that's best when seen through the rear view mirror.

Late summer/early fall harvests are always the most varied - let's start with the fruit.

Mystery Plums

If you recall, I have a 4-in-1 plum tree (used to be 5-in-1 but one variety was a dud so it was eventually cut off).  The branches in the middle of the tree bloomed and produced fruit for the first time this year but I have absolutely no idea what variety they are, having lost the tag years ago.  They were harvested in mid-September, being the latest of all the varieties, and were quite tasty.  I harvested all those that were fully ripe and the rest were left for a few more days.  Unfortunately, some critter got to them first - I'm guessing a squirrel - and all that was left of that 2nd lot were numerous cores scattered underneath the tree.

The Haralson apple tree gave us a decent quantity of apples for a 3 year old tree.  I checked the tree every couple of days and only picked those that slipped off the tree with little resistance, in order to ensure perfect ripeness:

Haralson Apples

The Heritage raspberries have been giving us some wonderful harvests and they are still going:

Heritage Raspberries

We've actually harvested enough to stash a tub of raspberries in the freezer to savour over the winter - hurray!

We harvested a couple more figs:

Hardy Fig

The fig trees were battered in the spring by some heavy winds and never fully recovered.  Our harvest this year was only marginally better than last and the trees look rather pitiful.

Moving on to the veg, the peppers are done for the season and all the plants were pulled a couple of weeks ago.  I did still manage to harvest enough to pack a few bags in the freezer, so that's a plus.

One of the final pepper harvests

The cucumbers were ok this year - we had a somewhat steady stream that was just enough for a few batches of refrigerator pickles and fresh eating:

Clockwise from the left:
Summer Dance, Garden Sweet, Green Finger
(plus a Tromboncino squash on the far right)

I could have done with a few more but the cucumber beetles took care of that - I was picking them off for weeks.  I'm convinced that the damage they did to the flowers reduced the harvest considerably.

In a previous post, I spoke about some volunteer potatoes growing in last years potato bed (which was supposed to be this years squash bed until the rabbits ate the squash plants).  I left the volunteer potato plants to grow but then I found potato beetles on some of the leaves - a first in the garden.  I picked off the beetles and, even though my head said to pull the plants my heart didn't have the...well, heart.  So I left them.   Luckily, after that 1st round of beetles, I didn't find any more.  The potato plants did their thing and - surprise, surprise - I had a pretty incredible harvest with over 19 lbs (almost 9 kilos) of volunteer potatoes gathered over the last couple of months.

A box of volunteer potatoes

Good thing too as the yield from the purposefully planted potato bed left a lot to be desired...details on that will be in a separate post.

Another rabbit casualty were the beans - several varieties suffered early on in the season as the bunnies chewed their stems down to stubs.  One of these was the new-to-me variety Queen Anne which is a type of black-eyed pea.  I thought the plants were goners but they came back, albeit weakly, and gave me a small yield of beans:

Queen Anne Beans

It's not enough to use in the kitchen, but more than enough to save for next years seed.  Considering the quantity of bean seed needed to plant up even a small area, seed packets are notoriously stingy so I always save a good portion of seed the first year I grow a particular variety.

The Tromboncino squash, not surprisingly, knocked my socks off once again:

Tromboncino Squash

I think it was my best year ever for them, but I'll have to check the numbers.

The Arcadia broccoli was another winner:

Arcadia

I'm still harvesting some side shoots here and there but this late in the season they are pretty small - no less tasty though.

The winter squash was a big disaster - only 5 squash harvested in total.  They were all tiny and, to add insult to injury, three of them were damaged, either by sow bugs or slugs - the jury is out on which one was the culprit.

Sweet Mama
Note the damage on both squash
(left has damage on the front; right has damage beside the stem)

Thankfully, the damaged bits were easy to cut off and they were fine otherwise.  The Sweet Mamas made a couple of tasty lunch side-dishes...for one.  The one on the right was so tiny I actually needed a supplemental side to go with it.

I harvested all the leeks, or what was left of them, and they just barely verge on ok.  Something got to the leeks in one of the beds which pretty much devastated that harvest and the small section of leeks in a 2nd bed had quite a bit of leek moth* damage.

Leeks - trimmed down to whatever was salvageable

The balance of the spring sown carrots were harvested:

From left to right:  Mokum, Yaya, Bolero, Cosmic Purple
The rocks were made into "labels" for shrubs & perennials that went into the side border 😁

The 2nd sowing of carrots will be harvested within the next few weeks once temps get cold enough that their freezing becomes a concern.  I could try to cover them with straw or bags of leaves to insulate them, but I'm just not up for that this year.

The remaining eggplants were harvested in mid-September:

Eggplant varieties this year:  Ping Tung, Thai Green, Farmers Long & White Princess

And now the tomatoes.  As you can see from the photo above, which mainly consists of the variety "Mountain Magic", we were having some good pickings in September.

October 10th harvest

With one week left until November, you may be asking if we, up here in the Great White North, still have tomatoes on the vines.  Why yes we do!

Our nights are now rather chilly - still not below freezing but getting close - so I'm picking the tomatoes as soon as they start to change colour and leaving them to ripen indoors.  One bed was more or less done so I decided to clear it out but there are still two left.  I won't be clearing those until the daytime temperatures are consistently 10C (50F) or lower.  From the looks of the long range forecast, that will probably be in another week or so.

Speaking of the weather, for the past few weeks, the weather has been AMAZING and I've been catching up like crazy in the garden.  Our average first frost date is October 3rd so we are almost 3 weeks past due.  We did have one "barely-there" light frost a few weeks ago but since it didn't do any damage other than singeing the edges of some of the bean plants, I'm not counting that 😀.

To see what everyone else has been harvesting over the past week, head on over to Our Happy Acres where Dave is our host for Harvest Mondays.

*I originally thought that the alliums were being attacked by onion maggots but have subsequently realized that, in fact, I was dealing with leek moths so have adjusted this post accordingly.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

22 comments:

  1. You are right about the bean seed packets. Usually I make do with the smallest size of packets, but for dried beans, I opt for the 8 ounce jobbers. So glad to see so many nice things coming from your garden despite all your setbacks. And 19 pounds of potatoes from your volunteers is amazing.

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    1. Fava beans are especially bad when it comes to seed count - the last time I purchased a small packet of those, I got a ridiculously low number like 20 beans. And yes, I'm mighty glad now that I didn't pull those volunteer potato plants!

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    2. Some lovely harvests Margaret! Here in the UK our weather in unseasonably warm too.... weird but kind of good right now

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    3. Thank you Kathy :) I'm so close to finishing up outside but it was rainy and windy today so nothing got done. We are, however, getting another moderately nice spell in a couple of days so I'll be back at it.

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  2. I know you've had a challenging year in one way or another but you wouldn't think so to look at this harvest, and at this time of year too. My tomatoes were quite pathetic this year, I know I cut down drastically on numbers but the plants I did grow didn't do as well as in previous years. Still, they did provide me with enough tomatoes for my needs so that's all that counts really. A shame about the squash but just look at all that lovely brocolli and the carrots, you won't go hungry.

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    1. The tomato season wasn't going that well earlier in the summer around here either as we had a lot of rain so blight came early. Had it not been for a hot, dry spell in early September, the plants would likely have been goners by now.

      The squash situation this year was frustrating - but I actually still have cooked squash in the freezer from last year when we had a bumper crop. Turns out "too much" squash (which is what I complained about last year) will be just enough to carry us through until next season.

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  3. Oh my, your critter travails rival mine, you have my fullest sympathy. The season wasn't a total disaster though, look at all those tomatoes! And good old Tromba squashes are always winners for me too. Oh and broccoli, what would we do without broccoli in the garden?

    It was a challenging year for you in many ways. I hope the next one turns out to be a winner.

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    1. Thanks Michelle - The one good thing about a really bad year is that there is all the more to look forward to the following season when we will "fix" all the problems, right?? ;)

      Oh, you said it about broccoli - once you hit on the right variety, it's the veg that just keeps on giving. I don't think I've purchased broccoli from the grocery store in 3 years!

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  4. It's amazing you still have tomatoes on the vines! And more so given the challenging year it has been. The volunteer potatoes are quite a good surprise too I'm guessing.

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    1. The potatoes were a very good surprises - I expected maybe a quarter that amount. I'm really surprised we still have tomatoes too - this is definitely the latest we have ever kept them going, probably by 2 or 3 weeks. Will have to look that up to see when the latest harvest was in prior years.

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  5. That fruit looks amazing even if the critters did steal some. I wish they would let me put an apple tree in the front yard here! Wouldn't it be wonderful to garden with perfect weather and no bug problems and (no rules here)! Nancy

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    1. Perfect weather, no bug problems (and no rules!) - will probably never happen but that doesn't stop us from hoping!

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  6. I find every year growing veggies is a challenge. I think you still have a very impressive harvest for this late in the season! Our peppers are still going strong but I pulled out the summer garden to plant our fall/winter crops. Deer or rabbits keep eating my sweet potatoes!

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    1. Thanks Karin :) I'm missing fall veg this year, especially the greens - it's such a treat to harvest lettuce in November/December. Ugh - those rabbits! My sweet potato slips didn't even make it into the ground this year as the rabbits got to them while on my deck waiting to be transplanted.

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  7. What a fabulous late harvest. I love plums, especially the sour kind. Especially when cooked into jam or tarts.

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    1. A good chunk of our plums were put into the freezer - there will be some plum jam exploits this winter!

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  8. Wow, so much fruit! The plums look particularly yummy. And I can't believe your carrot harvest. Wowza!

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    1. I had some bad carrots years due to things like germination issues and slugs/earwigs but the last couple have been great - just goes to show, it pays to keep at it!

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  9. Our carrots were one of our biggest disappointments this year. You certainly still have lots to harvest.

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    1. Nothing is ever a sure thing, is it? Each year has it's fair share of disappointments (and successes too!).

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  10. It's the same story here, Margaret. Still getting warm days (occasionally) so I'm still harvesting a few courgettes. Allotment squashes suffered through lack of attention on my part but at least I had a couple of beauties, and the sweet corn had to be brought in as birds were pecking at it! I'm just grateful for what I've had and planning for next year!

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    1. That's precisely it - be grateful for what you do harvest - we can't expect to have a stellar year every time.

      Oh, sweet corn - yum! I've had issues growing it in the past couple of years as some unknown critter(s) keep attacking the stalks (that's right, the stalks!). I'm lucky if a few plants mature enough to form ears before they are chewed to the ground. Next time I try corn (I'm not giving up that quickly!), I'll likely try some sort of chickenwire contraption for protection.

      Planning next years garden is one of my favourite things and I'm now in the thick of it :)

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