Harvest Monday - August 29, 2016

The big harvest this past week was the onions.  And they were pretty much the disappointment that I thought they would be:

Onion harvest curing on rack
In the past couple of years, the rack above has been full – this year, it’s barely half full.  Now, I did cut back on the amount of onions I sowed as I found that I was growing more than we needed, but I only cut back by about 20% or so...definitely not half.  And look at the size of the onions, especially near the front of the rack…puny!  Those are Copras right at the front, followed by Red Wing, both of which are easily less than ½ the size they were last year.

I set aside any runty onions or those that had bolted for immediate use & these are included in this weeks tally.  The “runts” this year are particularly small.

Onion runts & bolters
Had I used last year’s criteria on what was considered small enough to be a "runt", almost all of the Copras would be in this basket!

The Ailsa Craigs and Rossa di Milanos weren’t nearly as bad, but still not comparable to prior harvests:

Rossa di Milano & Ailsa Craig Onions
The onions will be tallied up once they have finished curing – if I’m lucky, I’ll get enough onions from the farm this fall to make up the shortfall.

The broccoli side shoots have really started to get going:

Arcadia side shoots....from 2 plants!
(and a Taxi tomato that was destined for a salad)
That was the harvest from TWO plants – Arcadia is once again way ahead of the pack.

The peppers are coming in at a good rate:

From top left:  Carmen, Jimmy Nardello, Orange Blaze, Odessa
A few firsts in the above basket, including Carmen and Orange Blaze, the only bell pepper I’m growing.

From top left:  Stocky Red Roaster, Melrose, Orange Blaze,
Ostra Cyklon, Odessa, Pepperoncino, Jimmy Nardello

This is definitely turning out to be a good sweet pepper year, something I've strived for as I've usually had a much harder time growing sweet vs hot peppers.

The pepper harvests are not without their issues, though.  Some of the peppers that were touching the ground ended up being nibbled:

Nibbled Carmen pepper
I really should have placed a bit of straw on the soil, which likely would have prevented this, but never got around to it.  Not a big deal, however, as the damaged bits are easily cut out; most of the time, the damage doesn’t even penetrate to the interior of the pepper:

Inside of damaged pepper
Of course, more tomatoes:

The bad news is that one of the Opalkas had BER:

The good news is that ONE of the Opalkas had BER :).  Remember last year?

BER took over half of the Opalka harvest last year, in addition to
numerous tomatoes from other varieties
The above Opalka is only the 2nd tomato this season to get BER (I believe the 1st was a Bloody Butcher) so that's a big win.

As I mentioned in my last post, 2 of my 3 tomato beds are sick.

The two beds that are sick each had an instigator - one sick tomato variety - and the disease is now spreading to the rest of the bed.

The instigator in Bed #1 was Taxi:

Bed #1
For Bed #2 – which is definitely the sickest – it was the Orange Blossom plants that got the ball rolling:

Bed #2...this one will likely be the first to get pulled
To add insult to injury, this is also the bed where I found the tomato hornworm (the only one so far, thank goodness) and this past weekend, I spotted a stinkbug too:

Stink bug...this guy was a Speedy Gonzales,
so this was about as good a photo as I could get...
The one bed that is still thriving (Bed # 12) is in a different part of the garden:

Bed #12...so far so good.
I harvested a lot of the dried beans and they are being allowed to dry out on newspaper in the garage.

Trail of Tears
These are not added to the tally until they are dried and shelled.

More cucumbers were harvested:

From left:  Garden Sweet, Chelsea Prize, Summer Dance, Lemon
And a tromboncino squash:

Tromboncino Squash
And I picked up a little something for myself that arrived this past week, which will allow me to enjoy the tromboncino over the winter months:

Hurray - this purchase was a loooong time coming :
Yes – I FINALLY got a dehydrator, something that’s been on the wish list for over 3 years now.  This thing is a monster, though, much too big for the kitchen, unless I wanted to move it back and forth every few days.  So for now, it is set up in the basement.

Speaking of squash – I harvested the first winter squash – a Jing Orange.

Jing Orange, scallop & Romanesco squash
together with a Caribe potato that I unearthed while weeding
I have NO idea if I harvested it at the correct time.  I did the fingernail test a couple of weeks ago and, although it was resistant, my fingernail did go through.  But it seemed to be ripe – it had been this bright orange colour for a few weeks now - so I decided to pick it.

And lastly, I had to include this pic of a feeding frenzy on the goldfinch feeder:

Not the best photo as it was taken through a window
using the zoom on my phone, but you get the picture...
Nothing makes me smile more than a dozen birds at the feeders :)

My harvest totals this week were:

Broccoli – 1,653 grams (3.64 lbs)
Cucumbers – 3,505 grams (7.73 lbs)
Onions – 782 grams (1.72 lbs)
Snap Peas – 66 grams (0.15 lbs)
Sweet Peppers – 1,986 grams (4.38 lbs)
Hot Peppers – 118 grams (0.26 lbs)
Potatoes – 236 grams (0.52 lbs)
Summer Squash – 1,988 grams (4.38 lbs)
Winter Squash – 1,525 grams (3.36 lbs)
Tomatoes – 11,456 grams (25.26 lbs)

Total for Week – 23,315 grams (51.40 lbs)

Total to Date – 145.31 kg (320.35 lbs)

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.


  1. Your onions look pretty good to me. Too bad about the tomatoes. I think I have the same problem (same spots on stem, same dead keaves) and I am still thinking it is late blight. It's certainly not septoria leaf spot, which I also have every year but it is not killing the plants. And at looking at my tomatoes today I also found a small hornworm. Congratulations on the dehydrator. You splurged and got the Cadillac. You won't regret it.

    1. I'm still undecided on what my disease is...what's funny is that I actually have some green, disease free growth on many of the "diseased" plants, even the Taxi that I cut back but left a few branches that had some big green tomatoes still on it. I'm watching to see what happens with that... And I have zucchini in the dehydrator as we speak...very excited!

  2. Nothing makes me smile as much as seeing bountiful and beautiful vegetables such as yours!

    I get a lot of goldfinches, too. But now a few of the seed eaters are arriving at the raised platform feeder. I like variety.

    1. Oh, thanks Jane! We get quite a few seed eaters as well - the chickadees are particularly entertaining :)

  3. I know you're disappointed in the onions, but it looks like a success to me. Anyway, your bounty of tomatoes makes up! The peppers look real yummy too. Congrats on your dehydrator--you will get lots of value from it.

    1. Thanks Will - we can't have it all, can we? You never know what the gardening season will throw at you...the only certainty is it's unpredictability!

  4. What a shame about your tomato plants but you look to be getting some great fruit of them at the moment. My Maskotkas aren't really producing at the moment, they're way behind, but I'm getting lots off the Bloody Butchers. Your squash look great, I'm really missing them this year, especially the patty pans. I'm sure you'll have lots of fun putting your new dehydrator to good use, it looks like a great bit of kit and will help with all the gluts you have. We get lots of goldfinches in our garden, they love niger and sunflower seeds.

    1. I actually think I overdid it with the Bloody Butcher plantings - I'm still trying to figure out how many of each variety I need and this year I was much too heavy with the salad and cherry tomatoes (again!). The dehydrator is humming away right now...can't wait to try out more things in it!

  5. Ooh, I confess I skipped over a few things and went straight to the Excalibur first! I can't imagine you will be sorry, once you get to using it. I see several candidates in your harvests this week. FWIW, I found two hornworms this past week, one on my potted peppers and one on my eggplant! So far I haven't seen any on the tomatoes, but all are fair game for them. Looks like you are still getting a lot of tomatoes despite the disease issues.

    1. Oy - I would not have thought to look for hornworms on anything OTHER than tomatoes - thanks for the heads up!

      I'm starting off slow with the dehydrator, starting with the zucchini then progressing to peppers. I'm also anxiously waiting for the Feher Ozon peppers to ripen up - can't wait to try my first ever batch of paprika!

  6. That sure is a lot of goldfinches! And congrats on the dehydrator.. I think I got the exact same one last year for my birthday and it's been a great addition to preserving the harvests. I will take a picture of my tomato plants and post it next week- they are super duper sad looking. They make yours look very healthy. Mine definitely have late blight. I get it every year even when we have a record drought and I pick varieties that are supposedly blight resistant. The good thing is usually the plants recovery and produce some more before the first frost.

    1. Thanks Julie - I'm excited about trying out different things in the dehydrator. I've not had any plants survive late blight in the past, but I do see some new green growth on some of the diseased plants, so there's hoping that they get a 2nd wind. We are supposed to have a warmer than usual fall so I've my fingers crossed that some of my plants actually make it until we get a frost :)

  7. BER looks extremely unappetizing. Even so, you've got lots of tasty veggies to enjoy. I don't think I've ever seen that many goldfinches.

    1. Yes, blossom end rot is NOT what you want to see on a tomato...those go straight to the compost bin! Thankfully, it's usually a "few and far between" sort of problem. The goldfinches have gone crazy for the nyger seeds - it's pretty awesome.

  8. So many tomatoes and cucumbers, what a joy! And congratulations on the food dehydrator. You'll have lots of fun with it, just don't dehydrate hot peppers indoors.

    1. Thanks Phuong! And an extra thank you for the hot pepepr tip. Now that you mention it, I do recall hearing about that - good think I started out with the zucchini instead of the peppers! I'll have to move it to the garage when I get to that.

  9. I like the set up you have for drying your onions but I'm not sure where we would put something like that. Just like our robins your goldfinches and ours are very different looking birds.

    1. The rack was inspired by Daphne - it was easy and inexpensive to make (using bamboo poles) and it stores well too as we place it upright on the wall behind our tools. The only thing is that my car is relegated to the driveway for the 4 weeks that I use it, but that's a small inconvenience I don't mind putting up with for a years worth of onions :)

  10. You shouldn't look at the little onions as a disappointment--you must look at them from a grocer's point of view---GOURMET!!! hahahahha. I saw teeny tiny yukons in bags at the store last week-the ones I USED to toss into the compost pile and they had put them in a pretty bag and called them Gourmet and slapped a $3.98 price tag on them (ONE pound, mind you!) and people were snapping them up. It's all about marketing, Margaret. LOL. You are a gourmet farmer. I look at my runty produce in a whole new light.

    SO sorry about your tomatoes. Are you trying that variety again, or figuring it to be a villain?

    And aren't those finches adorable. I just love seeing them in the yard. And they are ALL OVER my sunflowers now.
    Have a great week, Margaret.

    1. Oh, you make me LAUGH! Gourmet, indeed - aren't we the fancy growers, with our miniature veg :)

      You know, I think a lot of my issues may have been because those two tomato beds were in the last area to get the drip irrigation and so I was using a sprinkler to water them for a good chunk of the summer (whereas the disease free bed is in the area that received drip first). Taxi I'll be growing again as I do really love the flavour but Orange Blossom is a bit blah and mealy, so that one would have been out even if it had stayed healthy.

      I've not seen any birds on my sunflowers yet, but the variety I grew had weak stems and kept flopping over once the flowers started to really fill out...so annoying!

      Have a wonderful week too, Sue, and enjoy those gourmet veg (hee hee)

  11. That's so disappointing about your onions, there's always something in the garden that doesn't come up to expectations. I swear I will retire from gardening when I have a perfect year, which means I'll never be able to quit! Congrats on your Excalibur! I love mine, but it too doesn't reside on the kitchen counter, it sit atop the clothes dryer in my laundry room. And my tomatoes are always afflicted with some sort of diseases. This year I'm just trying to go keep up with cutting the diseased leaves and throwing them away, it seems to slow the progression and has the added benefit of giving the fruits more sun. I don't know if it's my imagination, but the tomatoes seem sweeter than ever this year.

    1. You're right - there is always something that disappoints...in my case, it's usually a few things. But then there are the successes, which make it all worthwhile (and even make you jump up and down sometimes!). And I bet if you had the perfect year, you would then strive for a "more perfect" year :)

      The dehydrator is awesome! It did an amazing job on the zucchini/tromboncino and now I have some hot peppers going. I'm really looking forward to experimenting.

      I have to get at removing more leaves on the tomato plants as well - but life is getting in the way this week and I just can't seem to get to it. Enjoy your sweet tomatoes!

  12. My onions were small also but I had two things against me. I think I harvested them a little early and I grew them in pots. Sorry about so many of your tomatoes having diseases. Love that Excalibur! I just have a small one. Hope you will share pictures of what you are drying so that I can drool. Nancy

    1. Every veg has its off year, but on the bright side, small onions are better than no onions (for both of use), right?

      Every year I seem to get some tomato disease - I'm starting to wonder if there is such a thing as a disease free year for them.

  13. Your tomatoes are fantastic and homegrown onions, love it = just make my eyes cry! I have a dehydrator but have hardly used it, so hope you make more use of yours with your abundant harvest

    1. Thanks Shaheen! I am making very good use of the dehydrator so far - I'm most excited about dehydrating zucchini (courgette) as that's something that isn't that easy to preserve otherwise.

  14. Ah, I have been planning to try growing onions for the first time next year, but your experience hardly inspires me! Let's hope it was a One Off result for you. I wonder whether you will like the dehydrator. I have one, but don't use it a lot. However, semi-dried tomatoes done in it are brilliant! It looks as if you are not short of tomatoes either, despite their various ailments. You can never have too many tomatoes, can you? Can you???

    1. That would be a resounding NO!! :) I have done squash (courgette) in the dehydrator so far and they turned out amazing. Currently I have some hot peppers in there and am hoping to make chili flakes or powder once they are done. I've not done tomatoes, but they are on the list to try.

      This is my 3rd year growing onions and the first time where the results have not been stellar, so I would say they are definitely worth a go - I am inclined to think that this was a one-off likely due to excessive heat coupled with insufficient watering at the beginning of the season.

  15. Really lovely harvesting loved it .
    My mom was worried about green chili plants those remain always hard to grow healthy

    1. Thank you baili - I do cook with those small green chilis that are sold in packs at the grocery store, but I've never grown them. I should do a bit of googling to see what variety they are...

  16. I love my dehydrator, I usually make dried apple rings in the autumn :) I'm impressed with your onion harvest, I think all mine were 'runts' this year!

    1. Onions are so fun to grow, aren't they? And even better, they store for months! I'm hoping to get some dried apple rings happening this fall too - unfortunately not from my own trees, which are only a year old, but from a local pick-your-own farm, which is the next best thing.

  17. You sure do have amazing garden there.. more of a farm, I guess. So wonderful. I'd like to have one someday. I'll keep you posted, if that happen.

    Keep inspiring.

    Melissa from Philippines

    1. Thanks Melissa! Like you I dreamed about the garden I would someday have for a long time before we moved here. It will always be a work in progress but that's half the fun! Best of luck with your dream :)


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