Harvest Monday - September 11, 2017

This has been an exceptionally busy summer.  I've been away 3 times since the end of June which definitely hasn't helped when it comes to making progress on my garden "to-do" list.

The one thing that I haven't been doing a lot of is harvesting.  More accurately, I have been harvesting but not as much as I usually do at this time.  This is partly because I simply haven't been here to harvest but there has also been less to harvest due to all of the pest pressure this year - there were a lot of casualties early on.  Some I replaced, such as the lettuce, but others (winter squash, peppers) I did not.

So on to the harvests and first up, we have the tomatoes.  These started as a trickle but then sped up throughout August.

I tried a few new varieties this year, but only one stood out - Mennonite Orange:

Mennonite Orange - This one weighed in at 536 grams (1.18 lbs)

The size was huge but what truly impressed was it's super meaty, seedless interior and great flavour (nice balance of acid/sweet).  The only downside is that it isn't a big producer - I believe I've only harvested 5 or 6 fruits from the one plant that I grew.  This is to be expected, however, when it comes to large fruited varieties in our climate.  I enjoyed this one enough that it is the only one of the new varieties that will be back next year.

This has not been a good year, on the whole, for the tomatoes - our wet weather meant that blight reared its ugly head early on, starting with the yellow salad tomato Taxi.  When it hit, it hit hard - my one plant was toast within 3 weeks of contracting the disease and it quickly started to spread throughout the bed.   Speckled Roman, which was right beside Taxi, was infected next (unsurprisingly) but it also seemed to have another disease as the spots on the fruits do not resemble blight:

This does not look like blight...perhaps bacterial spot?

One of the three tomato beds is still relatively green so I'm hoping that we will continue to harvest tomatoes until frost.

The garlic was harvested on August 2nd while the onions were harvested in two stages, the last harvest being in late August, once we returned from our trip.  All are now drying on a rack in the garage:

I normally hang garlic to dry but as I grew fewer onions this year,
I had room on the rack for them

Most of the onions were mediumish in size.
The large yellow ones are Ailsa Craigs which are typically huge;
those in the photo are in the small-medium range for that variety.

First impressions were that the garlic was a good size - similar to or larger than last year.  The onions were a better size than last years harvest but still smaller than I would have liked and definitely nowhere near as good as our best onion year back in 2014.

The cucumbers finally came in and we are really enjoying them:

Summer Dance (2 on left) and Garden Sweet (3 on right)

I've also been pulling carrots as needed:

Bolero and Cosmic Purple carrots with Garden Sweet cucumbers

I sowed about 1/3 of the carrot bed early, these being the carrots that we are eating now, while the rest of the bed was not sown until July.  The carrots from this later sowing will be stored for use in the winter.

The few pepper plants that didn't become rabbit food finally started to produce, although none of them fully recovered:

Clockwise from the top:  Ostra Cyklon, Anaheim,
Pepperoncino, Feher Ozon and Lu Mei

More peppers and some broccoli:

Clockwise from the top:
Jimmy Nardello, Odessa Market (not fully ripe), Shishito and Arcadia broccoli

And speaking of broccoli, after a slow start (or so it seems - must check my records on that), the broccoli is finally hitting its stride:


The tromboncino have been producing, although not as well as last year (dang cucumber beetles!)


And I've been harvesting lots of mature beans that are now drying indoors:

Cherokee Trail of Tears

Some plums were harvested, although it was a very small crop due to late frosts and plum curculio damage:


French Prune

The above bowl of French Prune plums is actually the largest quantity of that variety that we've harvested to date; they must take longer to bear than the others.

We have been harvesting greens, such as kale and collards, although not as regularly as I would have liked, and we finally have a good crop of lettuce.  Now that the bed is covered with netting, the rabbits aren't getting to it anymore:

Bronze Mignonette

This year, more than any other in the past, I need a break from the garden.  I've finally managed to plug all the gaps in the fence that allowed the rabbits in (or they are now just too chubby to get through whatever gaps are left) but the pest pressure continues.  Now, it's the slugs - their numbers are up and while we normally have some slug damage on greens, they have made their presence felt on other veg as well such as the squash, peppers and even tomatoes.

When it comes to peppers, they seem to favour certain varieties such as Odessa Market and Feher Ozon, attacking many of them while they are still immature.

Odessa Market - A sluggy favourite

In fact, I haven't been able to harvest ANY Odessa Market peppers from the two plants that are in the grow bag, even after I applied a coating of eggshells to the top of the soil.  Let me correct that - I've harvested at least 20+ peppers but all were immature and ruined by slugs *sigh*.  There is one Odessa Market plant in a bed and I was able to pick a few medium sized green peppers from that one.  There were many others, however, lost to slugs which tells me that the grow bag environment may have made things worse, but it was not totally to blame.

Still left to pick in the garden are potatoes (I've harvested a few but the main batch is still in the ground), peppers, kale, collards, lettuce, carrots, dried beans, broccoli, eggplant (a bunny favourite, apparently), cucumbers, tromboncino squash, tomatoes and lots of herbs.  There are also a couple of very small winter squash - cucumber beetles and rabbits made sure the winter squash harvest was meagre this year.

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. I know how you feel. The other day I was ranting over the latest rodent damage and wishing that I hated gardening - why can't I just buy my veggies like a normal person! Think of the time I would save, I could spend it doing something else, but what... Damn. Vegetable gardening is not for wimps. I can't even imagine being a farmer where your livelihood depends on what you harvest. Lucky you to have to take the winter off!

    The harvests that you've brought in look wonderful. It's nice that you've found a new tomato to add to your lineup. I tried 5 new varieties this year and maybe one will be back for a second try.

    1. Ha! Normal people? Us? Never! When the going gets tough, we get tougher...or more hardware cloth and netting :)

      There are so many different varieties out there to try, I'm totally ok when only 1 or 2 of the new ones is worth growing again. When there are too many good ones, it's always a struggle to figure out which ones get the chop.

  2. Wow, that orange tomato is huge! It's always good to try new things, I found that I didn't bother a second time with many of them but there was the odd gem amongst them. I've definitely found that having a little pond has cut down on the number of slugs in the garden. Encouraging frogs certainly has its plus points, and my pond's only small.

    1. Trying new varieties is half the fun but you can't grow everything. It's much easier to get rid of a variety when it doesn't suit your tastes.

      A pond is on my wish list! I recall that yours is small and much more accessible than the typical ones. I have to keep that in mind, perhaps for next year if I'm lucky.

  3. So nice to hear from you again Margaret; you were missed. Such great variety in the harvest! The box of tomatoes is outstanding, and the onions/garlic look like they're churning out of a factory!

    1. Oh, thanks Will :) I'm pretty happy with the alliums this year, even though I do see onion maggot damage on some from when the netting blew off (argh!). I'm looking forward to comparing the numbers with last years once they are cured.

  4. Slugs are our greatest problem. There are ways of protecting against most of the other pests we get but nothing seems to stop slugs. I'm not surprised that the plants that carry large tomatoes only grow a few fruits.

    1. Slugs are a problem every year but some years are definitely worse than others. We've had a pretty rainy summer so I shouldn't be surprised their numbers are up.

  5. That is a giant orange tomato! And I think 5 or 6 fruits like that from one plant would not be a bad yield in our climate either. I'm always happy to get any big slicers that I can. Slugs are usually a problem here too, and they can climb high up on many of our plants, like tomatoes. Of course the low growing stuff is a prime target, as are greens. One good thing about gardening is, there's always another year. My gardening has seen an ebb and flow over the years, due to whatever else was going on in my life.

    1. I was really surprised by the fact that slugs climb up that high - there was indeed damage on tomatoes that were half way up the vines.

      I am SO looking forward to next year - a clean slate and hopefully less frustration!

  6. I am sorry your harvest was not what you would have liked. I was a failure in my little courtyard garden also. Kind of discouraging but I will probably try again next year! Gardeners don't give up easily! Nancy

    1. I do recall you harvesting quite a few goodies so I would say you had a partial success...looking at the bright side (even though that's sometimes difficult). Next year will be much better...for both of us!

  7. That Mennonite Orange - are you sure it isn't really a cantaloupe?

  8. Great produce and variety!

    What is your secret for successful carrot seed germination in July? I do reasonably ok with spring planting, but it's been an abysmal failure in summer and fall. Also, what netting do you use on your beds? I'm looking for a solution to deter cabbage moths in the summer months since floating row covers like Reemay tend to keep the beds too warm. Thanks!

    1. When it comes to carrot germination in the warmer months, I think the biggest challenge is keeping the beds moist. I use Agribon (Reemay) to help me with that in both spring and summer sowings: After sowing the seeds, I lay down a double layer of Agribon directly on top of the soil and place rebar around the perimeter to keep it in place (rocks or pieces of wood will do as well). I then give the bed a good watering, right on top of the Agribon, and continue to spray it daily. The good thing about using the Agribon is that it not only helps maintain moisture but it also keeps the seeds from washing away or otherwise being disturbed when you water.

      After a few days, I'll start to check for germination by lifting up a corner of the cloth. The waiting game is much shorter for summer vs spring sown carrots - I think that this year they only took about 1 week.

      As soon as I see any sign of life, I remove the cloth altogether and continue spraying the bed daily (I also have drip irrigation which is turned on by that point - the spraying is more to ensure that the surface of the soil, where the seeds are, stays moist). Once most of the seeds germinate, I let the drip irrigation keep the bed watered & that's about it.

      As for netting, I use a stretchy insect netting that I purchase at William Dam Seeds: http://www.damseeds.ca/productcart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=3066. I've also heard of people using tulle for netting - the kind used for bridal veils, as it's relatively inexpensive in the US. Around here, however, it ends up costing essentially the same as the insect netting, so I just purchase the latter, which I prefer.

    2. Thanks so much for the detailed information for successful carrot germination! I will give it a try next year. I have used tulle but found that they only last one season, so was looking for something UV resistant that would last longer. I see that William Dam doesn't ship to the US but I should be able to locate another source. Thanks again!


  9. You and your harvest are amazing. This is an evergreen comment from me to you, I know.

  10. Margaret that is too bad about the casualties....if it isn't critters, it's disease or weather. Weather was a problem here as it was a cold spring and then cool summer....now fall is hot so my tomatoes are producing thankfully as they were started late. You have quite a large garden with all the garlic and onions....so much growing and producing there....hoping you get time now to enjoy the harvest!

    1. The weather the past couple of years has been all over the place, hasn't it? I wasn't going to sow a round of dried beans after I pulled my peas this summer, but decided to take a chance since it worked last year as we had a very warm fall. From the looks of it, we may luck out again as temps are supposed to remain warm and even hot over the next week or so which will hopefully mean a nice jump in growth.

      So wonderful that your tomatoes are coming in - fingers crossed that the nice weather lasts and you can continue to enjoy them for a few more weeks :)


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