Monday, August 31, 2015

End of August Harvest

A truss of "Matina"

With our much needed rain storms arriving Friday night and again Sunday afternoon, I wasn't too sure what damage I might find in the Kitchen Garden. My whirligig art piece had toppled over and was laying in the pumpkin patch, directly one on of my two pumpkins. Fortunately, when I picked it up, the pumpkin - and whirligig - were both fine. Really the only damage, if you can call it that, was some cracking on some of the tomatoes. A very small price to pay for that wonderful rainfall. In the end, I ended up having my biggest tomato harvest of the year this week, just over 4 pounds.
  • "Galina" - (63) 11.9 oz.
  • "Mountain Magic" - (23) 12.5 oz
  • "Matthew" - (58) 1 lbs. 4.4 oz
  • "Esterina" - (132) 1 lbs. 4.5 oz
  • "Matina" - (18) 7.4 oz.

I also harvested all of the ripe peppers on my mystery pepper plant. I hadn't really looked closely at this plant for a while and was surprised to find a few red peppers. Apparently the peppers on this plant ripen from green, to deep purple, to red. Since I am not a huge fan of hot peppers, these will be bagged up and delivered to a friend at work. Today's total pepper harvest was 13 peppers, weighting in at 3.6 oz.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Harvest

A truss of "Matthew"

The theme of this week's harvest might be called "The Salsa Garden". It was pretty short and simple. The heat lovers are ripening and ready to harvest. I started with my tomatoes. Once again, all of my varieties, with the exception of "Mexico", had lots of fruit to pick. I am beginning to wonder if "Mexico" will ever ripen. This week's harvest was:
  • "Galina" - (43) 8.4 oz
  • "Mountain Magic" - (8) 4.4 oz
  • "Matthew" - (41) 12.7 oz
  • "Esterina" -(47) 7.3 oz
  • "Matina" - (10) 4.4 oz
I also picked the last two peppers on my "Gypsy" plant. It only produced 3 peppers this year but all the were big and beautiful. I don't know if I didn't give it enough water or if it didn't like our super hots days. It bloomed like crazy but never set any peppers after the first three. I think I will give it one more try next year since the fruit it did produce was so nice.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blackberry Time on Harvest Monday

The story this week is definitely the explosion of blackberries. On Saturday I picked once in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The first time, I don't know that I even walked 20 feet before my berry bucket was full! The berries this year are quite large and very, very sweet. I just don't understand how they have sized up when we really haven't had any significant rain since April and all of the berries that I picked this weekend were on plants growing on a well drained hillside. The fields are all brown and the forest are burning in Oregon but the wild blackberries look amazing. I guess we will just have to enjoy Mother Nature's gift and keep on picking. This week's total was 8 lbs. 4.6 oz. Some of the harvest was cleaned and frozen, some was stashed in the fridge to use right away and the rest was turned into 16 half pint jars of blackberry jam.


The tomatoes are now producing a nice, steady harvest each week.


"Mountain Magic"

I picked all of the ripe tomatoes on Sunday after I finished my jam-making session. The results were:

  • "Galina" - (26) 5.4 oz
  • "Mountain Magic" - (4) 2.7 oz
  • "Matthew" - (21) 8.4 oz
  • "Esterina" - (8) 1.2 oz
  • "Matina" - (10) 5.4 oz

Friday, August 14, 2015

First Dahlia Blooms

"NTAC Shelly" Orchid Dark Pink/White

In spite of all the many obstacles facing the dahlia garden this year - late planting, excessive temperatures,  rabbits and voles to name just a few - the first dahlias are still giving it their best and opening a few descent blooms. Maybe, if the weather ever cools down and the rabbits quit their nightly raids, I will have even more blooms share.

"Kelsey Kristie" Single Dark Red

"Ms. Kennedy"  Miniature Ball Orange

Below, "Kelsey Sunshine" Collarette Yellow

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rudbeckia Fulgida "Goldstrum"

This early May, I purchased a 1/2 gallon pot of Rudbeckia "Goldstrum".

I was a good gardener and got it planted fairly soon after its arrival home. It settled in quickly and has been busy growing all Summer long.

I am now getting to enjoy it in full bloom for the first time.

Rudbeckia "Goldstrum" was the Perennial Plant Association's 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year and deservedly so. Even in its first year, my plant is already putting on a wonderful display. Each bright gold bloom may last up to two weeks and the plant blooms from mid-July to October.

"Goldstrum" is German for gold storm. It was discovered in 1937 in a nursery garden in the Czech Republic. Because of World War II, it wasn't able to debut until 1949 but has quickly spread all over the globe. I am so happy to have finally purchased a "Goldstrum" for my garden. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Onion Totals on Harvest Monday

On Sunday, I finally got around to harvesting my onions. Back on April 12th, I planted 8 young "Candy" yellow, sweet onion starts and 17 "Cortland" yellow, storage onion starts in the Kitchen Garden. The tops had fallen over, one by one, in the last few weeks and it was past time for them to be dug and stored.

A bunch of freshly dug "Cortland".

After I got them all lifted, I trimmed and cleaned each bulb and set them in trays. My 17 "Cortland" onions weighted 7 lbs. 12.7 oz. The largest bulb was 10.1 oz, the smallest was 5.2 oz., and the average size was 7.34 oz. I grew "Cortland" this year because I wasn't able to buy the "Frontier" starts that I had grown last few years. The "Frontier" averaged one ounce heavier but it is hard to compare the two varieties with so many variables affecting size. I need to grow "Frontier" at least one more year to see if it is a reliable producer for me or not.

My 8 "Candy" onions came in at 3 lbs. 10.2 oz. The largest bulb weighted 9.9 oz., the smallest 4.7 oz., and the average bulb size was 7.28 oz. In comparison, the "Cortland" were ever so slightly bigger than the "Candy". But the "Candy", once again, performed well, in such a dry, hot Spring and Summer.

The tomatoes have started to ripen at a quick pace. Pictured above, a pretty truss of "Matina".

A loaded truss of the yellow cherry "Galina".

A new-to-me variety that I am growing this year is the cherry  "Matthew". It is producing small, plum-shaped, orange fruit.

Today's harvest filled a pretty blue mixing bowl with a nice combination of fruit size and color. The harvest consisted of:
  • "Mountain Magic" - (4) 3.4 oz
  • "Matthew" - (10) 3.5 oz
  • "Esterina" - (10) 2.3 oz
  • "Galina" - (38) 9.3 oz
  • "Matina" - (22) 14.7 oz.
So today's total tomato harvest was 2 lbs. 1.2 oz.

I also picked the first on my peppers this past week. I am going to bring them to work for a pepper-loving co-worker to sample. I am hoping her taste-test will shed some light on the identity of my purple, mystery pepper. I don't know what it is but I most certainly know it is not a "Padron" plant as it was labeled. So, my pepper harvest this week was:
  • "Gypsy" - (1) 3.3 oz
  • "Mystery Plant" - (1) .4 oz.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

My Mystery Pepper Plant

Early this Spring, at the Lane County Farmer's Market, I purchased two small pepper plants. The first was a "Gypsy", which I have grown before. The second plant was a "Padron". I was especially excited to find this variety for sale and try to grow it myself.  I first saw "Padron" peppers at the Portland Farmer's Market four years ago. Every vendor had them it seemed and all of the shoppers were raving about their taste. Since then, they have only gotten more popular and are know being sold here in Lane County at many booths.

So, I bought my plant and waited and watched. As the first peppers started to develop, I knew something was amiss. "Padron" peppers are short, round, green peppers and my plant was producing 4" bulls-horn shaped purple peppers! Yesterday I harvested one of the peppers and took it to the market to show the farmer from whom I had purchased the plant. I was guessing that a tag had been switched and he would be able to easily tell me what variety I now had. But when I told him the story and showed him the pepper, he was as confused as I was. He explained that he didn't grow any peppers this year that would look like that. So either the "Padron" had thrown a start - not likely in my opinion - or his supplier had slipped in a seed or two of a mystery variety. Much more likely I think. So now I am no closer to learning the true identity of  my pepper. I am going to take the harvested pepper to work on Monday and have a brave volunteer taste it for me. Then I will at least know if I have a sweet pepper or a hot pepper. Either way, this plant has done really well for me. It has 8 ripe peppers on it currently, and the top is covered with small green peppers that have just begun to grow. I would highly recommend this variety - if only I knew what it was!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Early August at the Farmer's Market

Today we went to the Lane County Farmer's Market. It had been many weeks since my last visit and as always, there was a lot of new things to see and taste. Right off the bat I found something new to me; "Key Lime" Cucumbers. They were described as almost seedless and never bitter.

It is definitely garlic season at the Market. There were lots of interesting varieties for sale, but happily I have my own bulbs from my garden at home, ready to use.

Fresh peppers were everywhere. These "Jalapeno" were just asking to be taken home and turned into poppers.

Fresh Corn has arrived at the Market! We bought two ears to take home. There is nothing that can compare to the taste of just-picked corn.

Summer squash is at peak harvest right now. All the stands were full of fun shapes and varieties.

This stall had vases full of freshly cut dill. It made me think of dilly beans and canning.

A bountiful basket full of "Gypsy" sweet peppers. I was pleased to see that the peppers on my plant were just a bit smaller than these professionally grown ones.

Ripe melon are just beginning to appear at the Market. This stall had a beautiful display of the french variety "Charentais". I purchased one for my Dad to try.

In all of the years that I have been coming to this Farmer's Market, I have never seen cactus paddles for sale. I hope some adventurous cooks purchased a few.

An impressive stack of "Golden" beets.

This was also the fist time I have seen pickling cucumbers for sale this year. This was the same stand where I purchased mine last year when I canned my bread and butter cucumbers. It's time to be thinking about that once again!

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Dahlia Blooms

Since I was so late in getting my dahlia plants in the ground this year, it has delayed the arrival of blooms. But one form that is right on schedule is my Mignon Singles. These petite plants are as happy to be planted in pots as they are in the ground. Thus, they weren't too upset about getting left in their original pot all May and June. I still have plans to get these guys planted in the front of a flowerbed for the Summer but until then, I still get to enjoy these sweet little blooms. Pictured above "Stillwater Plum" and below "FV's Dainty".

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Giant Sungold Sunflower

The first bloom has opened on one of my "Giant Sungold" Sunflower plants. Back in May, I purchased a 4-pack of this variety at the Food for Lane County Youth Farm Plant Sale. To be honest, I had no idea what "Giant Sungold" looked like. I just thought it was  probably a tall variety with a traditional open center framed with golden petals. Well, I was completly off on that guess! "Giant Sungold" is a full-size version of "Teddybear" sunflowers. Now that the first plant has bloomed, I have to say I an kind of taken with this sweet, fuzzy bloom. It wasn't what I expected but it is still bright and cheery and embodies Summertime.

*Today is the 3rd day in a row we have broken the record for the day's highest recorded temperature. Today was only 100, cooler than the last two days and tied with Wednesday. Thankfully, after today, it is suppose to start cooling down. Four days in a row of 100 degrees or higher is enough for me.