Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Early September Harvest

Today was the perfect late summer day.  Temperatures were cool and we had a nice ocean breeze all day, which kicked around the first of the fall leaves.  Now that the sun is lower in the sky, the light in our backyard has changed dramatically since the beginning of summer.  Our garden now only gets about 5 - 6 hours of full sunlight.  And the rest of our yard seems to glow in dappled shade as the sun passes through the tall uppermost branches of the surrounding oaks.  I'm sure we'll be busy during the next two months getting the garden and yard ready for winter and starting work on some new gardening projects for next year.

Last week, during one of our hot muggy days,  I decided to pick all of our 'Oaxacan Green Dent' corn.  For the most part, each of the plants produced at least one decent ear of corn.  The kernels felt very firm to the touch, though they will require an additional few weeks of drying indoors.

 Looking at the kernels, I could tell that some of the corn had cross-pollinated with the sweet corn in my garden.  Oh well.  Next year, I will have to grow them farther apart.  I'm really looking forward to grinding the kernels into cornmeal and making some corn bread.  I think I'll try to make tortillas as well using a mixture of the cornmeal and wheat flour.  Now I just have to figure out how to grind the corn.  I can't justify buying a Vitamix or some fancy grinder just for this.  Any suggestions?

 The paste tomatoes in our garden have been producing consistently since late July.  Both the 'Speckled Roman' and 'Amish Paste' have been incredibly productive this year.  Now that we are fully stocked with tomato sauce, I'm using the rest of the tomatoes to make plain tomato puree, which will act as a great base for tomato soup or salsa.

Our other tomatoes have slowed way down, though we still pick more than enough to meet our fresh eating needs.

 Our peppers are going strong right now.  In addition to the poblanos, we started picking our 'Lipstick' sweet red peppers.  "Lipstick" is probably one of the sweetest peppers I've ever tasted.  We also have a ton of hot chilies as well, which I've left unpicked. 

 This is a picture of our spring planted broccoli.  This variety is 'Arcadia'.  I've never had broccoli make it though the summer looking this good.  I don't know if it's the variety or if it's because our summer has been so mild this year, but normally our spring broccoli would have faded to nothing by now. Hopefully these will go on producing into late fall.

 This past week, I was able to harvest a decent amount of side-shoots.

 Finally, the first of our figs are starting to ripen.  It seems to happen out of the blue and relatively quickly.  They tend to stay green all summer long, and then just like that, they will change color and triple in size over the span of a week.

This is an 'Italian Honey' fig.  I've picked two so far and they were very sweet and delicious.  Two of my small trees have fruit on them.  Within the next week or two, I may remove most of the leaves from both trees in order to try coaxing both into ripening their fruit before the weather gets too cold.

13 comments:

  1. Geez, everything looks so good. And I really like your header photo!

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  2. My Arcadia has been producing all summer long too. I've been pretty happy with it. though my heads aren't nearly the size that yours are. Mostly I've been getting a lot of stem (which I peel and eat). Now if the fall broccoli actually produces I'll be awash in broccoli. Lovely harvests. And I especially love the pretty corn. Have you asked all your friends if they have anything? I'd offer if I had a grinder, but sadly I don't have one. You could probably find a hand grinder for fairly cheap, but they are a LOT of work. I remember doing that as a kid.

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    1. I haven't. But I decided to buy a cheap hand grinder on Amazon. We'll see how that goes!

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  3. What a gorgeous harvest of a variety of vegetables! Does removing fig leaves really help the ripening process? My fig trees have some fruits but they remain stubbornly green. Living in Hudson Valley, the Fall is just around the corner. So I am really curious to your approach of removing the leaves. Thanks!

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    1. I know of folks who've done that in the past. It works on other things to a certain extent, like tomatoes. I think I'm gonna hold off for now. Other option is oleification. Here's a link on subject. Refer to No. 4.

      http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/fruit/figs.html

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  4. Those broccoli plants are stunning! My spring planted ones are long gone. But the fall plants are looking good. I love those figs too. I need to go look at ours now. You are so right, they can start turning almost overnight!

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  5. How far apart did you plant your corn? I'm trying to decide a good distance so I can grow sweet & popcorn...

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    1. I made the mistake of planting mine too close this year. In years past, I used to grow them in a grid one feet apart in all directions with great results. I think traditionally they are planted 4 inches apart per row and each row about 3 to 4 feet apart though this is hard to replicate in a garden like mine. Next year, I will be going back to the 1 ft grid.

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  6. I think the least expensive option that will actually get the job of grinding the corn done is a Corona mill. I did loads of research about grain mills, both manual and electric, before I invested in my fancy electric model. I've seen Coronas advertised anywhere from 30 to 50 dollars, other mills will run you 150 or much more. The biggest complaint I saw about Coronas and other manual mills is that it takes a lot of effort to grind a batch of grain, especially wheat since it needs to be ground more finely than corn, it takes multiple passes through the grinder. You want to avoid using a blender because it heats the grain too much which destroys nutrients. Mother Earth News has a good article about counter top mills, although the focus there is about milling wheat and all the mills they review are probably more of an investment than what you want to make. Although the reader reviews do mention other mills, including the Corona. I also read about someone using a coffee mill to grind corn which sounds like it should work, just be careful to not overheat the flour.

    The Oaxacan Green Dent sure is pretty, I thought about growing that this year but decided on a couple of flint corns instead. Maybe next year...

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    1. Thanks Michelle! I bought a manual grinder from Amazon today similar to the corona. I wanted the corona but they were out of stock. I figured that since I'm only grinding corn and am making a coarse meal and not a fine flour, I could get away with something a bit more archaic. It's amazing how expensive mills can be, but then again, I'm guessing it's all about supply and demand and the fact that not a lot of people are interested in milling their own grain these days.

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  7. I'm a sucker when it comes to figs - yours look delicious! I purchased a small (expensive!) packet of them just yesterday and am eating only 2 or 3 each day to make them last that much longer. That corn is gorgeous! I'm really looking forward to hearing about your experience once you grind & use it.

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  8. The corn is beautiful--just like the catalog pictures! I'm growing dry corn (Floriani Red Flint) for the first time. That patch is at least 200 feet from the sweet corn, so I doubt there will be any cross-pollination. I'm leaving the cobs on the plants to dry there--but seeing your results I wonder if I should pick them now. Your other crops are amazingly beautiful too.

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  9. Yah, I found your new blog. Now to get caught up on your gardening.

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