Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Harvest report

Busy few weeks and not much going on in the garden as we have been having freezing temps lately. Things in the hoop house are barely making it through. But that's for another post.

I was excited to be able to include my garden harvests in our Thanksgiving meals.

Potatoes - used in mashed potatoes
Celery - used in stuffing
Herbs - used for flavoring the Turkey and Gravy
Butternut Squash and Carrots - used in roasted veggie medley
Horse radish - used as a condiment for Turkey and Kielbasa

There was also a very exciting harvest - LIME!!!! I had no idea when it was ready to pick, but it has been on the plant for several months at this size. I understand that overripe limes are inedible, so I certainly didn't want it to go to waste by waiting for too long. Well, it turns out we seemed to have picked it just at the right time. It was delicious and juicy!

It really made our adult drinks very special!

I have one more lime on a different plant, and a meyer lemon that is slowly turning yellow. Cannot wait to taste them!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Life has been a bit hectic and we've been doing a lot of take-outs in the last few weeks. Yikes! It's slowly getting back to normal and I managed to can some apple cider and apple sauce this week.

Every year, I tell myself I need an apple peeler, but somehow I've survived without one for years. I don't even have a manual apple coring tool. So I just cut the apples around the cores with the skin on. Put them in a pot with a bit of cider, boil, and put it through a food mill. I do love the color though. Pretty pink from all the skin.

It was a perfect accompaniment to our ham steak dinner.

Here is a picture of the last of the "Spring" carrots.... These were sowed all the way back in March! I have harvested some carrots from the same bed a few months ago, but they were much thinner. We live in the woods and PA is especially famous for its rocky ground. Well, when we decided to dig up a garden earlier this year, it was nothing but frustration! We could not dig 4 inches without hitting a massive rock (not to mention the little rocks) - and this was after running through a heavy duty tiller. This was going to be especially a problem for root veggies. So we decided to remove all the big rocks manually and sift soil to remove little rocks at least 1 foot deep in one of the beds that I was planning for carrots and potatoes. That was HARD work. My husband - after hours of digging, lifting, more digging, and sifting the soil - said "carrots are a dollar a bag at the store. These carrots better be damn straight and best carrots that I'll ever eat!!!"

Well, all that hard work really paid off! He admits, these are the best carrots he ever had. As far as the rotation is concerned, I guess we have no choice but to dig up another bed for next year....

I also harvested all the remaining celery. They did survive the hard freeze with thick blanket of straw, but I decided to take them in. I don't want to risk losing them to these cold nights. I still have several plants in the hoop house though. I will try to keep them as long as they can survive.

They are not very good to eat raw, but wonderful in soups etc. So I chopped them up (leaves and all) and froze in bags. I'll be using them in my stuffing for Thanksgiving!

I love nappa cabbage! They grow so fast. The regular green cabbage was planted at the same times, but they are still very very small.

 This is the first head that I harvested from the fall brassica bed, but it's going to be given away. I have 5 more for ourselves. I can't wait to make Kimchi!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Harvest Monday

We were extremely lucky and experienced no power outage or damage during Sandy.

After the storm, though, the temperatures have been very low - almost freezing. Tonight, it is supposed to go down to 27F!! I covered up my brassicas with plastic, carrots and celery with straw. Will see how they hold up.

Since the storm, we haven't seen the sun... It's been cold, gloomy, windy, and sometimes rainy. That means, there has been no growth or heat in the hoop house. Plus, things are constantly getting attacked by crickets or caterpillars in there. I think I may have to wait till the Spring to start seeing most of these grow big enough to harvest.

I need to plan better for the fall/winter garden next year. I thought I was timing things right when I direct sowed the seeds where the hoop house was going to be put up. But most of them did not germinate or the little seedlings got eaten. My garden is infested with crickets and I know that they are mostly responsible for chewing up everything.... Next year, I need to plan ahead and start seeds inside and transplant them.

A few of my broccoli and cauliflower just started forming, but with this chilling temps, I am not sure if they will have a chance to get much bigger. They'll at least be one yummy bite!

We also have a problem with Moles - they are tunneling through the hoop house and damaging the roots of some veggies. Always, living and learning....

My celery all of a sudden looks healthy with this cold weather. (which is kind of strange, because they are called Ventura - I thought they would like hot CA weather?) I know it's going down to below freezing tonight, but I'm not going to pull them out because they look really happy right now. I started the seeds last winter and transplanted the seedlings all the way back in March! Some got sick, but most of them just did not grow to the size that I was expecting. Now after 7 months later.... some stalks are getting a bit fatter than pencils. They are great in soups though. That is what I am making tonight - kitchen sink soup - with a few celery stalks that I snapped off, a couple of carrots, parsley, stewed tomatoes that I canned, maybe beans, and whatever I can find in the house.

I planted garlic a few weeks ago. I'm amazed by how fast they grow!

I'm linking up to the host of Harvest Monday, where gardeners all over the world share their harvests.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Harvest Monday

Sandy is approaching.... and it's supposed pass right above where we are.....

We did everything we could to prepare for this. I covered some of my cabbages and young strawberry plants with leaves and then with plastic bird net, hoping they will stay put. My low PVC tunnel and big hoop house will be a challenge. I put a lot of potted plants and gardening tools etc. inside the hoop house, so if it blows away, I'm in deep trouble...

I didn't cover garlic, carrots, radishes, and some other things, but I'm just hoping for the best for them...

The wind is really picking up, but we still have power. I hope I can follow up with a positive post in a few days.

Earlier today, I manage to make some meat sauce with the tomato sauce I caned, onions, carrots, celery, basil, and oregano from the garden. That's what we will have for the next few days...

The last of the hot peppers are in the dehydrator to be made into crushed red peppers.

I also made a cream cheese danish and a bunch of chocolate chip coconut cookies. I think we'll be okay for a while!

Those who are on the east coast, stay safe!

I'm linking up to the host of Harvest Monday - see what is being harvested in everyone's garden around this time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Harvest Monday

The hot pepper plants did not make it through the first frost, even though the weather has been very mild and quite beautiful ever since. So here are all the remaining hot peppers. There was another bucket full, but I only took a picture of one container. It's hard to see from the pics, because I didn't bother spreading them out, but I would say there are about 5-6lb of hot peppers total.

We grew: Cayennes (both finger type and some really big fat kind that we don't know the name of), Habaneros, Jalapenos, Bulgarian Carrots, Anaheims, Thai birds eye, and Jolokia peppers. The green ones are in paper bags, hoping that they will turn red inside...

I also harvested all the carrots from the hoop house. I thought of keeping them throughout the winter, but they looked very matured, and I didn't want them to get too tough and bitter with the warmth inside the hoop house. I rather plant something else in that space anyway. I think I am glad I pulled them up. It's definitely the best tasting carrots we've ever had and grown. Very sweet and crispy! I think these are "Shin Kuroda" carrots - I don't think they are supposed to be this short, but it's my fault, as I didn't prepare fluff the soil properly.

I have 2 more small patches of carrots outside. I'm not sure if they will reach maturity before the ground freezes. I may have to think about putting a cold frame around them.

I also had a small bed of Broccoli Raab that I sauteed with a bit of kale and garlic. Oh so yummy! The broccoli raab was heavily infested with aphids earlier, but I think the frost killed them all. I only wish I had planted a lot more of these. I am going to try growing them in the hoop house and see how they do. They are very fast to grow.

Something as simple as this plate of sauteed carrots and bok choi fresh picked from the garden can really make a big difference on the dinner table.

Now I have a lot of cleaning up to do in the garden .....

Make sure to go visit the host of Harvest Monday and see what's growing in everyone's garden!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Harvest Monday

So we also had our first frost here Saturday morning, but it got up to 70F during the day on Sunday. Crazy!

The beans and peppers are finished. The hot peppers are still hanging on the plants outside, hoping they will turn red or yellow. Maybe it's not going to happen anymore... I am not sure. My husband keeps telling me to pick them and put them in a brown bag - just like you would with green tomatoes. But I somehow I doubt it would work with the peppers.

I've picked all of the remaining sweet peppers before they had a chance to turn color. I will have a lot of peppers in the freezer for the winter. That is a good thing. It has really been a great pepper year!

Before the frost I had to pull up all the peanut plants, even thought they were not all completely matured. I got something like 3lb, but that will drop when I finish drying them.

I have been very behind on the fall garden planning and planting. Here is my tiny spinach, cabbage, and carrots that I don't think will have enough time to mature before the ground freezes.

These should have all been planted where the hoop house is going to go.... We started putting up the hoop house this weekend, and I realized that a lot of the things in the hoop house are already matured, like these carrots.
I am not sure whether I should just pull them up and plant something else, or keep them in the hoop house for winter harvest.

There are a lot of empty spaces in the hoop house that need some attention. I direct sowed lots of seeds almost a month ago, but they didn't germinate very well. I think I only have 1-2 each of lettuce and asian greens.
I did start germinating seeds indoors, but they are too leggy. Trying to save energy and didn't use the light fixture... big mistake! I don't know if I have enough time now to start another flat of seeds and transplant them in the hoop house. It all depends on the weather, I suppose.

Lastly, I've covered up my cauliflower and broccoli bed with plastic. They are overly crowded. I might take some of the smaller plants and move them into the hoop house. Just like the cabbages that are not covered, I'm not sure if they will have enough time to mature, but everything is an experiment for me this year.

So I have panted some things in wrong places at wrong times, but I'll know better next time.

In the meantime, I finished planting garlic, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

I'm linking up to the host of Harvest Monday, where the gardeners all over the world share their harvests and gardening techniques!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

It's already Friday, but here it is...

Not everything is from my garden, but I love this salad. A very simple salad with just apples, carrots, and water cress in lettuce cups. The carrots and water cress are from my garden. Water cress has been exploding especially with this cool weather. The initial germination was very poor, and it kept getting eaten by something during summer. But once they got going, they GOT GOING! I think it's one of those "love or hate" things, and both my husband and I love this unique taste. I hope that it will survive in the hoophouse to give us some fresh greens during the winter months.

So back to the salad, the water cress is actually optional. I've put in some raisins, which is nice. They are tossed in a very simple apple cider vinaigrette (apple cider vinegar + sugar + salt + dijon mustard + pepper + onion powder), and arranged in lettuce cups. The lettuce cups can also be cabbage cups, especially this time of year. Savoy might be really nice.

Tonight we are expecting 33F!!! I've covered up some things in the garden, hoping there won't be much damage....

I'm linking up to Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard at Robin's. Visit and see what kinds of exciting things are coming out of everyone's kitchens!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvest Monday

I always forget to take pictures of my harvests, but here are some pictures of the actual plants that I have been picking from. Although it has slowed down a lot, I still have a handful of something to eat from the garden everyday.

Sweet Peppers - The plants are still healthy and the peppers are FINALLY turning yellow/orange. I don't have any that will turn red this year, but these guys are as sweet as the reds. I'm very happy with these varieties. They will definitely be planted again next year.

Hot Peppers - We have several different kinds, but these cayennes are HUGE! They are also turning gorgeous red. Cannot wait to fire roast them and make our favorite hot wing sauce!

Here is a picture of Kale and some lettuce. Kale was planted in March, and it was heavily infested with cabbage loopers a few times. I gave up hope once, but I'm glad I didn't pull them up just yet. With the cooler weather and no more loopers around, it's starting to come back!

Here is more Kale, but these were planted about a month ago. They don't look much different than the ones above. They grow quick! There are some fall carrots to the right - they were planted in July. I think I'm going to let them go a while longer. Basil needs to come out though. It's starting to show brown spots because of the cold night temperatures.

The last standing cucumber plant for the year! It's a little strange to harvest a cucumber in October, but I'm not complaining.

Here are some of my fall/winter shots. I hope we won't have our first frost anytime soon, as these plants still need a lot of time till the maturity dates.


Cauliflower and Broccoli (very very crowded)

Wasabina (I think) and Arugula seedlings

 Happy Fall Harvesting!

I'm linking up to the host of Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over the world share their harvests!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I have been harvesting lots of hot peppers! They are actually not for me so much, but my husband loves everything super hot. Since we can't possibly consume so much of them at once, we either dry them or freeze them. But here are some of the things I've made using those peppers.

Golden Habanero Pepper Jelly

We planted only one Habanero plant solely for the purpose of making this jelly. Oh so yummy!!! We only need 4-5 peppers for one batch of jelly, but the plant decided to explode and has been giving us way more than we know what to do with. I've given away a bunch to people. It is still flowering and trying to produce more.

Homemade Sriracha Sauce

I was so excited to see this post at "Our Happy Acres" where Dave kindly shared his recipe for the homemade sriracha sauce. My husband puts sriracha on pretty much everything, so he was very happy to find out that I was making him a batch of homemade sriracha sauce. My version doesn't look right, only because I made it with Bulgarian carrot chile hot peppers (which is one of my husband's favorite hot peppers), but it tastes really awesome! I will be making the red version once all the cayennes turn red.

Jalapeno & Cheddar Cheese bread

I do a lot of baking. Most of the breads that we eat are homemade. Since we have lots of Jalapenos, I decided to whip up some Sourdough breads with Jalapeno and Cheddar cheese. Then my husband suggested that I make hamburger buns with Jalapeno and cheddar. It was indeed a great idea!

We had black bean burgers with chipotle mayo on these buns for dinner one night. It was really yummy. We are not usually excited about vegetarian dishes, but these black bean burgers are very satisfying.

I'm linking up to the host of Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard. Go see what is happening in everyone's kitchen!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I just realized I did not plant any regular bell peppers. The two types that I planted will turn either yellow or orange. I guess I better go buy some red bell peppers for the freezer! Yikes! I don't know what I was thinking.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Harvest Monday

It was a week of Peppers! Most of the Anaheim peppers are done due to some disease or pest problems. I was hoping those little ones would get bigger, but with the cool night temperatures and leaves yellowing, I had to pick them all. Still, some are decent size.

My sweet peppers have still yet to show any sign of red blush. I love roasted red peppers, so I'm anxiously waiting.

I also picked one cucumber. Again, they are not liking the cool temperatures, but I'll let them be as long as they keep trying to live.

A handful of beans. They were attacked by those Mexican Bean Beetles last week, but they seem to have come and go. Most of my bean plants are now bare, but they are still trying to flower...

A few Jolokia pepper for my husband. This 3 year old plant nearly died last winter, but it's come back and been producing well.

The fall asparagus is up! However, I only planted the roots this Spring, so I think I'm supposed to let them go and not pick them until the following year. Very tempting though!

Broccoli raab is doing well. They are still small, but I think I'll be able to enjoy some young shoots for a meal this week.

I started the fall plants way too late, but I'm going to give them a chance. Of course, those caterpillars are all over the place, but I keep on picking them off.

Happy Harvest Monday!

Visit the host of Harvest Monday and see what's going on in everyone's garden!