Monday, August 14, 2017

Harvest Monday - August 14, 2017

It's been quite boring when it comes to harvests lately. Nothing new except for a very few Roc D'Or beans.

One wonky Tromba D'Albenga squash.

There was loads more Romanesco zucchini and Tromba squash most of which I didn't bother to photograph. There were a few cucumbers here and there. And that's been it other than cilantro and basil.

Chelsea Prize and Green Fingers Cucumbers


If you have a fear of stinging insects then you can leave right now.


Go ahead go....


This is turning out to be a banner summer for Yellow Jacket wasps.


A couple of months ago I hit a YJ nest when cutting down weeds. Four stings later I thought I had eliminated the nest. I put a few traps up around the area which netted just a few YJs and I thought I had things pretty well under control.

A couple of weeks ago it started to become impossible to enjoy a meal outdoors without YJs zooming in after just a moment.

I noticed that there was activity in the nest again. Then I noticed that there were YJs everywhere. Worker wasps were out foraging for food. That's when I got serious about setting traps.

That's about a 2 day collection of Western Yellow Jackets in the trap above. There's 6 more traps scattered around the property with similar contents. I emptied the traps on Saturday morning and netted about 1/3 of a gallon bag of dead wasps. Strange harvest, I know...

This morning, only 48 hours later, the traps have just about as many wasps in them again.

Western Yellow Jacket wasps forage for live or dead insects, dead animals, and nectar. It's that dead animals and nectar that make them such nuisances around your outdoor meal - they want whatever protein, fat, or sugar you want to enjoy. They seem to be particularly drawn to fresh raw meat so that's what I've been baiting my traps with - plain old raw ground beef. It's a lot cheaper than the chemical baits that the traps come with. The only drawback to using ground beef is that the bait needs to be changed every 2 or 3 days because the YJs aren't attracted to rotting meat. But at the rate that the traps are filling up they need to be emptied about every 3 days anyway.

One thing I learned about placing a trap is that the ones hanging in full sun have been the most attractive to the wasps. Traps that were hanging in the shade had very little activity.

Normally I would just live and let live where YJs are concerned, they aren't usually that bad around here and they are beneficial insects providing pollination and pest control services. I suspect that they may be the reason why the garden is not plagued by too many aphids this year. But when it becomes impossible to enjoy a meal outside and I repeatedly get stung then I sting back.

Hope your summer harvests are more varied and less hazardous than mine!

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, zip on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Harvest Monday - August 7, 2017

There's more of the "usual suspects" in the harvest basket this week, but first a parade of runty onions.

Red River, Bianca di Maggio, Rossa Lunga di Firenze, Australian Brown

Flat of Italy 

Desert Sunrise

Tropeana Lunga

Bronze D'Amposta
Bronze D'Amposta was the worst of the lot, all but one of them bolted. In spite of devoting more space than ever and growing more varieties than in past years I ended up with a much smaller total harvest of onions than in prior years. This year the total harvest, including spring and uncured onions was 51 pounds. 2016 was 86 pounds, 2015 was 141 pounds, 2014 was 93 pounds. Curse that downy mildew!

Enough of the onions and on to the stars of the show for the week.

The first and for a while the only big tomato. This one set while the young plants were enjoying the protection of a mini greenhouse before the plants were set out in the garden. I think it will be a few weeks before I harvest another large tomato. It was absolutely delicious paired up with some burrata and basil.

Green Bee
We sampled the first ripe Green Bee cherry tomatoes. These little beauties are unique because they don't become soft when they ripen. You can tell when they are ripe when the background color develops hints of yellow and/or pink, the unripe fruits are green on green. The first few bites were good!

A few more Purple Bumblebee and Piccolo Dattero cherry tomatoes ripened, along with the first Jaune Flamme and Marzano Fire tomatoes. The Marzano Fire tomatoes are a striped paste tomato but they have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity that makes them a tasty slicing tomato too. We enjoyed one of the Marzano Fires long with most of the cherry tomatoes in a "Zoodle" dish inspired by a Vietnamese rice noodle salad. I used a few big Romanesco zucchinis to make spiralized noodles that I salted, rinsed, and then squeezed in a dish towel to remove excess moisture. Then I piled the uncooked zoodles in individual bowls, topped them with cut up tomatoes, sliced cucumber, thin sliced red onion, chopped cilantro and basil, chopped roasted salted peanuts, cold cooked shrimp, and dressed with a Vietnamese Nuoc Cham sauce (sugar, water, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chiles, shallot). Dave declared it a winner and said I should make it again so I guess I'll have to write up the recipe for my recipe blog.

And now for the lineup of the usual suspects.

Batavia Broccoli Side Shoot!

Green Fingers Cucumbers

Batavia Broccoli shoots and Broccolini

Even though my kitchen project is still in process I manage to turn out a few good meals. I found that my 10-inch cast iron skillet fits perfectly in my toaster oven so I made a version of a Broccoli Raab Frittata using broccoli instead of the raab and substituting bacon for spicy Italian sausage and using only only 2 cheeses instead of 4. It came out great.

I've also been relying on my Big Green Egg. The other night I grilled up a few of the Tromba squash, cut into about 8-inch lengths and sliced in half. I topped those with a mixture of sauteed ground lamb, onion, and dried sweet peppers seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, fennel pollen, pomegranate molasses, tomato puree, and cilantro. A cast iron skillet works well in the BGE for sautéing which is how I made the topping.

That's the latest from my garden and kitchen. Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.