Category Archives: Harvest

Blanching & Freezing Overgrown Zucchini

Somehow I carelessly missed about a half dozen overgrown zucchini. Since it is early in the season and the weather is still wet, I hoped that they would not be seedy and that I could freeze them. Yes, that is how it worked out.

I had put black several gallon nursery buckets sideways under the enormous zucchini plants that are spreading over the sides of my raised beds.  These zucchini were hard to tell apart from the black pots in the shadows under the leaves.  By the time I realized they were zucchinis, they were overgrown.  It happened during a week of overcast, wet weather.
overgrown zucchini

Since this is early in the season and these are some of the first zucchinis, I had real hope that they would not be seedy.  Later in the season, especially when the drought sets in, these would have been inedible.  These slices are all ok with very immature, soft seeds.
overgrown zucchini that is not overgrown

Only one zucchini was partially seedy, and then only at the base bulb.

overgrown zucchini

Zucchini are diced up in preparation of blanching and freezing.
diced zucchini ready to be blanched

Since the zucchini dices seemed to want to float, I had a round cooling rack that fit exactly in the dutch oven that I used to blanch the dices.  I put the dices in  boiling water and kept them there for 2 to 3 minutes.  I then scooped them out and put them in icy water to quickly cool them.

Since I can’t make that many ice cubes and a trip into town is out of the question, I used about 10 sandwich zipper bags, filling them full of water and then freezing them.  While I don’t have extra ice cube trays, or places to level them in the freezer, I could stick those water filled zipper baggies all over the freezer.  Before using, I put them on a wood cutting board (so I didn’t crack the poly ones) and used an ice pick to chop up the ice.  Worked wonderfully.

use cooling rack to hold down zucchini during blanching

After taking one load out of the hot water, I brought it to a boil again before dumping the next batch of zucchini in it.  I did about 3 batches.  The result is these 11 bags of blanched zucchini.  Each bag is about a pint.
finished zucchini blanched packed in bags

Really glad I could save these overgrown zucchinis.  I need to monitor the plants better.

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My Cotton Is Trying To Produce A 2nd Harvest

I bought some green heirloom cotton seeds from Southern Exposure seeds.  I have been growing a half dozen or so plants for a few years, just collecting the cotton for the time being.

I planted the plants – this year from last year’s seeds – in the spring and the cotton was ready to harvest by late summer.  I decided to just leave the plants in the ground after harvest.  I then noticed that the plants put on new leaves and then new buds.  I let them grow.  By late fall and cold weather, the plants had put out flowers and then the baby bolls developed.  Unfortunately the 2nd wave of buds could not mature before the killings frosts arrived.  I am in zone 8.  If I was a zone or 2 warmer, these plants would have probably produced a harvestable 2nd round.

This plant has a 2nd round bloom on a plant with a harvested cotton shell noted by the hand.

2nd blooming of east texas green heirloom cotton

These re-blooms came in two colors – pinkish/light lavenderish and yellow.

east texas green heirloom cotton pink flower

east texas green cotton with yellow bloom

The catalog said that these plants grow to about 5 feet.  Mine, in a raised bed with less than 12″ of soil on top of red clay ground, and planted about 12″ apart, grew to about 28 or so inches.  The catalog says that they should be planted 18-30″ apart in rows 5 ft. apart.  I don’t have that kind of room, in fact, I don’t have any on-ground growing space because of our red clay soil.  I am running the risk damaging the genetic quality of my seeds by growing them in less than ideal conditions.  I am considering maybe planting one plant at the end of some of my beds, hoping that maybe a plant by itself may have more root room in my tightly packed beds.

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Second Planting Harvest

As noted many times, my Spring planting was a disaster, probably because of Dow Agri-science’s evil environmental poison called Aminopyralid, it could be picloram – also an environmental toxin that doesn’t go anywhere quickly. I think a got a several ton load of ‘Toxic Compost’, the term for compost ruined by aminopyralid or picloram.  Well, I replanted in mid-summer.  Ordinarily this would have been enough time for a good second harvest.  However, with the current ‘global warming’ of colder and earlier winters, we had an early freeze in October which killed the summer crops.  The two green gourds on the left just didn’t mature enough and end up on the compost pile, as did the small green squash in front.  The two tan squash finished turning tan and are still sitting on the counter.
second planting harvest

More railing on Evil Dow and their environmental toxin aminopyralid or picloram:  I planted peas in the fall in a bed that peas were planted in February and also failed.  All summer long and the bed is still toxic.  A second planting of peas killed by Dow’s greed and dis concern for the environment.  These pea plants, which should have been almost 2 feet tall, only grew a few inches.  Each one put out a terrible pea pod that looks like it holds one pea.  Terrible.  Thanks Dow!  Your greed has killed 2 seasons of my garden.  I simply can’t throw all the soil out and try to find more – it took me two years to get this much soil – a few dump truck loads and a few tons of aged horse manure.
dow's poison aminopyralid killed my garden, toxic compost

Thanks Dow, your selfish greed is probably responsible for the death of my garden.  And I can’t do anything about it except spread the word.

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Still Growth Problems – Aminopyralid Still Around?

After a total disaster this spring with planting in this bed, I decided to grow a quick crop of bush beans before I plant broccoli and cabbage seedlings in this bed – which will be covered with hoops & plastic this winter.  I figured that the added nitrogen would be good for the soil and I was looking forward to yellow wax beans.  Didn’t work out that way.

Well, one end of the bed – actually about 2/3 of the bed, the beans did not do well.  At this end, they were the most stunted, a bit less stunted in the middle of the 16 foot bed, and awesome (normal) at the other end of the bed.  Use the clay pot to show scale.  These beans are sorry looking and many of them are turning yellow and dying before any buds appear.  Others have buds, but won’t be able to produce many – if  any – bean pods.  So scrawny – so sad.  What a waste of good seed – Dow cost me more money and won’t take responsibility.  ( Now, all my reply emails to their rep go unanswered.  They just don’t care.  Dow Agriscience wants your $$$$$$$$ and screw the home gardener!)  Unfortunately, most of my bean seeds went into this end of the garden.
is aminopyralid still killing my garden?

This bean plant is what they should look like.  See those giant (normal sized) leaves?   And all those buds?  For some reason this end of this 16′ x 4′ raised bed is normal.  Something in the other end is causing stunted beans.  I fear it is still Dow’s widespread poison.  Beans are a test crop to see if that poison is in your compost.  Well, thanks Dow, you, like Monsanto, like to do evil things to gardens and seeds and heirloom crops.  Maybe by next spring your poison will be degraded enough that I can grow something in my garden.

(The piece of rebar below the clay pot is what I put my pvc conduit hoops onto to secure them so I can put plastic over the hoops – making my winter hoop garden beds.  I actually use 10′ sections of gray plastic electrical conduit of 1/2″ diameter, I think.  One end is enlarged, both ends fit well over 3/8″ rebar.  1/2″ rebar is too thick.  I bend the 10′ section over the 4′ wide bed.  It works out perfectly, leaving about 3′ internal height for the inside top center of the bed.  I bought 16′ sections of rebar and had my sons cut them into 2′ sections – pounding 12″ into the ground and leaving the other 12″ above ground to slip the conduit over).
beans as they should look like
Yeah – this is what a bush bean should look like.  Look at all those blooms – I have already harvested a few yellow wax beans.  I hope I can get enough for a decent serving.  This may be difficult though, since most of my beans were planted in the poor section of the garden.
yellow wax bens

I finally purchased a gallon jug of Garrett Juice, a foliar feed.  I sprayed all of these plants with it, adding some neem oil in it to help as insecticide.  I think it has helped – but couldn’t counter the effects of Dow’s poison on the smaller beans.  I could have mixed some up myself, but I can’t be confident in the animal manure compost component of the ingredients, so I purchased a jug.

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A Few Peppers From A Lousy Harvest Complements of Dow Agriscience

Thanks to Dow’s wonderful poison called aminopyralid, all of my pepper plants were deformed and stunted and most of them died.  A very few recovered enough to produce a few little peppers.  Here are some of that very few:

a lousy aminopyralid pepper harvest

(That lime isn’t part of the harvest – it’s part of the home made salsa!!)  By this time in the season, I should have 5 gallon pails full of peppers.  Ha, not this year.  Thanks Dow!  By the way, their rep never got back with me.  Gave me a song and dance like dow really cared about how their poisons are destroying innocent folks’ compost piles – they don’t care about anything but their bottom line.  Dow is now in the same file as evil Monsanto.

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Garden Salsa

Isn’t this pretty – the beginnings of garden salsa.

garden salsa

The problem is that, thanks to Dow Agriscience’s total lack of stewardship and concern for home gardeners.  The peppers are mostly store bought – thanks to Dow, very, very few of my peppers survived long enough to produce a single pepper.  Also thanks to Dow, the tomatoes are not going to be garden tomatoes because Dow’s wonderful herbicide destroyed my tomatoes before they had a chance.  Add to the financial loss that Dow has caused me, I have to purchase new heirloom pepper seeds because all of my plants are defective.

I am going to have to put Dow in the same category as evil Monsanto.

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Squash, Zucchini and Cucumbers Are Starting To Come In

Finally, the squash and cucumbers are starting to come in.

The round zucchini is a hybrid 8 Ball. I think that the 2 zucchini on the left side are Elite Hybrid – I picked the small one a few days too early.  The pepper is a sweet banana and the 3 cucumbers are either Twilley Tasty Green hybrid or Japanese Long Heriloom –
squash, zucchini and cucumbers are starting to mature

I am picking the onions that I find.  I waited too long and some of the tops have already dried up.  If I miss some onions, they will re-sprout in the fall.  Some of these onions are from sets that I  bought at a big box store and some are from seeds that I started at the first of the year – see an earlier post – I didn’t bother making note of which are which.
onion harvest

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Heriloom Slo Bolt Leaf Lettuce Going To Seed

I really liked this Slo Bolt lettuce.  I am letting a couple of heads go to seed.  It would definitely be better if I could have let a dozen plants go to seed, but I just don’t have the space.  If I let this plant make it all the way to mature seed, I’ll have to be sure and try to remember not to save seed from this plant’s children.  The genetics will probably be poorer.

You can see little yellow flowers.  I am only letting one variety of lettuce go to seed, so I shouldn’t have a problem with cross pollination.  Collecting lettuce seed can be sticky – I have always had a milky stickyness from handling the seed heads.
slo bolt lettuce going to seed

I like Slo Bolt Lettuce.  It is leafy.  I also grow Cos lettuce.  Cos takes a freeze much better than cos.  You can see the basil plants all around the lettuce.  Since the peppers aren’t doing well, this will becomemy basil bed. The swiss chard in the background will be gone in a few weeks.

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Unimpressive Garlic Harvest

This is my garlic harvest for this season.  Here, garlic is planted around October and harvested the following May.  During our recent move, I lost my heirloom garlic so I just planted garlic from the local grocery store. I don’t know whether this stuff is hard or soft neck, but suspect that it is soft neck.  I bought several bulbs and planted the larger outer cloves.  Although my heirloom garlic was gone, I still wanted to plant garlic.  This stuff seems to have done OK.
2014 garlic harvest,
I probably should have harvested it sooner, but since it is just store garlic I didn’t know how it would do so it wasn’t a priority. The bulb at the far left looks way over-mature because a clove has outgrown its paper wrapper.  Also, the soft garlic I grew never had that bump in the stem a few inches above the bulb.   I cut the tops off of these bulbs and will store them and use them as needed and see how well they keep.

 

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Swiss Chard

Last October, I planted Luculus Swiss Chard. (The seeds were from 2009 – still germinated very well).   It didn’t grow particularly well thru the very cold winter.  This spring it took off and for the past month or so I have been drying a load or 2 each day.  Swiss chard is a cooler weather plant and I can see some of the plants starting to bolt.  I can see different styles of leaves and have chosen the plants that I want to let go to seed – plants that have very large, wrinkled leaves, shorter stems are preferred.

wide shot swiss chard

These are dried swiss chard leaves.  It only takes about 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 110 to 115 degrees to dry a load.  After doing a few loads, I realized that I can lay leaves right up next to each other, touching along leaf edges.  This means that I can pack about a third more in the dryer that I first thought.
dried swiss chard leaves

These dried leaves are what is left after laying them out before drying – leaves touching – across the sheet.  You can see that 2 leaves actually dried together.  Not a problem – they are totally dried.  These are leaf halves – I rinse them off, lay them flat and slice along each side of the main vein – it doesn’t dry quickly – and dry the leaf material, not the main stem.
dried swiss chard leaves in food dryer

These are just a few of the leaf shapes from the same batch of Luculus Swiss Chard seed packet.  Some leaves grow to almost 24″ long.  I like to let them grow large to dry.  Smaller is better for eating raw.  At this point in the season, I am just working on letting the best leaves grow as large as possible before cutting and drying.
assorted swiss chard leaves

I am carefully culling the leaves.  I cut and dry the largest and most wrinkled leaves – a personal preference.  I have picked the plants that I want to allow to go to seed. For those chosen few, I am leaving the small leaves and some larger leaves – cutting off only the largest leaves.   Some of those chosen plants are starting to bolt, as is expected as the days warm.  I will be removing and drying the ‘other’ plants as they start to bolt, eventually leaving only the bolting chard as it goes to seed.  I have never before let swiss chard go to seed so I really don’t know what to expect.
carefully harvesting swiss chard

I have already planted squash, tomatoes and peppers around the chard.  They are growing, waiting their turn to expand into the space now occupied by the swiss chard.  This picture shows some of the chosen plants – they have strong, large, wrinkled leaves – just the way I like them.
carefull harvesting swiss chard

The little plants in front of the chard are pepper seedlings.  You can’t see from these pics, but all of the chard plants have lots of cut off stems at their base.  Standard instructions usually say to cut all of the chard leaves off a few inches from the ground and let it grow back. I don’t do that – I cut the largest leaves to dry and allow the baby leaves to grow. The chard will be gone when they need that space.  I don’t have all of the room that I would like so I am working on figuring out how to work the planting as I go from spring/summer to fall/winter gardening, and back again.

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