Tag 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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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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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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A Selection of Winter Squash

With the move this past spring, as previously noted, all of my garden was planted at least a month late, including some winter squash.

The top left is one of only 2 Seminole Pumpkins that I harvested.  They grew wonderfully the last growing season of my old home.  I purchased new heirloom Seminole Pumpkin seed from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange this fall.  I like them.  They are a nice single serving size squash with a nice long stem.  Oh, Next spring. . .   Can’t hardly wait . . . . . .

The butternut standing up in the top right is one of about 3 hybrid butternuts that I planted.  Now, this fall, they are doing  better – but it is too late – I am ripping out all of the squash and cukes and preparing to compost the beds and get my fall crops in.  More on that later.  The little squash laying down is one of about 3 Waltham butternut heirloom squashes that matured.  Not a very good harvest.  I usually get bushels of the little Walthams.  You have to be sure to get your crops planted in the right time frame.

3 winter squash

Next spring . . . Oh the plans that I have!

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Butternut Squash Is Coming In

It is time to start harvesting the butternut squash.  This is a basket of them, along with a couple of the less than stellar Pinata squash.

butternut squash harvest

Most of the butternut squash that I grew was the open pollinated variety Waltham Butternut. It is a faithful, productive variety. This year I also tried several hybrid varieties from Twilley Seed. Indian Brave produced fairly well and I plan to plant it again next year. Early Butternut hybrid produced miniature fruit and I don’t plan to plant it anymore. I am going to try other varieties next year. Overall, the squash that I planted on my 3 raised cattle panels in the back did not grow well. This is solely due to a problem tree that hung over the garden – it was loaded with insects that dripped a black substance all over my plants and fruits – more on that in future posts. That tree will have to be cut out soon.

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The Cantaloupe Story – From Eager Beginnings to Sad Early Finish

After an impressive showing by volunteer cantaloupe (that were surely hybrid) last year, I bought 2 types of hybrid cantaloupe melons from Twilley Seed.

Primo cantaloupe is a typical orange meat, beige netted skin melon.  It was supposed to be tolerant of powdery mildew – but that is not what I experienced this season.  The other melon I planted was Galia Passport.  These melons were supposed to look similar to cantaloupe and fully netted.  My experience, however, was that they grew mis-shapened with mostly smooth outside skin with an occasional raised netted vein in the skin.  None of them survived to harvest looking well enough to bother trying to eat, so I didn’t get to see their supposed green inside.  (That is a volunteer watermelon that you see growing in the melons – I harvested 2 edible soccer ball sized melons.)

cantaloupe planting
By mid-June, this is what the cantaloupe patch looked like:

cantaloupe planting mid june

By the end of June, the cantaloupe patch was still looking good – the leaves are nice and green and standing up proudly:

cantaloupe planting end june

Disease is starting – after an unusually damp week – the leaves are getting splotchy:

cantaloupe patch - disease is setting in

We got a few cantaloupe harvested – these couple had a soft end.  After I cut off the rotted section, the rest of the melon was surprisingly good.

cantaloupe - harvest
No saving seeds this season – this is all hybrid!

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A Few Harvest Pics From the Abundance of June

Beautiful garden peppers:

beautiful garden peppers

A few 8 Ball zucchini, Obsisian zucchini, yellow crook neck squash and some peppers:

zucchini, crook neck and peppers

A bucket full of peppers, squash and cucumbers, all in a day’s pickings:

bucket of harvest pickings

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Time to Pick Most of the First Round of Carrots

It is time to harvest the first wave of carrots.  These were planted around February or March (carrots are supposed to be a 60 day crop, but mine seem to take 90 days for most of the planting to grow large):

Carrot harvest

Picked some more a few days ago:

carrot harvest

Interestingly, the size of the green top does not necessarily tell you the size of the carrot. Some large green tops have small carrots and some smaller green tops have larger carrots. A couple of the carrots were bolting, so I just picked them all. I have a later planting scattered on the remainder of that bed and half of the next bed. I expect they will be ready within a month. I am already planting tomatoes and pepper seedlings among the carrots.

I’m sorry, but I really don’t recall the variety of carrots that these are. I do remember that it was a large seed pack from a big box store and I just scattered them all over, not bothering to thin them. The soil in that raised bed is very fine and they grew nice and long.

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Turnip Harvest

The first Purple Top heirloom turnip has been harvested.  It will go into garden vegetable soup tomorrow, along with any other sizeable turnips I find tomorrow. And – yes, those are aphids on the underside of the leaves.

Turnip harvested march 2012

Here are some more turnips – I just scattered the seed last fall.

Turnip patch march 2012

What is interesting is that only the portion of the bulb that is above ground turns purple.

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