August 21, 2017

Harvest Monday, 8/21/17

Monday is the day of the eclipse and we should have a good view of it here in Western Kentucky. I have to work today, but our supervisor has scoped out a good place to see it and we should be able to take a peak during lunch. People have been buying up all the eclipse glasses, I figure quite a few of them are planning to sell these items for exorbitant prices. Bottled water and bread has been bought out at stores, it's like Y2K all over again. Not sure how the eclipse is supposed to effect water service...

In other news, we have cut down all the tomato plants and cleared out their cages on Saturday. The plan is to till the garden in preparation for fall planting in the next week or two. It took less than an hour to cut down the plants and clear out the cages. There were lots of green tomatoes and ripe tomatoes still left in the garden, but I was ready to move on.

Everything listed below was picked on Saturday.
With my husband's penchant for speed during the big tomato cleanup, I did not get a chance to pick any of their fruit. I managed to get a handful gleaned from the ground afterward.
Some green ground tomatoes.
And lots of hot peppers were picked. This is a mixture of Anaheim, jalapeno, Hungarian Hot Wax, Lemon Drop, and Santa Fe Grande. None of the peppers were especially hot this year, probably because of a mild and extra long spring.
The peppers were under-performers this year. Numex Joe E. Parker an Anaheim type has consistently been unproductive the last 2 years with only a few peppers per plant, although the peppers can get huge. Numex Big Jim is much more productive for me.

The hot peppers will probably get made into pickles, and maybe I'll try freezing a bunch in the form of poppers.
Queensland Blue has massive leaves for a winter squash. We had lots of squash vine borers this year plus the ever present squash bugs. Actually there were lots of new and unusual stink bugs with the majority of whom I've never seen before. Queensland showed signs of vine borer troubles early on.
 And here's that telltale sign of a vine borer, a bit of "sawdust" at the bottom of the stem.
Yokohama was the most productive having produced 6 pumpkins. They're all in various stages of ripeness with even a tiny green one on the upper left.
Thai Rai Kaw Tok also only produced three pumpkins. I think all of the varieties grown this year were susceptible to vine borer damage.
Black Futsu only produced one pumpkin from 3 plants. Next year I'll mainly grow cushaws and butternuts which are supposed to be more resistant to borers. 
And the two tiniest Delicata squashes ever. They were definitely overrun by the other winter squashes, but I've grown them before and only ever get a couple of fruit.

I ended up canning about 500 pounds of tomatoes and giving away close to 500 pounds this year. This last week I've been playing the avoidance game with the garden. I just couldn't deal anymore. I canned enough quarts of salsa to last us years, then there's tomato juice, quartered tomatoes in their own juice, and green tomato pickles.

We ended up with 38 quarts of green tomato pickles. It was actually fun experimenting with different flavorings for the pickles and making vinegary syrups. I was going to wait a month or two before opening them up and giving our opinions on them.

Some thoughts on this year's varieties. All the tomatoes were early this year by a month and with lots of consistent rain and cooler weather the flavors weren't the most intense, but they were still wonderfully delicious. We were picking large varieties like Pink Brandywine and Black Brandywine by the last week of June. Smaller varieties like Taxi and Black Prince ripened the same week as Sun Gold.

The two latest varieties to ripen were Yellow Brandywine and Aunt Ruby's German Green. Yellow Brandywine is delicious and very productive, Aunt Ruby's is less productive but the flavor is outstanding a mixture of citrus, melon and good tomato flavor. But keep in mind, they set fruit late and ripen late.

Cherokee Purple and Pilcer Vesy are the least productive tomato varieties for us. I probably won't grow either varieties again after trying these last few years. A couple years we didn't even get a single Cherokee Purple tomato from their plants.

There were lots of scary giant spiders in the garden during the dry part of August. A couple female Black Widows with their round distended bellies and I even saw a smaller male black widow in one of the female's web. The male and female were actually found on the bottom of a winter squash, which is why I always check what's going on underneath those ground dwelling squashes.

But the most interesting spider is pictured down below. So be warned, it is a close-up of a gigantic spider. I was crawling between the tomato beds when I looked up and saw a massive web and this hanging from the middle of it.

Giant spider picture below...

Wait for it....

And here's the spider.
You can even see the tiny hairs on its bottom leg segments.

Please join us at Dave's Our Happy Acres to join in on Harvest Monday. A fun and exciting place where gardeners share their experiences in vegetable gardening.


gardenvariety-hoosier said...

Wow, Phuong, you canned 500 pounds of tomatoes? My jaw nearly fell off. I can see why you took the tomatoes out. Those are some striking looking winter squash. I wonder if some of those spiders eat squash bugs.

Michelle said...

Oh yes, I would be ready to be done with tomatoes after harvesting a half ton of them! 500 pounds of canned tomatoes! Where do you keep it all?! How do you use it all?! Cool spider, I love them!

Dave @ HappyAcres said...

500 pounds of tomatoes is more than I've gotten over a total of three years! I did get 300 pounds one year and that was too much for us. We've got eclipse mania here too. The roads are clogged with people, and I planned ahead so I didn't have to get out today! It was a good show though, and the temps dropped over 10 degrees during the main event.

Phuong said...

Hi Mike,
I've never canned so much in my life, but it revealed how much I dislike pressure canning. Nobody has time to wait for the pressure to go down.

It was fun growing all those cute pumpkins, I'm used to growing green striped cushaws that get huge. Hopefully they'll be delicious. And the spiders may have helped with the squash bug situation, there were markedly less than previous years.

Phuong said...

Hi Michelle,
We eat lots of salsa, my husband goes through almost 2 quarts a week so the great majority of what I can is salsa. And I really enjoy tomato juice, it's quite light unlike V8. Although, I do like V8 and tried to make my own blend this year. With that much produce I was able to experiment quite a bit.

Phuong said...

Hi Dave,
I think it was just a fluke this year, perfect weather and perfect amount of rain. The previous couple of years were actually dismal when it came to tomatoes for us. Although I did use azomite rock dust and worm castings for the first time this year, but honestly I still think it was the weather.

A guy at my work actually sold out 400 pairs of those eclipse glasses for $4 a piece just last week, normally they were $1 apiece or were given out for free around town. Craziness.

Sue Garrett said...

The Thai Rai Kaw Tok looks to be made of f concrete. How big is that spider?

Phuong said...

The spider was about 3 inches in length, it gave me quite a shock when I came upon it.

norma chang said...

That's quite a tomato harvest, close to 1000 pounds!!!!! I would not be able to keep count.
If I saw that spider I would be screaming and running as fast as I could.

Susie said...

OK, that pic of the spider gave me shivers even though I passed very quickly over it! My tomato harvest (1/20th of yours!) pretty much goes all to salsa as well, love the stuff!

Really incredible harvest, and I love the pumpkins and squash - what interesting varieties. I don't believe I've experienced vine borer but have had my share of squash bugs ruining the plants.

Phuong said...

Hi Norma,
I had to completely stop gardening once the tomatoes started ripening, all my time was spent harvesting and processing vegetables. I'm actually excited to plant greens, carrots, and beets because there won't be that pressure of having to harvest them "right now".

Phuong said...

Hi Susie,
I'm used to seeing lots of spiders in the garden, but that one definitely caught me by surprise. I was thrashing around in the tomato patch and came uncomfortably close to its web.

There's just so many uses for salsa, we use it a lot in our cooking. Although, this year it's surprisingly mild, we use lots of jalapeno, Anaheim, serrano, and other spicy peppers. It's still tasty, though.

Bill said...

Everything looks great! I quit growing Cherokee Purple here too. They're delicious but don't produce well. Now you've got me tempted to go start pulling out our tomato plants too. They are still a few tomatoes on them, but they're basically now an ugly blight-stricken mess. I really need to experiment with some of the other winter squashes you grow. We had a good year for spaghetti squash but didn't get a single delicata or acorn. We got a few butternuts, but our blue hubbard experiment was a complete failure. Hoping you have a great fall garden!

Phuong said...

Hi Bill,
I've tried growing hubbard squash as well, but the vines always died before the squash could finish probably due to vine borers. We hardly have any blight this year even with regular rainfall, I have to figure it's the Serenade we used a couple months ago that's still out competing the mold and other microorganisms.

Hopefully it's not too late for a fall garden, I can never get the timing right for things like peas.

Shaheen said...

What a gorgeous green harvest, from the green tomatoes, to the peppers and the dinosaur skin looking pumpkins. I am totally envious. Our tomatoes seem to be doing badly, we were hoping they would hang on - but I think not. I may have a small bowl to share next week, but not much else. Fingers crossed x

Margaret said...

My tomatoes are on the big decline from blight - at this stage, I'm quite ready to get rid of them too, but will wait a bit longer to see if I can get a few more ripe tomatoes from them. But I would say that is a LOT of peppers! My plants never did fully recover from the rabbit attacks early on and then they were shaded by the asparagus ferns - lesson learned when it comes to the beds beside the asparagus, that's for sure! I would be quite happy with that quantity of squash as well - mine was a TOTAL bust this year. Oh well, there is always next year!

Phuong said...

Hi Shaheen,
The pumpkins were a lot of fun to grow, hopefully they'll be delicious as well. Our tomatoes always get hit with disease at the end as well, usually late blight. Do you do a fall garden or put things in your greenhouse to overwinter?

Phuong said...

Hi Margaret,
Rabbits can be a menace, especially when they get in the garden early when plants are little. You've had a terrible year with them. Have you been able to get rid of the rabbits, and are you planning to do a fall garden? I've started a bunch of stuff for the fall, but using mostly ancient seeds...

Margaret said...

No fall garden for me - it's just too busy right now and my pest frustration is not helping either...the slugs are now out in full force, it seems. I'm more than ready to call it a day and start planning for next year.

Phuong said...

Hi Margaret,
Ugh, slugs. It's weird how much they can consume while moving so slow. I've been thinking about next year as well, especially since we'll only be growing one bed of tomatoes.

Anonymous said...

1000 pounds of tomatoes.. I can't even imagine!

We love Black Krim. You may want to try those as a substitute for Cherokee Purple. We find the Krim have a deeper, earthier flavor.

(A.J. @ CheapSeatEats)

Phuong said...

Hi A.J.,
I way overplanted tomatoes because we had such bad luck with them the last couple of years. Next time we have an overabundance I might try canning some green tomato salsa verde.

I'll definitely try Black Krim again, and see how it does for us.