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Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 done

Well, the deer got behind the netting again.

Between that and the (*&^%) arrival of the late blight (introduced to the area in 2009 when contaminated plants from a southern nursery now makes it impossible to have any tomatoes after Labor Day - damn them!), I decided to pull stakes and call quits.

A couple days ago I pulled out the 5 San Marzanos.  Now I pulled out the last 2 tall tomatoes, the hot peppers, the beans.  Also went the 3 bush Goliaths in the driveway pots. (1)

It's amazing how much hardware goes into even a small garden (mostly defenses!). (2)

I left the tall red zinnias and a couple of volunteer coral nymph salvia. (3)

The loss of such nice sized tomatoes was maddening. (4)

I did get a handful of survivors from the lot. (5)

I didn't keep really good stats on the harvest, but there are over 25# of tomatoes frozen, 10 bags of green beans, and 8 bags of hot peppers.  The cukes totaled about 120-130#.  And those 5# of purple potatoes. All in all, I'm happy.  I'd've loved to have late tomatoes to look forward to, but it only takes one criminally negligent business to totally ruin a whole lot of food.

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September has been VERY dry.  Just over an inch so far with no more in sight.  I will have to wait until we get some rain before I go and start pulling all the border weeds.  Otherwise they will just break roots.

The bed will lay fallow now until it's time to mulch up leaves.

As for the fence itself -  news there too.  Check out the 'garden projects' page for more info.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Purple spuds - success!

Sometime in spring I bought a handful of purple potatoes at a local market.  I'd heard that darkly colored potatoes contained extra amounts of carotenoids.  Yummy.

I was excited and looked forward to eating.

Then, I forgot about them.  ADHD?  *sigh*

By the time I got back to them they were sorta sprouty.

So, I planted them memorial day.  I cut the 5 spuds (about 8 oz) each in half and planted them back in last year's compost bin.

Eventually 6 plants came up (means only 3 spuds - about 5 oz).

They grew fine, got bigger, got noticed by deer, got netting, kept getting bigger, and then, finally, started to die back.

Last week I dug up a corner of the bed and pulled out 1.5# of dark DARK purple spuds.  They were all about the same size range as the original potatoes.

Yesterday, I was cleaning up back there and went in after the rest of the bed.

I found another 3.5#.   That's 5# total.   THAT'S 5 POUNDS (80 oz) of potatoes from 5 oz of starts!!

If my math is right, that's a 16-to-1 ratio. 

Are you kidding me?  I've never gotten more than a 4-to-1 ratio, tops! 

Now, I don't know if these are good keepers or not.  With only 5 pounds, they won't make it to the end next month, let alone next spring.  Goodbye white potatoes.  Hello beautiful!

The plants were robust with nice purple veining and only got about 2' tall.  They only got additional water 2ce all summer in that raised bed.  Morning shade, afternoon sun.   A no-brainer for sure.

But there is a dark side to these purple beauties.  And that is - they are dark.  Really dark.  I grew them in very dark 3-year-old compost that is like chocolate cake.  When I went to harvest, it was a pain FINDING the little guys. I could scarcely use my trowel, just loosen the dirt from the side of the bin and then lift the soil by hand, carefully crumbling it to FEEL my way to the prize.  I had to take off my sunglasses.  I needed to be in full sun (which I don't like).  Honestly, there were at least a dozen right near the surface that I only found by feel. 

After harvest, I had to visually inspect each spud to make sure I hadn't broken or pierced any of them because the inside is as dark as the outside.  There was no quick looking to check for splits.  Only one med spud had to be discarded for insect damage.  All the rest were pristine purple.

Will I grow them again.  You bet I will.  I just hope I can find them at the market again next year.  And don't think I'll just put in 5 oz.  Nosiree!  With returns like that I'll put in a couple of pounds.  Heck, with a return like that, I'll also throw in a handful of crispy greenbacks!  Yow!

P.S.  Flavor?  Oh lordy yes.  Full-bodied, nutty, perfect density and moisture.  I'll put up a post on the Chef's page soon.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2014 Harvest pics

I haven't been very good at posting as I harvest this year.

Sorry about that. 

So here's a compilation of pics of the 5 vegs I grew this year.  (There were 6, but the sweet peppers succumbed early to a disease so I pulled them out in July.)

The star of the show was, of course, the cukes. The 2 deck vines gave me 30 cukes.  The fence vines - 59.  Each cuke weighed 1.25 to nearly 2# so it's safe to say I got over 125# of cukes!

The hot Hungarian wax peppers are doing okay and I'll have enough to freeze for winter dishes. 

The green beans did pretty good, in spite of the hit they took when a deer got behind the netting and topped all the plants.  I should be able to freeze enough of the Blue Lake for quite a few winter soups.

The French Filet beans also did well and I always had enough for fresh eating.  I will definitely grow these again next year.

When the deer got at the beans, it also damaged the Burpee Supersteak and Aunt Ruby's German green to the point that I eventually took down both plants a week ago.  Luckily the 'miracle' Bob Estler's Mortgage lifter plant was spared and boy are they the best of BE's I've ever grown.  I bet I have over 20 fruits each over 1# on that plant.  I hope the seeds I'll save will grow true next year.  Mr. Estler's niece doesn't have any more seeds.

The Aunt Ruby's are nice, also over a pound, but I don't know if I'll grow them again.  The Burpees?  Too much cat-facing.  Too bad the deer damaged the plant so much.  These guys didn't have much of a chance in the end.



The San Marzanos are coming on strong now and I freeze all I can get for later soup stock and sauce.  The Rose Quartz salad toms are what they have always been - prolific and delicious!

Last, but not least, the colorful purple potatos.  I've dug up 1.25# this week, but have not had a chance to try them yet.  I'll let you know - maybe on the Chef's page.

I never did really record my harvest.  I'm enjoying what I've gotten fresh and will thank myself for taking the time to freeze what excess there is.  Bottom line - I'm happy with this year's veg adventures.  Way less than scant years ago, but I have at least or more than I need and that's working out great.  Makes me leave this season wanting more. 

I'll post again when everything is done.  Hope your season has more ups than downs and you're enjoying fresh veggie goodness!

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