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Archive for the ‘harvest’ Category

This week’s Garden Desktop doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Well, actually, wait, it DOES. Several hills, in fact!

This past weekend I finally shucked the beans I had drying on a table out on our porch. There are big white and brown Painted Lady beans from the side yard. These did so well, and are so delicious, that I will grow them on ALL the carport pillars next year, rather than on just one. The hummingbirds love the half-white, half-red flowers, too.

The big pink/red and brown beans are Scarlet Runner beans, whose all-red flowers are so popular with the hummies that they fight over them! They are wonderful to create a shady arch or temporary patio cover. I’ve been thinking of pulling up a couple of the foot-square pavers on our back patio and planting Scarlet Runners there on arches, to make a little afternoon nap nook. I have to figure out first if it will shade the veggie garden beds, though. I don’t want that!

The smaller rounder beans are the heirloom that I call Monte’s Italian, the nth generation of those given to us by our photographer and diver friend Monte Smith. They hybridize readily, so this year we tried to be careful about growing them away from the other beans. Even so, we got a few crosses with the Scarlet Runners, as shown by some of the pink rounded beans, and possibly with the Painted Lady as well– the beans are usually a creamy tan color with one to three small dark-brown streaks, and some of them are suspiciously paler, and more similar to the Painted Lady beans in color.

Last year’s bean drying, didn’t take a pic of this year’s.

I saved bean seed earlier in the year, and made sure to save from long, well-formed, plump pods with a minimum of 5 beans per pod. I was usually able to save 2 or 3 seeds of a 6 or 7 pod bean. Last year I just shelled them all and picked out the plumpest beans, and then realized “doh!”, I was only selecting for part of the story!

As always, feel free to use and share this Garden Desktop. It’s okay to link and publish with a link back and/or attribution, and to use in print for personal or nonprofit use. There’s a 1280 x 960 version for larger desktops too.

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This year I’m proudly displaying our winter squash as they cure, rather than lining them up along the wall or countertop as clutter. Our printer stand makes a great little pantry for the squashes. Yes, that’s a face on one of them. I offered to decorate some pumpkins for someone on Craigslist, and did a sample on a handy squash!

The two squashes in the foreground are both interesting. The big one is part kabocha, and I believe part banana squash. It was saved from a kabocha I bought in a farmer’s market. There is a typical-looking small kabocha ripening outside from the same vines, and it is the same lovely gray-green as the very tip of this squash.

Right at that tip you’ll see a tiny ridged squash. That is a Black Futsu, a Japanese squash with an unbelievably intense flavor. It starts out a green so dark that it almost looks black (hence the name), and then turns a dusty orange in storage. The parent squash was also small, but at least double the size of this one. There’s another tiny one on the vine outside. I hope that they’re edible– one reason they could be so tiny would be that they crossed with some kind of gourd.

I’m starting to think that, while seed saving from the farmer’s market is fun, I might want to plant more ‘official’ seeds next year and get a more consistent harvest. Since I don’t have room for more than a couple of plants of any large cultivars, like squashes, a packet of seed lasts me several years and is a good investment. Ironically, I have an unopened packet of Black Futsu that I didn’t plant, preferring to use the saved seed instead (as this packet is vacuum sealed).

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My garden and a book project have been keeping me way too busy, but the book project is finally put to bed and I am going to give myself a mini-vacation for a week or three! I celebrated by going out this morning while it was still cool, but not damp, and snipping a big basket of herbs to dry. They looked so good that I thought, hey, I should send this to Weekend Herb Blogging! From left to right, marjoram, variegated sage, greek oregano (spicy!), and variegated oregano. A couple of young garlic that I pulled as well are laying across the basket.

The herbs I will separate and dry on a plate, indoors on the bookshelf or armoir top, out of any direct sun. The young garlic I snipped up like scallions or chives, and put in the freezer. I don’t pre-wash it, so it freezes up nicely without ice all over it. Put it in soups, stews, or drop in a roasting pan with veggie end-snips (which I also freeze), spray with oil, and pan-roast as the base for a rich veggie stock.

I don’t pre-wash most veggies, since I don’t use any sprays or pesticides in my garden, other than point-treating any stubborn aphids with Safer Soap. This year, knock on wood, no real aphid problems other than some Gray Plague in my broccoli when it got too hot for a week, and I took the floating row cover off (doh). I’ve been letting various weeds stand as attractants to the aphids, and sure enough, the ‘phids go there instead of on my tender beans and peas, at least so far. When they have frighteningly infested the attractant weeds, I carefully snip those off and get them the heck out of the garden (carefully! so none will fall off!). Seems to be working so far.

Oh, my usual Garden Help does not care for garlic, but was coaxed into happiness with a treat and a kind word. Here is her little smiling face for all my fellow kitteh lovers out there. 🙂

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