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Monday Harvest Report – Rain & Tomatoes

Monday Harvest Report

Well after stubbornly resisting for over a week, fall has finally arrived.  And with it came a bunch of rain!  We had temps as high as 90 degrees all week but late Friday night the first of a series of storms came in that has broken the back of summer and launched us into fall.  The forecast has the highs in the 60’s and low 70’s for the coming week with quite a bit of rain expected!

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But here’s the good news.  Finally we got some tomatoes to ripen!  We had two big pickings of tomatoes this week.  The first was on Tuesday and came in at 21 pounds.

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The second came on Saturday, and was a nice 11 pounds.

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These two pickings combined with a small box from Valerie’s folks meant we spent a lot of time in the kitchen canning!  We were able to can over 20 quarts this week so our winter supply is looking much better!  We are now sitting at 40 quarts.  I’m hoping for a couple more batches, then we would have at least one quart per week.

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Our Brandywine tomatoes are also starting to produce.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that this is the first year we have ever grown a Heirloom tomato.  We have always just gone with the standards, celebrity, early girl and beef steak.  But we will be keeping Brandywine in our rotation!!  The are definitely not very pretty but they are sure tasty!!

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We also had a great all green basket early in the week.  Cucumbers and peppers!!  Both are winding down for the year, we should have about another week of cucumbers.

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Another nice basket of strawberries, with plenty of blossoms still coming.  I think we will still have another month of berries unless we get an early really hard freeze.

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This was the last big picking of cantaloupe and only about half of them were really worth eating.  This time of year these later setting fruit that ripen in the cooler weather never seem to taste as good.

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I think these will be the last zucchini.  They were all picked in the rain on Saturday morning.  There are a few more blossoms but with this cooler weather I doubt they will develop.  Also this is the first Crenshaw melon of the year.  It’s a very small one and it came from the home garden.  It will need to sit on the counter for a few days and we will see how it tastes!

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These are the first of the pumpkins!  These two are pretty small, both came in around 6 pounds.  We will use them to decorate around the house for a few months and them cut them up for there seeds some time in November.  They have 6 big brothers that will be ready next week and there may even be 2 or 3 more if they end up ripening.

Here’s the totals for the week:

Home Garden
Pumpkin – 11.50 lbs
Crenshaw – 2.50 lbs
Zucchini – 4.75 lbs
Tomatoes – 32.50 lbs
Cucumbers – 4.75 lbs
Peppers – 2.33 lbs
Strawberries – 1.50 lbs
Raspberries – .17 lbs
Totals – 60 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Tomatoes – 1.75 lbs
Cantaloupe – 7.25 lbs
Totals – 9 lbs

That brings our annual total in the home garden to 450 lbs.  The borrowed garden total is 566 lbs.  Our combined total topped 1000 pounds this week!!

Thanks so much for reading our blog!  I’d like to encourage you to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our news letter!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

 

 

5 reasons why you should plant a garden next year

5 Reasons

As a master gardener I have the opportunity to teach gardening classes quite often.  There are always a few folks that come to my beginning gardening classes that are skeptics.  Maybe they are only there because their spouse forced them or maybe they have always thought about a garden but were never really willing to commit a piece of their lawn.  Inevitably they will ask me why I grow a garden?  Over the years I have thought a lot about it and I’ve come up with a pretty long list of reasons why I garden.  So here for you today is my top 5 reason why I think you (and everyone) should plant a garden next year!

1 Self Sufficency 1

We have a pretty decent sized garden (just under 1200 square feet)  On an average year we will grow around 700 pounds of veggies and fruits.  As our yard and garden mature and our fruit trees come into full production that total will reach more than 1000 pounds.

That represents a large portion of the food our family eats.  I’m not one of those dooms day “prepper” types that is worried about the world food system collapsing.  But it is good to know that I can provide food for my family at any time.  I am also a year round gardener and there are very few days in the year when we don’t eat at least one thing that I grew myself.  It is hard to describe the satisfaction I get from knowing that my family is eating food that I grew myself.

2 Freshness

This morning we had raspberries on our cereal that were picked last night.  For lunch my wife and I will share the cantaloupe we picked yesterday afternoon.  And tonight for dinner we will have a delicious casserole made from potatoes dug only 3 days ago and a side dish of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini that we will pick tonight 10 minutes before dinner!  Talk about fresh food.  None of the produce we eat from about mid May until late in October is more than a day old.  Compare that to the produce you get from the grocery store.  It is usually at least a week old and often weeks or even months old before you buy it.

3 taste

I’ve seen arguments between commercial and organic growers.  The commercial growers say their produce tastes just as good as organic.  Organic growers always argue that their growing practices make their produce taste better.  Tons of taste tests have proven about nothing really.  BUT, if you come to my garden and pick a tomato that is at the peak of ripeness and compare it to anything (commercial or organic) that you buy at a store you will never buy a store bought tomato again.  Strawberries are a whole different fruit when you eat them fresh picked from the garden, so sweet and soft, not hard and tasteless.

Potatoes fresh dug from the garden just melt in your mouth when you have them with your Sunday roast.  Home grown melons are worth the extras space they require because they taste better than any other melon you have ever eaten.  Carrots, lettuce, peas, cucumbers, peppers, and onions the list goes on and on!  Have I made myself clear yet?  Home grown produce, grown in well cared for organic soil tastes so much better than the two week old “Franken-veggies” you get from the store.  The varieties and quality of the produce you grow at home will always beat store bought for taste.  Even if you are preserving your home grown veggies by canning or freezing you will find the finished product tastes better because of the high quality ingredients you’re using.  Enough said, garden produce just tastes WAY better!

4 Cost

Let’s take my garden for an example of cost.  We will grow close to 700 pounds of produce by the time the year is over.  This is super high quality 100% organic produce we are talking about.  Even if we were to assume only $2.00 a pound that is $1,400 in produce.  We will spend between $100 and $200 per year on seeds, compost and other supplies.  So we have saved $1,200 a year on our grocery budget.

But we grow a lot, what about someone like you who just wants a small garden?  Let’s look at a few very common easy to grow plants and see how much you could save by growing them yourself.  (Wow, my inner accountant is really coming out, isn’t he?)

Strawberries are a good example.  A nice 4 x 8 bed of strawberries will produce around 25 pounds of strawberries in a year.  I’ve never seen organic strawberries for cheaper than 4.99 a pound.  So that little patch in one year grew $125.00 in strawberries.  The cost to set that bed up would have been less than $30.00 and that patch will produce for 3 or 4 years before it needs to be replanted.  See how the math works?

Tomatoes are another great example.  Commercially grown vine ripened tomatoes sell for about $3.00 a pound.  A little 4 x8 bed with 8 tomato plants can produce 75 to 100 pounds in a year.  That’s $300 in tomatoes with only $30 in expenses.  Again, a great deal!

Growing our own food allows us to eat better quality organic fruits and veggies at a fraction of the cost.  I will be honest, if we were trying to run our grocery budget without a garden and buying organic produce, we would never eat as well as we do with the garden.

5 Organic

Many organizations publish annual lists of the “dirty dozen”.  This list changes a little each year but it includes produce that are the worst for chemical contamination.  This year’s list includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas and potatoes.  These are the worst of the worst when it comes to the amounts of pesticides and herbicides contaminating the produce.  Basically you should avoid all of these items if they are commercially grown and opt for organic instead.

But my argument is why buy organic when you can grow it yourself?  Nearly every item on the dirty dozen can be easily grown at home.  Apple, peach and nectarine trees come in dwarf varieties and a small but mature tree can produce well over a bushel each year.  Grapes are fairly low maintenance plants that can be grown as decorative vines in your yard.  Strawberries make a beautiful and productive ground cover.  You can get two good crops of spinach and snap peas each year.  And cucumbers, peppers and cherry tomatoes are simple to grow in a small grow box garden.  The only two on the list that a small gardener might have problems growing are celery and potatoes.  Celery depending on were you live is a little temperamental to grow, and potatoes although easy to grow do take up a lot of space

So there you have it.  The five reasons why I think you should plant a garden next year.  So next month I’m going to take it a little farther and we will talk about a good “starter” garden.  We will cover size, location and what you should grow in your first little garden!!

This post was featured first on Bakerette.com.  Thanks again to Jeni for allowing me to guest post!

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

 

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When I was growing up, I could count on my Mom making tacos at least once a week!!  I looked forward to that dinner each week.  I love tacos, they are so easy to make and you can pack them full of healthy food!!!    Then I got married and it all ended….because Rick did not like tacos. :(

After years of marriage he has been enduring them during the summer, and I have loved them but only once a month.  I then started looking at the labels on the tortillas you buy in the store…yikes!!  I couldn’t pronounce half of the ingredients.

I started my search for a homemade wheat tortilla recipe.  I tried and failed a couple of times and then I found the recipe below on Lean Green Bean.  They are sooooo good!!   I did love tacos, but now I can’t get enough of these.  I have them as tacos, quesadillas, breakfast burritos, and enchiladas.  They have so much more flavor then store bought ones.   Rick says every time we have them, (and the kids groan) “You could put dirt in these homemade tortillas and they would still taste good.”  Hmmm, maybe I will try that one time for him and see what he thinks… Ha! Ha! JK honey!!!   I feel better feeding my family these tortillas because they only have four ingredients!!

They are really easy to make, but they do take extra time, maybe about 20 min…but it is totally worth it!!  I will sometimes make them in the morning if I have a busy evening and then all I have to do is get the fixings ready.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp salt
2/3 c. warm water

In a bowl, mix together flour, salt, and oil.  Slowly add the warm water.  Knead the dough for 2 minutes.  Divide the dough into 8 balls and let it sit for 20 minutes. (If I’m in a hurry I just skip letting them sit and go straight to rolling out)

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I don’t fuss too much about making them a perfect circle…they usually end up square or odd shaped…..its okay, they are homemade and taste the same even if they are not round.

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I take the ball out  and push it down in a circle with my hand and then I just start rolling it.  I roll it a couple of times on one side, and then turn it over to the other side.  I keep doing this until I have the right thickness.

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Rick likes them thin so I roll them out really thin, but you can make them however you like them.

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I then put them on the griddle to cook at about 350 degrees.  When they start to form bubbles, turn them over and cook on the other side.  I like my tortillas soft so I don’t cook them that long.   I don’t really time them…I did at first and you can do it 1 min on each side.  I just roll out one tortilla while two are cooking and then flip them and then I roll out another tortilla and when I’m done, I take those two off and start cooking the ones I just rolled out.

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When they are done, fill them with whatever you can find in your garden or farmer’s market.  I make homemade refried beans and taco seasoning (recipes to come in a later post) which makes tacos so much better according to Rick.  We stuff our tacos with, garden tomatoes, cucumbers, or zucchini.

Ya hoo!!!  Finally, I can have tacos  more than once a month!!!  I hope you and your family enjoy these homemade tortillas as much as we do!

We will be sharing this post on several blog hops this week including:

The Yuck Stops Here

The Real Housewives of Riverton

Foodie Fridays

Monday Harvest Report – 9/22/14 – Finally some tomatoes!!

Welcome to Fall!!  We had temps almost all week in the mid 80’s along with a fantastic rain storm on Sunday afternoon!  All that beautiful weather lead to this . . .

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Finally a decent amount of tomatoes ripening.  We had two decent sized pickings of tomatoes this week here’s the first.

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And here’s the second.  The total for the week was just over 20 pounds!

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Those two pickings combined with some extras Valerie’s parents gave us ended up giving us 13 quarts of canned tomatoes!  That’s still down from last year but it’s catching up quickly!

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The other huge harvest this week were the potatoes from the borrowed garden!  This is what 147 pounds of potatoes looks like!  We grew two varieties this year;  Red Pontiac represented about 110 pounds of the harvest and a russet gave us the last 37.  That gives us a total of about 190 pounds of storage potatoes for the winter (with the potatoes we harvested last week from the home garden).  We are packing them into our camping coolers and bringing them inside for now.  But as soon as the hot weather breaks we will be able to store them in the coolers our in the garage.  I learned about storing them in coolers from a blogging buddy, we are hoping they will last for the bulk of the winter out in the garage!

This hot weather is supposed to last for most of the week but by the week end things are going to fall a part and the real Utah fall weather will arrive.  Our temps this time of year should be in the low 70’s not the mid 80’s.  So they say we are in for a drastic change this weekend.

You’ll notice that everything came grinding to a halt this week in the garden (everything but potatoes and tomatoes).  The cantaloupe is almost done at the borrowed garden, in fact the only things left there are  a few tomatoes, some small cantaloupe and a bunch of crenshaw melons that I’m now starting to doubt will ripen before the frost!

The home garden is down to just tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a few zucchini.  Most of the pumpkins should be ready to harvest this week and of course we still have some berries.  But for the most part the summer garden is winding down quickly!  And it is going to bee a few weeks before the fall/winter garden really starts kicking it.  The lettuce seems to be behind schedule this year so we may have a week or two with some really small harvests coming up.

Here’s this weeks totals:

Borrowed Garden
Cantaloupe – 9.5 lbs
Potatoes – 147 lbs
Total – 156.50 lbs

Home Garden
Tomatoes – 21.50 lbs
Cucumbers – 1.75 lbs
Strawberries – .75 lbs
Raspberries – .15 lbs
Total – 24.15 lbs

That gives us a weekly total of 180 pounds.  The home garden annual total is 390 pounds and the borrowed garden is a huge 557 pounds for the year.

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Mid September Garden tour 2014

I’ve been a little lax about my blogging here lately.  Seems like there is always a million things to do and I never get around to blogging.  But I was out in the garden last night with the camera so I thought I’d post a few pic’s of how the garden looks here in the middle of September.

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As I walked around the garden last night everything feels a little spent.  It is that time of year and most all of the plants have a burnt out look and feel to them.

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The popcorn has ears growing.  I’ve checked a few and they seem to be filling out well.  We should start to see the stalks dry out soon and the corn will start to ripen!  But it will be at least 2 or 3 months before the ears have dried enough to use.  There really are a lot of ears, I think we will have 30 before we are done.

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The raspberries are still producing.  The patch looks pretty good for a first year patch.  Next year there won’t be any corn stalks shading them so I think it will fill in nicely.

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This is the only celery plant that didn’t bolt to seed.  I think our poor soil really hurt the celery, along with a lot of other plants this year.

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The cucumbers also have that end of season feeling to them.  And they have really slowed down their production the last week or so.

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This kale is looking great!  Now we just need a couple of really cold nights to kill of all the aphids that have set up shop on these plants.

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This Red Russian Kale is one of many small plants we put in about 3 weeks ago.  These won’t really mature until spring and most will be protected by a hoop house most of the winter.

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This is still what most of the tomato plants look like.  All GREEN!  I’ve never had tomatoes ripen so slowly before.  I experimented with planting the tomatoes closer together this year and I don’t think I will try that again!!

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More Green tomatoes!!

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The parsley is looking very good.  We have just started using it in a few dishes.  I’m tempted to put a small hoop over these plants and try to keep them through the winter.

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The basil is getting a little out of hand.  We have been using it all summer and we have kind of grown tired of it and the plant is going to seed.  I need to get out and cut off some leaves and dry them for the winter.

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This is the zucchini bed, it to is looking very spent but it has produced really well and we are starting to get a little tired of zucchini any way!!

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Can you see that little crenshaw melon hiding in the leaves?  There are 8 or 10 that size and I’m afraid they are not going to get finished before the frost.

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The home melon patch has been a big disappointment.  Not a single melon from this patch so far this year.  I think they need more sun!

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The pepper plants are still going strong!  There are another 20 or so peppers growing.

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The fall/Winter spinach crop is coming along.  We have been fighting some leaf minors that past few weeks.  We spent some time over the weekend crushing eggs and pulling off damaged leaves in hopes of bring them under control.

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This bed is now just kind of a mess  of overgrown broccoli, cabbage and kale plants.  All of these (except the kale) will come out this weekend and head for the compost pile.

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The fall broccoli is looking great!  These plants should be ready for harvest in late October or early November.

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This is a site you won’t see next year.  We planted a couple of pumpkins but we have decided they just take up too much space.  So if we plant pumpkins in the future they will have to go up front in a flower bed or something.  But this year they are doing great.  There are 6 nice sized jack-o-lanterns on the way!

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The fall carrots are going to be disappointing.  The major amounts of rain the last 6 weeks really set these guys back.  A lot of the seeds were washed away and the seeds that survived had to struggle through the rain hardened clay.  So I’m thinking that for the first time in 6 years we won’t have many carrots in the winter.

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The fall lettuce is starting to come up.  This is Oak Leaf and will be in a cold frame.

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There are also a couple of nice heads of Nevada lettuce growing as well.  Most of this bed will be planted in a couple of weeks with the seeds we have started indoors.

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And of course one of the high lights of the year has been our strawberries.  You can see they are still growing strong, with lots of blossoms and about 1 1/2 pounds of fruit a week!

Well there you have it.  The Stoney Acres garden in very early fall.  Now we just need those dang tomatoes to ripen!!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Harvest Report – September 15, 2014

What a beautiful early fall week for us!  Things started out with rain Monday and Tuesday and then it cleared off all week with the temps in the high 70’s and low 80’s.  Just perfect!

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It was an absolutely huge week for produce in the two gardens.  We harvested over 200 pounds between the home and borrowed garden.  The bulk of that came from melons.  The cantaloupe came on like crazy this week. Over 70 pounds!

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Of course there was also watermelon, but I did pick the last two watermelon on Saturday so we are done with the them for the year.  But there are still about 15 cantaloupe to pick.

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In the home garden I decide it was time to harvest the potatoes.   You can see the tops had died back and with all the rain we have been having I was worried that the spuds would start to rot in the ground if we didn’t get them out.

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The harvest wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.  We got a total of 40 pounds from the 3 short rows, but I was actually hoping for more like 75 pounds.  I think the harvest was really effected by our soil quality.  The new garden space is still in desperate need of compost and other organic material and I think that caused the potato harvest to suffer.

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I spread them out on a table in the garage to cure for a few days.  I like to let them sit and dry out a bit that way I’m not putting them away wet.  The time sitting out also helps the skins to harden up a bit as well and makes everything store longer.  There are a lot of smaller potatoes, in fact the whole harvest consisted of small and medium potatoes, not a single potato that I would consider “baking” size.  We will see how the potatoes from the borrowed garden do.  I’m hoping for a couple hundred pounds from that harvest.

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It was also time to bring in the Mammoth sunflower heads.  It’s hard to see in this photo but the seeds are all plump and striped and the head has turned from green to yellow.

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That means it’s time to cut the heads off and let them dry in the garage for a week or so before we remove and process the seeds.  We are looking forward to having sunflower seeds this winter, this variety is very tasty and we grew them as a snack for us this winter!  Okay I know we won’t get a ton of seeds from these 4 heads, but they are kind of fun to grow and the kids get a kick out of them!

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We had two or three nice little pickings of raspberries this week.  As our patch is in it’s first year we didn’t expect much but I’ve been surprised with how many we have actually harvested this year.

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This is our biggest harvest yet of broccoli side shoots.  I take back everything bad I said about Pac Man broccoli earlier in the year.  Despite having small main heads the side shoot production has been fantastic!  This harvest was 2 pounds and sadly will be our last.  The last two weeks we have had a sudden infestation of aphids and the plants are covered with them.

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This picking immediately went into a brine bath to try and get the aphids out.  But Valerie says that it’s just too big of a pain to mess with so I’m ripping the plants out this week in hopes of getting rid of all the aphids so that we aren’t struggling with them on our fall crop.

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And of course we had the standard late summer harvest this week as well.  Plenty of cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and even another nice harvest of strawberries.

 

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We did manage to scrounge up enough tomatoes to do some more canning this week.  We picked enough on Monday to combine with a harvest last week and we were able to can another six quarts.  That makes a pitiful 8 quarts for the year.  These tomatoes better hurry up and get ripening we are down to about 2 weeks before our first threat of frost!!

Here’s this weeks totals:

Home Garden
Cucumbers – 5.25 lbs
Zucchini – 5.5 lbs
Tomatoes – 11.75 lbs
Broccoli – 2.5 lbs
Potatoes – 40 lbs
Raspberries – .25 lbs
Strawberries – 1.5 lbs
Peppers – 2 lbs
Total – 68.75 lbs

Leo’s Garden

Cantaloupe – 71.75 lbs
Watermelon – 76.50 lbs
Total – 148.25 lbs

That brings our annual total for the home garden to 366 pounds and the annual total for the borrowed garden is 400 pounds.  I’m sure that combined we will easily go over 1000 pounds for the year!!  But my goal for the home garden was 775 pounds and I’m thinking we are not going to hit that mark.  That’s still over 300 pounds to go.  We do have 6 large pumpkins and a few smaller ones on the way along with hopefully 100 pounds more of tomatoes.  But I’m starting to doubt we will have a total of 300.  Well see!!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Monday Harvest Report September 8, 2014

It was a very pleasant weather week.  Temps were mostly in the low 80’s, with a little rain here and there.  We are moving into my very favorite time of the year!  I love the early fall with it’s cool temperatures and lots of harvests.  I was really bad at taking pictures this week so I missed a lot of the huge harvest we had.

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Let’s start out with the giant harvest we had from the borrowed garden this week.  Melons, melons , melons!!  We harvest over 100 pounds of water melon and cantaloupe this week.

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Lucky for us all the neighbors that committed to buy melons from us have come through in a big way.  Between our own eating and the neighbors buying from us every melon we picked this week is gone!  That kitchen counter is currently empty!!  But I haven’t been down to the borrowed garden since Friday so I’m sure I will fill the counter back up tomorrow!!  The cantaloupe are coming on like crazy!!  I lost count of how many we harvest this week but I’m sure it was at least 20.

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We finally had a decent sized picking of tomatoes.  But they are still really slow to ripen.  This box has 9.50 pounds of tomatoes, our biggest picking yet along with some cucumbers, peppers and raspberries!!

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The last of the onions were finished curing on Saturday so I cleaned them up and got them ready for storage.  These are the copra onions and they are meant for long term storage.  Most of these onions will last us until early next summer!!  I was disappointed by the size of these onions.  Most of the bulbs were smaller than a baseball which is not usual for copra.  But given the condition of the soil in the new garden I’m fairly happy we even got a crop.  This box is right at 20 pounds so our total for the year between the two types we grew was 46 pounds.  That should be enough to hold us over till next year!!

Here’s this weeks totals for both gardens:

Home Garden
Cucumbers – 4.25 lbs
Peppers – .75 lbs
Tomatoes – 9.50 lbs
Zucchini – 2.60 lbs
Strawberries – 1 lbs
Broccoli – 1.75 lbs
Raspberries – .25 lbs
Onions – 20.50 lbs
Total – 40.60 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Watermelon – 62 lbs
Cantaloupe – 42 lbs
Corn – 2 lbs
Total – 106 lbs

Grand Total   – 146.60 pounds

That brings the home garden total to 297 pounds and the grand total to 550 pounds for the year!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

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