Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday harvest tally--a mixed bag

I wonder how many gardeners have asked themselves this: Why do our vegetables reach their peak ripeness while we're away? Right before I departed on a weeklong vacation to the land of kudzu and wild rhododendrons, I picked a little over a half pound of perfect pole beans, and since I knew I wouldn't be cooking for at least a few days (or for the entire trip, as it turned out) I left them in the food pantry donation cooler. Having not grown them for a few years, I had forgotten how quickly the harvest progresses once it begins and how one needs to stay on top of it. When I returned this morning with plastic baggies, my eager anticipation turned to disappointment when I parted the leaves and found so many overripe beans, tough pods lumpy with overgrown seeds. I picked them all anyway, though I knew that I'd only be cooking half of them. I added some to an earlier batch I picked about ten days earlier and oven-roasted them with some fingerling potatoes, in olive oil and minced garlic, and will probably stir-fry the remainder using sesame oil. The second method worked well with my bitter-tasting broccoli.Speaking of broccoli, I discovered a few new side shoots of my Fiesta organic variety. I left them on the plants but will definitely harvest them in the next day or so and include them in my next week's harvest tally.Even more distressing than the past-peak pole beans was the discovery of some rot on my Cherokee purple tomatoes, which I had thought were going to pull through with only a little catfacing on the bottoms. I picked these two and placed them on my kitchen windowsill in the hopes that they will finish ripening away from pests and that there may be some salvageable meat in the middle. Most of my other tomatoes are still green and I'm starting to wonder if many of them will stay that way. My volunteer cherries are as hardy as ever, and as you can see in the first photo with the beans, are beginning to turn red, though at this point I have too few to include in my total.

Today in the Harvest Coop I noted that green beans are selling for $0.99 a pound. My question is: if some of my harvest gets composted because it's overripe, can I count it in my total? Many of my strawberries ended up in the bin, so I guess I will include it. Using a not-so-scientific method of weighing a quarter pound of beans in the store and estimating that a sandwich bag full is around a half pound, I figure that I have picked about a pound and a half of pole beans so far.

Previous benefits total: $99.00
1 1/2 pounds of beans at $0.99/lb.: $1.49
New benefits total: $100.49

Current costs total: $171.57
New balance: -$71.08

Okay, if you find this too depressing, keep in mind that the negative number includes a major purchase, and that there's more to come--broccoli, tomatoes I hope, maybe a few more beans, basil, and, quite possibly, a fall crop of snap peas. But if you want to read about some gardens in the black, visit Daphne's Dandelions and check out the other blogs participating in the Monday harvest tally.


Bryan Bunch said...

You are right to pick the overlarge beans. Plants stop setting fruit (yet, beans are technically "fruit") if the fruit is left on the plant to ripen--although I sometimes let the last beans grow and dry a bit to harvest the actual beans (similar to kidney beans) inside.

I did not keep records, but I am sure I am well in the black with just tomatoes. Because of late blight, which I escaped, tomatoes are unusually dear in the Hudson Valley this year, especially organic ones. We keep giving them away and making sauce, but still have about 10 pounds ripe and sitting on the window sill and in hanging baskets.

Dan said...

That broccoli side shoot looks very nice. Are the spots on the cherokee purple blight or slug damage? I am also wondering if my tomatoes are every not going to be green. I have harvested a few but I would say 80% are still very much green! 'Greens and Jeans' has braised beans with tomatoes, that may be a good use for some of the older beans.

Daphne said...

Oh I hope your tomatoes ripen up well on the windowsill. I keep hearing good things about Cherokee purple.

Major purchases always throw the tally off. Next year I need to replace all my tomato cages. Mine are falling apart and can't hold the harvest up anymore. I want something stronger and something that folds.

Sally said...

Bryan, you are lucky to have so many tomatoes!

Dan, I'm not sure what caused the damage. I didn't find anything alive in the tomato when I cut it open. I'm hoping my other green tomatoes can escape a similar fate as they ripen. Thanks for the green bean recipe referral; I hope to have enough of my own tomatoes to try it.

Daphne,I was able to cut away the bad parts and enjoy some of one tomatoe after they ripened a little more, though the other attracted lots of fruit flies. I'd be interested in seeing what foldable tomato cages look like.