The Harvest Begins

Hen of the Woods We went out cemetery ‘shrooming Sunday. We got a big pile of hens of the woods, a bunch of Berkley’s polypore and plenty of boletes and puffballs. It’s actually early for hens, but these seem a bit past their prime.

The freezers are crammed with meat, so we’re drying, and making mushroom stock. Last week I made chicken stock to get stuff out of the freezers. Stock is also a good use for the extra zuccini, eggplant and the beans that get a bit too big.

Jacob's Cattle Bean We raised dry beans for the first time this year. The variety we chose was Jacob’s Cattle. Slow Food calls it a Prince Edward Island heirloom, but legend says it was a birthday gift from the Passamaquoddy to the first Mainiac of European ancestry. We got the seed from Jung’s rather than one of the specialty houses. As usual, I made rookie mistakes. I planted them on a 4 inch grid in a 3 foot wide bed. This works well for the purple and yellow snap beans we grow, but these beans didn’t like it. The plants in the outer couple of rows yielded easily twice what the inner plants did. I’ll do some research before next spring to see whether wide beds are a good idea at all, or should I just do rows.

Thanks to Irene and Lee, there were mold spots on the pods, and we had to dry them in the dehydrator. Still, we turned a half pound of seed into 5 pounds of beans. Because we had to dry them electrically, I’m not going to save seed. I will again only buy half a pound. We normally use 12-15 pounds of beans a year, but I clearly got a poor yield by misplanting, so I’m hoping for much better next year.

The extra onions did not work out. Danny ate them. We are eating Danny, but we’d have done that if he’d stuck to grass. The brassicas met the same fate. The carrots, parsnips and celery survived the mowing. The celery is cosmetically unsalable, but there’s enough for us.

The good news is that the tomatoes and peppers got enough water this year. The bad news is that it was much cooler, so we’ve actually done worse than last year. Fortunately we canned 2 years worth of tomatoes last year, and we’re getting enough to make pasta sauce and salsa. We’ve never actually gotten a decent pepper crop, so missing one more time isn’t a real change.

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