Container Garden Update September 25, 2022

To paraphrase Yogi Berra: It’s getting late early around here. Our oak tree that always confirms the season is just starting to turn to fall colors and the garden is basically done.

On the 12th it became clear that the bugs were threatening to impact the pepper harvest, so we pulled what was left of the peppers:

Clockwise from top left: Oregon Spring, Roma, Rattlesnake beans, Black Krim, Purple Bumblebee (cherry tomato), tomatillos and cumbers, Cherokee Chocolate tomatoes, Carmen peppers, King of the North peppers

The next week we harvested another sheet tray of ripe Romas. (not pictured)

As of the morning of the September 24 the garden looked like this:

L-R Front: Rattlesnake beans, Roma, Oregon Spring, Roma. Middle Left is the other tomatoes with cucumbers on the right. Back left is tomatillo and Tromboncino with Fortex beans on the right.

A closeup of the “better looking” Roma box on the 24th:

The Purple Bumblebees on the 24th:

The tomatillo and Tromboncino shared a trellis. I think it worked out well. Our Tromboncino yield is up relative to the last couple of years and it didn’t seem to impact the tomatillos one way or the other. Yay pollenators:

Then after “picture time” we harvested everything except the tomatillo and Tromboncinos. We left those two boxes with the hopes we’d see a little more output. And the yard waste bin was full so that was a good stopping point.

The Rattlesnake and Fortex beans that we’re saving for seed or dried beans for eating. We’ve been harvesting the Fortex all summer in addition to what’s pictured:

And the last somewhat unripe harvest — it’s around 30 pounds of tomatoes:

We’ve had the most success with ripening not-ripe tomatoes on the floor of the kitchen on cooling racks. The kitchen is generally warm, and when the furnace starts up there’s a heater vent that provides good air circulation.

I feel like 2022 was a better year for the garden than 2020 or 2021, though the shade trees continue to grow and are gradually going to force us to reduce the size of the garden or just accept that the yields are not going to be what they were ten years ago. The wildfire smoke was minimal, and July and August were relatively warm and clear.

Next post will be the How Much Did That All Weigh? I’m curious to see if my perception of yield matches reality.

Container Garden Update August 28, 2022

In the Seattle area, mid-to-late August is when the garden starts to ripen in earnest. It’s also when the plants are starting to show that they’re thinking about being “done”.

A sort of close up overview picture:

The front right is Carmen Peppers and King Of North Peppers. The Carmen’s are having a much more productive year. A Carmen close up:

Normally we lose a few to earwigs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. I’ve only counted one lost to the bugs.

Pictured next is the more energetic of the two Roma Tomato boxes. This box got the sunnier location and it shows:

That’s two plants in one box. They’re leaning over to the left and invading the space of the Oregon Springs. The nice thing is that the Oregon Springs are a very early harvest so we should be able to pull those plants out in 2-3 weeks from now.

I think the Tomatillo and Tromboncino “sharing a trellis” is working out pretty well. The center of the space is dominated by the Tomatillos. We need to harvest a big batch of them within the next few days.

The Tromboncino are growing up the sides and along the top. They’re having a better year this year than they have in the last few. We got a 32″ fruit about a week ago. Today we harvested this:

Tromboncino have all of their seeds in the bulb at the end of the fruit. The flesh firmer than a regular zucchini. Their leaves are less susceptible to mold, which helps in our climate. They work especially well for us because we’re gardening on a concrete patio and the vining aspect of the variety keeps the fruit off of the hot summer cement.

Finally, the Rattlesnake Beans:

We’ll let these dry and use them like Pinto Beans. I like growing beans – we plant 20-40 seeds in a box and make sure they get water and that’s about it. It’s basically “free” food.

The cucumbers are also having a better year than in the last couple of years. After the early cool weather it’s turned into a fairly warm summer, but we haven’t had wildfire smoke sucking up the UV.

So that’s good on a few levels.

Container Garden Update July 31, 2022

Up until three days ago it’s been a very mild summer. The last three days have been in the mid-to-high 80’s. So far we’ve harvested basil, beans, and zucchini, which is normal for this time of year. We should have cucumbers in the next few days. The tomatoes and peppers are further away.

A view from the front right:

Peppers on the right, tomatoes in the center. More tomatoes in the middle-left. Cucumbers middle right.

From up the slope on the left:

The three tomato plants in the front from left to right are Roma, Oregon Spring, and another Roma. The left side of the garden is North, and that side of the garden has been more shaded over the last few years by the ever-expanding oak tree to the northwest. The Roma plant to the South is doing tons better and it’s not close.

From the house:

The big thing in the center is Fortex beans. They always do well, and we always save bean seeds for replanting in the early summer. The basil is poking out from behind the left of the cucumbers.

We also set up the Tromboncino Zucchini and Tomatillos to share a trellis with the idea that the pollinators would hit both and we’d see a better yield from the Tromboncino. There aren’t very many bees this year, so we’ll see how much it helps. What’s odd is all of the Tromboncino flowers were male a couple of days ago:

But so far so good anyway. The Tromboncino on the left weighs right around three pounds.

Container Garden Update July 3, 2022

We’ve had exactly one day this year that could be considered “hot”. It feels like the garden has yet to “take off”. It’s overcast and drizzly this weekend with the next sunny stretch forecast for… not in the next seven days. Highs are forecast as the mid-to-low-70’s. We’ll need some hot weather for the basil and peppers to really grow and fight off whatever is chewing on them.

Front (L-R): Rattlesnake Beans, Roma Tomatoes, Oregon Spring Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Carmen Peppers, King of the North Peppers. Middle left are the Black Krims, Cherokee Chocolate Tomato, and “Purple Bumblebee” Striped Cherry Tomato. In the middle are “Slicing Cucumbers” and (hiding) Sweet Basil. Middle right are Fortex beans. In the far back left there are Tromboncino Zucchinis and Tomatillos:

So far the Tomatillo and Tromboncino are sharing the trellis nicely — The Tomatillo are in the center and the Tromboncino have been trained up the sides. I’m hopeful that by removing browning Tromboncino leaves towards the middle and bottom as they arrive it’ll leave enough light and space for all four plants.

One more view from the “front” of the garden:

The photo also highlights how we label the plants. The indeterminate tomatoes are doing well, and the beans grow regardless of the weather.

Hopefully we have some sun coming in the next couple of weeks.

Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.

In April I purchased four varieties of heirloom wheat berries from Breadtopia: Turkey Red, Rouge de Bordeaux, Sonora White, and Red Fife. UPS caused a bit of a hang-up when they delivered to the wrong address, but the customer service at Breadtopia was top-notch in sorting it out. I’m a happy customer.

I’ve read through both of the books I purchased (Leonti’s Bread Lab and Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads), and I’ve baked a little bit out of both. I’m at the point now that I want to try things that aren’t huge departures from how I’ve been baking to see how the finished products compare. With that in mind, a boule with 50% fresh milled Rouge de Bordeaux and 50% King Arthur Bread Flour:

Another added variable is the new Le Crueset Bread Oven. I’ll likely do a review after a few more bakes but so far I think it’s going to get a lot of use in the future. It was a very thoughtful gift.

Continue reading “Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf

First up, the weeknight sandwich bread with whole wheat:

The recipe: 600 grams total flour — 200 grams whole wheat (the picture above utilizes freshly milled hard red winter wheat), 400 grams bread flour (King Arthur), 420 grams room temperature water (70% hydration),12 grams kosher salt (2% of total flour weight), 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast.

  1. Place the whole wheat flour in the mixing bowl. Combine with all of the water and let rest and hydrate for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed for 8 minutes.
  3. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Fold the dough so that it will fit into a 9″ x 5″ bread pan. I used a fair amount of surface tension, which may have helped the dough rise evenly.
  5. Cover and let rise for two hours. At the 90-minute mark set the oven to 425F
  6. Slash the dough down the center.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes covered with another upside-down bread pan. Remove the cover and bake for another 35 minutes.

So it’s totally doable after work, assuming you get home at a reasonable time. All-up it’s about 4.5 – 5 hours and most of that is hands-off.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt

At least from an appearance standpoint, this one is closer to the truth:

The recipe was similar to the first attempt, but this time I gave it more total flour, yeast, and time.

The recipe:

375 grams bread flour, 125 grams (fresh milled) hard red winter wheat (500 grams flour total, which gives the following baker’s percentages), 325 grams cool water (65%), 15 grams honey (3%), 20 grams oil (4%), 10 grams kosher salt (2%), 1 tsp instant yeast.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt”

The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains

I recently purchased a Mockmill 200 as well as four varieties of wheat berries. I also got a couple of books so that I wouldn’t be completely reinventing the wheel while trying to learn new skills for baking breads.

For me, the purchase decision on the grain mill came down to the Mockmill 200 or a Komo. When researching the choices they seemed to be fairly even in terms of performance and quality — there are a whole bunch of sites that review and compare the two. I settled on the Mockmill partly due to appearance, and partly due to an aggregate of thoughts from reading about the “pros” and “cons” of each, though frankly there was a good amount of conflicting / contrasting information on both. My feeling is that they’re both quality products and I’m not sure there’s really a “wrong” decision.

A picture from the Breadtopia site.
Continue reading “The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains”