As if my lack of consistent writing wasn’t enough to convince you of the fact, allow me to declare it outright: The gardens in September consumed me.
Frankly, it’s a good problem to have and one I asked for early spring in the planting. (Or you could go back even further and say I asked for it when I moved here to a place with nearly 8,000 square feet of existing gardens, 3,000 of which, we didn’t even plant this year. )
No, I’m not complaining. If you’ve been reading my garden reports for this year, then you’ll know that there were many, many weeks where you would have had hard work of convincing me I would have been able to make something of any of it, let alone bring in hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of produce so far…. yes so far.
The current tomato total ALONE is standing at over 400 pounds!!! We’re praising God for so many primarily homegrown meals. He has been more than generous towards our stumblings throughout this year.
But I’m tired because of it. And my brain is a puddle of mush. And the tools that have brought me through are a crockpot, a pen, and a pad of paper with a grid of a to-do chart that I carry with me wherever I go. A time or two I might have freaked out because I thought I lost it. Can you imagine? Losing your brain? Because when the thoughts and the things flow through my hand, into the pen, and onto the paper, the brain is drained with them.
For me though, the system is working. I feel real good about keeping on top of the harvests as they come in. I’m gathering each Saturday night, making a preservation plan (on the aforementioned chart), and then am fresh from the Sabbath rest on Sunday and ready to go on Monday & Tuesday. I’ll harvest again on Wednesday. Preserve Thursday, Friday.
I wonder. After spending all day in the kitchen preserving food and cleaning up the messes, is it not somewhat easier to go to the market, purchase the entire year’s worth of tomatoes, apples, beans, corn, whatever, and put them up all at once?
When you do it that way, you get a rhythm going and the mess only needs cleaned up once at the end. While waiting for the garden to give it’s gift, you have to take it as it comes and work on 4, 5, 6 or more different smaller tasks all in one day, cleaning up each in between, no rhythm to be found.
Don’t get me wrong, I love knowing where my food is coming from, how it was treated, and how incredibly fresh it is. I’m simply looking for a reason as to how some people can possibly put up so.much.food in one day and I only have a couple dozen sundry quarts to show for my efforts.
At any rate, now that we’re into October, I can feel the beginning of the end. Last tomato harvest was down ten pounds with not so many orange ones coming up behind them.
My focus is shifting from harvesting & preserving more towards clean-up, composting, and putting parts of the beds to rest for the winter, as well as maintaining what I hope to be my first successful fall, who knows, maybe winter garden.
I have many little seedlings going in the hope of continuing these updates well into the cold months, sharing how we’re continuing to enjoy homegrown produce well after the mercury says it’s impossible.
Growing in the nooks and crannies of my gardens are Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Red Russian Kale & Blue Dwarf Kale, beets, shallots, green onions, arugula, lettuces- Freckles is doing really well, Buttercrunch, heirloom Iceberg, Red Romaine all came up, though I planted several other varieties. The spinach showed itself only in a couple of plants. And of course, the radishes are doing well and I harvested the French Breakfast already!
If you look carefully in the photos above, you can see the “dirt-y” areas are where the fall garden is growing. I’ve decided to hold off on hay mulching those for the next few weeks until I no longer hear the sweet music of the insects as I fall asleep each night. I’m wondering if those thick layers of hay will give shelter to the unwanted pests over the winter. Following that vein of logic(?), I’m also taking the leftover hay- what little is left of it- from the areas where I’m cleaning up and adding it to the Fall Compost Heap. With our lawn mower not having a bagger to collect grass clippings, I worry our piles are falling short on nitrogen, so these bits of hay will fill in.
(mexican bean beetle larvae. past tense.)
rouge vif d’étampes.
ma jolie petit bébé
wait- how do you say “Hot Pepper Taste Test Photo Bomb” in French?
“Aren’t the SO BEAUTIFUL??!!” she says. Did you hear the squeal in her voice?
Hey! Amongst the weeds, I found that a nasturtium actually grew! And there was even a solitary orange flower for a few days. I didn’t have the heart to pick it.
This one. It was my tormentor and companion for several weeks of bean picking. Scared the daylights out of me every time I first saw it. Not a bean.
The grape harvest was meager compared to last year. It was over in one picking, however the clusters were more uniformly ripened and the grapes filled out & not shriveled as compared to last year. Interesting.
Golden Bantam corn. The name says it all. It’s an heirloom, non-gmo sweet corn that will not tolerate having the “bantam” disregarded. Foolishly, I waited for typical corn size and ended up with large kernels that are mushy and stick to your teeth. BUT, when I did get one that was small, it was perfect and delicious.
This Monday’s work. I cleaned up the corn & pumpkin patch, weeded it, and planted a couple rows of kale. Vintage Reformation Acres heirloom kale seed from our former homestead. It’s such a blessing to have brought a piece of that land with us, so to speak, and be able to perpetuate it.
A thinning salad, which isn’t what it sounds like… but was tender and delicious and beautiful. Fall is the new spring.
Not much is happening over in the Pantry Garden these days.
The sweet potatoes were checked on Monday and I think they could go longer.
We have 2 brussels sprout plants that have made it… and look like they need staked?
The acorn squash have some babies, but the plants look dead. I think they’re doomed to the compost.
Ok, so I need to weed. I’ll get there, but you can still see the rows of spring peas. Hopefully, a covering will protect them this winter (and not blow away) and I won’t have to worry about getting the ground worked early spring.
Cabbage worm. Before. (Actually I see 3.)
Cabbage worm. After.
Chloe and I made sure the other two met the same fate. My observation would be that however bad the moths lay eggs in the early summer, it’s double (maybe triple) in the fall! My other observation would be they prefer the green varieties, so purple and red it is.
The potato harvest filled a bushel basket. I think the sum total of the potato seeds I bought this year could have too (and maybe then some.) But they did grow even though the second batch was planted so late. (The first one rotted in the ground to to cold wet weather.)
But at least there was some return on our investment, expensive though these potatoes ended up being. Hannah took it upon herself to harvest them one morning. A fact which I’m thankful for, however they could have stayed in the ground for another 3 or more weeks until frost I do believe. Lots of marble sized potatoes in there.
•Excuse myself from all of the rest of life from about mid-August through the first of October.
•Have the weeding 100% caught up by then.
•Install a canning kitchen outdoors because I’m prone to getting depressed (no, seriously) about getting locked down indoors with half a year of cold weather bearing down on us. Consider it a health expense and make it a priority.
Has your gardening year come to an end or is it still going strong?