Summer Garden, Winding Down

This years irregular weather has provided a challenging garden season and pushed us to some creative solutions. We put tents made of cloth covered hardware cloth over the pots of mint and used window shade cloth to not only cover some windows but also some plants. Gene also put in soaker hoses and irrigation thingys to save us time in the hot sun. It was worth every dime and manhour that it took to install. We haven’t harvested as much as last year – but still plenty to fill the table daily and put some by.

Garlic chives flowers

I know chives can be invasive but I do love these garlic chives and their flowers. I may have allowed them to grow in too many places and will definitely have to start pushing back at them this spring. I will also not allow as many seeds to fall on the ground – instead gathering them to adorn the top of a loaf of rye bread.

Volunteer Celebrity tomato

We let four volunteer tomato plants grow where they stood this year. Three of them are Celebrity and one is a Green Zebra. All of them have done better than any of the other tomato plants. Coming up later means they had less problems with blight. We also used a foliar spray made with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a gallon of tepid water and sprayed lightly on the underside of the plants the minute we saw signs. IF I had kept up with it better I think we would have totally rid ourselves of blight ridden tomato plants. As it is, it is a much decreased problem this year and the four volunteers are faring better than the rest. The largest Celebrity of the three is covered with beautiful four-ounce fruits – I stopped counting at fifty. The first ripe one came off yesterday and we have had fried green tomatoes once from the same plant. Tomatoes… couldn’t we all just talk about tomatoes for days.

Okra flower with bug

Then there is the okra. I cut back to four plants this year because There Was So Much Okra last year! One plant up and died leaving us with three. There Is Still So Much Okra. I pick six to ten okra pods every day and about every three days I clean, chop, bread and freeze a quart size zip lock baggy of okra. We eat okra also, and I have shared a little. I once jokingly said the only reason I grow okra is to be assured of something to compost. Tsk, tsk… I have learned to Love it.

Bodacious corn

This is our third little patch of corn this summer. Spread the wealth I say. Yes we grow it in rows and Gene has become such an expert at hand pollinating corn. One day we were lucky enough to notice pollen shed and watch for a while. It was fascinating and beautiful. For a comprehensive article on the whole story of corn pollination click here. You can also look online for how to hand pollinate corn – it’s really very easy and very effective.

So our third batch of corn. We always chow down on all the corn on the cob we can eat the evening of harvest, then blanch, scrape and freeze the rest for all kinds of recipes and great eating.

Amaranth

Among the seed packets my sister thoughtfully sent for Christmas last year was amaranth. I know next to nothing about amaranth but we planted several seeds after a cursory online search. All the seeds came up. Most of them lived. I was only able to keep a few alive during the intense heat because, sorry to say, it wasn’t a high priority. Am I a bad gardener? Then a huge wind took several of them down. This one survived all that albeit flat on the ground with its’ roots barely hanging on to the soil. As plants will do, this one made a 90 degree turn reaching for the sun and has produced a big beautiful head of flowering seed pod. You might notice all the bug eaten leaves. These plants are hardy! If it was standing it would be in the six to seven foot range for height and the stalk is several inches wide. Next year I plan on putting them up against a support where they might be tied up with some twine. And definitely in the flower garden along with the Thai basil. And other things too.

Zucchini

Five late zucchini plants in straw bales near a trap planting (ok it was a volunteer that I took advantage of) of butternut squash laying on the ground. Every. Single. Day. one of us attends the plants in the bales and on the ground, turning Every. Single. Leaf. over to look for squash bugs and their eggs. We remove them to a plastic jug filled with water. This is a lot of work. Do not mash the bugs as that attracts more bugs (from what I have read and I ain’t taking any chances), just drown them. We also used diatomaceous earth before the plants began blooming. So far so good. I think we are going to have some summer squash soon! For thorough info on getting rid of squash bugs read this Moonmooring post here.

Gene running the weed eater

Wait. What!? The last sunflower. It came up real late and was a volunteer to boot. I don’t believe it received much water. There are only so many hours in a gardener’s day.

What else is happening out there you might ask? Lots still. The last of the third planting of green beans. Pole beans kicking in. Watermelons still to harvest and the honeydew have been truly amazing. Five pounds of tomatillos from one plant yesterday (there are several plants… yikes!), the San Marzano, Black Krim, Atomic and mystery tomato all still kicking out more than enough every day. Peppers, peppers, peppers. Sweet potatoes are looking massive. The Brussels sprouts made it through the heat and some kale also. Time to dig up the volunteer leeks to transplant, pull the green onions from their shade. And we cut our first fall cilantro today for salsa. Life is good. Now it is time to start the fall plantings!

Do you plant a fall garden? If so what do you grow in it?

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