Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our September Garden September 14th

Our small garden was nearly bare a month ago. Now it is about 1/2 full of fall crops, most of which are at least partially frost hardy. We are getting new crops of beets, chard, green beans and spinach. First fruits again! Lettuce will be ready in a week or so.
The back garden is yielding last fruits of potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes. It will provide a huge number of peppers until frost. On the other hand, we harvested our first tomatilloes just this week.
I used all of the compost from the past year as dressing between the rows of the small garden. I still haven't figured out compost. We put SO MUCH material in the compost bin and ended up with just a bushel or two of compost. Then, when you incorporate it into the garden or add is as a top dressing, it continues to decay - substantially. Within a year or so, most of it is gone. I don't understand how this creates and sustains a balance of soil humus. It seems you have to constantly add organic material to the soil. In an established prairie or forest, replenishment occurs constantly and naturally - but in a garden or a farmed field?
Last Friday night Mickey and I attended a meeting to discuss "food justice." It's a very broad topic that includes legislation, buying habits, agricultural practices, consumer education, the problem of the underfed and the growing problem of the overfed. Everyone that attended took a couple minutes to talk about their food background and their vision for the group. The stories were remarkably diverse, and they accurately described the many facets our food culture. We are not sure where the group's passion and skills will take us, but there seems to be plenty of options.
This past week our granddaughter, Elsa, volunteered to help for a few minutes. She trimmed some of the greens, taste tested the soil, and showed us how to handle tiny seeds with her tiny hands. Quite impressive for a city girl.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

August 27th The True Harvest

Last Sunday the McGuckins and the Lavengoods visited us to barbecue and share a meal. It's clear that everyone should have some daily exposure to young children. Perhaps the highlight of the garden year is seeing the kids dig potatoes - and scream as loudly as possible at every small living thing they noticed. We only got through one small row, so if someone else needs some fun, bring a couple of kids over.

After months of receiving consistent rain I finally had to water the back garden. The
tomatoes and peppers were looking pretty droopy. But that hasn't kept them from producing. I picked about 1 gallon of cherry tomatoes last evening. I take them a day or so before they fully ripen (and crack). They seem to ripen just fine in the house. The regular tomatoes are pick early, too. If you need any, you will find them in our basement.

The fall gree
ns are looking OK - just OK. This hot dry weather came at just the wrong time for the seedlings.

This week we have ple
nty of tomatoes, cucumbers (we saw some whitening of the leaves, so enjoy them while you can), beets (in the small garden), onions (storing well), potatoes, chard and French green beans. We harvested, blanched and froze all the edamame last week. Let us know if you 'd like to try some. Tomatilloes are slowly getting there.
A superstar will be visiting us for the next couple of weeks. If you'd like to stop by to meet her, please do so.

August 17th Is This Fall Weather?

How about this weather? Cool temperatures have slowed the garden. This week's cucumber harvest is much smaller than last week's. The tomatoes and tomatilloes are ripening more slowly. But, we still have a bounty of cucumbers and tomatoes, but no tomatilloes yet.
We need to harvest the red potatoes and many of the edamame soybeans.
We are starting to get lots of peppers, especially green and red bells, which were in short supply last year. Twelve plants should keep us happy. We also have plenty of Poblanos (Anchos), but we forgot to plant JalapeƱos for some reason. I have a map of the pepper in the house.
I've been planting a few fall vegetables over the last couple weeks: red and golden beets, 2 types of spinach, 3 types of lettuce, 2 types of chard, turnips, kale and another round of peas. The first frost is about 8 weeks away.

August 10th

How is it possible? We planted way less than an ounce of cucumber seeds. They seemed so innocent. Yet this past Saturday I harvested about 50 pounds. I needed the wheel barrow to get them to the garage. Mind you, this is a week's harvest. Stan harvested a similar bunch last week and we'll have another mess next week.
Where are the cucumber beetles that wiped out our crop last year? I have no idea. I've seen one or two out there, but not on the cucumbers. Stan's made some great refrigerator pickles and Mickey's thinking about it.
The tomatoes have arrived in quantity, too. We have plenty of peppers, and they are just getting started. Our onions appear to be storing very well, and they are very sweet. The potatoes are ready for digging.
The bush beans are about spent, but the edamame soybeans are replacing them. I tried some Saturday, but I think they are still slightly too immature. Next weekend will be it. I learned they freeze well, so that is what we'll do with the bulk of them.
Tomatilloes are next to take the stage. They are spreading on the ground and rooting as they go. I hope that's OK for the fruit.
I was able to plant a few things in the small garden for fall - 3 rows of beets, 2 of rows of Parisian green beans, 1 row of Swiss chard, and one row of spinach. We have 2.5 months before the first killing frost, so we'll be in a race to gets the beans. The rest of the plantings can tolerate some frost. I hope to plant lettuce soon.
Obviously we have plenty of stuff, so if you need anything please come over. We could use help harvesting and storing. That's part of the entire process, too.