Monday, September 30, 2013

garden update: late september

In September, the garden completely got away from me. We didn't have a normal "harvest time" because everything was ready at different times, and some things didn't survive at all.

Here's what the garden looks like now, waiting to be cleaned out for some fall plantings of cold weather crops.

Believe it or not, this is our tomato patch. Yikes. 

We had a few lessons learned with this patch this year. Our plants were too close together and crowded in. We also didn't properly stake them - the cages we used were too large and as the plants grew and grew, they couldn't support the weight of the fruit. Some of the vines died because they snapped under the weight. So then you have this mess.

It also feels like it happened over night. One day they were all fine the next, they were a jumble. Oh, and at one point, one of the hens made this her secret nesting box for 8 days as evidenced by this:

We also were falling prey to a bit of late blight that arrived in western Pennsylvania. All things considered, as far as harvest, we managed to get a decent amount of tomatoes. Many of them had to come off the vines early, but they ripened pretty well indoors and are part of many freezer batches of Mark's tomato sauce as well as salsa. 

One bumper crop we did have this year was the Beam's Yellow Pear Tomatoes. Holy buckets, we have been drowning in these. The photo below is the last round of tomatoes we brought in. A couple of fat greeny-red ones and a ton of yellows.

The corn plant managed to give us 6 ears this year, which is definitely a success. We're going to use the dried plants as decorations for our front porch for fall. (Now I just need some mums!)

One of the basils went to seed really quickly and spilled over the side of its bed. We let it be, but it was nice to see bees around it constantly.

The bed where the basil was also housed peppers and broccoli. The broccoli got enormous, but didn't produce anything. I don't think we planted it at the right time. The peppers produced well, and we got tons of jalapenos, which were used in salsa or strung up to dry.

I got a few random wildflowers from the mix I planted in a container. I happened to catch a bee having a little nip on one of the flowers.

Besides the basil, the only herb that really produced was sage. We got a lot of herbs from our CSA though, so we were never without. 

Here's a really great shot of what happens when you have random empty pots of previously used soil on your back patio. And then what happens when you don't do anything with them all year. Weed explosion.

The cucumbers did okay - at least better than last year. In particular, the Boothby's Blonde ones produced pretty well and we got to eat them on salads for a few weeks earlier this year. We had planted nasturtiums near them to help with natural pest control. Once the cucumbers were dead and gone, the flowers took over and we just let them do their thing.

The dragon beans produced well this year - much more than last year. We had enough to have a whole meal of lubieh with just our beans! Maybe it was the pentunias that helped keep the pests away (though they mostly escaped out the side of the bed)!

Sadly, there's nothing left to see of the squash/pumpkin/melon patch. We lost most of them to pests - squash bugs in particular. We did get two small kikuza squash - one of which we could eat - and it was tasty. We got a few emerald gem melons too, which are small but adequate. No pumpkins or other melons to speak of though. Mark opened up the netting around the patch and let the chickens go to town. You would have thought they won the lottery with the feast of bugs before them.

Now nothing's left but dirt!

Once all the beds are cleaned out, Mark will be sowing some lettuce that's cold hardy in the bed that housed the peppers and broccoli. The other beds will be mulched with straw to preserve the soil and overwinter. 

Are you planting anything for the fall?

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