Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
The summer heat is holding on, but activities of autumn are now filling my time and my to-do list. While a fresh round of turnip greens are growing strong, and fall beets and lettuces are vibrant in their hues of greens and reds, the garden overall is trading it’s verdant lushness for peaked yellows. Squash leaves are beginning to fade, beans and peas are yellowing out, and the oldest broccoli leaves are transforming from green to brown. Potato foliage is withering, and I’ve pulled my cabbage just enough to break a few roots and keep the largest Red Rocks, Jerseys, and Savoys from splitting.
The garlic which was harvested and hung to dry early in August made way for a cover crop of oats. It’s now growing like an eager, albeit short-lived, lawn. The neighboring bed will soon look similar, as it held our approximately 200 onions.
Last week I brought in our dry beans - Vermont Cranberry, King of the Early, and Tiger Eye varieties. Though mostly dry on the vine, they’re now laid out on newspaper to finish curing, after which I’ll shell them and store them for winter use. Come the heart of winter, with the woodstove going regularly, beans cook nicely in a stove top pot left to simmer for a day. It’s harder to do so in the summer, when we try to keep our wood cookstove meals quick so as not to overheat our cabin.
I began digging potatoes in August to share with visitors, in particular the red-skinned Pontiacs, an early variety; however, the majority remain in the ground. By the time you are reading this, I hope to have them all out and curing. I have three different plots of ‘taters, holding both early and mid-season varieties. The differences between the beds is tell-tale. The patch basking in full sun all day has foliage that is completely died back, while the second, smaller plot also in full sun but ringed by peas and tomatoes, has yellowed foliage. The third and largest plot, which is shaded by the cabin by late afternoon has foliage just beginning to lose it’s green. The garden’s message to me would seem to be clear; comparing yields from each plot will finish off this lesson, for sure!
Sunflowers are blooming brazenly from all sides of our clearing, and the flower buds of the jerusalem artichokes are poised to burst. Winter squash - including a mammoth blue hubbard! — will be brought in before the first frost.
Soon enough I’ll be mulching the fruit trees as they harden off for the winter, and eyeing the horseradish for some fall zing. Until then, though, there’s still tomatoes to pick and nasturtium to munch on. Autumn may be slippin' in, but summer has not left just yet.
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