Late-Season Garden Vegetables

Reader Contribution by Rd Copeland
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Summer gives way to Fall as the night air cools and the breeze comes out of the north. The summer garden’s bounty is safely stored on shelves and in cellars. Time marches on. But wait! Could there be more to come from flowering plants on these crisp mornings? Yes! There will be another harvest and who doesn’t love a good comeback? Especially when it’s all said and done you’re left with fresh, organic vegetables for dinner. Winner, Winner.

Plant and Grow Heirloom Vegetables

First came the grasshoppers, then the squash bugs and blister bugs, and as expected, blazing 100 degree heat and more severe drought; an all out attack on my garden. It was enough to make Mr. Green Jeans pack it in.

For the past month I battled the insects and the elements on a daily basis, finally getting some cooler nights and now, much to a grasshopper’s chagrin, my garden is making a serious comeback. Take that you pesticide immune, genetically modified Frankenbugs.

Tomatoes, beans, peppers and okra are back in production after a month of stress and dormancy. The all-heirloom variety vegetables from Baker Creek Seeds, and my own seed stock saved over the past several years, have battled the elements and won. I’ll take an assist by constantly watering the garden thru a drip and soaker hose system, and for liberal applications of garlic-pepper spray, Neem, BT, orange oil, Garrett Juice, and much hand picking and chicken scratching. Once I had picked everything this summer that was ripe, I turned the hens and a young rooster into the garden for a couple of weeks. The chickens rounded up the rest of the bugs and tilled up a few areas where I had harvested potatoes, onions, beans, carrots, chard and corn, plus added a touch of fertilizer. Now that’s what I call round-up ready.

The Queen

If there’s one thing you’ll always find growing in my garden, it’s tomatoes. The old song is right; “there’s just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” I love them all. Chocolate Pear (small pear-shaped fruit with a dark chocolate color and rich semi-sweet taste), Cherokee Purple (prolific bearer with large deep red and purple colors which have that homegrown tomato flavor, times two), Amazon Chocolate and Atkinson and I could go on forever. These heirloom varieties grow well in the hot and dry climate here in north Texas, and they’ll produce fruit thru the end of the year if you protect them from the elements, water them and feed them. A few years ago we had fresh Cherokee Purple tomato slices with New Year’s Dinner and I’m hoping for more of the same this year. I’ve already canned more than 50 pints of tomatoes, some with peppers and onions, so I’m hoping for another 50 jars by Christmas. Are you on my list?

Planting Fall Garden Vegetables

I’m fixin’ to plant lettuce, spinach, cabbage, chard and other cool season vegetables in the newly cleared areas. I’ve already added organic compost, corn gluten, molasses and blood and bone meal to the soil which I’m turning with a broad fork and keeping moist. I plant a few seeds of each veggie, then plant another round every week for 3-4 weeks. Hopefully it stretches out the “fresh from the garden” meals for a month or two.

Do your thing, Mother Nature. Let me know where I can help. Cold weather is coming so it may require covering everything in the garden with large sheets of plastic once December rolls around to get to one more harvest. I use four big pieces of plastic and bricks to cover four sections of my garden. Cover it at night, uncover it in the morning. Repeat. A second harvest of tomatoes, lettuce and beans on the way with some mild peppers on the bush. Will someone please pass the oil and vinegar?

Nothing is better than the nutrition-packed goodness of homegrown, non-GMO, organic vegetables. Fresh off the vine is best but don’t kid yourself, an all heirloom vegetable pasta sauce with venison and wild pork meatballs would be worth the trouble as well.

Happy Meals, y’all. Happy Meals.

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