August is usually our month off. My husband is a teacher and we like to travel and to relax around the house in late summer. It is always a worry that our hard work in the garden will be lost by minimal human maintenance. And every year I am reminded…oh yeah, everything is gonna be fine. Although there are always failures, Fall’s harvest is a celebration and reward for the labor you have poured into it. This is my favorite time of the year, especially in the kitchen!
Without a doubt, our biggest success this year was cherry tomato plant. As of mid-Oct we are still bringing in tasty cherry tomatoes regularly. We have eaten a LOT of cherry tomatoes this year! Our Kale was/is also a winner. The tender plants (Red Russian Kale from Sow True Seed) have been replenishing readily. They did attract some new pests though…so it was a higher maintenance crop.
The Kentucky Wonder green beans have been tasty and prolific. These have been a favorite of my son’s. He likes picking through the vines almost daily, harvesting and eating the young beans. And finally…I have had a successful pepper plant! My accidental Carmen Peppers are a welcome bright red show in my garden late in the season. The peppers are sweet and mild and a nice size for cooking.
The squashes this year have been our disappointments. From the three spaghetti squash plants we tended, I brought in only one squash. A few other fruits were started but ended up rotting or falling from the vine before it was time. The zucchini was also very fickle, with only a few squashes in the beginning of the season. I have heard that this years heavy rains have been a hindrance on a lot of people’s squash crops. My parents experienced similar issues with rot on their pumpkins this year.
On the landscaping front, the Heirloom Cypress Vine was a big hit! I planted the seeds along the base of a two large trellises that frame the front window. There was weak early growth so I planted two mandevilla vines, expecting the cypress vine not to grow. Surprisingly the cypress vine took off and so did the mandevilla. They have been a lovely combination and really complement each other.
My Kaleidoscope Butterfly Bushes have taken off an promise to thrive in their spots in the following years. I can’t wait for the two I planted this year to fill in with the already established one to make a hedge! The cat mint we put in, after dividing my Mom’s healthy planter, is hearty and will have no problem taking over the spot we planted it if we aren’t careful. Roscoe is loving his daily dose of fresh leaves rubbed on his scratch pad too!
All in all this has been a great year in the garden. Not only was our yard was a pleasant oasis for play and party. It provided us with all myriad of fresh foods for our repertoire. Fall is my favorite time of year for many things – the food is one of the highlights. My favorite garden standards like sweet basil for pesto and Rainbow Chard for salad. The tomatoes were so bountiful that we have eaten them in everything! (Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Veggie Harvest Casserole) My grocery bill has been slashed by the abundance of fresh produce that has been readily available (both in our garden and my parents’) and I keep busy trying to use everything before it goes bad. I love using my ice cube trays to preserve herbs and I am trying my hand at pickling a bit too. Along with its reward, there is still always work to be done in the kitchen this time of the year!
I think about history, with the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, and how the same traditions are still alive today with those who are growing food. There is a moment of gratefulness that is real when you prepare the table for your family and friends with the foods that you have produced which are plentiful for all. At this close of the high gardening season I hope that all your own cornucopias overflow with the bounty of the harvest and that you too are thankful for it.