Ending The Summer Garden
October 31. Let’s call it over. Hurricane Sandy passed through: let’s consider it done with the summer garden – wasn’t that much left any way, between the summer heat and drought, and our early October frost (Oct 12).
The storm uprooted our old apple tree. The wind flattened the Michaelmas daisies, the titonias and the flamboyant dahlias. It also blew over the peppers: they were still going strong – and I have been growing lots of peppers this year.
I picked another peck of green, wax and Merveille de Piedmonte beans on Sunday before the storm. Will harvest all remaining peppers in the next couple of days as it is too muddy now. It’s should be a another decent harvest since the last few weeks were Indian summer after all – if dry.
And so this year – a brief run down on failures and successes:
– squash, summer or winter – failure. Squash bugs, stink bugs and cucumber beetles took their tolls. We got a few but I actually had to buy squash this year! I planted some winter squash on July 1, but did not give them a rich enough, loose enough soil, and so they took forever to germinate and then just sat there. A small planting of yellow squash in late August was untroubled by pest and yielded a few fruit. But really, that’s not enough time for a larger harvest.
– tomatoes: so-so. We had plenty to eat fresh and some too can – but not plenty to can.
– peppers – the bells did not start to produce well until September, but produce then, they did. I have been harvesting the slim Italians since July. Over 2 bushels picked on October 12, before our first (and so far only frost) – of which have over a bushel in storage from the October 12 harvest. They are slowly ripening now and I maybe able to have enough for a batch on conserva (bell pepper paste). And of course, there are more in the garden.
– okra – success!
– sweet potato: so-so. Not even 2/3 of a bushel going into winter. While there were some mice depredation, I ordered too late an was not able to get slips from my regular supplier. So after scrambling to get slips elsewhere, they arrived much later than I could have wished. And… I planted them in a fairly lean sandy soil with the hopes that the roots would grow easier. But it was again a dry year… Results? No enormous tubers whatsoever – and not a lot of big ones either. In fact, the best harvest came from the slips I rooted myself, and planted in better soil. With two different variables though, how do I know which mattered most? Still, next year: order early, plant in rich soil (like everything else)
– onions: good. Lesson: plant as early as possible (February). The ones planted earlier was bigger, the ones later, not so. But the little ones are prefect as a vegetable. maybe cooked with chestnuts and finished with demi-glace.
– leeks: from seeds. Great! Long, thick shaft. Good soups, and braised leeks, and leeks with goat cheese, and tarts and…. leeks!
– beans – resounding success. For the last 2 years, I have planted my beans early, in April — only to have the Mexican bean beetle weaken the plants so much by eating the leaves that they could not bear fruit. I thought asparagus bean would be immune (since they are a different genus from most of our garden beans – Vigna vs. Phaseolus); but alas such was not the case. And there is no way to pick all the beetles off…. yes, I did try!. They laid eggs faster than I could crush them, and in only took a few weeks for the plants to become defoliated beyond hope of recovery. And the darn chicken would not eat the beetles. They don’t eat cabbage worms either (although Fat Alberta will herself devour the cabbages if she is given half a chance).
This year, I planted beans in mid-July ,both bush beans (green, yellow wax and Merveille de Piedmonte, a variety with burgundy streaks) and asparagus beans. I have been harvesting continuously since the first week of September (an there are still a few plants in the cold frame). We have been feasting on beans and put plenty in the freezer.
I am particularly fond of Asparagus beans…
but I like them all, especially with peppers, garlic and ginger
How did your garden grow this summer? did you have a favorite crop?