Friday, October 19, 2012

Growing Into the Fall

Around here, it's starting to look like fall.  We had a couple of really cold days and once, the heat came on, but we are back to really mild weather in the 60s again right now.  The gardens are still plugging along and nothing has died from frost yet because we really haven't had any. 

The other night, I went out and picked a bunch of greens, some beans and some rogue tomatoes.  My Rainbow Brights Swiss Chard is finally looking rainbow like.  I added some radish tops and basil and probably some beet tops too.

The tomatoes came from this rogue octotom.  I have no idea where this plant came from and since it looks nothing like any of the heirlooms that I planted, or anything I've ever grown before, I will assume it came from the seeds of the "tomatoes on the vine" that I buy at the grocery store.  These are perfectly round and pretty firm.  They are larger than cherry tomatoes but not as large as the "tomatoes on the vine".  And they just won't quit.  As you can see, the vines spilled out of the wheelbarrow long ago and they just keep creeping away.  There are still new flowers that the bees keep pollinating.  They are suffering from powdery mildew but the tomatoes are fine, and the plant keeps going, so I let it.  You just have to watch where you step in the greenhouse!

I have a good chuckle every day with this stalk of corn and its mini friends around it.  After ther corn ransacking of both 2011 and 2010, I vowed to stop growing corn.  But I really wanted to grow some and started it really late, thinking maybe I'd trick the monsters who got into it last year.  No sooner had nice, strong stalks appeared than something got into the garden and snapped them all except for this tall one.  The little ones tried to come back but didn't produce ears.   There's one ear on the tall one.  We (the corn and I) laugh about how it's the only one there, in the face of all the other destruction.  As I write this, something is probably eating that very ear and laughing at me.

There's kale in the background going crazy but I swear kale bothers my digestion, so I've stopped liking it.  And I threw in some pea plants, but I think by the time they flower, the bees will be gone, so there won't be any peas to eat. 

After a very lengthy debate with myself, k-ster, my father and the internet, I decided to try growing some carrots in concrete blocks.

The debate is whether or not there are dangerous metals that will leach out of the blocks.  According to what I read (multiple sources), unless they are true cinder blocks, made of fly ash which contains radioactive elements, then no, they are not dangerous.  I have no idea what these blocks around this yard are made of and some are probably older than me.  We have so many to choose from.  I took those that looked the newest and I'm hoping for no radioactivity in my future.

Then I planted one carrot in each one.  I put them near the sunniest side of the greenhouse.  I hope that the heat off the greenhouse and the insulating  nature of the blocks will let them thrive this winter.  And I picture that because each one gets its own hole, everyone will be happy.

I don't think I ever showed this picture of what I did just outside the door of the house this summer.  It's kind of a wasted space of grass that is a pain to cut, so I thought I'd put in some plants.  And I found the cutest plant stand at a thrift store.

Today, they look like this.  The impatiens died from that crazy impatien fungus that went around, but everything else has gone insane.  I think I'll plant things here again next year.  I wasn't sure if they would bother us as we go in and out the door, but it seems to be fine.  There are a couple of perennials in there, so we'll see what comes up.  I think I'd like a little picket fence on the edge, by the walkway, to define.  K-ster won't like that too much....  Although, I thought he wouldn't like the plants so close to the walkway but he kind of likes it, so who knows?

When I planted my beans and corn late in August, I also planted some sunflowers.  These are nothing like the behemoths that grew this summer (literally taller than my 12 foot high greenhouse) and they were from the same package.  Clearly it's a matter of sunlight and this part of garden #1 gets a lot less as the summer passes.  It's still a pleasure to see them with the bright yelow centers in October!

These zinnias are from seeds I saved from my zinnias last year.  They have been phenomenal.  Those on the left are a gorgeous coral color.  I have some of these in garden #2 too.  Most of them turned out to be the purplish color of the others and I don't like that too much.  I have another mixed coral/pink group in an ugly bucket in the greenhouse.  I didn't mean for them to grow and I thought they were something else at first and then as the summer went, I just left them because they were pretty!

My sister noticed I hadn't been saying much about the greenhouse lately.  I figure that I've told everyone how amazed I was all last year and now that I know what I can get away with growing in cold weather, it's not something I need to talk about again.  If you've seen one broccoli plant growing happily in February in a New England greenhouse, you've seen them all.
What I did do this year and I will definitely keep doing and encourage everyone else to do, is plant in succession.  This is the way to keep getting vegetables for the whole summer.  Most people plant one set of vegetables and once those plants are done, they don't get any more of that vegetable but it might only be July.  If you plant several times, you will have the veggies for longer.  Even into August, it's not a bad idea to start more plants, I've decided.
I have had a bit of an overload of green beans due to my succession planting, but bean plants are supposed to be great for the soil, so I'm not upset.  I've given away literally bags of green beans to people at school and I'm still picking them!  I'm almost chasing people down and begging them to take my beans.  I'm about to ding dong dash with them if they keep up at this rate!  I've bagged 3 gallons for the freezer and I eat them raw almost every day for lunch.  Those plants are still trucking and will produce until the bees stop.  That will be pretty soon, sadly.
I'm having trouble getting broccoli started for the winter.  I have some beets starting and carrots and possibly some lettuce. 

I'm going to bring my basil plant into school and see if I get basil for the whole year.  My sister has a basil plant that I gave her last summer and it stayed inside and kept growing all year.  She put it out in her garden this summer and it did fine.  I would think basil would tire pretty easily because it's not a perennial, but I'm going to see what happens.


  1. Beautiful! I've never seen carrots grown like this. Let us know how they turn out!


I love comments almost as much as I love summer. I reply to all comments except those ridiculous anonymous comments offering me dirty deeds and real estate. When you leave your comment, please make sure your own settings will allow me to reply to you. Nothing makes me sadder than replying to your comments and then realizing it’s going to the no-reply@blogger address!