Saturday, September 28, 2013

Falling For My Fall Garden

In recent years, I've discovered that September is a booming month for my garden and sometimes, it goes right on into October or even November.

This fall has not disappointed so far.

I had a very disappointing garden for most of the summer because it just didn't produce any vegetables early on.  As always, I started my seeds in the greenhouse and planted nice and early and then everything just took all summer to grow.  The leaves grew, the plants grew and eventually, the flowers came.

Except for the cucumbers.  I had more than a plethora of cukes and they did extremely well.  So well that I will grow these Japanese kind next time, no doubt.

I planted this wall of beans way back in May and they only just started producing at the end of August.  Now, I am pawning off my beans on anyone I can because I've frozen quite a bit of them and they are still coming.

I planted these same climbing beans last year and saved the seeds and knew they took a while, but really, May to August????  And I swear I spaced them well, but they are so close and overwhelming I can't even see half of the beans.

Next year, I must find some early producing bush beans as well as these.

All it takes is the right catnip and you can grow your own cat.  It took her all summer to discover this because there were sunflowers in there and the catnip wasn't too big.  Once they came down, it grew like crazy and she thinks she has died and gone to heaven.  Surprisingly, she forgets about it and doesn't spend all day and night out there, eating it to smithereens.

And she plays it very cool when she gets caught.

This is the only pumpkin that grew.  It's not a bad size and it's currently ripening in my greenhouse, but I'm not sure what I will do with it.  I don't like to eat it, I can't put it out because squirrels immediately ruin it and jackolanterns aren't really my thing.  I think I grow them because it's fun to see what will come of it.  How big will it get, where will the vine travel to in my garden, etc.

One of the most successful plants this summer was my hedge of zinnnias.

I find them extremely easy to grow and they look wonderful.  I have grown a tall version in the past but I liked these because they were more compact with a million blossoms.  They are still going strong.  If I deadheaded them, I bet they'd be even more awesome.

You might think they are kind of in a strange place, right down the middle of the garden.  I expanded my garden to twice its former size and these are planted where they old line was.  I think I thought I was doing it to help fill in the holes from the fenceposts that I moved so I wouldn't fall in the hole.  I don't know what I was thinking, but the bees were thrilled.

Because of the a-hole known as the squash borer (a caterpillar that gets into the base of any zucchini, squash and sometimes pumpkin plant), I have had issues with squash for the past few years.  Last year, I did an early crop and got quite a bit before they ate them, and then I did a later group that was fine.

I did a lot of research and short of using chemicals, or God help me- wrapping each stem with duct tape to keep them at bay, a lot of what I read said to just plant them later because the moths will have gone by then and won't be laying eggs.  July was supposed to be the month that they went away.  Eventually, my sources say, they will get annoyed that there is no food in the early summer and they won't come back.

So, rather than let them munch an early crop and continue to have these buttheads, I waited until mid July to plant my squash.  I did have a pretty good season of zukes, though the summer squash wasn't great and my winter squash vanished.  However, when I look at the base of the plants I am certain that they have been chewed by the caterpillars, so I don't know how the plants have survived.

They even had a rebirth about a month ago

and started producing even more after a crazy rain we had.  I was sure they were done but out popped some more and even today, there are new flowers.

I am not a big fan of zucchini but I do like it sauteed when it's small, so I've been using it.  I have yet to find a zucchini bread recipe that actually pleases me. 

Mammoth sunflowers are always fun for me to grow because I love to see how tall they will get and how big their heads will be.  Unfortunately, the squirrels have finally figured out that they can just rip the heads off before they start to wilt and totally ruin everything.  I had some good sized sunflowers and some kind of demonic squirrel that ripped and shredded the heads the night of the first opening blooms.  Left the remains right there below the stalks.

These in the garden that they didn't touch bowed down very quickly and I'm sad about that.
They spend all summer growing like crazy and then just keel over after they've been open for a few days.  It makes it all too clear that summer is over.  I don't know if I will grow them again next year for just that reason.  They are pretty but it's so fleeting.

I've been planting new seeds for my winter crops in the greenhouse.  Last year, I started them really late and they grew but all winter, they  just kind of sat there.  If they get a better start now, I think I'll be able to harvest some broccoli, beets and maybe carrots this winter.

I'm also trying to grow spinach again and it's impossible.  I got 2 successful seedlings in the spring before they got too hot.  I thought maybe I was on to something with this different variety but I've tried again now that it's getting cooler and they just won't start.  I've got one measly little plant.  I've asked people around here if it's hard to grow spinach and they all say no.  This is one plant I've tried every year for about a decade with very little success.

I suppose I should start cleaning up what has passed in the garden to make it ready for winter.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I do no such thing.  It's all part of my gardening by the seat of my pants charm.

I'll trade you some beans for something delicious....

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  1. I should send you my mom's zucchini chocolate cake recipe. TOO DIE FOR. Seriously. That good. Also, I've been shredding it, freezing it, and putting it in spaghetti sauce with all the other veggies I slip in so the hubby won't notice. Works well!

  2. That's amazing that you were able to grow so many things in your garden. I just don't have the right soil or enough sunlight in my yard for a garden, so I have to head over to the farmer's market whenever I want fresh veggies.

  3. Wish I had a big yard to plant veggies! :) Danica


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