Garden Update, September 2011

The leaves are starting to change colors, but our garden is still going strong! We have been very fortunate so far this fall, and only had one morning of light frost the whole month of September. We are starting to formulate emergency plans for covering and/or mulching the vegetables in the event of a hard frost, but right now our weather is still in the 80’s, lovely and warm with just a hint of crispness in the air.

I am seriously doubting whether our brassicas will ever form heads… they just keep growing more and more leaves. We have some good-sized purple carrots in this bed now, kale and spinach that were planted over Labor Day, and some leek transplants, in addition to the pole beans, which are still blooming and giving us a steady supply of green beans.

The cucumbers are starting to die back now, but they produced fruit all through the month of September and still have a few little guys still hanging in there even now. I am trying to decide whether to pickle all those beets, or just store them in a boxful of damp sand in the basement. Some of the carrots will probably be brined, or combined with cabbage for cortido. We may also try mulching over some of the root veggies to keep them in the garden for a few extra months.

The beets are looking pretty good, although their greens can look pretty chewed up. The carrots do not seem to be faring so well—every one I have pulled from our home garden so far has been pretty forked or even curled around in a loop. That tells me that the soil is not sufficiently soft and clod-free for them, but my dad says he has never had a problem like this before. Oh well… they still taste like fresh carrots! 🙂

This section of the scarlet runners is situated about 6 feet up. As you can see, tons of flowers and an increasing number of beans are developing at this level, intermixed with some morning glories that came over from the neighbor’s yard. I can’t actually reach half the beans, but as you can see above, my dad is getting in there with the help of a ladder. The foliage is so dense and the bees are so attracted to the red flowers that they are kind of hard to harvest, though; half the time we miss them until they are too developed to eat as green beans, so I am hoping we will have lots of good dry beans to eat this winter.

My dad and I planted a bunch of cold-hardy, short-season veggies on Labor Day to fill in the gaps in our beds. Everything seems to be doing very well so far… we’ll see if they are big enough to survive by the time we get a serious frost. Above you see a row of spinach; this variety is supposed to develop red stems, but I see no signs of that yet.

Dwarf blue kale is supposed to be very cold-hardy, but these are our smallest sprouts of the bunch right now, which makes me worry a little. They also didn’t all germinate, so the row will be a pretty sparse one; no time to replant the gaps now!

This is a row of baby bok choi with the sickeningly sweet name “Toy Choi,” that is supposedly ready to harvest after 25 days. I don’t think they are quite going to meet that deadline, but their leaves are bigger than my thumb now, so they are definitely thriving at the moment.

I just have to share this photo because it is the one pepper plant we were able to grow successfully from seed this year. We weren’t sure which variety it was because the labels got mixed up on the seed trays, but now that it has set its first fruit, I think it must be one of the banana peppers, which will really make my dad happy. Hopefully at least this one pepper will have sufficient time to mature, but all our pepper plants seem to be in high gear right now.

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