Friday, September 26, 2008

And On We Grow...

You've been reading all these recent posts about all the preserving I've been doing, and you've probably been thinking, what a busy bee! How does she do it all?

True confession time: I don't do it all. For all the time I've spent preserving lately, I've been neglecting something else. And I have really been a slacker where the garden is concerned -- I haven't been there in three and a half weeks.

On that front, though, I'm blessed to have help. The Southern Belle has kept an eye on the garden patch, picking things as they ripen (with Scooter's help on the tomatoes) and pulling recognizable weeds. If it weren't for her, the place would be a jungle.

But I finally managed to find time in my schedule and met up with her today to talk with her, visit My Adorable Nephews, and work in the garden myself.

We've come a long way from the garden's lush peak, now that some of the older crops have been pulled (like beans) and others are dying back (like tomatoes). But there are still vibrant green pockets: look at those nasturtiums take over!

The tomato plants have had a rough time the past month or so, and they're looking really scraggly at this point. The Southern Belle has pulled all of the ripe tomatoes she could salvage (recent weather has caused many to crack and rot), and she has begun pulling the green tomatoes to save for salsa or relish (or fried!). On the up side, though, having the tomatoes die back means that we can now find the flourishing basil plants, and the Southern Belle now has my recipe for pesto and the inspiration to clean out the basil for that project!

With the tomato vines withering and drawing back, we can now find a lush row of carrots
continuing to strengthen. There are pockets of carrots around the garden, and none have grown very big yet, but I thinned out some small ones (probably for more roasting) and suggested that if we can, we should leave the carrots in the ground until after frost so they can sweeten.

The kale that I planted mid-summer is looking healthy but also very tasty to the Mystery Muncher, which has been nibbling away at the leaves. Given the small quantity in the garden and the likelihood of repeated visits from the MM, I decided to
pick the entire crop of leaves to enjoy myself. (And if more grows back, great!)

While the Southern Belle weeded, I harvested seeds from the amaranth spikes and from the gai lan plants. I also found plenty more stinging nettle shoots and filled a gallon storage bag with the leaves for making more of those delicious fritters.

I ended up heading home with considerably more produce and seeds than I had expected:

--half a dozen green tomatoes (I left the rest with the Southern Belle)
--a very small watermelon
--a bag full of nettles
--a bag half-full of kale
--a bunch of Italian parsley
--a bag half-full of nasturtium leaves and blossoms
--a handful of basil and dill
--small bags of seeds for amaranth and gai lan

I know that there's more I could have grown in the garden for fall harvest, and I intend to make better plans for that next year. The Southern Belle, the Absent-Minded Professor (garden builder and hungry man), and My Adorable Nephews have all enjoyed the garden so much this year that I'm thinking of ways to build on that excitement for next year. The AMP has already offered to build another garden bed, thus doubling the space for cultivation, and the Southern Belle and I have started discussing possible crops. I've even got ideas for a couple of projects for the boys to help engage their minds and bodies in growing the garden.

So much to consider and do! So on we go...

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