August Comparisons

Hello September! For how slow I feel time has moved this summer, I now feel we are being sling-shot into the fall. I’m ok with that. I love the fall, mostly because the temperatures are mild and ideal for getting large outdoor projects done. This is also when our garden seems most abundant with everything producing. We should have another month of good harvests before we need to start thinking about cleaning everything up for the winter months. That being said, the weather has been overall cooler this year so we will have to see how the end of our growing season goes.

As mentioned previously, our strawberries had a bit of a hiccup and stopped producing for a few weeks. Although they started again, it is only recently that we are starting to get back to our harvest levels from before that brief stop in growing. The plants are full of strawberries now, just on the verge of being ripe, so hopefully our September numbers are more in line with last year. The good news is that I have frozen enough so far this year to make a new stock of strawberry and Christmas jam.

We also let the plants run a little wild this year, possibly part of the hiccup, but we wanted to get lots of runners established for next years move into the new berry bed that will be in our new walled area. We have a lot of nice looking plants that are also now producing beautiful sized berries.

Our scallions are on par with last year. Considering they are a by-product of our onions, it is no surprise. I don’t believe we will be using them much in September as they are all now quite large and are not growing anymore smaller, tender greens.

We are having a much better year for cucumbers, but still definitely not a banner year for us. We are getting enough that I am not needing to purchase any, or ask gardener friends for some, but it is not like the first few years where I was desperate to give-away whatever I could. During those summers, I was getting 4-6 cucumber every two or three days. I wish that I had kept track in those earlier years for comparisons. Both our long English and lemon cucumber plants have flowers and new growth so hopefully we will continue to harvest cucumbers into October.

Our herbs numbers are a bit deceiving. Last year we harvested a lot of our herbs in August because they had gotten wild and had gone to seed while we were on our vacation to Newfoundland. This year, we have been tending them through all of August so they haven’t been able to go to seed and are still growing and producing a good harvest. I anticipate my numbers being higher in the September comparison since I am likely going to harvest most of the herbs later this month. I will also likely be making soups and sauces to can and freeze later this month, so I need the herbs to hold on until then.

At first, the carrot numbers surprised me. I thought we would have harvested more this year than we did last year, but then I realized we harvested most of our carrots in August last year, with only a few stragglers being harvested in September. Our September and October comparisons are going to be quite different. We still have a full bed to harvest. We are planning on harvesting some in the next few days to make some Spicy Pickled Carrots for K. I thought I had shared this recipe previously, but it doesn’t look like I have so I will make sure to do that soon. They are a great addition to a charcuterie board or a nice homemade gift during the holiday season.

Our hot peppers are certainly less abundant this year. Mind you, we ended up with less plants this year than we did last year. This year we had a proper variety of pepper plants, whereas last year I somehow ended up with no variety and only 15 banana pepper plants. This year we have 9 hot pepper plants, 3 hot Hungarian, 3 banana and 3 jalapeño. We also have 2 sweet pepper plants. our numbers are still off, but we are letting the late summer heat ripen our hot peppers for a little more kick. There are lots of peppers waiting to be harvested, so our September numbers should be better.

Our onions are happy. I changed it up this year and grew both spring and sweet onions. The change-up led to more onions being harvested throughout the summer rather than mostly late in the growing season. In 2019, all of our onions were harvested between Aug-Oct. I’ll be interested to see the overall comparison to see if we were on par overall. I do think I will do more sweet onions next year since we will have more space, but the spring onions are a must-have from now on. They are great to have throughout the summer while the sweet onions are growing fat. I would also like to add some shallots into the mix.

I am very interested to see how our tomatoes do next year. We will be moving them, temporarily but maybe permanently, to our new beds while we terrace the tomato tower side of the yard next year. The tomato tower side of our yard is steep but gets nice shade during the hottest part of the day, which has always been good for our tomatoes. But with the overall cooler summers the last few years, we are finding that they are not ready until August. It would be nice to have at least some ripen in July. If they do about the same on the sunnier side next year, then we may put them back to their original location once we are done building those walls. I also plan to move the brussel sprouts there as well as some other shade varieties that we haven’t grown in the past.

Overall the tomatoes are doing great. We went with Roma’s this year instead of beefsteak and I think we will be sticking with them. I like them for sauces and eating much more than the beefsteaks. The Roma’s have been a good size and produce more fleshy tomatoes with less seeds than the beefsteaks. Better for not making your sandwich soggy.

The cherry tomatoes have also started to ripen. It’s funny, for a while we were concerned that we hadn’t planted any because they looked like Roma’s growing. They were long rather than round. It turns out that the variety is just a bit more oblong than round. I switch it up from year to year, but I think I will stick with these ones. I grew them from seed rather than buying from the nursery that we usually go to. Our last ones have been good, but these are like the ones I remember from childhood, stealing from my Grans garden.

That’s it for the comparisons. For an update on some of the other stuff that is new this year, our brussel sprouts may produce after all. The bug/rust/mildew/mild (I never figured out what it was) seems to have gone away and the plants are once again looking happy. The sprouts that are growing are the size of the end of my thumb. Another week or so and perhaps I will be able to eat some! Although, it will be a battle royale with the wolf spiders that have made a home in the leaves, but I may need to thank them if it was in fact bugs that were destroying the plants.

The spaghetti squash is still struggling. The plant looks so health and is growing but the squash seems to keep dying at a certain point. I have tried nipping the flowers off once the squash gets to a certain point, but that didn’t seem to help. I do have one decent sized one right now, so we will see if it can go all the way. It has made it way further than any of the other ones.

Our butternut squash is the same way. Lots of flowers, lots of squash starting, but then they wilt away. It may be the soil, or perhaps the location since I just plunked it into the hillside. I’ll be doing a bit more research this winter to make sure I get them into a happy home in our new beds next year.

My watermelon is doing great. Once the heat hit, they started growing like crazy! Lots of melons started. They are the little sugar melons so they don’t seem to need as long to grow to full-size. I should have 3 ready in the next week with another 6 or 7 ready in a few weeks. It is still flowering and new melons are forming. That plant I am definitely going to put in a much sunnier location next year.

Our flowers are also doing amazing. I will have to do an update on the non-food items in our garden and yard. The planters are all full with many overflowing. It truly becomes an oasis to sit and relax in.

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