September Comparisons

For a year that has felt so very long, it is surprising how quickly it has gone by. We are coming to the end of our growing season with only a few more weeks of harvests to come. If we manage to keep the weather trends we have been experiencing, we may still have some items being harvested until the end of October. Mostly our root veggies, but the strawberries seem to be going strong with large, healthy fruit still ripening.

The strawberries this year have hit a few bumps, having a few weeks without producing and battling some slugs, but overall, they have come back and are now producing better than they were last year. That being said, the plants are out of control with so many runners and plants plunking roots everywhere, making for a congested tower. The good news is that we should have a lot of great plants come back in the spring to be transplanted into their forever home in the new beds. We will keep them more under control and tidy rather than letting them grow as dense as they have. My plans for October will be making some traditional strawberry jam as well as some of the strawberry/cranberry Christmas jam. Soooo much jam to get us through the winter.

I have yet to have luck with sweet peppers. I get a few, but they are usually smaller and thinner flesh to them. They are always tasty, but I am excited to find a permanent home for them that will help them grow big and strong. The funny thing is my plant has sprouted in the last few weeks and is now bursting with flowers and the beginning of a bunch of peppers. We will see how the weather holds out to see if I get to enjoy some of those little bitty peppers that are just showing up. Better late than never I guess.

We definitely have less hot peppers this year than less, but we also have about half the plants than we did last year. So many of our plants last year somehow ended up as hot pepper plants, even though I was sure we had more sweet peppers last year. This year we had less plants but I feel that the amount of hot peppers coming off each plant is comparable to last year this one is definitely a difficult comparison because of the difference in plant numbers. I am sure the next few years will be the same as we find the right spots for everything in the permanent tiered beds.

Our cherry tomatoes are trucking along and comparable to last year. We only do 2 plants a year because there is only so much we can do with them, and focus the majority of our tomato plants on a larger type. We decided on Roma’s this year and one of our plants is spitting out a bit of a hybrid. They are like mini Roma’s that are just slightly larger than our cherry tomatoes. We have been counting them as Roma’s, but eating them like cherry tomatoes.

Our Roma’s are doing fantastic. They have definitely been a better producer than the beefsteaks or starfire that we have done in the past. The tomatoes are also way better for canning, sauces and salsas. Lots of solid flesh and low on runny centres and seeds. I have also fallen in love with a tomato, cucumber and onion sandwich, and these are perfect for those. No soggy bread! They will be our tomato of choice from now on. The plants are full of beautiful tomatoes and are still ripening, so I anticipate a good haul for October. Our forecast is for plenty of sun and warm weather so they will continue to be happy for at least the next week and hopefully the week after. Whatever is left will be fried green tomatoes sandwiches.

Our onions have been awesome this year. Growing two varieties have provided onions throughout the summer with a few still growing in the garden waiting for their starring role in a few fall soups. Overall, I feel that our onion count will be higher than last years overall count. Now that we will have more room next year, I am going to throw shallots into the mix. I love them in salads as well as cooked into delicious sauces.

Our carrots are out of control! Soooooooo many carrots! The girls are in their glory enjoying all the carrots that they have been given with their daily meals. K is also happy with the carrot muffins and carrot loaves that have been made and added to his lunches. We still have half a bed to pick, so I really need to start experimenting with more recipes. Next week we are going to enjoy one of my favourite fall soups, carrot and Brie. I’ll make sure to share that recipe with some delicious photos. I think I will also make some carrot treats for the dogs, switch up how they are receiving their homegrown additions. I’ll make sure to share those recipes as well.

Our cucumbers are following our sweet peppers. They have been providing the odd veggie throughout the summer, but nothing consistent until the last two weeks when the plant seems to be going into overdrive with lots of cucumbers popping out. I should have some smaller size to harvest and enjoy over the next few weeks. Hopefully we will avoid frosts and I get to reap some of the benefits. The first few years when we were growing wherever we could, I couldn’t give our abundance of cucumbers away. There were just so many, now I am barely getting enough to avoid buying them during the summer. Next year, we will find the new happy spot.

So far we had a tower that produced the way we figured it would. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not as much as we had last year. It was the runt plant, so we were happy we got anything out of that tower. It was a decent harvest of 5.3 lbs. last year though, that same tower produced 6.78 lbs. the seed potatoes I used had small eyes so it was a concern how many we would get. This was also the tower that somehow had a few slugs living in the soil. No damage to the potatoes though.

Our second tower that we harvested did not look good when we started emptying it. Turns out the plant didn’t sprout throughout the tower, but rather packed a somewhat solid layer at the very bottom. It was odd, but extremely surprising when we weighed how many potatoes we ended up with in that narrow layer of the tower. We ended up with 14.44 lbs. it was awesome considering we thought we might have a dud when we first started emptying it. Last year, that same tower produced 10.48 lbs. also a great harvest, but that was throughout the entire tower. We haven’t emptied our middle tower yet, which was the best producer of the three towers last year. Hopefully that trend is consistent this year.

One concern for us though is that one of the largest potatoes from that second tower was half eaten. I noticed some little white worms around that potato. Turns out to be potato tuberworms. Luckily we didn’t see any evidence around any of the other potatoes and none of the other potatoes have any evidence of the worms. No holes or lines in the potatoes. We are hoping that our centre tower is going to show no signs of the worms. We feel fairly confident as they seemed to be only in that one small area. I guess we will see!

That’s it for September. We will have one more comparison for the month of October. It may come mid-month instead of at the beginning of November since our plants will likely be cleared before the end of the month.

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