September Comparisons

We seem to have returned to our normally programmed schedule for September weather. It has started getting cooler and the garden is showing it. Some of our plants have wound down in production while others are still pumping out delicious fruits and vegetables. We have been removing some of the sections as they finish, while others we have left in. We will need to do a full clean of the garden in the coming weeks. The battle of the spiders right now is not worth it. We will wait until it is cooler and they are slower!

The strawberries are doing great with flowers continuing to bloom and berries continuing to ripen. We are definitely producing less strawberries than last year, however a lot of the plants are new this year. Next year, when they are more established, we should see some higher numbers. Though, we are going to be transplanting them into a new, permanent home, so we will have to see. We are quite happy with what we have continued to harvest this year. We have quite a few bags of frozen berries and have enjoyed them throughout the summer, so it has been a great year.

Looking at the weather, we should still continue to harvest for a few more weeks. Temperatures, though cooling, aren’t getting below freezing. The production will definitely start slowing down.

We took out our final harvest of beets in September. I had every intention of planting more in august for a fall harvest but lost track of time and never got the seeds in. That is ok though, we have enough to get us through at least another month, then we will have to start breaking into the pickled ones. I am very much looking forward to more golden beets next year. I do plan on doing a mix of the red and golden next year, and will aim to do a few plantings so that we have some later harvests.

Our herbs were hit and miss this year for a few reasons. The heat dome made a few bolt almost as soon as we got them into the ground. Our cilantro bolted within a day. The other factor was not having them on our automatic watering. Most of our herb planters are tied into our lawn sprinkler lines, which were out of commission this year due to needing a new manifold. We contacted a few companies and never heard back from any of them. I am going to try to reach out earlier next year so that we will hopefully be one of the first houses on their list for work to be done.

That being said, our basil this year was amazing. Growing in the tomatoes helped keep them sheltered from the sun, resulting in large bushes of basil. I loved having a variety of types, so that will be a new garden must-have going forward. With the colder weather, I decided to pull it all and get it processed before it could wilt. Along with the sundried tomatoes that I have made from the garden, we will have a nice stock of pesto for the winter months. MMMMMM!

The Lemon cucumbers were an awesome plant this year with a ridiculous amount of growth and produce. The long-english were good, but could have been better. I may try switching it around so the long-english are on the side that the lemons were this year. See if the way the sun hits those plants changes how well they grow. Either way, we had great September harvests. The plant is now getting wilty and has mildew on the leaves, so I don’t think we will be getting any more for the year. You never know with those lemon cucumbers though, so we will see. I’m just not sure that I am willing to battle the golden orb weaver or the plethora of wolf spiders who have made the cucumber ladder into a personal spider condo. I may just leave them to enjoy the fall. They are conveniently killing, or at least trapping in their webs, all the tiny little flies that seem to be abundant in town this year. Too small for the spiders to bother eating, but their webs are working wonders.

The carrots are still growing, with at least a few more harvests to come before we fully clean out the garden. I did have to put some fencing up around the carrots since Basil finally figured out how to get into the garden where they are to help herself to some tasty treats. I think that when we took out the brussels sprouts and beets, it gave her direct access. Those plants had deterred her because she conveniently, won’t trample through the garden where stuff is growing. Once they were out though, there was nothing standing in her way.

Next year we will space out the carrots a little more, or do a better job of thinning them. We have had a lot of smaller size carrots, which are great for dipping into hummus for lunch, but sometimes I really wanted a decent size one for a recipe.

Our numbers for September this year are way lower than last year, but that is partly because we did not plant an entire garden bed of carrots. What compelled us to do that last year is beyond me, but the dogs enjoyed it. They got lots of carrots last year. This year, they will still enjoy some of what we have remaining, but it will be a more reasonable amount this year.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner right here. I took all the remaining sweet peppers off the plants about a week ago. The change in weather was having a huge effect on the plants and I didn’t want the peppers to go mushy or soft before I could use them. So we picked them while they were still nice and crispy and processed most of them to enjoy throughout the winter months. I still have a few in the fridge to enjoy as well.

I am so happy with the bell peppers this year. I am hoping that it was not just dumb luck and that our process this year is what made the difference. We will know next year when we follow the same process. We have loved having so many peppers producing, and not just growing, but being full of flavour and thick fleshed. I’m still in awe of how well they did this year. In fact, I noticed yesterday that a few of the plants are still trying to grow some peppers, even though the plant is looking pretty haggard. Who knows, maybe I will have some to harvest in October.

These little mean machines are amazing. The amount of peppers that we have gotten from our plants this year is crazy. I feel like every time I harvest this summer, I am getting a bowl full of these spicy little cayennes. And they are still going. Unlike the bell peppers, the plant doesn’t seem as affected by the cold weather. I am sure I will be getting a few more harvests through October.

I dehydrated a bunch of them to make some cayenne powder with. I will also keep a few of the dehydrated ones as flakes for in soups and chili. They add such a nice kick of heat that hits hard and then simmers down quickly. Plus, they have a ton of flavour. I hate hot peppers that are just hot and don’t give you the enjoyment of flavour. These ones pack a punch in both departments.

Rolling right along with our awesome pepper plants, the banana peppers have also been very happy and have been pumping out peppers. I always thought banana peppers were hot, but they really don’t have any heat. We have enjoyed most of these cut up for lunches or thrown onto nachos. They definitely have a different flavour than the bell peppers, which gives a nice variety. It has been a good year for peppers!

We didn’t plan our onions well this year. Last year we were harvesting onions into October. This year, I only had one variety and they all came out at the end of August. Again, I had planned a fall harvest, but didn’t get around to getting anything planted. I will do better with our onions next year. As it is, I am already on my last braid of our onions and will have to go back to store-bought. Soup season has only just begun! Oh well, lesson learned.

The tomatoes are out of control! Thank goodness that the tower that is holding them up is against the garden wall, otherwise everything would have fallen over. Some of these plants have to be over 12′ tall. It will be interesting to detangle a few of them to see just how big they got. As of right now, they are full of tomatoes and bending well past the tops of the towers to hang over our path. It makes walking to the back of the yard a little challenging, but worth it. I anticipate a nice large harvest in October. I will be taking in all the green ones as well to ripen them in the house. Lots of tomatoes to be a base for soups and sauces this winter.

Our cherry and pear tomatoes have been killing it this fall. Like the Romas, they are ginormous and taking over the walking path. So many tomatoes are still popping on these gargantuan plants, and despite the cooler weather, continuing to turn red. Thanks to the great harvests, I have quite the stock of dried tomatoes to make into pesto with the basil. The rest of the sun dried tomatoes will be used throughout the winter in focaccia breads, baking and other sauces. I made a small batch the other night and it was sooooooo yummy. And it is so simple to make.

I love my sister for getting me a dehydrator for Christmas last year. It has become a staple kitchen tool this year!

I was pleasantly surprised to get another zucchini off our plant. It had gotten covered in mildew at the end of August, so I figured it was finished for the year. Nope, it tried really hard to give off one last batch of veggies. In the end, I was able to harvest one last small zucchini. To be fair, as previously noted the cucumber towers, which go overtop of the zucchini, are now a high-rise condo for wolf spiders, so I didn’t really get in there to dig around to see if there was more I could get. It just wasn’t worth it. From what I could see though, there weren’t any others that made it very far in the growth process. Overall I had a fantastic year with the zucchini, so I am quite happy.

I really enjoyed having celery all summer. I am disappointed in myself for not remembering to go and harvest all the plants before they became woody. Unfortunately, I got busy with our Etsy shop, building new items and landscaping the yard, and when I went to check the plants, it wasn’t worth harvesting them. I had planned on chopping them all and freezing them to use in soups and stir-fry’s all winter. Oh well, lesson learned. Next year I will make time to process them at the first hint that they are ready to come in from the cold.

I am quite shocked. We actually managed to grow some potatoes. I am shocked because we have neglected those towers so bad, that I didn’t think there was any way that we would get any potatoes out of them. I stopped adding soil to them when the heat dome hit, so they were only 3 levels deep rather than the normal 6. So far I have only harvested the tower on the right side, which had a nice little batch of potatoes.

Out of curiosity, I also harvested the middle one, that for the longest time was only growing fungus and mushrooms. I managed to get 1 large potato and 1 small potato out of it. Not bad considering that I didn’t think we would get anything from it. While harvesting though, I also found the largest slug we have ever had in our yard. I guess that is on point for the theme of that middle tower this year. Clearly too much water, but we reduced it down to a tiny drip when the fungus started growing, and yet, it was still saturated.

We will harvest the last tower in the next week or so. I am expecting about the same as the right tower. Not much, but a little something. We will get back to our regularly scheduled potato programming next year when the towers will have a permanent home again.

That’s it for the September harvest. We will have a bit to harvest in October, but the gardening season is most definitely coming to an end. Now it’s time to switch gears and get back to landscaping and building fun stuff in the shop!

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