September Comparisons

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This September feels fairly comparable to September 2021 for weather, with the exception of the last few weeks. We had a temporary “Fall temperature dip” in mid-September. Crisp mornings, cool but sunny days, and the desire for hot meals. Rather than staying on that trend, it has instead heated up again, with daytime highs in the high 20’s. The overnight temperatures do look a little closer to what they were last year, but the extra bit of heat is keeping some of the plants going and the frost away. So as I go into our September comparisons, there are definitely some skewed numbers because we were pulling almost everything out at the end of September last year. This year, we have some plants that should be done, still producing and happy, so we will leave them a tad longer. Let’s get into the individual plants.

As you can see from the above calendars and comparison, we are having a lot more days of sunshine, which definitely make things feel a lot warmer out, and help our vegetables ripen. The extra sunshine this year is having a noticeable effect with how the plants are faring.

Starting with the Banana Peppers. These have been producing steadily, but overall less than last year. We will see what the final tally comes out as in October, but so far, the numbers are definitely lower and the plants haven’t been overly abundant. I think that our cold spring stunted my happy pepper plants and they just didn’t bounce back. Last year they went out in warmth that became unbearably hot very quickly, which they seemed to like. That same heat didn’t show up until almost a month later this year, so the plant suffered for it. Oh well, we were still happy with the banana peppers that we did get, and at no point did we run out, so it was a good amount we grew this year.

Well this one is a mixed bag of issues. The beets and carrots were slow to start this year, with quite a few gardeners commenting on smaller than normal produce. I lucked out and my beets seemed to start really growing once the heat of summer hit. I selectively picked the large ones and left the smaller ones in to continue growing, which they did. Unfortunately, toward the beginning of September, our lovely carrot-crazed dog figured out where they were and how to get into the garden. As she unearthed her golden orange snack gems, she kicked piles of dirt all over the growing beets, burying their greens. It was very irritating, not only because we missed out on the last of our carrots to our greedy dog, but also because she ruined the chances of my beets getting any bigger. I managed to find them all and still got to enjoy them, but at a much smaller size than they could have been,

Once again, we didn’t have big beef tomatoes last year, but instead had pear tomatoes, which are slightly smaller than a roma, and yellow. They were tasty, but we wanted something a little more hearty. Enter the Big Beef. So far, they have been doing really great, with lots to harvest and lots of delicious salads, salsa, tomato sauce, etc made from them. There are a lot still on the plants, and I have now taken to snipping the tops of the plants as well as any new flowers to get the plants to focus on what it is currently growing. The extra weeks of sunny, warm, weather is definitely helping. I know I will still need to ripen quite a bit in the house, which is fine. All my green tomatoes ripened in the house last year. Based on the forecast, the plants will likely be staying out until the Thanksgiving (Canadian) weekend.

Another plant that we didn’t grow last year, our Broccoli. If you read my recipe post yesterday for Cheesy Broccoli Soup, then you will know that we have had a great year with the broccoli. It continues to shoot of new little heads of broccoli and the harvests have been steady. I love being able to go and grab enough broccoli for a meal every few days. This will definitely be a keeper going forward. It will be interesting to see hot it compares next year, though the plants likely won’t be in the same spot as we are doing some shuffling to make room for our garlic patch.

Our September harvest of carrots wasn’t too bad, but as you read above, the dogs put a dent in our harvesting this year with their greedy snacking. I am going to have to build a carrot cage next year to keep those carrot-crazed dogs out. They didn’t get in there until really late in the season at least, so that is something. But next year, I am determined to not have any carrot thievery from the furry bandits.

Our cayennes, like the banana peppers, are producing, but not nearly as well as last year. I am beginning to think that last year may have been a one-off, banner year for peppers. The lower cayenne numbers this year isn’t a bad thing though. We don’t always keep up with these ones, though I will dehydrate them if we aren’t consuming them. Then we can add it to soups or recipes throughout the winter. Even now, there are a few green ones, but in general, there just wasn’t as many flowers or opportunity to produce this year.

The celery has been great. We went with the Tango variety again this year, and it has not disappointed. We also ended up with WAY more than we anticipated. I had forgotten that Kurt had planted 3 per starter pot, so when we planted them into the garden, I thought I was just planting 4 plants, when in actuality it was closer to 12 we ended up with. That crowded them a bit, but they still have a good size and quality. I will have another few plants to harvest in October as well, which I will likely chop and freeze for in soups and other recipes throughout the winter. We will definitely do celery again next year, but I am re-thinking the pairing of the zucchini, cucumber towers and celery. They just seem to need a tad more room, so I may split them up a bit next year.

My little Sweetie Pie’s. I love these cherry tomatoes. They are the best we have eaten, and they grow beautifully. We have so many still coming off. They also last quite a while in the fridge after harvesting, which is a bonus. They don’t go all soft and wrinkly very quickly. It gives us time to keep up with how many we have been harvesting. Though the spiders do seem to be taking over the plants, so that last harvest to get all the green tomatoes off, may have to happen sooner than later. I will cut the full stems again this year, leaving the tomatoes in a line on their branch to ripen inside. It worked really well last year, so might as well go that route again this year.

Well we are dopes and clearly still newbies when it comes to growing corn. We went with a new variety this year, which was delicious. The corn in this region was delayed due to the late summer start as well. But when we harvested and the cobs weren’t fully ready, or didn’t progress past a certain point, we realized that it may have been partially our error as well in a poor corn year. See, we know that corn leeches a lot of nutrients from the soil, but being the dopes we are, we planted it back in the same spot as we did last year, meaning that our corn was almost doomed from the get go. The soil would not be very good for growing in after last year. We should have moved it elsewhere for a couple years and then eventually come back to the spot they are in currently. We will remember to do this next year. In fact, we are going to create a 3-4 year rotation of locations for the corn. That way, we will make sure that we aren’t setting ourselves up for a poor crop again. What we did eat though, was delicious.

The cucumbers this year are doing great. We did change up one of the varieties this year, but it still compares well. We are likely going to change up the straight eight cucumbers again next year to something more like the patio snacker or long english cucumber. The straight eights are supposed to be like a long english cucumber, but always end up fat and a little on the seedy side. The patio snacker however, will be sticking around for another year. They are delicious and not overly seedy. I have an abundance of them right now, which I will have to make into some cucumber pickle salad…I’m not actually sure what it is, but my grandma gave me the recipe and it is delicious. You can eat it as a salad, or enjoy the cucumbers with cheese and crackers like a pickle. I shared the recipe back in 2018, and even then called the post “Pickles or Cucumber Salad“? I guess we will never know, and really it doesn’t matter because it is delicious so we just eat it however we want.

The herb variety we have has been great this year, though I did really miss not having any thyme in the garden. I do think though, that I am going to have to cut back on my Basil next year. I can barely keep up with it and at this point, am likely not going to harvest the small bushes that I still have around the base of the tomatoes. I’ve made pesto and I have dried a bunch. I also throw it into recipes wherever I can, and yet I still have sooooo much.

I am hoping the tarragon comes back again next year. I didn’t expect it to this year, but low and behold, there it was in the planter. It survived the transplant into another planter box, so I feel like it will make it through the winter. If not, I will definitely be growing more of it.

My rosemary is only just finally getting to a good size. I think if I am going to grow it from seed again, that I will be starting it in January, so that by the time it goes out in May/June, it will already be a larger plant.

Our onions have been fantastic this year. I love having the 3 varieties (red, sweet yellow and shallots). It gives so much variety to our summer cooking, and as you can see, allowed us to harvest later into the season than last year. Though, I do think I will grow a few more of each variety, since I don’t think we will make it very far into the fall/winter months before we run out. Perhaps I will double them next year. It’s pretty awesome though to grow them from the itty bitty seed rather than a bulb.

The romas have overall been pretty good this year, but have definitely slowed down this month, unlike our other tomato plants. I also noticed that we are getting blossom end rot more frequently now. Though most of them I catch before it has gone too far, so we are still able to use most of the tomato. I like romas for canning and sauces, so I definitely want a lot more next year. We may have to pant a few more of this variety and pare back on some of the others next year.

The scallions have been crazy this year. So many, so hearty but soft and enjoyable! They are still throwing up new greens and are nearly impossible to get out of the soil. We have also used the bulb/base of the scallions for some recipes and they have been delicious. I’m going to have to get the garden shovel out to dig out the last of them in a few weeks because they just don’t want to leave their home.

The sweet peppers are doing ok. Same as our other pepper plants, they are steady, but nothing compared to last year. Not a problem though, we’ve enjoyed them as they’ve grown, and had a few go red last month which was a first. I have another 5-6 that are still growing on the plant, that will need to be harvested. I figured I would leave them in the warm fall weather for another week while we finish off the ones I picked last week. Maybe they’ll get a little bigger. An October harvest of these is definitely unique, because usually the plant starts dying in the cooler September weather, but this year, it has been warmer, so more growing time.

As usual, the zucchini has done well. I am definitely going to stick with the single plant again next year. I was pretty much able to keep up with it this year, and have some shredded and frozen for winter baking. I also managed to catch a few while they were still quite small, which we are looking forward to enjoying in a stir-fry this weekend.

As for some of our other plants, we once again got skunked on a few. The cantaloupe had all male flowers, so no fruit. The pumpkin was the same. The butternut squash was also all males for the longest time, but just a few weeks ago, finally started growing some squash! With the way the fall is going, I may just get 1 harvested. We will see how much it will grow in the next 2 weeks. Next year, the butternut squash, cantaloupe and pumpkins will be in their own areas. They just don’t seem to grow well in the corn, which is odd since that is the way it was recommended on so many sites. I’m curious to see if they have a better mix of female-male flower ratio if they are not in the corn.

There have been some strawberries in the tower, but it is so infested with tarantula size wolf spiders, I just cannot bring myself to harvest anymore. The plants are also overgrown in bindweed and runners that it is just a tower of chaos now. The strawberries coming off are ok looking, but not worth the heart attack of getting into the tower to get.

The rhubarb is also still growing strong. I may see if there is any worth harvesting to stew for on ice cream during the winter. There are definitely a few stalks that are far too woody, but a few still look good. There are also some pretty major spiders in there as well, but they are easier to deal with and be able to harvest the rhubarb.

Next year we will once again be adding more to our variety of food. We are working on finishing up the last 2 sections of wall that need to be done. Keep an eye out for a glorious final post about the rock walls. I’m going to have to find some new content because the walls have been a main source of my sharing for the last few years. I love our rock wall, they are very beautiful, but we are both SOOOOO DONE with building rock walls. We just want to sit back in a gazebo and enjoy the beauty of them now.

Well, I should be a little better with my posts in October, though there will likely be some variety between final harvests, landscaping projects and shop projects.

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