Wednesday, September 14, 2011
As the end of summer nears, it feels we're over the hill in the garden. We've had a pretty successful year, our first as "farmers". There have been successes, failures, but most of all, a lot of learning, with a growing list of improvements for next year.
Every time we go to the farm we spend a couple hours picking tomatoes. Our favourite this year, by a large margin, has been our black plums. They are technically a paste tomato, but they're so sweet we can't stop eating them fresh. Jesse even did a batch of "black plum ketchup".
The tomato plants that were ridiculously over-producing just a few weeks ago have slowed production considerably over the past weeke They are beginning to show signs of blight–a strong signal that the end is near.
When we planted Brussels Sprouts we wondered if anyone would actually eat them. Oddly enough they have become a favourite for us and the kids. Our three year old asks when we're going to have them on a daily basis.
I think the bad reputation that brussels sprouts have earned is not because of the vegetable at all, it's because of the horrible boil-and-serve way they've been presented to unassuming young children throughout history.
One of the recent surprises in the garden was one of our carrots going to flower. This isn't normal, since carrots are usually biennial. They put energy into building a big root the first year, and then focus on making a flower and seeds the next. Since we're trying to save as many seeds as possible this year, we considered saving the seeds, however the only thing relative around to pollinate them would be a common weed Queen Anne's Lace. Chances are, the cross between the two would make a new plant with a spindly root. Not worth the attempt.
Our pumpkin patch is beautiful with its different shapes, colours, and sizes. From Rouge Vif d'Etampes "cinderella" pumpkins, to giants, to carving and to small pie pumpkins. All but the giant pumpkins are edible, and we'll be preserving as much as possible. Seeds for next year, snacks, and the meat for pies, soups, and other undiscovered uses.
The bounty we have in the pumpkin patch doesn't extend to the melon patch. After having their feet too wet in the spring, all but one watermelon plant survived. And on that one plant, two out of three melons have rotted. We've got lots of hopes pinned on one melon.
The next major thing we need to do is to collect seeds. We planned to save seeds from all of our favorite tomatoes, but with the business of the garden and life in general, many varieties passed us by. Luckily there are a few that we can save seed from, but others will have to be started from leftover seed from this spring or new seed.
Even though summer seems to be near its end, our work carries on in harvesting and preserving so that we will have our little bit of summer all year long.