Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Garden: End of Summer 2013

It's been awhile since I last wrote about the garden.  I had high hopes going into this season that I would make more time to cultivate the plot. 

I was wrong. 

With the heat, I needed to get out early in the morning or after dinner to avoid the sun at its most brutal.  Mornings were out since for most of the summer HP woke up around 5:30 a.m.  Eventually I want him to spend time with me in the garden, but right now he is still too young for me to get real work done.  His version of helping involves pulling the leaves off the plants and walking through the rows.  I am working with him to be more gentle/careful, but he is only fourteen months old and the temptation to explore with all of his senses is often too much to resist.  Evenings would have been a good option to spend some quality time with the plants, but I have never been good at being productive past dinner. 

Moral of the story: I need carve out a regular slice of time to dedicate to the plot a few days a week.  Now that it is cooling off (read: only in the mid nineties!) and HP is getting older, it should be easier for me to find the time to make it a priority.

Enough excuses.  Here's how the garden looks today:

Lots of weeds in the middle row and Bermuda grass creeping in from all sides
Okra is going strong.  I get more than a pound every couple of days.  Sometimes I do not harvest as often I should (see excuses above) and some of it gets too woody to eat.  We are only just starting to get burnt out on pan fried okra (cast iron pan + olive oil + okra + cornmeal + salt), so I am planning to pickle some using this recipe tomorrow.  This venture was inspired by a jar of pickled okra Henry received as a birthday gift.  It was divine.  We (HP included) devoured it within a couple of days.

Hill Country Red Okra
Silver Queen Okra
Melons, melons, and more melons!  The cantaloupes are mostly done.  We harvested maybe seven or eight large (Hale's Best) and a handful of small (Honey Rock).  The watermelons are only just starting to be ready to eat.  A squirrel got to a Sugar Baby watermelon earlier this week before it was ready to harvest.  I was not pleased.  We have already harvested about four a larger variety (Mickeylee) and a dozen are still on the vine.  The biggest challenge has been figuring out exactly when the watermelons are ripe.  I completely related to Kristen's post describing the sadness of harvesting a watermelon too early.  The same thing happened to us.  Twice.  After the recent squirrel incident I am hesitant to leave them out for much longer, lest one of the furry friends makes off with another juicy treat, but am equally terrified of cutting into one too soon.  A dilemma.

Damn squirrel.  Hope you enjoyed your local, fresh, organic melon.
Two Mickeylee watermelons on the vine
Sugar Baby watermelon hiding under the okra
Amazingly, our summer squash is still alive.  Not quite sure how that happened, but we'll take it.  It produces one or two squash a week.  We are enjoying it while it lasts, as I know the end is near.

Yellow Crookneck Squash
A second batch of Red Ripper beans came in and are ready for us to harvest and shell.  In addition to these, we had a small crop of black-eyed peas and purple green beans.

Red Ripper Beans
Basil, chard, and peppers have managed to survive the summer relatively unscathed.  I planted the tomatoes (cherry and patio) too late and we only got a few before they died off.  I thought the parsley was doing fine, but when I looked a couple of weeks ago I could only find weeds and a few dried up leaves where it used to thrive.

I am planning on clearing out the beans and dessicated tomato plants to make room for fall crops this weekend.  I probably should have started planting a few weeks ago, but that didn't happen.  According to this list, there are still plenty of vegetables to plant even with my late start.

May we have a rainy fall and a bountiful harvest in the season to come!

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