Friday, October 19, 2018

not the last garden report but close

The goats have been reveling in the sun between the rain, but haven't been invited into the big garden for a free-choice end-of-summer picnic this year.

A few of the okra plants are still blooming, and the chard is still growing just a bit faster than it is being eaten by insects; perhaps the same insects that have turned my Portuguese kale into lace.

LOTS of zinnias are still blooming!
The orange, yellow, and purple of this one are stunning.
I think that little bug is transfixed at the sight.

Candy roaster squash remain in the garden until a hard frost becomes likely, and I don't want the goats anywhere near them. Remember the time goats got into the garden for a matter of minutes and some rascal took one or two bites out of every one of the pumpkins?

We've had some cold nights, but Wednesday night was the first time I'm sure the temperature went below freezing. So now the candy roasters come in.

Leaf frozen into ice on the surface of a water bucket.

Yesterday I harvested these two candy roasters, each about 16 inches long. Today I'll harvest three more from the Very Raised Bed, and get busy making puree.

One of the last Jing okra blossoms. How I love these plants, both the Jing and the Bear Creek, with their different colors but equally exquisite features! The flowers have been repeatedly photographed, drawn, and painted.

I missed eating a lot of the pods because I couldn't seem to get the timing right for picking enough of the same small size to justify heating up the skillet. The ones I fried were good, though, and some of the older pods were cut up for the goats. I realized belatedly that I could have tried picking and freezing individual small pods and cooking them when I had accumulated a good number - why didn't I think of that? Maybe next year. Okra has earned annual planting in a prominent location, as an ornamental with bonus edible pods.

On the left in the picture above are two Minnesota Midget melons.
A couple of late melon vines produced tiny fruits recently, even as the vines were withering - the one pictured below is the size of a tennis ball. All in all, these melons were mostly a novelty. Small fruits are fine with me, a perfect snack size, but the flavor was very faint. This may also have been a result of all the rain, though, so unless I plant them again I may never know.

2018 was a tough year for my Suyo Long cucumbers. The vines struggled, and managed to produce only a few cucumbers. The endless rain took a toll on the early health of the plants, and there may have been an insect or disease problem related to the nearby milkweed - further research is needed on this before next year.

But that rain! Many plants - both cultivated and wild - struggled for survival at a time when they normally would have been blooming madly. Later, when we finally got some intermittent fair weather, the plants rallied and put on a second growth that allowed some flowering though still not what a typical year would have produced. This included the bee balm, anise hyssop, yarrow - which has not bloomed - chelona, and other pollen providers. For this reason, I let everything grow everywhere, even if it meant some of my garden paths became impassible and the bank garden by the driveway turned into a riot of jewelweed and motherwort. It all looked a bit of a wilderness, but at least there were some flowers available for the bees and butterflies and hummingbirds and photographers.

The big producer in the terrace garden was the beans; a very nice change after last year's two-handful harvest. I made bean salad over and over again, and never got tired of eating it at all hours. I picked beans for friends who happened by, and I froze many packets of whole beans to enjoy when the garden is resting this winter.

After years of growing different types of pole beans, this is my favorite. Tender and flavorful - either as a pencil-thin whole bean, or as a slightly older and larger snap bean, lightly steamed and added to bean salads. They are the only bean I've found to be truly "stringless." 

I've left lots of beans for next year's seed, and with luck they will dry thoroughly before we get a lot more rain. In the past I've had better luck drying pods on the vine than bringing them inside to finish drying. There isn't much room for such endeavors in the house. Even the bee balm heads I was drying on the porch windowsills have been getting swept off and stepped on and batted around. I'll just collect more bee balm seed heads and scatter them in areas where I hope bee balm will appear next Spring.

One last picture, from the new raised bed: organic catnip, grown from seed. The catnip also took a long time to take hold (again, with the rain) but look at it now! I'll harvest and dry some soon. Exciting times ahead for Moxie and Della, if we get deep snow and they spend long Winter days mostly indoors.

Are any southern hemisphere readers just starting their gardens?
Do tell, please!