Friday, November 19, 2010

It's all over but the eating

The following was written in August, filed and forgotten till now........
Summer's officially ended but no one told the weather man. This weekend is shaping up to be a warm one.  I am hoping that the spirit will move me to do some last minute garden clean ups, spread some mulch and just generally get ready to hunker down.

But the purpose of this blog is to brag about my bounty. I know ...bragging is not nice ...but there is no other word for what I am about to do.

Although I wouldn't say that I had a bumper crop of anything considering the amount of plants I put in I am very pleased with the quality of the produce.


I planted shallowly  in a trench filled with pine needles and old leaves and covered them with straw. Although a lot of the straw seeds sprouted the clean up wasn't too hard. 

I was able to just lift the straw and take a few potatoes all season long. I even had enough to share with neighbours which is great. The potatoes come out nice and clean this way.  

I didn't like the woody quality they had when they got much bigger than the ones shown at the left so I harvested them earlier.

I had roughly 50 potato plants and probably got about 50 to 60 pounds of potatoes from them. I think the low yield was due to the close planting. But I would definitely buy Red Chieftain seed potatoes again.

The conditions were great, lots of rain fall and I didn't see a single potato bug or other diseases. The slugs were just moving in as I took the last batch out. Better luck next time slugs - NOT!

While they were drying in the breeze I noticed a few bites taken out of them. I moved them to a chair but still found some were being stolen.  The culprit was identified as the resident chipmunk.  With back legs kicking furiously and front legs shoving mightily he was trying to get a good-sized potato into his burrow in the Half Moon garden. So I took them all inside with the exception of a pile of the really tiny ones which I left on the porch. They were quickly snatched up. I am hoping this will deter him from taking my tulips.

I planted a mixture of 32 tomato plants; Opalka, Box Car Willy, Sweet Million, Roma, Belgian Giant and some that I can't remember the names of.

Early on, in spite of changing the location of the plants from last year, they still contracted early blight.  At least you still get tomatoes even though the plant has lots of dead brown leaves around the bottom. Due to watering problem or too much rain some showed a bit of blossom end rot and cat face.

Too late it occurred to me that the disease was probably carried on the tomato cages and even my shovel.  This year I will disinfect those before I put anything away.

I had approximately 100 pounds of tomatoes from those plants.  Not a bumper crop but enough for myself and friends.  No insects except the slugs and centipedes at the end of the season.

Throughout the season I would pick about 10 pounds of tomatoes every couple of days. These would be quartered and seeded and thrown into my crock pot where they simmered overnight with the top off. By morning I had three pounds of nice thick sauce.  I spooned this into 4 cup plastic bags which I lay on a cookie sheet in the freezer. These nice flat envelopes store well in the freezer.

Of course I have breakfasted on tomato sandwiches every day since July. My cat Reg always demands his toast and tomato so we both will miss these sandwiches when all the tomatoes ripening in my oven are gone.

Pictured at the left and right is Belgian Giant which has become a real favorite. It was a very large sprawling plant, didn't produce many tomatoes but they were huge,  juicy, low acid, low seed with a gorgeous rosy pink flesh. Here is one weighing in at almost a pound and a half or two thick sandwiches worth. 

I keep the green and not so ripe tomatoes in a flat cardboard fruit box on one or two shelves in the oven. Easy to remove if I get moved to bake something.  They ripen slowly and beautifully in the dark of the oven.  Here is the last of them picked early because of a threatened frost which did not arrive.

The Opalka were wonderful this year but the Roma were the pits; very small and dropped off the vine in the slightest breeze. I am not sure why some of them are yellow or green at the stem end. Could be some disease.

None of the seeds I had saved from previous years came up but I tried saving again this year.

I only planted four  and one died.  The vines stayed very short and small while my friend had beautiful vines crawling up a trellis very early in the season.   Perhaps it was just the variety as suddenly mine took off and did themselves proud. I had a dozen or more lovely healthy large cucumbers in all. There is still one left in my crisper.

Butternut Squash
Thank you No Frills.   Sometime last fall I bought a tasty, deep orange-fleshed butternut squash. I saved the seeds and planted them in my winter sow project.  After the wind took my greenhouse down and scattered the sprouted seeds all over my sidewalk I managed to save about four plants. Those four plants produced loads of blossoms and immature squash but by the time the weather started to turn I was able to harvest only five.  On the right is the first and largest one.  I ate one of the smaller ones last night (November 18th and it was yummy. That was my whole supper. )

Sweet Potatoes
My favorite nursery, Burt's greenhouses in Odessa, had some Georgia Jet Sweet potato slips for sale this year. It appealed to my spirit of adventure so I bought three.  I was pleased to harvest a couple of nice sized ones.

The one to the left is about a half pound. There was another that was about a quarter pound and then some really strangely shaped ones that I will probably plant up and see if I can keep over winter.  Talk about sweet. Really yummy with or without butter.

When I dug them up I took some of the rooted vines and brought them indoors.  They have sprouted again so I have high hopes.

In spite of all my efforts I do have failures. I won't give up my day job for the onion and garlic crop. I am not sure what I do wrong but these two just won't grow for me.

Nothing but embarrassing pictures of these. Asparagus proved less than successful again this year too.  I bought ten more plants and dug up what I thought were the dead roots of the the ones I bought last year,  A few were still alive so I replanted and crossed my fingers. At least this year they mostly all showed their ferny little faces. I don't hold high hopes for a future in asparagus farming.  They won't be ready to harvest till next year at least anyway. Perhaps I should have made more effort to find a new spot for them.

The peas did fairly well in spite of the repeated assaults by my friends, rabbit and chipmunk I still had a great feed of them and froze a couple of small packages. Definitely need more of these next year.

And so summer is over, the harvest is done, the potatoes are snugly put away.

I have dug up all the rhizomes that need to come in and put in more tulip bulbs. Now its time to rest and plan for next year.

Happy winter all you gardening friends. Hope your harvest was bountiful and you have a safe and happy winter.

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