Year-End Harvests

After the a slight bout of the doldrums hit along with a spell of bad weather last time we posted, we have bounced back! Drier weather and perfectly perfect fall temperatures got us back up and working on all the stuff that needed to be done. And the first think on the checklist was to finish the porch. We got on the second topcoat and sealed the whole perimeter. And with that, the porch is officially done! Only cleaning and maintenance for the next decade…hopefully. 🙂

033porchfinished

More importantly, we got ourselves back out in the yard and started with the annual clean-up. There were sticks to clear, weeds to pick, grass to mow, composting to take care of, and lots of things left to harvest. Well…not lots of things, but things still. Things that were still on the plants. And by that we mean tomatoes, mostly.

Here's two-thirds of the tomatoes - mostly green. We managed another full bowl after this picture was taken.
Here’s two-thirds of the tomatoes – mostly green. We managed another full bowl after this picture was taken.

Last year, with not much left on the tomatoes plants by this point, they all went straight into the compost. This year, with waaaaay too many tomato plants, and a number of them still producing flowers(!) in October, we had to go the extra mile and remove any leftover tomatoes, whether green or ripe. Granted, a good portion of the green tomatoes are destined for the compost heap still, but we’re keeping any that show signs of ripening. And maybe we’ll try a few green tomato recipes? Neither of us are particular fans of green tomatoes, but it seems a shame to toss so many without even trying. So we picked all the remaining tomatoes and got to sorting. We whittled down the several pounds that we had to just a couple that will likely be made into sauces. (At this point, these most hardy of tomatoes have very tough skins, so they aren’t great raw. But they’ll still roast and mash nicely, so here come the pasta dishes!)

In the picture above, there are also a couple tiny squashes that were put into our butternut and acorn squash stash. Can’t wait to dive into those for casseroles and soups in the coming months!

But tomatoes weren’t all that were hiding out in the dying garden. We also picked all the okra, harvested a ton of bail, and found a stray spot of lovely spinach.

Spinach and basil at the top, and a bowl of okra, which has seen better days.
Spinach and basil at the top, and a bowl of okra, which has seen better days.

While the spinach was a surprise, we had been keeping an eye on the basil for a few weeks, making small harvests here and there. Basil doesn’t like cooler temperatures, so we weren’t sure how many more harvests we were going to get out of what we had. To help, we began placing the basil outside on sunny days in the hopes of saving it. Just before the storms hit, we forgot to bring the planters inside. But they made it through and so did the basil. We checked it a few days later, and it has sprung back to life! We agave it a few more days outside in the cool sun, and then cut several handfuls over the weekend. It still tastes and smells wonderful, and we’ll be drying most of what we have for use over the winter.

Meanwhile, we failed at okra this year — we simply planted it in the wrong spot. Now, we kind of knew that going in, but when we were planning out the beds, we were too focused on putting corn and sunflowers in places that the okra probably should have been. (And maybe okra’s not as tasty to the squirrels? Hmm. Should of thought of that too.) So the okra ended up in one of the raised beds in a shady corner, when it really should have been in a very sunny area where it could grow tall. The pods remained small for most of the season, and when the 90-day season was up in July, they hardly looked like okra. So we left the pods to grow. And then, by the time they did look like okra, they were much too woody to eat. Lesson learned. We opted to leave the pods out to dry and then harvest them for seeds, which we did this past weekend. Now we’ve got lots of okra seeds and will take better care next year should we decide to plant them.

The main things that remain productive in the garden right now are the peppers. And since most of the tomatoes have or are dying away, a few covered peppers plants are finally seeing the light of day!

That wraps up the garden to-do list for the moment. Over the next couple weekends, we’ll begin with the tear-down and composting in earnest.  We’re entering the risk zone for frost, and our first frost date is November 5th, so the sooner we batten down the garden’s hatches, the better!

 

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