We had a banner year for the garden, no two ways about that. Here are just some of the highlights...
We gave away four other regular pumpkins, but this is the harvest from just two hills of plants. Wow! They were stubborn about coloring up for some reason. I don't recall the variety, but it was good for carving, and I have grandsons, so that was the idea.
An overview of the garden at its most lush. This was taken in August. We got tons of food out of it this year, and were able to be generous with family and friends. My freezers are full.
Backing up to July, some shots of produce waiting to be processed or eaten. I was kept quite busy!
Broccoli and cauliflower. I had some enormous heads of cauliflower this year!
My favorite summer squash—old fashioned crookneck. Pick it small.
Tomatoes and peppers were both prolific. One of those peppers looks 'nosy' to me. The yellow tomatoes are Lemon Boy, and I highly recommend them. They have a great taste, a lovely color, and are very juicy. A real winner.
Three kinds of zucchini, Black Beauty, a standard green variety, and Golden Zucchini, which had a great taste and was easy to spot.
White pattypan squash is not my favorite. It was supposed to be Sunburst Scallop but wasn't. I gave most of it away. It sure was prolific though, and the folks who got it, really loved it. It gets big overnight, so pick often and small. Yeah, I know; this isn't small.
We had plenty of cukes to eat and share. I gave some to friends of the family, and got back some yummy pickles! I don't have time to make those anymore.
August brought more of the same, when it comes to abundance. The garden grew lush and I was often overwhelmed with things to put up.
Yep, more cukes, peppers, and one of my favorite tomatoes for snacking, salads, and stuffed appetizers, Juliet. It's a large oval cherry, much bigger than grape tomatoes, with some solidness, but a lot of flavor. I was really thrilled to find one plant in my travels. It was bounteous.
We had the the best cabbage crop ever, both green and red. I made cole slaw several times and stuffed cabbage casserole, which is far easier than classic stuffed cabbage. A lot of the cabbage got chopped, bagged, and frozen for winter soups and casseroles. It keeps very well for cooked dishes.
Oh yeah, more tomatoes. Those orange cherries are one of my all time favorites, Sungold. They split easily, but you can't beat them for flavor.
Yeah, it's a little yellow and has some bug bites on it, but cauliflower in August—especially heads this size—are not supposed to happen. Cauliflower is a finicky about weather conditions, and it far prefers cooler weather. This year it was accommodating. Color might not be supermarket white, but it sure tastes good!
Broccoli side shoots this size so late in the summer is kind of unusual too. We picked into early October, and then ripped the plants out. They were still producing a few here and there, but we were sick of picking them!
Had to put up the wax beans separately this year, because not everyone here loves them the way I do. All the beans were pole beans (this is Kentucky Wonder Wax) and all were plentiful. This is one picking from the only pole that had them.
Green beans were half Kentucky Wonder, mixed with McCaslan, Blue Lake, and Kentucky Blue. Lots of numminess there. This is a very small picking, we were filling shopping bags at the height of the season. The pole bean plants came out a week before the broccoli, because they had slowed down and we were sick of picking them anyway.
Yep more cauliflower, this was the very last picking. Nothing to be ashamed of here.
Well into September, we were still going strong on the garden. I was tired, but then I had been babysitting four to five days a week for most of the year, from a couple hours to all day long. It's a miracle that I got as much done as I did!
Yeah, more bell peppers. We got some lovely big ones and I made enough stuffed peppers to feed two households. They were much enjoyed. These beauties make me proud!
Look at that interior, that is a wonderfully thick walled pepper. We cut them into strips and pack them in bags for winter meals. They are only good cooked, but I always have them on hand when I need peppers and the price is outrageous. If you want to dice them, do it while they are still somewhat frozen. Fry them separately at first to get the water out from freezing.
Plum tomatoes did well too. They are always late but produce in several flushes before the short plants give up the ghost. I rinse and cut off the stem end and any bad spots, and freeze them whole in bags. I can put them up in winter, after the holidays when it's cold out, or just use them as is. A quick rinse under the hot water faucet in a colander and they will squirt right out of those skins. My late and dear friend Bev, who used to live in this house, taught me that trick.
Oh yeah, more white pattypan. Like Mickey Mouse's broom in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, it just kept coming. It looks rather alien, don't you think?
For variety, some frying peppers. The yellow ones are sweet banana, and they have been very reliable here.
Love these guys fried up in oil with onions, and then piled on a sandwich or burger. Yum!!!!
Even late in the month of September, we were still getting plenty from the garden. We managed to dodge a few minor frosts and the bounty went on.
Ugly little crab apples from a tree out on the western side of the house. The tree is sort of homely too, but it blossoms beautifully. The good crab apples get washed and frozen, and I intend to make jelly or something if I ever get enough. Lots of wormy ones this year, unfortunately.
Oh yeah, more peppers. LOTS more peppers. Did I mention the garden kept me busy?
More cukes and tomatoes. We were getting a little sick of them by this point, but we ate a lot and gave many away. I forget the name of the dark tomato, the plant was a gift. Some of those reds were under-ripe, but the weather was getting iffy, and little creatures were taking big bites out of them if they ripened on the vine.
Yep watermelon, we pick a half dozen this year. No prize winners for size, but they sure tasted good. I know, this one needed a good wash. I snapped it on the wrong side.
And into October, we still had things coming in. Most notable were the winter squashes and potatoes, which I somehow lost the pictures of. But I do have a couple of the pumpkins!
We also had one clump of the Dill's Atlantic Giant. We got three; one rotted and something ate into it, but two were about this size, around 60-70 lbs. No prize winner but it had to be lifted into the car by the tractor bucket. It got donated.
And now, just some random beauty shots from around yard and garden. Because, it's not all about food...
Scarlet Celosia Plumosa in a little box, setting the porch on fire all summer long. This stuff really lasts if you don't overwater it.
This pink Oriental lily was so heavily scented at night, I could smell it in the house, 30 feet away. A welcome addition to my yard.
The chipmunks regularly raided the birdfeeders of black oil sunflower seed. The feeders are all up by the house, but they ran across the driveway and yard, and down into the garden to 'hide' them in the soil. We had clumps coming up everywhere.
I never planted a single sunflower this year, but I sure moved a few. We had a whole area of them. This big beauty fed a lot of fall birds.
Pretty snazzy looking for a volunteer plant. The bees sure loved them! I hope they reseed.
Yeah, it got pretty weedy out there, but heck, this was late in the season, in the area right after the fence, and just before the potato patch and the running vines of squash, melons, and pumpkins. This was the tallest stalk of the bunch. The plants had multiple heads of small happy-looking sunflowers. Like a beacon, I could see it from the house, which is like 500 feet away.
Now you know why I do this to myself every year. Good food, good exercise, fresh air, and a far less troubled mind all came out of that garden. When you consider that I also write, babysit, cook, and (try to) keep house, it's a lot of work! It's worth it to me. Someday I may not be able to do all this stuff, but for now, I will tackle whatever I can. I hope my grandchildren grow up watching me make little plants come out of the soil and become dinner, and they at least learn to appreciate the bounty of Nature. We are so blessed to have a country place and the ability to grow our own food. I have been a gardener now for 41 seasons of my life. That is a legacy I can pass down to all who want to learn from me. We will never go hungry if we take care of our land, and look out for each other.
All things come to us if we take the time to learn a few simple rules, and pay attention to both successes and failures. Nature is a good teacher, if a bit harsh at times. I didn't put anything special in this garden, most plants got one feeding of an organic fertilizer during the heaviest part of the growing season. We use all our grass clippings as mulch to keep down weeds and keep the soil cool and moist, and we let them stay and decompose, enriching the soil. We add compost whenever we have it. The rest is day long sunshine, generous watering when needed, healthy soil full of natural nutrients, and a lot of hard work and patience. You have to be out there on a regular basis to see what needs doing. If you are successful, you will fill your own belly as well as those of others you hold dear.
To work the soil, to plant a seed, to stay and watch it grow into flowers or edible things, is my idea of a reverent spiritual experience. Seasons come and go, things die and more things are born, changes large and small happen over time, but life always goes on somewhere. To become such an integral part of the green, growing world; to witness this miracle happening season after season, is to understand the truth of eternity. What we do lives on past our own time. In my garden, I grow memories for those who come after me.
Oh, and they taste good too. How can you go wrong?