|September edible garden in the evening|
Saturday, September 23, 2017
The plants that like this kind of weather are tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, Egyptian walking onions, cucumbers, okra, the Mediterranean herbs like basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, chives, savory, dill, tarragon, chard, parsley and thyme.
Typically, we would be preserving lots of veggies for year round eating at this time of the year. We had good rain all summer again this year. The green beans, peppers, eggplant, okra, chard, walking onions and herbs did great. The tomatoes did okay, but some plants either died or died back. I did a second planting of tomatoes in July. Those plants are now producing ripe tomatoes.
For the plants that survived and thrived, it would be a great idea to save their seeds for replanting in your garden next year. These are the really hardy ones. This is how farmers over thousands of years have done seed saving. Save the seed from the plant that has the characteristics you want and are adapted specifically to your garden.
I finally found a sweet pepper that produces well and is tasty. I am definitely saving the seeds from these plants!
I have been putting about two quarts of tomatoes away a week. Sometimes more. I just slice them and put them in freezer bags. When it cools down outside, I look at the frozen tomatoes I have left from last year and cook those into sauce. You really want to clean out the freezer each year. The veggies will still be edible if kept longer, but some will loose flavor. Since last year's harvest was not the best, I don't think I will be doing any canning this fall.
|Italian Red Pear on the fine|
I tried some new tomato varieties and also planted my standbys.
-Lucid Gem had fun colored fruits but the vine wasn't sturdy enough to hold the fruit and I didn't get a lot of them either.
-Cherokee Purple did well.
-Italian Red Pear an heirloom paste had a health vine, but ripened late and took a long time. I planted it in more shade than last year, so will plant in full sun next year.
-Principe Borghese did not do well.
-I tried the Chocolate Pear again this year and the vine died back early. I don't think I will try it again.
-Small and medium yellow storage tomatoes from Sicily. The small ones did fine. The medium just never ripened.
Black Vernissage-did not do great.
-Patio Princess for the pot did very well. I will do it again
-Rosella did great. They are the size of marbles. I don't think I will grow again.
The squash did well early in the season, then the zucchini died from disease. The yellow prolific kept producing into the beginning of this month. I liked both varieties I tried this year and will do those again next year-Early Prolific Straightneck and Cocozelle. It is recommended you either wait until the second week of June to plant your squash or do a second round of planting in July to have healthy plants for the entire summer.
I have several eggplants going this year. The Turkish Orange did not do as well as in years past. The flea beetles loved it. The white and purple both did well. The white varieties have the least bitterness, but are very hard to grow from seed. I think I will bring the white one inside for the winter instead of trying to get a new plant started from seed next year.
I have been able to freeze about a pint of sliced peppers every week. I had 6 sweet pepper plants. I had planted a few seeds from sweet banana peppers I bought at the store that I grew out last year. They didn't look anything at all like a banana pepper, but they tasted great and did extremely well. There are three that I saved seeds for next year's garden (a yellow, a red, and a maroon).
I also grew from seed the red hot pepper from Sicily-Bocca Rossa. It did very well. It is always covered in peppers. The Pablano pepper plants have done okay. I grow those to make chili powder.
I have a small hot pepper plant that is ages old, Chiltepin. It took 3 tries, but I was finally able to get it to grow. I have them in a pot that I will bring in to overwinter again. I like putting small hot peppers in my seasoned salt and wanted to grow my own. They are covered with the tiny hot tots!
If you want to maximize your pepper harvest, pick them as soon as they get to full size versus letting them fully ripen to red, yellow, or orange on the plant. This stimulates the plant to produce more. If you let them ripen on the plant, the taste will be sweeter. I compromise and take them off just when they start to turn. They complete ripening on the counter in a few days.
The cucumber vines did okay. The first set of cukes had 50% die back. The one left produced for a couple of months. I started another in the garden and it is still producing, but not a lot. The plant looks healthy. The cukes I get from this plant have a shelf life of 2 months or longer just sitting on the counter. It is amazing. They will also get huge. This heirloom (Jaune Dickfleischige) produces yellowish orange skinned fruits.
|View between the pole beans in the edible garden|
The pole green beans did great this year, but have died back in the last couple of weeks. I planted purple and green Romano types. The beans and flowers were very pretty. The green Romano were stringless and the purple Romano type had a small string that was easy to remove before freezing. I will definitely keep these (Romano and the purple Blauhilde) in my garden next year. Also interplanted with Scarlett Runner beans, too, for their beautiful flowers. These are edible as well either as green beans or if left on the vine as storage beans. Next year, I'll keep them separated so I know when to pick them.
I tried three pole storage beans this year-Portal Jade, Good Mother Stollard and King of the Garden lima beans. The Portal Jade and the Lima beans did not produce much. Good Mother Stollard went to town! I got quite a lot from these vines and they are still producing. I'd do these again. I'll likely try some other varieties with this one next year to figure out a variety that likes our garden conditions. I think it is fun to have different color and sized beans in the chili I make.
I planted okra for the first time this year and these guys did fabulous. I planted two varieties-Red Burgundy Okra and a green variety. Both did very well. I think I will stick with the Red Burgundy for future gardens. I didn't realize how tall okra gets! Some of these plants grew to 8+ feet tall. They produced all summer long and are still producing and growing in height. I think we got enough this year that I won't need any in the garden next year. I just sliced and froze them. I am planning on using them in soups and roasts. They were pretty tasty just boiled in a pan of chicken broth.
|Our very tall okra|
I am still fertilizing monthly. I use Espoma as it is all natural, organic. This year we added a nice thick layer of compost in the spring. Compost increases organic matter and supercharges the microbes in the soil. The microbes help your plants roots to take up the nutrients they need. I think we'll put the compost on this fall instead to let the nutrients seep into the soil over the winter.
The garlic and onions did well this year. The Egyptian walking onions did great! I hardened the garlic on our covered deck. I put it in apple cider vinegar with peppers for keeping in the fridge. We use garlic year round for cooking and on our garlic cheese bread. Yum!
I had a bumper crop of basil this year; most were Holy Basil volunteers from last year's garden. The other herbs did well, too. We have rosemary, tarragon, bay, sage, parsley, chives, and mint. I keep peppermint and orange mint in a pot so it doesn't take over the garden. The dill went to seed early. The cilantro is sprouting again for a second round in the cool weather. I'll get to add it to our salsa now until winter. I use tarragon in the summer after the cilantro has bolted. It adds a different taste, but is still good.
|Sprouting lettuce seed in Earthbox|
I had also reseeded the Earthbox but something ate most of the lettuce that sprouted. I'll need to do another round of seeds so we can have some lettuce when the weather cools down. We will cover the Earthboxes with a small portable green house later this fall so we can have salads throughout the winter.
Make sure you save the seeds from your best and longest producers to plant in your garden next spring. I also save seeds from organic produce I get from the store that is really good. Last week end when we were at the grocery store, there were these beautiful medium sized burgundy tomatoes. I bought the biggest, prettiest one they had. We enjoyed the tomato and saved the seeds. Next year, we'll be able to have them in our own garden!
This fall, we will have arugula, mustard greens, lettuce, chard, blood veined sorrel, garden sorrel, French and Italian dandelion, spinach, lettuce, purslane, corn salad, chives, parsley, and sprouting broccoli for salads. Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes will produce until the first freeze. The Egyptian onions will produce all through winter. The herbs will be available for harvesting until the snow covers them up.