Tuesday 2 October 2012

Autumn Garden

Today's harvest from the garden, this is typical of what I am getting 3-4 times a week the last couple of months.  Plant production is beginning to slow for a few plants like peppers & tomatoes, others are just gearing up from my late summer planting of second crop beans, turnip, my peas should be ready to pick by the weekend, not to mention a ton of romaine and Boston lettuces, Swiss chard and a few beets.
One of the huge successes for me this year was the eggplant, from the six plants we started from seed I have so many eggplants that I cannot keep up with them, sad to say a few have gone straight from the vine to the compost heap.  I would plant again next year, but 2-3 plants will be plenty for us. All the heritage peppers and tomatoes that were not eaten fresh have gone into canning or the freezer, any that were left on the vine too long went to the chickens, those girls love them some tomato!
Fennel also thrived this summer in the garden, I let a couple go to seed to add to the spice jar, nothing was wasted on the fennel, what didn't make it to our table went to the rabbits, they are crazy for the wonderful anise taste of fennel, I had no idea.
We learned a lot this year, mostly about limiting the number of tomato plants in a bed, the heirloom varieties need room and a couple of them completely took over the garden, I know we have missed a lot of tasty tomatoes that were hidden in the middle of the bed, either I didn't see until too late or just couldn't get to without destroying the plants around them :-(
I learned to love Kale!  This plant is amazing, most every seed germinated in the Spring and I still have a bed of the Spring Kale going strong, I harvest it every week and use it so many ways, everyone has heard of Kale chips by now, they are wonderful, I have grilled it on the BBQ, blended it into morning smoothies, wilted and added to salads, topping for pizza, into soups, it makes a lovely side dish when wilted in butter or olive oil and tossed with a little balsamic vinegar.  My favorite way to enjoy is to make a Kale Pesto wow!  Toss with some fresh pasta, a few cherry tomatoes and you have one amazing dinner.
This years drought & heat made gardening a little more challenging then anticipated having to get out daily and water.  It didn't do any favours for the lettuces and greens like spinach, arugula or corn salad, much went to seed or was too bitter to really enjoy, my rabbits think I planted it mostly for them.  Early potatoes were wonderful but I lost my late season crop to the weather, stressed by the endless heat and lack of water then the skies opened, blight set in and that was the end of the potatoes.  Again, I learned some valuable lessons on potato growing and look forward to doing better next year with a little more planning.
I have one last thing to plant this year and that is garlic, my bulbs have just arrived, I need to get them in this month, there are not many vegetable plants that do best when planted before our Canadian Winter.
As much as I am looking forward to relaxing indoors this winter after a very busy, labour intensive summer, I know I am going to miss walking out to the garden, pulling a fresh tiny tomato from the vine and popping into my mouth, you just cannot beat that.
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