Late-Summer Gardening

I should be working on other projects, like that Christmas regency that could be finished in a month and published in two. Or the time travel story, which may never be finished but still amuses me.

So, of course, I’m puttering around in the garden.

The tomatoes are almost as tall as me, and producing enough for snacks and the occasional salad. The cherry tomatoes- one red, one purple- are most productive. And the basil has come back after I sheared it to make pesto; I may have to do that again. I’m also considering starting basil cuttings, so I can have it during the winter. Maybe. This house has a distinct paucity of south-facing windows, and the rosemary, lavender, and oregano have already claimed the best spots. The carrots and peppers are also doing fairly well. Jalapenos grow well in this climate; my single plant has half a dozen, while the bell peppers have one or two fruits per plant at a time.

But of course, every garden has some duds. I think the universe heard me joking about my massive cucumber crop last year- this year, I got one before the plants all died. I’m not sure what went wrong; they simply failed to thrive. And the squash bugs killed my zucchini plants. Little bastards. Zucchini is supposed to be one of those vegetables that anyone can grow.

The beans are making an interesting comeback. An unknown pest ate all the leaves a few weeks back, and I thought the plants were done for. Some of them died, but a few sprouted new growth, blooms, and now, tiny beans. Since I like fresh green beans, and it’s hard to find good quality beans in the store, this was an unexpected treat.

I expect the first frost at the end of October. Just enough time to plant a few cool-weather greens. So I’ve started broccoli- I tried this last year and the cabbage moths got them; this year, I have a plan- rocket- lived up to its name, sprouting in record time- kale, and lettuce. The latter two are just barely thinking about sprouting, a week after sowing. We’ll see. I’m also considering planting the old potato that’s sitting on the counter, just to see what happens. It’s a Yukon Gold, so it might grow fast enough to beat the freeze. And even if it doesn’t, it’ll be an interesting experiment.

How does your garden grow?

10 comments

  1. The basil is thriving, far more than last year. the rosemary never really fully recovered from losing half to the ice storm, but the half that survived is slowly growing back. The chives… well, the heat killed the tarragon, but the chives are in full cry and full bloom.
    The dill bolted and died, the fennel bolted, flowered, and despite the swallowtail caterpillar load, thrived. The thyme is overflowing its container. The oregano is trying to follow suit!

    The mint died when I didn’t water it for 3 days… and then it started coming back. I have a bunch of little leaves right by the soil, and am hopeful for mojitos yet.

  2. Flowers are limping along. The tomatoes . . . one died within three weeks of planting, one is puny, and the third one hasn’t produced all that much. I think the cool-for-us weather after the baking heat of June, plus reduced sunlight (smoke from WA, OR, and elsewhere) was the problem.

  3. It’s limping along. I don’t have the time or energy to put much effort into the food garden.
    Hostas are doing well.

    Did you know that you can freeze basil? It freezes really well. Chop it and freeze it in small, separate lumps. Then throw a lump into whatever you need. I discovered that freezing whole leaves took too darn much space and then when they got stuffed into freezer containers, they stuck together.

    Frozen basil isn’t as good as fresh but it’s infinitely better than dried.

  4. The move was rough on my indoor patio container garden, but I have one tomato that came back and has flowers (All the big containers are in the new greenhouse.), and another pot, that the mother died, but it has little plants that I need to transplant. I have 3 kind of mint, that I have nearly killed twice from heat/lack of water (and the move). A basil that I acquired here, that is mopey and oregano that is doing fairly well. Also, the Aloeveras are thriving again. (They got knocked around and lost a lot of leaves).Three peppers survived, and have flowers (they are all hot peppers of various sorts) But, lost the Thai ornamental pepper and the Cubana. The rest of the plants are houseplants (some of which are outside, as I don’t have room inside.) and are doing pretty well. Orchids are in full bloom and the mini-roses are thinking about blooming, with one having a flower. And one African Violet which I haven’t killed yet! Pretty dark purple.

  5. Rosemary is not actually frost hardy; it’ll survive a few frost insults, but eventually will kill it. I lost quite a big bush that was well established… came back less every spring and then one year didn’t come back at all. Wasn’t supposed to do =that= well, but initially was hopeful.

    I rediscovered several buckets of growy potatoes that didn’t get planted til late July. Will probably leave those in the ground until the snow comes or even til spring, depending how much I get from the other hills. So far the for-really certified seed potatoes have been mostly duds, while the leftover grocery potatoes have done well as usual. Acidifying the ground with peat did seem to discourage scab, as I’d hoped.

    I have probably 50 pounds of Early Girl tomatoes coming from two bushes (not kidding, they’re ridiculous) and we won’t even discuss the forest of VT100 cherry tomatoes, they’re like weeds everywhere, and prolific by the bucket. Pretty soon the grasshoppers will snip the buds, in good time to force the existing fruit to ripen before frost gets ’em. I don’t bother saving and ripening greenies, get too many as it is. Give ’em all away.

    Only planted two peppers and both have several large fruit.

    Harvested garlic and elephant garlic and all the onions from starts; onions from seed are too small to bother with and will be left for next year (probably should fall-plant ’em). The starts were ‘Texas Supersweet’ (1015-Y) from Pinetree Garden Seeds, and those were the most successful I’ve tried. None bolted and about half made a nice sized globe. Bolting early and often has been a persistent problem with other starts.

    Have about 50 ears of corn drying that were too mature to eat fresh (and that’s after I tossed anything iffy). At least now I’m well stocked for seed. Next year I really need to stagger planting on this.

    Need to dig the carrots now; would have liked to leave most in the ground til hard freeze but by then they’d be too big and tough. That’s another I should stagger.

    I have a box out front for surplus zucchini to inflict on passing neighbors. I think I got yours plus mine. 😀 I like “Black Beauty” and it never fails to produce enough to feed India.

    Have a bunch of butternut squash now getting big enough to notice (unfortunately the deer noticed the biggest ones), and some volunteer melon that’s not going to make anything before frost. Could get some late cukes if I’d cut the mature ones off the vine… wasn’t thrilled with whatever this was (Straight Eight?) and they go from finger to thigh sized literally overnight.

    Grapes were ripe a couple weeks ago; small but good and lots of ’em, surprised they were so early. Need to cut the vine way back next year, before it takes over the world. Chokecherries and wild plums are already done. Apples just coming ripe (nothing special, one step above a crab).

    Raspberries (thornless) didn’t do a thing this year but spread themselves around. They’d been behaving like first-year cane producers, and this year nothing??! Strawberries produced well til the birds discovered ’em, then quit, tho they’ve filled in nicely and are planning an assault on the side yard.

    The early volunteer peas that were so heat-tolerant gave me about 3 cups of seed, if I can find where I put it; the ones planted later didn’t do a thing. Having good roots by mid-April might have been the biggest factor, but they produced well past our week of 106F, so…

    There’s a cottonwood tree in the garden that I need to move once it goes dormant… forgot about it last year when it was 6 inches tall, and now it’s 6 feet.

  6. I lost a bunch of well-established rosemary bushes to the Great Texas Snowmagedden – nearly a week of near to zero temps will do that. Also – lost all the potted citrus. Several neighbors lost well-established orange and lemon trees planted in the ground to the same weather disaster.
    I’ve never come close to getting zucchini or any other squash to thrive – the vine-borer grubs always get them first.
    Had a tomato start come up by itself in the back yard – got two Roma-ish looking tomatoes off it. Also had a huge pepper plant do the same. No peppers on it yet, so I can’t determine what – I think the chickens ate and passed some seeds from kitchen scraps I put out for them.

  7. I have a late-planted squash vine that may possibly grow something if we have a late warm fall, and if the bugs aren’t too bad. There was an attempt at sweet potatoes. There were rabbits. There are no more sweet potatoes. Carrots similar.

    I might try some peas and a second shot at carrots or maybe brassica, now that it’s cooling off enough, but I suspect they will also just fall to the rabbits.

    …I’ve got a couple of calla lilies coming up. I keep forgetting the flowers count.

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