Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Fall Garden

This year, we've got what I think is possibly the best garden we've had yet. 

Late May or so, I think? Don't try this placement!
We have at least 8 tomato plants still, but we've added green peppers, zucchini, summer squash, a bunch of lettuces, spinach, and pickling cucumbers to the mix. The result is wonderful.

We set aside a 12'x12' area early in the season and made the inside perimeter of the square home for herbs, green peppers, and tomatoes. 

There's a 3'x3' box inside the square which keeps the squashes and cucumber happy for the most part. The cucumber likes to climb a fair bit, so I gave it a tee-pee and a stick to crawl up. The spiny vines alone have amused me plenty this season. 

The tomatoes seem to have come in relatively late in the season. We usually have the beginnings of a harvest come late June, but this year, we had to wait until the second week of July or so, maybe a little more. The weather has been a little wonky here, so that may explain it.

I harvested about 15 pounds of tomatoes about 10 days ago, and then again another 13 lbs. or so over the weekend. I've been furiously trying to make and eat tomato sauce since I don't actually have the balls to pressure can it all. I'm saving it all in wide mouth pint jars in the freezer. (Yes, you can freeze pint jars full of stuff! Most new canning jars have a "freeze line" you can reference on the jar!)

The green peppers have been this year's marvel for certain. I will not skimp on these next year: I plan a whole patch of them. I find that I buy them the most at the store, so I guess I could use some more for sure. The green peppers out of the garden are right up there with stunning delicious compared to store tomatoes.

We set up an automated watering system for the garden this summer so we didn't have to worry about vacation. There's a rain delay setting too, so we can turn the water off for up to 3 days at a time if there's a rainy stretch. It's been a blessing, but next year, I want to put in some rain barrels and use what nature gives us for free.

I'm also endlessly impressed by my rope system in the garden. If you squint, you can see it in place just below the horizontal 2x4s. I'm a rope person. Rope (and duct tape) are my go-tos for solutions. There seem to be different people out there with solution tools; my father loves him some screws and bolts, and my mother is a rope person like me. 
Late August (a few days ago)

I strung ropes up early in the season, above the tomato plants. They'd grow up into them in no time at all, and I could weasel them into the places I wanted them to be. There's so much kitchen twine in that garden that you can't see, it's ridiculous.

The plants also seem to prefer morning sun over afternoon sun... they have a distinct tilt towards the southeast. 

There's also this stupid gray powder that has formed on the leaves of my summer squash and zucchini. Like a fool, I sprayed the leaves with apple cider vinegar thinking that would cure it. Nope! Turns out that burns the leaves something awful! I did however read that milk, of all things, should prevent the mildew from forming, but won't cure it. I caused this myself by watering at 7am and 7pmn, which can be risky in this regard.

I'm excited to see just how much this garden can produce. Next year, I plan to use Smart Gardener to help with the planning and placement of everything. We're in the process of building a 12'x12 deck off of the house, so we need to think carefully about next year's plans. 

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