I've had some less than stellar years in the garden but this summer has been right up their on the stress scale.
It wasn't because of one culprit in particular, but rather a combination of: the never-ending pest/disease issues, the weeds that grew like weeds 😉, three trips over the course of the summer (fun but I fell WAY behind as a result), helping my mom in her transition from married to widowed, the current (BIG) garden project, and, to top it off, finding it hard to say no to my volunteering.
I'm finally going to admit it - I've bitten off more than I can chew. Even the harvests are often an obligation rather than a joy. I usually take on a little more than I can handle - I just want to do it all! - but I think this year I've learned my lesson. Hopefully.
It's been a while since I've done a garden update, so I thought it high time I do a quick stroll through the garden and point out some of the highlights.
The most exciting thing that's happening is a harvest - our first ever apples!
|The first ever ripe Haralson apple|
A couple of apples fell off the Haralson tree in early September but they were not fully ripe - they were very tart, dry and the flesh turned brown within seconds of cutting. Having never tasted a Haralson apple before, I was hoping this wasn't an indicator of how this variety was when mature - and lucky for us it wasn't.
We've harvested several mature apples since then and they are deliciously sweet/tart, crisp and juicy - the perfect apple! The flesh does not brown overly quickly either - probably at the same rate as a Gala. My daughter said it best when she described the taste as a mixture of red and green apple.
When I bagged the apples earlier in the season, I'm sure my neighbours thought I was nuts. That's ok - I don't mind being the kooky lady on the street - the rewards are worth it.
You can see above that the apple leaves have been hit with what appears to be rust, likely from all our wet weather over the summer, but this doesn't seem to have affected the apples themselves. In honour of this very special first harvest, I'm linking up with Dave at Our Happy Acres for Harvest Monday.
The mulching in the west border area is moving along - I'm over 3/4 of the way there.
My plan is to go as far as I can this fall with the mulch that I already have, which may or may not be enough - I only have about 10 yards left. I may have to wait until next spring to finish up as I'm not ordering more mulch at this late date.
The tomato plants are pitiful but I'm surprised they are still going at all considering how early they were stricken with blight. I'm sure our dry weather lately has helped:
|Still lots to pick but it won't be long before this bed will be cleared|
The carrot bed is looking lush and lovely.
I've been picking carrots from the earlier sowing at the back of the bed while the front 2/3 of the bed are still sizing up and will be used for storage.
I didn't pull the fava bean plants this summer, which ended up being a good thing as I have another small crop coming in on a few of the plants. And this time, no aphids!
Last year, I sowed a succession of dried beans after I pulled the shelling peas and it worked out really well. The only thing was, we had an unusually warm fall so I wasn't sure whether I should take the chance this year, especially as my time was at a premium.
Well, I decided to give it a go anyhow and now I'm glad that I did as we are, once again, having a warmer than usual fall where temperatures feel more like July than late September. This is the forecast for the coming week:
|Image: The Weather Network|
I don't let the beans dry on the vine but pick them when fully mature and bring them inside to dry on newspaper. This cuts down on the time outside but whether or not they will mature enough to pick before the 1st hard freeze is still up in the air.
|Arikara and Calypso|
Fingers crossed that they will reach maturity
The majority of the leeks are gone in this bed and I believe the dry leaves near the top of the photo
are remnants of what was chewed off. Notice the ragged edges on the leeks that remain.
Leeks in Bed #12
The bees love the flowers, so that's always a plus!
The cucumbers have really picked up in the past few weeks, although the vines are in rapid decline, as is usually the case this late in the season:
Cucumber with Tromboncino on the far right
I think that one of the cucumber vines may have contracted wilt
while the others are dealing with powdery mildew
While squash and cucumber plants always end up with powdery mildew (PM) in the fall, one newcomer to the battle this year was kale.
This has been an incredibly frustrating year when it came to the peppers as well. First the rabbits got to them and I lost about 25% of the plants, then the slugs moved in on both the pepper plants and many of the peppers themselves.
I've already pulled out at least 10 pepper plants as they were not going to produce anything harvestable before the first frost. There are still some peppers to harvest but we'll see if I'm able to get to them before the slugs do:
Slug damage on a Pepperoncino pepper
Let's finish on a couple of high notes. The broccoli is once again a star in the garden:
All the main heads were harvested some time ago,
so now it's all about the side shoots
With a frustrating start to the season where the bunnies ate most of the lettuce, we are finally able to enjoy salads every day:
And we are harvesting more raspberries than ever before:
So that's my not-so-quick rundown of what is happening in the garden. By this time next month, most of the beds will have been cleared and cleaned up, which is something I love to see. All the spent and/or diseased plants and weeds are put into the compost or burn pile and the beds are once again pristine - full of promise for next season.