Saturday, September 5, 2009

September already?!

How can it be September?

If you're in the Chicago area, you know that our summer was, well, let's say atypical at best. Some of my plants that really love the hot suffered as we had some nice 90 degree days in June, and then spent most of July below 83 degrees. And rainy. Blech.

I have not planted some of the things I wanted to get going for fall, but I'm going to give it a whirl anyway, even though it is kind of late, and hope that we'll just get some late summer weather that'll be conducive to a longer growing season.

Here's some random items from the garden - I've been super neglectful on posting on here this summer.

The onions:

Onions came up a little on the small side. A friend told me that if you step on the green as it comes up, they'll get bigger (energy will go to growing the bulb instead of the greens). Any thoughts on this? Makes sense to me, and I'm going to try it with the ones that I planted for fall
Onions drying in the garage

In other news, we had a pretty phallic summer over here, too. It was our first year growing zucchini, and man, I GET THE JOKES NOW about having too much. Good grief. I have bags of shredded/grated zucchini in the freezer so I can use it off-season to make zucchini bread, etc. Cucumbers started off strong, and I am not sure if it is the weather or how I had them set to grow that failed me, but they've not been producing - tons of leaves and vines, but very very few cucumbers.
I grew them vertically up a trellis of chicken wire, and put a "roof" on top for them to grow on, too. I had visions of cucumbers growing off that and just dangling from the roof for us to grab. That has not panned out. Dang. Making me rethink my idea for next year which involved growing cukes in two separate boxes and putting a canopy like that between two trellises to make a covered walkway between the garden boxes.

One day, my older daughter Charlotte and I looked over the fence and saw this: Yep, volunteer cherry tomato plants. I will admit to occasionally tossing overripe tomatoes over the fence. It's not very mature, or, I guess, neighborly, but it is the library's property and I certainly didn't think anything would grow (the terrain is rocky. Like landscaping rocks.) but I WAS WRONG. The nice thing is, we are getting a kick out of having these extra plants to harvest from (there's some on the side of the house, too, where I have never tossed a tomato, so we know that birds and the like are involved in this, too.) and my girls get to learn how nature really works - plants growing because of animals bringing seeds to different locations, etc.

Corn! I agree with people that corn is not worth the space it takes up. And with the abundance of local growers at roadside stands and farmers markets, there is no reason to grow corn. EXCEPT that it is fun to watch grow, to see if it is really going to be "knee high by July," and to finally harvest it. Plus we have the stalks ready to go for fall/Hallowe'en decorating. So I think it'll make an appearance in coming years.

Bush beans have continued to ROCK in our garden. I have so many in the freezer right now, it isn't even funny. Plus we've been enjoying them at meals every couple days. My brother, raised on canned green beans (soggy, metallic flavor tinge, etc.), has hated green beans with a passion. He gave our crisp, fresh, delicious garden fresh beans a try, and he's a convert! Amazing!

My first batch of peppers tanked. I didn't water enough (I rarely water, I like to see what Nature can do for us. Oh, and I'm awfully lazy) and the cool weather sucked the life out of them. In July or August, I purchased more pepper plants to toss into the garden, and coddled them a bit...we had some hot weather, and BOOM goes the peppers. Hurrah! (FINALLY!)

Finally, the carrots. Oh dear God, the carrots. Every couple years I get a wild hair to grow carrots. We love them! We all eat them! Let's grow 'em!
But the vigilance to make them grow up right...I can only commit that kind of dedication to raising my kids. Thinning them out to prevent overcrowding is not my thing (um, that's why we only have 2 kids, too) so I end up with this gnarled insane gross mess:

I put one in Char's lunchbox to freak her out at lunchtime. She came home and said it was really weird and no, no one liked it in there at all. Kids have no sense of humor.
Anyway, they were still tasty enough, so I grated 'em and froze em for off-season use.

I don't know why my pictures are all tiny, so sorry about that. That's kind of the summary of summer stuff. I've been canning tomato sauce made with cherry tomatoes for the past few weeks and have about 7 pints in the pantry now. Making it with the cherry tomatoes has been a colossal pain in the ass, but what're you going to do? I've been adding in our little yellow pear tomatoes and they make for a really nice sauce.

Happy growing!


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