Folks who know me, have heard me talk a lot about all the years of gardening experience I have “under my belt”. Yet along will come a year that will totally throw all my experiences straight out the window. And this was the year!
I really wanted to extend the harvest, seeing as it started so late this spring. Or maybe I was in denial, not wanting summer or the fall to end. For weeks, I had been covering and covering almost every night when forecasters would mention the “chance of frost”. Oh come on! Where is our “Indian Summer”? Usually a 2 to 3 week period of lovely warm sunny weather would follow religiously after a week or two of serious frosts? Not’ta!
Weather systems used to hang around for several weeks or even several months, if we were lucky. This year was truly bizarre. Gorgeous weather, sunny, hot with fluffy white clouds or just a clear blue sky..one day or even two and then BANG! Next day, suddenly dropping down to freezing temperatures, winds raging through the yard at 78 kms an hour and heavy rains (3/4″) mixed with some wet snow! What the heck??
Forget listening to the weather forecasters. They are more “off” than “on”! When I wake up and blue shies are knocking on my window…I’m out the door like a shot. Forget breakfast…the old man is on his own! Its the occasional warm sunny days that I wait for, when I tear through the garden like the Tasmanian Devil. Last Thursday was just that kind of day. The sun was perfect, not too hot (…had to take my jacket off…) and the wind was gentle.
Out came ALL the carrots. Had great success here. Out came ALL the tomatoes. Finally! Had a modest turnaround. Old leaves were torn off the late season broccoli and cauliflower and fed to the chickens. (…they frankly are getting fed up with me…too much is too much…) Remaining corn stalks were thrown to the horses. Removed some sweet pepper plants (…have found “mature” pepper plants can tolerate few degrees of freezing (-6C) weather having originated in the mountains of Peru..) and left a few of the hottest ones. Saved some lettuce seed heads. Pumpkin plants were a disaster…starting only now to show immature fruits, so OUT they came. Some cucumber varieties did well while others did not even grow out. Ground cherry/husk tomato were loaded, but many fruits were cracked right inside the husks. Peanuts produced moderately well, considering the bouts of cool weather. And Chufa plants were loaded with nuts/corms!
Sooo…what is left? A few short rows of beets (several varieties), a few broccoli, several red celery plants and some herbs like mints, oregano, thyme, rosemary, lavender and sage. These can tolerate a few degrees of cool weather…just not heavy frosts. I might cover a few of the pepper plants, only to preserve them for a little while longer outside.
Hang in for a full report (shortly) on what fresh seeds of this year’s harvest I will be offering.
Hopefully our “Indian Summer” is still coming…maybe.