Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meager Harvest

Ah, the end of summer. Tenino schools started back yesterday, with yellow school buses plying the roadways and kiddos in backpacks and new school clothes making the trek to and from their classrooms. We're supposed to have a last-ditch effort at summer weather this week and possibly into next, which is nice, but it's still getting below 50 degrees overnight.

I'm so torn. I love the fall, but I had hoped to have a great bounty from our first "real" garden this year, and it doesn't seem likely to happen. Here's a rundown of how our veggies look to date:

Beans: none harvested, but probably a colander-full ready to pick. Mental note: pick beans tonight!

Broccoli: done for the season. We harvested about five nice big heads out of six or seven plants, and a few side spears, too, but were lax in picking so let some go to flower. At least the cows like the flowered heads!

Beets: not popping out of the ground, yet, so presumably not ready. Although how they've managed to compete with the weeds I have no idea. Perserverence, perhaps. I plan to start hoeing the garden tonight so it won't be so embarrassing to show the family on Saturday (paying penance, plug your ears so you won't have to hear me whine about how much my body hurts tomorrow!).

Cauliflower: total bust. The heads turned purply black and nasty-looking. We didn't pick any.

Corn: of the six rows planted, no ears harvested or even close to ready. A few stalks are taller than me (as they should be!), but most are waist-high or shorter (!), even though ALL of it has flowered and has baby ears growing. So much for sharing home-grown corn at our big family BBQ this weekend!

Cucumbers: these are doing pretty well. We only have one row, but get several every couple of days. The cows get the ones we miss, which can get mostrously huge very fast. (Scary!) Now I just need to do something with the ones we keep!

Onions: I'm waiting for the tops to dry up and turn brown, as I've heard must happen before harvesting onions. I have high hopes for the onions. The volunteers over in the raised beds are popping out of the ground now, but their tops aren't falling over, either, so I resist the (huge!) urge to yank them up by their hair! Patience, Grasshopper.

Pumpkins: my pet project. Not that I'm doing much except marveling at the plant's robust nature! We planted the pumpkin in a raised bed with the zucchini, and the pumpkin is definitely growing like mad, but I just keep coming along behind it and pulling its arms back into the bed's concrete boundary. We have two nice pumpkins coming in the back (about medium-pumpkin sized right now), plus a few softball-sized ones and lots of flowers. I'll be thrilled to get two or three I can carve for Halloween! Maybe next year I'll try sugar pumpkins for baking, too. I know Paul loves those roasted.

Spinach: total and complete miserable failure. Stopped before it really even started. I don't think they even came up more than an inch before stopping. Maybe we'll try a fall crop instead.

Tomatoes: we've harvested one ripe Early Girl, have four deer-fallen fruits attempting to ripen on the kitchen windowsill, and have tons of fruit on the other plants, all green. We've had a handful (small, baby handful) of cherry tomatoes so far from our four plants.

Zucchini: after a very slow, pathetic start, the single zucchini plant is finally looking lush and flowery. We've harvested about ten six-inch zucchinis so far.

Of the herbs in our garden, I haven't harvested much of anything yet, but everything, including the basil seedlings I started late, is doing pretty well. I love to brush up against the dill, and am looking forward to making use of the volunteer oregano that's been flowering its fool head off all summer. Even the little rosemary growing under the shadow of the oregano is starting to thrive.

The summer isn't quite over yet, and I suppose all our produce can send out one last hurrah before we close the book for the season. I do think I'd like to start some fall veggies (kale, lettuces, spinach...and not sure what else, but I'll do my research!), so if I can get myself in gear, I've got lots of wide-open raised garden to plant in!


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