Here’s Part Two of the Fall GWG piece (click here to read Part One). This continues my response to prompt #13 and some of #11. When the harvest prompt came out I was really excited to write in depth about my successes. Unfortunately it came right before I left for Michigan and by the time I got back I was just too busy to get to it. I hope to write more about the successes and failures of this year in the off season. Still, when I was writing my wrap up I had tomatoes on the brain and I thought it was worth a more in depth look. Since I wrote this even more has happened, but it’s still in progress as I wait for everything to come to a freezing halt. It seems nearly everything edible started coming up between August and October, which was a month or two behind my usual schedule. It was an interesting season to say the least and though I’m always sad to see it come to an end I’m relieved for a bit of a break. I need the time to reflect so I can figure out how to approach 2014. It’s bound to be my most successful yet.
Just before the past few prompts came out I had been writing about the changes in my paper gardening journal quite a bit. Through September I kept commenting on how beautiful the weather was, warm and perfect. I’ve been a bit down about the huge amount of green tomatoes that never seem to ripen with only a few red ones finally showing up in the last month [note: after this was written the following few weeks finally gave me a decent tomato harvest, but over two pounds are still green and immature]. Sure I’ve had some extremely prolific yellow pears and more than a decent amount of yellow taxi, but this was going to be my tomato season. After recently harvesting a few new ones for the first time I was excited again, and made a list of all that came through along with other notes to look back on for future seasons. I’ll spare you all of the details but here’s a list of what came out:
- Mortgage Lifter
- Yellow Pear
- Golf Ball – an unknown red cherry that’s delicious and of course is the size of a golf ball, perhaps “Early Treat?”
- Coth’s Mystery – from my friend Coth, a tasty red plum with gold streaks
- H2 – This is the second unknown heirloom I received at a seed swap, so H2 as a short hand stuck with it. It’s similar to Coth’s Mystery but a beefsteak, flattish with red and gold streaking and a more yellow center than Coth’s. Perhaps its Gold Medal or Big Rainbow? I’ve grown Gold Medal in the past and have other Big Rainbow seeds that it may have gotten mixed up with, but that’s the best I can ID it.
What’s funny is most of my unknowns came up but few of the ones I actually sought out and bought made it to fruit. None of my green, black, and purple varieties could tough it through the harsh spring.
- Early Crookneck Summer Squash (it was everywhere!)
- Brassicas like kohl rabi, parsnip, kale, Brussels Sprouts leaves, and of course Broccoli
- Carrots in orange, purple, and white (though only babies, next year I’ll give them more room)
- Technicolor Swiss Chard and bitter green Endive (I didn’t blanch it)
- Wildflowers, especially pinkish white, blue, and deep purple Bachelor Buttons, and bold Blanketflower
- Red Roses, Moongleam Nasturtiums, tiny multicolored Marigolds, white Bleeding Hearts, Daylilies, Echinacea, Black Eyed Susans, pink and white Cleome, blue and purple Morning Glories, and Borage (some of these are edible, some are not)
- Perennial Herbs like Sage, Lavender, Mint, and Oregano
- Though not edible, my succulents are out of control! They all look amazing and I couldn’t be more pleased
On October first I started planning a bit for next year. I began thinking about reorganizing my seeds. They were arranged by plantings this season, which made sense to keep an eye on the needs of all of the new seeds I was trying. I looked back on what didn’t make it so I know where my priorities are next time around. My cucumbers never grew to an edible size, mostly from the month I was gone when they were all forgotten by my garden sitter. I’ll be retrying pickling, slicing, and lemon.
I was really excited about so many tomatoes, but those green, black, purple, and even reds will be my main focus. This has been the year of thriving yellows. I’ve been trying to grow Black Krim for a few years now with no luck so I’ll get fresh seed and those will be watched most carefully, along with the pretty Green Zebra and Ukranian Purple that didn’t make it this year. None of my tomatillos made it, so I’ll try again on those green and purple ones I was so looking forward to.
I had very little luck with bell peppers (seed is just too hard in this climate), and ended up with one quarter sized green I’ve brought inside to try and keep growing. I had no luck with spinach for whatever reason, and I had a lot of tiny little marigolds I’d like to see more full.
The yellow summer squash was a huge producer and I even have two butternuts ready for fall roasting. Next year I want to focus on green (and black) zucchini, acorn squash, and I’ll even retry melon. I only had one successful green bean out of about ten different types, but next year I want more peas and beans than I know what to do with. The poppies, Chinese lanterns, ornamental grass, and hollyhock didn’t do much so I want to see those explode, along with more varieties of Nasturtium (specifically black and red/deep orange).
I think the reality is that I can’t do all seed, it’s too cool here to do it entirely, and its just so much more work. The only starts I bought were 3 chili peppers in purple, yellow, and red, 2 varieties of basil, and in October I picked up auburn autumn mums and a giant low growing kale (somewhere between a looser cabbage and a fat kale leaf). All were great deals and gave me the instant gratification I needed.
So finally, what I wrote in my seasonal record the day before the prompt came out was this:
I’ve learned a lot this year. I tried so many new things. I had a lot of seeds and seedlings that didn’t make it but now that gives me something new to look forward to next season. I figured out the sun’s patterns and what’s already here, got a head start on a few perennials and self-seeders that will bloom next year, and also found my weak spots – what needs work to figure out. The entire experience didn’t come out as I had planned but that’s ok. I did my best and was swimming in more greens than I knew what to do with. Lots of flowers bloomed throughout the season, even if the ones I were expecting never arrived. I can’t totally control what will come out of my efforts but did my best to focus on the fruits of my labor rather than the downfalls of the season.
PS As always, please do not reproduce photos without asking.