Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The garden

Well Fall is here, and it seems like it showed up overnight.  The temps have fallen to "absolutely perfect", the monsoon rains have ended, and the humidity is approximately 0%.  The summer certainly was eventful, especially in the garden.

  Some plants had a rough start in the spring because the winds were just nonstop.  The cukes never really did get going too well, but I still managed to make 3 jars of pickles, and two plants look like they might revive a bit for Fall.  At first I thought the beans wouldn't be able to recover from the wind damage, but by late spring and early summer they were going strong and I've harvested more beans than ever before.

  We blanched a whole bunch of them last month, and will probably be able to do a second batch in a few weeks.  I only got a few beets, and the onions (planted nearby) didn't fare so well either- many of them have been rotten.  The monsoons were absolutely intense this year and one half of the garden (where the beets, cukes, and onions are planted) got flooded more than once even though the garden is higher than the surrounding area and has great drainage.  Then there was the hail with the one storm which tore up most of the leaves on the Butternut squash, zucchini, and yellow squash.

  It looks like we'll still have a pretty good harvest of Butternut squash though since the hail came after most of the veggies were big enough to handle it.

  We got a good crop of the zucchini and summer squash earlier in the season and were able to blanch and freeze enough of those to take us through winter.

 By the middle to end of the season though, the plants had just gotten too much water and the roots were rotting.  And of course the squash bugs took advantage of the weakened plants and further damaged them.  A few weeks ago I pulled up the ones that were too far gone, leaving just a few that may recover enough to give us at least a few more veggies.  Luckily tomatoes like rain and can handle some pretty tough conditions.  All the varieties we planted (yellow, pink, and 2 varieties of cherry) have done well, although they are ripening more slowly as the nights turn colder.

 The Bell peppers and mini Bell peppers are doing really well, as are the carrots, so I should be able to make at least one more big batch of my garden fresh pasta sauce (I basically throw in all the fresh veggies and herbs I can harvest and cook it low and slow all day long).

 The Japanese eggplants have just recently started producing, but they seem to be doing well.  I made a mouthwatering eggplant Parmesan the other night ;) 

The herbs and salad garden have fared quite well and I've had fresh salad every night for months now, along with plenty of fresh basil (made tons of pesto!), parsley, chives, scallions, oregano, and rosemary.

 Oh, and for the first time I got several REALLY good cantaloupe.

  Although the season is coming to a close we should have another couple of months before the first frost, so I imagine I'll be harvesting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, salad, Swiss chard, carrots, and herbs at least until Thanksgiving.  This was my first year gardening in Arizona (I'm originally from Ohio) and while it has it's own unique challenges, I love this place and this was the most successful garden I've had.  Of course I've been saving seeds from everything I can (flowers included), so I won't even have to buy seeds next year.  Right now I'm planning on what to plant in the greenhouse.  I put the garlic in last week and some of it has already sprouted.  It takes hard work, dedication, and lots of sweat (especially when it's 115 degrees!), but nothing beats fresh herbs and veggies, grown organically and nurtured by your own hand. =)

~Michelle of CreativeCritters

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