Happy autumn everyone!
If you’re wondering where I’ve been all summer, the answer is simple: out in the garden. Autumn is my favorite season, but learning to grow food has vastly broadened my appreciation of the warm, sunny growing months.
Despite my goals to be more a more diligent blogger for 2009, I have instead focused the majority of my time on writing fiction and poetry, and growing food and flowers.
Kind thanks to reader Diana Hunt for encouraging me to get back to business at AppleJade. To start us off, here’s a quick peek at what I was doing out in the garden during June, July, and August…
In June we were smitten with strawberries. These plants have been growing here without any help from me for nearly 10 years. They have happily consumed a sizable chunk of the vegetable patch, and this autumn many of them will be relocating to new beds which are being established in the rockier and less-hospitable parts of the yard. My reasoning is that the strawberries are so hardy and so happy to propagate that they should make excellent (and tasty) pioneers.
The corn plants grew steadily through June and July, and I really should dedicate an entire separate post to what they accomplished this year by creating so much food out of so little soil. We ate sweet, healthy corn all through the month of August.
Pumpkins had a slow start, and I think we now have three pie-worthy squash out there which are just beginning to turn orange. My plan for next spring is to start the squash in the cold frame as I did with the corn, and then transplant when it’s warm enough in May. This was a successful approach for the corn harvest, so hopefully pumpkins and other squash won’t mind the transplant method. Pumpkins will definitely have a post of their own so you can see their progress and learn about their flowers.
Sunflowers dominated the scene all around the yard this year. We collected almost all the seeds from our Pennsylvania sunflowers, and those seeds waited patiently from 2007 to be planted here in western Washington this year and subsequently bloom upwards of eight feet. They’re just finishing now. I managed to get three of the largest seed-heads indoors to finish drying, but the rest have been claimed by the busy blue Steller’s jays (Cyanocitta stelleri). As with corn and pumpkins, the sunflowers deserve a post of their own to show just how much they accomplished this season. (And yes, that’s me, standing in front of some of the corn and sunflowers just before the first flowers opened. The purple-pink blush behind the corn is from the foxglove (genus Digitalis) and fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) two of my favorite local wildflowers, coming in to full summer bloom.)
Marigolds, lettuce, cilantro, beans, and many others have boomed throughout the garden and pop up just about everywhere. I moved all the arugula and other greens out of the cold frames when they went to seed, and let the plants finish in the cooler corners of the fenced-in vegetable garden. They should be dropping those seeds very soon now thanks to the wind and rain, which will hopefully result in a fresh crop.
Tomatoes grew strong, vibrant, and healthy all season, but left me with a plethora of green fruits. They have only just begun to ripen, and as a result many of them are coming indoors as soon as they begin to to show yellow or pink where they can finish among the warmth of the kitchen. I’ll continue to keep them ripening outdoors until the tomato plants finally turn brown – which I’m guessing isn’t too far in the future.
For now, I’ll leave you with a nasturtium, another friendly flower which can be found just about everywhere around the garden. While all parts of nasturtiums are edible, I’ve resisted collecting too many flowers or seeds for dinners in the hopes that the plants will successfully re-seed themselves for next summer. I’ll let you know my success when they reemerge next June.
Filed under: Cooking, Garden, Goals, Health Tagged: | autumn, connection, corn, flowers, fruits, Garden, gardeners, Gardening, harvests, lettuce, marigolds, meditative, nasturtiums, organic, plants, pumpkins, strawberries, summer, sunflowers, tomatoes, vegetables