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Too much whine

September 21, 2010

I have been complaining too much about our cool summer, me thinks.  For the most part the gardens have done well, a little heavy on brassicas, but they grow so well here and this has been an exceptional year for vegetables that prefer the cooler temperatures.  Adapting to a cool summer just meant planting more cool weather crops, and for the most part I skipped a succession plantings or two of summer greens.  With the moderate weather those plants didn’t feel the need to bolt so soon, so I really got a lot of mileage out of my first spring plantings.  Lettuce and other greens didn’t pay any attention to the solstice and kept right on producing leaves into July.

Bumper crops of cauliflower and broccoli are stuffed in the freezer.  Out of all the brassicas in my garden, the broccoli is the best at multi-tasking. We freeze the main heads and use the plentiful side shoots for fresh eating.  Now the broccoli is hen, dog and bee food.  Not much is blooming right now except the Himalayan blackberries and any bolting garden crops, so instead of a mass clean-up of the broccoli row, I am leaving it for the bees and pulling plants each day for the hens.

Winter hardy greens (in my area) planted in August are robust and large.  I have never had much luck with later plantings maturing enough to make it through our dark, wet winters.

The celeriac seems like a bomb-proof horse.  Nothing fazes it, I’ve not grown it for many years, but it seems to take our hot, dry summers as well as a soggy, wet one like we experienced this year.

Winter beets and rutabagas are coming along too – the beets are a little small, but the rutabagas are right on schedule.

My green beans finally mustered and produced a little.  Not enough to can but definitely enough for a mess now and then.

The onions and garlic absolutely loved the cool weather – both sized up very well, with a minimum of fuss.

Tomatoes didn’t do well this year due to my planting them outside – but the peppers in the brooder/greenhouse are doing well.  We’ve been eating ripe peppers since the beginning of August and soon will commit the rest of the crop to the freezer as well.

After looking at all these pictures I feel fortunate to have all this food at hand.  I’ve tasted the vine ripened sweetness of a few tomatoes this year and may get one meal of fresh corn on the cob.  Maybe not the garden I was thinking of this spring, but not so bad after all.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 7:15 am

    We always seem to get a lot out of the garden, but somehow without tomatoes, it is counted as failure. Last year we didn’t get very many tomatoes, although we still had a fabulous garden otherwise. This year, the tomatoes were fabulous, but other things suffered. All things being equal we still judge by the tomatoes.

    • September 21, 2010 8:23 pm

      The Mom, I know exactly what you mean. Maybe because the tomatoes are so hard to coax to ripen, at least here anyhow…

  2. September 21, 2010 7:21 am

    Looks as though your garden did pretty good despite all that rain and cool weather you got. Great pictures!

    I hope you’re getting a warmer dryer fall. Enjoy your day.
    Maura 🙂

    • September 21, 2010 8:25 pm

      Maura, it did do good, and really we had two months without rain, but the late plantings and cooler (although) dry days really set somethings back.

      No such luck on a dry fall, we have had September’s rain in a week and more on the way soon. 😦

  3. September 21, 2010 8:23 am

    I had a whiney garden this year except for the spuds which were a bumper crop from what I’ve seen….it’s too wet yet to dig and I think it’s the first time in my history here that, that has happened 😉 Great post!

    • September 21, 2010 8:26 pm

      Linda, it’s too wet here too for digging, I am hoping I can miss the late blight. Fingers crossed! I want some spuds!!

  4. susan permalink
    September 21, 2010 8:48 am

    When you eat out of your garden, you sure have to go with the flow. Last year I got three tomatoes. This year I have a bushel. Last year I had peppers. This year – not. All the fluctuations make it even more important that you preserve what you have a lot of. Your broccoli and cauliflower looks amazing.

    • September 21, 2010 8:28 pm

      Susan, you have said it so well – kale and kohlrabi stir fry for us 🙂 Geez and the tree fruit is almost non-existent too, just berries. Oh well.

  5. Diana R.Smith permalink
    September 21, 2010 9:35 am

    Fifty beautiful varied tomato plants grown in our greenhouse…and no tomatoes to can, barely enough to have a salad….no, not too cold. Too darn hot…tomatoes won’t set fruit when the temp is over 90 for 60+ days in a row!!! If you did find a ‘mater and took a bite it was like eating a stewed tomato! Literally. 40 years of gardening and never as big of a failure as this. Glad to say we are still eating the ’08 canned tomatoes and haven’t started on the ’09’s …but it just didn’t seem right not canning tomatoes! Worse,all the neighbors who get their plants from us had the same results. There was just no way to put enough water on the garden to help and none of them have a deep well which we are lucky to have. We even grew several types supposed to set fruit at high temps with minimal sucess. Guess that’s what I like about gardening…never know what is gonna happen and there is always next year! Only actual bright spot was the 43# Yukon Gold taters that defied the heat…..and the peppers have decided to start blooming along with 6 developing Ambrosia canteloupe. Next year, next year,next year…………..

    Your garden looks lovely though–enjoyed your pictures. Winter spinach and beets are up so the optimistic gardener moves on….DEE

    • September 21, 2010 8:31 pm

      Diana, wow that is exactly the opposite of here for sure – lots of green tomatoes that will never ripen. I agree we never are really guaranteed a crop for sure, but we can hope and like you say there is next year, and the next one after that… 🙂

  6. September 21, 2010 10:11 am

    How do you get your onions to make such large bulbs? Mine stay so small. And I have such problems with onion maggots if I leave them in the ground after July. – Margy

    • September 21, 2010 8:39 pm

      Margy, I plant sets (which I hear is a no-no in the gardening world) but it works for me. I’ve tried seeds and transplanting but have always had better luck with sets. My daughter planted some sets from the same package this year, and because she didn’t side-dress them with compost they bolted and and did not size up at all. She’s old enough I don’t nag anymore, she learned her lesson by watching my row of onions grow as hers petered out. Same onions, same garden, different gardening methods, success and failure. She is still mad at herself, which is much better than a reminder from me! I never have had onion maggots (knock on wood) but I do rotate my onions and garlic and have thankfully dodged that bullet.

  7. September 21, 2010 10:18 am

    You could have had a summer like ours. I won’t even plant anything else because I don’t want to water it … and even watering it doesn’t help, it burns up in this heat, which hasn’t let up!

    • September 21, 2010 8:41 pm

      Michelle, I can’t believe how hot you guys have been, I do believe the heat would be worse. We had two dry months but not much heat so it wasn’t too bad. I am not looking forward to winter!

  8. September 21, 2010 11:51 am

    Maybe not the garden I was thinking of this spring, but not so bad after all.

    I feel the same way. Our first year in our new home so we were doing a lot of experimentation and – like Diane & TheMom – since we’re not drowning in tomatoes, it feels like a bit of a failure. But we’ve had countless meals from the things that have grown and dozens of jars of preserves from the garden/foraging, so it’s not all bad.

    I’ve also learnt A LOT about growing here and have a list of things to improve on next year – onwards and upwards!

    • September 21, 2010 8:42 pm

      Louisa, onward and upwards are good words to live by, especially when one is gardening. I do miss the toms a little, but hopefully next year will bring a few more. I will have to make my canned ones last…

  9. michelle permalink
    September 21, 2010 12:01 pm

    we’ve been thinking the same thing over here… lots of complaining for a pretty successful garden, its just producing different things than we are used to. We just pulled in two bushels of apples and a bushel of italian prunes. I remember italian prunes at my grandma’s when I was little. Any ideas on how to save them? I was thinking of a butter of some sort, but I am not finding a recipe. Any direction would be much appreciated.
    The romanesco broccoli looks wonderful, by the way. I wish mine had done that well.

    • September 21, 2010 8:53 pm

      Michelle, OMgoodness, dry those prunes! Dried Italian prunes are better than candy!! And better than any dried prune available – delicious!!

      Prune butter or Lekvar is good, look for recipes online under those names – we had so many prunes last year I juiced some too and the juice was very good, warmed on a cold winter day. This year we have had about as many prunes as tomatoes 😦

      As for the romanesco, it likes to mature in the fall, I quit trying to grow it for summer harvest, same with the cauliflower and broccoli, I miss most of the bugs that way too. Each year I am liking the romanesco more and more, it’s denser and milder than broccoli and comes out of the freezer in better shape too. But my teenager devours broccoli, so we grow lots of broccoli, she set out 48 plants!

  10. September 21, 2010 12:49 pm

    Well, I’d say so! You really did fare pretty well, all considering. My Celeriac did pretty well too, that is until that D*#!@ rat ate them all. It’s us against them.

    • September 21, 2010 8:55 pm

      Diane, I know, I realized I was complaining way too much about the weather – which is of no use really, we can’t change it, just adapt and make the best of what we get.

  11. roundrockgarden permalink
    September 21, 2010 2:21 pm

    gosh, i am so envious of how wonderful your veggies always look!!! very nice!

  12. September 21, 2010 2:46 pm

    oooooo, there it is. the best visual ever….. cheddar cauliflower and romanesco! I’m swooning!

    good points, though, about gardening. Too often we set specific goals for each crop (as we are urged to do in the planning stage!) and if individual crops fall through we don’t feel good about the garden overall. I know I’ve sure done that. Gardening in San Francisco, as I did for so many years, the entire notion of “hot summer crops” was mostly unattainable – but there was always still much good food to harvest.

    • September 21, 2010 8:59 pm

      Hayden, I agree, with the Graffiti cauliflower peeking out from underneath. I have learned to eat the purple fresh, blue does not translate well during the dark days! Golden yellow and Chartreuse I can handle in January, but not blue/gray.

      We have plenty, just a different plenty 🙂

  13. September 21, 2010 5:16 pm

    here’s some cheese with that wine. cuz i know exactly what you mean.


    • September 21, 2010 9:00 pm

      Chook, alas, it is raining again too – it will be rain gear for potato digging 😦 Not my favorite thing at all!

  14. September 21, 2010 5:33 pm

    Your onions look great this year, I am going to have to try that stuttgarter variety…I tried to order them this past winter but they were already out of seed…next year. Our celery is doing well but the celeriac is subpar…both varieties have barely formed bulbs this summer. I’m glad to hear that yours is performing nicely.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for turning us on to Melissa cabbage, she is magnificant compared to all other cabbages that we are growing this year and makes a fine sauerkraut.

    • September 21, 2010 9:07 pm

      Mike, I have to admit I always use sets instead of seeds and always have good luck unless I plant them in poor soil. I had trouble with Diamante germinating this year and then I had mice in the greenhouse, I had to start over with Brilliant which actually turned out to be much more vigorous seed and they caught up – I don’t think the bulbs are as big as they could be if I irrigated as commercial growers do, but I didn’t water the celeriac this year even though we had quite a dry spell.

      I LOVE MELISSA ❤ I still have a few heads in the garden from my April transplants! They are holding just fine and have went through thick and thin this year – amazing! Their replacements are growing well too – now if I can just keep the deer away for a while!

  15. Ali permalink
    September 21, 2010 6:06 pm

    I’m with Hayden. That romaesco and cheddar cauliflower has me drooling….

    • September 21, 2010 9:08 pm

      Ali, gosh if only you could taste them too – so sweet and mild. Perfect for snacking! But pretty darn good roasted too 🙂

  16. September 22, 2010 2:59 am

    Here I was wishing I could send you some of our Oklahoma 100-degree heat, but looks like your garden has done a lot better than most everyone’s did here! My broccoli bolted quickly this year, so did the carrots. I had good crops of onions and peppers. Everything else just didn’t make it through the transplant when we moved. I have fall beans planted and tiny beans on the vines. Here in Oklahoma, frost doesn’t happen till late October and sometimes not till November. Since we’ve had such heat this year and for so abnormally long, I think Mother Nature owes us Okies a late, late frost.

    I enjoy your blog. –Ilene

  17. September 22, 2010 8:55 am

    Beautiful garden! We have lots of rain also…and lots of wind. I’m rather tired of the wind. And it raining again today.


  18. September 22, 2010 12:52 pm

    Very beautiful. Tomatoes we had plenty of – but we were greatly lacking beans and zucchini. But as you say we should be thankful for what we did receive, and we are.

  19. September 23, 2010 11:31 am

    I can say the same about my garden this year – record size cauliflower and broccoli – but beans, corn, peppers, and tomatoes were a bust. My tomatoes are still green out there. I’m bringing them in the house to try and ripen them….but sometimes a green tomato remains a green tomato

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