Monday, September 2, 2013

The Absent Gardener's Bounty

This was my favorite view (... is my front porch looking in. Yeah, I'm a little bit country :-)) after returning from a month-long trip to my home country of Germany. I could barely make it to the front door without stepping on green tomatoes or being pulled in by a jungle of hydrangeas.
The white hydrangea by the driveway gave us a royal welcome of white fluffy flowers. They dry well and I can work the flowers into a wreath for the front door come spring. 

We arrived here after nightfall, but that didn't stop the kids from checking on the tomatoes, first thing, even before the chickens.
There were quite a few left for us to enjoy, even though friends had come to partake while we were gone. Most of them are a slightly-larger-than-cherry cluster variety called 'Gardener's Delight' (at least I think so, being that I'm no use at labeling the plants). But the blight had also made quite the impression, barely a green leaf left. Sniff. Oh well, as long as I get most of the tomatoes before the blight does, I'll be happy. 
We were impressed with the giant sunflowers, the first thing we have ever planted from saved seeds. I think we'll do that again! They're pretty sturdy if not quite so large in the tops as they were at the farm where we got them. The amaranth is almost as tall, and so pretty, too.
The most fun and amazing part though, were all the pumpkin and squash vines. It's pretty difficult to track where they begin and end, and whether a particular vine actually is bearing fruit 20 yards down the aisle, or not. This lead to my prematurely harvesting a big butternut squash. Speaking of which - I seem to be able to grow those. The one in the right picture is a monster! You can see the top (thin) part of it in the left picture, for size comparison to normal ones!

I planted a few decorative gourds, too, just for fun, and they made a few interesting fruit, side by side with the reliable yellow summer squash that keeps on bearing. This plant, I believe, fed my husband for the first 2 weeks of our absence, until he joined us overseas.

This ratty vine is graced with about a dozen cute, small, decorative pumpkins. It grew as a volunteer, and I think I'll save seeds for next year (if I can learn how). Not edible but we always end up buying a few so why not grow them?

Speaking of volunteers - remember the mystery vine that threatened to take over the back bean patch? It made an honest pumpkin the size of my head. Probably as hollow, too :-) which is my conundrum. Should I use it for decoration, thinking it's likely no good anyway, or cut into it to see if we can eat it? The right picture is I think the same variety, except immature and still green. I hope to get it to ripen before the vine dies completely.
In the competition for productive and decorative spinach alternatives, the climbing malabar is a clear favorite. Large, tasty, glossy leaves, grew well and winds up on the trellis on its own. Wasn't even bothered by all the tomato rot happening in the immediate vicinity. By comparison, the purple and red passion orach varieties never really took off, the leaves stayed small, and when I came home it had gone to seed (the malabar makes the cutest flowers right now!). I tossed the whole plants including seeds behind the bee flower garden, maybe it'll take off on its own? The only times I've used the leaves was to decorate a salad, because they were so little and so few.

Some of the corn appeared ready, and some of the tall stalks were falling over, so we decided to take a peek:

Isn't that pretty? I will have to dry them for 3 weeks or so, hoping they won't spoil. I still have to find the perfect location for such endeavors as the house is humid in general.

In the back bean patch, the front pair of trellis had given in to the weight of the enormous pile of beanstalks on them. I harvested about a pound, and left the smaller beans and flowers behind for later.
The Kale is tasty, at least to the small caterpillars that ate it. I gave it a haircut and sent the oldest daughter to the chicken pen with the leaves including caterpillars.... Somehow they never arrived at their destination and are now installed in our butterfly hatching pavillion. I better grow some more Kale to feed them, all in the name of science!
I spent a bunch of time weeding and pruning, and am just so happy at how well it's gone overall, to be gone for so long. It was hard to return from a very wonderful trip, but sticking my hands in the dirt felt 'grounding' to me.


1 comment:

  1. Welcome back!
    Seems like I'm the only one whose solanaceae didn't get the blight (yet).
    Love the pumpkins. The drought did in most of my vines.
    It's time to check on the bees and decide Fall management. If you've got honey, I've got that extractor! Would be a fun party to have.