Monday, September 19, 2011

Last Garden Update (this year)

Well, it's definitely fall weather now (if not technically until Wednesday), and my tomato plants are on the edge of death; the squash, broccoli, and cucumbers are all extremely dead.  However, the peppers have finally started to produce, even the golden ones, and the tiny little hot-pepper plant has put out its own weight in blazing chilis.  The herbs still produce ferociously. 

This last month, I didn't take the same joy in my garden as I did before the squash bugs laid waste to most of it.  It's hard to weed when you're just making space for dying plants.  Unfortunately, every time I tried to get up the gumption to weed, and I was faced with hideous, living squash bugs, and beautiful, wilting, perishing squash plants, I couldn't help but make connections between our political "leaders" and  bugs, and I know that it is wrong to compare people to insects that you want to squish.  So, not much weeding happened after it became clear that the squash bugs won this round.

Despite my sadness at the deaths, I did have a very productive garden season.  My garden made about the same dollar value of produce as I put into it--around $150. This was in a season when half my crops failed!  The cucumbers are preserved in my cupboard as pickles; many of the tomatoes are in salsa and pizza sauce, also canned in my pantry. 

So, successes of this year's garden included the 15-odd pints of cherry tomatoes, the many delicious larger tomatoes, and the abundant cucumbers, in addition to fragrant herbs that have enlivened our food since April. The garden provided nearly everything for gazpacho, which was my organizing principle for choosing veggies this year.  I also gained a lot of skills this season; I started plants from seeds for the first time.  I learned that you have to put cages on tomatoes and provide dowels for cucumbers to climb.  And, of course, I learned how to can and preserve food!  Strike one against big ag! (At least many websites claim that canning your own produce strikes away at Big Ag and Corporate Food.  I sure hope so!).

But no more dwelling on failure.  Now I'm a gardener, and next summer's focus can be on quality of product, new veggies, increased yield to make more canned pizza sauce of goodness!  Also, all my harvest happened in one quick blast, and then it was over.  Next year I need to plant in a way that staggers harvest, and get some greens in there--something for the beginning and end of the growing cycle here.

After all this, I'm ready for fall, to let the dormancy begin, to start making butternut squash and apple stew, pull out the cardigans, and go on the fall tour next weekend!  Anyone in the Lawrence area, let me know--we can caravan to the various farms if you want!

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