The garden is beginning to die, but not all of it, not yet

The pumpkin vines took full advantage of nearby hedges

The garden is beginning to die. Cayenne, jalapeno, and sweet bell pepper plants still offer yearning blossoms, but most will not produce. A second planting of green beans still gives but more slowly. A broccoli plant that resisted bolting all summer finally sent up its tallest stalk yet, with a yellow flower on top. I yanked it from the soil and chopped its tough stalk into pieces so the compost could devour it.

I like this time, after weeks of high-volume bounty, when the garden stops erupting. Some plants begin to wilt and provide less fruit; others take full advantage of the cooler air they crave.

Arugula, with drops of rain from last night

It’s salad time again, and I’m trying new variations like spicy greens with mint and feta. The little beads of brussels are growing plumper, waiting for the first hard frost to sweeten them. My two surviving pumpkins have grown heavy and bend the branches of the nearby hedge their vines climbed all summer. Their stems are still green, so I wait.

When I saw temperatures predicted in the high 40’s, I plucked most of the green tomatoes out of the garden. Two large bowls full of them now claim important real estate on the kitchen counter. They have friends sprawling, bowl-less, on the counter top and window sill. I love the smell and texture of the green skin and seem to remember a recipe for Green Tomato Chow Chow. But the greens of the green zebras are turning already to their sensual yellow, the exotic ones reveal themselves to be white not green, and red is creeping up the bodies of the others.

Kitchen windowsill, as is

Not a single of the dozens of tomato seeds I planted in early April made it successfully into the garden. A friend with a small farm provided the seedlings for these delicious beauties. When I give them attention, I remember how she nursed them in her greenhouse. She says its warmth and light in February and March kept her sane, and I briefly consider whether it’s possible to have a tiny greenhouse of my own.

For weeks already, tomatoes have been coming at me. I am full of restraint, not eating hardly a one unless it’s part of a planned meal, like coconut curry with tomatoes, green beans, tempeh, corn, and cilantro.

I cut and cored most of the tomatoes, spreading them on baking sheets to roast slowly for nearly an hour at 350 degrees. When done, they become sauce-like in the blender, then frozen in glass jars on the door of my freezer. I imagined saving these for the dead of winter, when a true taste of summer would explode our mouths, but I used a bit of this sauce for the first time this weekend to make pizza sauce (olive oil with 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, a small onion plucked from the ones I dried that still hang on the back porch off the kitchen, stir in the radiant sauce).

Once in awhile, though, alone at lunch, I slice a fresh tomato and dust it with salt and pepper to accompany an egg sandwich. With the ripening slower and volume lower, I take this liberty more frequently.

Russian Red Kale, living under row covers because of cabbage moths gone wild

Meanwhile, back outside, I monitor the spinach and Russian Red Kale. Just an inch or two high, I am full of hope that they will keep giving, even after the first dustings of snow.

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12 thoughts on “The garden is beginning to die, but not all of it, not yet

  1. I know. It’s seriously time for some beers or cocktails on the porch and meandering conversation. With fresh salsa and amazing tortilla chips made in Athens, Ohio. In return for veggies, I will request gin on ice or maybe your help figuring out how to improve my upstairs bathroom.

  2. I am jealous that you have a yard to accommodate such a garden! We fell in love with our house instantly and made the offer. We didn’t realize until we were settled in just how small our backyard is. There’s enough room for our dogs to handle business, play and enough room for our son to frolic (to some extent) but there’s no extra room for a garden, which bums me out.

    Oh well, that’s for the next house I guess!

    I loved reading about your haul though. It’s definitely giving me the gardening bug.

  3. Ryan – Well, I’m officially jealous of your dishware (catherine dueholme?–the wonderfully bright, vivid colors and geometric patterns) and the danish modern furniture you shared on your blog.

    The problem with having room and sunlight in the back yard is that my appetite keeps growing. I’m trying to figure out if I want the extra work that will come with planting a few rows of berry bushes. I’m also highly tempted to plant garlic for the first time.
    -J

    • One of my friends recently told me that you’re not really gay until you own Danish or Mid-century Modern furniture and accessories (you’re just bi-curious until then). 🙂

      I’m a gardening enabler, so I say go for it! Our best friends have an enormous garden (they also keep bees). They grow garlic and every year they have a ton of extra cloves. I’d say go heavy on the berries and light on the garlic unless you’re garlicaholics (we can be with certain dishes).

  4. A little glass house in your backyard would fit right in. A visit to the Re-Store and your building skills would turn into something nice, nice! See you soon

  5. Debora – I know! Right? I think I would need to borrow some of your crew’s building skills first. Don’t forget to let us know if you need any help pounding in the hoop house posts (or whatever they’re called).

  6. Pingback: We are moving to Philadelphia | Regular Midwesterners

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