Here’s to a bountiful Fall harvest.

Cucumber plant in a container.  

Things have been a bit hectic, and my allergies have been bad – even by my standards. However, I’ve been trying to keep busy in the yard and keep up with our veggie garden.  And so far, what I’ve noticed is that I have better luck with Fall crops than with Spring crops.

Maybe it’s the weather, our Springs are quite unpredictable.  Saying they are unpredictable might even be an understatement.  There was one week this past Spring that included, hail, snow, sun and 70 degree weather.  Easter brought a heat wave and then a day or two later it was below freezing.  It was crazy.  While the unpredictability of it all, might be entertaining, it does make it rather challenging for the gardener.

There are many who have mastered Spring gardening in our crazy climate; getting up at dawn and covering or uncovering the rows so carefully protected by remay, using heat holding methods like cloches, cold frames, or make shift mini green houses, or scientifically measuring the soil temperature vs. air temp and scheduling their plantings accordingly.

Pole Beans 2016, in side yard raised bed.

I do the best I can, utilizing a few of these methods.  However, I don’t invest as much energy into it as I could, or should.  The most logical excuse I can come up with is the actual weather and shorter days.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to weed, make rows, or plant tiny seeds in winter wear?  And if it’s dark when I’m trying to get a few things done after work, well, I can wear headlamps, but in reality, that just gets frustrating.  And let’s not forget about the seedlings.  They don’t like the fluctuations in the weather any more than we do.

I think I’m over anxious in the Spring too.  Having to cope with S.A.D. just makes me long for better weather, being outside, and working in my garden.  That means I often disregard the forecast, and plant purely according to dates on the calendar and recommended dates on the seed packet.  This past Spring, I did try a few mini-greenhouses / cloches, and they did work fairly well.  So I might try and perfect this method for our yard and chosen crops over the next few Springs – allowing me time outside, but not so much that I loose feeling in my fingers.

But in late Summer?  The sun is shinning, many ornamentals are past their prime, the crops are coming in, and the days are longer, and warmer.  And around here, before the cold late Fall rains start, it really does remain relatively comfortable – especially if you’re a plant. Sure, we might see our first flurries in October, but many of those cold hardy veggies you plant in the Spring can take a light frost or two.  Some even benefit from them, making a late Summer planting even more enticing.

What kind of squash will it be?

Sure we get excited about tomatoes and cucumbers in the early Summer, not to mention watermelon and corn!   And the first salad greens of the year are always welcome.  But late Summer and Fall veggies can cause just as much mealtime magic.  Our garlic did pretty well this year, so I’m thinking I’ll plant it again this Fall.  The Sweet Potato vines are still growing.  I’m hoping for a good crop of them this year too.  It’s always fun to go into our basement and come back into the kitchen with dinner.   The tomatoes have a number of green fruit on them, if I have to, I’ll just make green tomato salsa at the end of the season.  I’ve frozen a few of the green beans for later use.  Also, there is one solitary vine growing by the walkway – I’m hoping it’s a Blue Hubbard!

For me, this time of year is a great time to be gardening, despite my allergies.  The days are warm, and this year, the evenings have remained relatively comfortable.  So far the seedlings are doing well.  I planted some peas, lots of peas!  We recently rescued a few wire shelves from a pile heading to the dump.  With a few zip ties, they have made great trellises.  I also planted a small patch of Swiss Chard, and some Spinach.  The spinach is doing surprisingly well, considering it’s the same seed I used in the Spring and I wasn’t able to harvest any then!  We also have one lone brussel sprout plant growing.

With out Jasmine to eat the brussel sprouts or peas, or hunt the smaller critters and birds,  the smaller critters and birds have taken over and think I’ve planted a salad bar just for them.  That means that I need to be more proactive in my pest control.  The Goat strategically placed a few posts around the perimeter of the in-ground garden.  I’m planning on using them as supports for bird netting and whirly-gigs.  I painted the “fencing” and will put some chicken wire or bird netting around it as well.  I sprinkled hot pepper flakes around the seedlings, and will continue to do so from time to time.  A few nights ago, The Goat trimmed his hair.  I saved the trimmings and I placed them in the garden bed around a few of the seedlings that seem most apt to be nibbled.

Peas and one lonely Brussel Sprout.

As the season changes and many people start thinking about going back to school, or even the Fall holidays, I’m digging in the dirt, looking like a Spaghetti Western Bandito (along with the usual garden gloves, full shoes, and sometimes long sleeves, I cover my hair, wear protective glasses, and a bandanna over my nose and mouth) and hoping that the Fall bounty is more plentiful than the Spring bounty.