Saturday, October 6, 2012

Garden Mutations

This week we experienced our first snow of the season.  Sunday it was 80 degrees and sunny, and Wednesday night it was below freezing and snowing.  It was just a light dusting at the farm and had all melted away by noon on Thursday, but it marked the official end to The Green Thumb Project of 2012.  THANK THE LORD!

I am very pleased with the over-abundance of the veggies and melons, but by the time September was rolling around I was ready for it to be over.  Don’t let anyone fool you: gardening is hard work.

Tilling. Planting. Weeding. Thinning. Fertilizing. Grooming. Harvesting. Preserving. Plant Removal.

It was a huge time commitment, but I do have some time on my hands.  It was a great thing for me and the boys to go outside and do together.  Please note I did not say “help me” in the previous sentence, because they were really never helpful, even though they thought they were.

Here’s Mr. Helpful himself.  At least he picked a tomato that was semi-ripe this time.

Charlie was pretty good about listening to my constant, “Get out of there!  No, not those!  How ‘bout you go play in that dirt over there…”

But Levi wanted to be right by me a majority of the time.  I’m hoping next year he has a better understanding of my instructions on not walking all over my seedlings and which plants to harvest (or more like NOT to harvest).  I need to let him help me even if it is counter productive these first couple of years.  I won’t have my helpers very long, because they will be driving a tractor and helping their dad in the field in the blink of an eye (they would probably rather be doing that now).

Anyways, with the growing season coming to a close, I thought that I would share with you some of the more of the finds from the garden this year.

I had 4 plants (2 hills) of summer squash.  NEVER AGAIN!  There are over thirty bags quart-size Ziploc bags of summer squash in my freezer.  We ate more than we wanted to throughout the summer, and I was giving it way by the shopping bagfuls.  Below is just one of the plants after I cut off half of the leaves to tear out the plants because I couldn't take any more of it!  It was over 5 feet long.

One of the plants produced quite a few mutant summer squash.  They tasted the same, just looked strange.  We are Siamese if you please… 

I will also be doing fewer cucumbers and will be researching how to trellis the vines.  They, like many of the other plants, started to take over everything.  My skin would really start getting irritated after crawling around on my hands and knees in search of said veggie.  These are the cucumber vines laid out after I tore out the summer squash plants.

I didn’t get a photo of it, but I did have a couple cucumbers that got to 3+ inches in diameter and about a foot and a half long because I could not see them hidden in the grass and underneath other plants.  We fed those to the cows.

I had success with my muskmelon and watermelon plants as well.  Who says you can’t grow ‘em in North Dakota?!

Ah…should have let this watermelon ripen a bit longer.

That was a bummer, but I did get about 5 other ones that were bright pink and very sweet after letting them ripen on the vine a couple more weeks.

I planted a variety of carrots, but probably could have left them in the ground until the end of the season.  I was just too excited!  Did you know that purple carrots are orange underneath?  So much for peeling them…

Like many other gardeners, our home-grown tomatoes were my favorite.  I was amazed at the size and taste of some of them.  This one was over 6 inches in diameter!  It alone made 6 BLT sandwiches.

There have been so many tomatoes from the five different plants in the garden that I have had to experiment with new recipes to use them all up.  It is a lot of work to freeze them, so I am trying to use them fresh instead of taking up more space in the deep freeze that is currently stuffed full anyways.

There were many other vegetables that I grew, and most of them did well except for the celery, broccoli and cauliflower.  I’ll have to start them indoors next spring and transplant them into the garden.  It just got too hot too fast for them this year – a rarity!

Finally, I didn’t know it when I purchased the seeds, but the marigold mix I chose were gigantic!  This photo isn’t even of them in their full glory yet.

I’ll plant them again because I do think that they helped attract the bees and keep away the rabbits and cats.  This is especially significant since my “helpers” flattened the fence in many areas near the flowers.

We also had fresh cut marigolds in the house continuously through the end of the summer.

But fall is here now and I love it!  I’ll share more about our pumpkin harvest in another post.  Still contemplating whether my “helpers” and I will carve them!

Green Thumb Certified,

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