Here are some Nastirtiums from last October. Color - don't we miss it this time of year!
Here is my garden through the season, from May through October.
You can see the progression of a few months - how everything explodes into life in late July and August (VERY late July this year, with all the rain), and how things start to diminish and grow stale into October.
Of course, with all the rain, I had my share of late blight.
And so it was with tomatoes late into September - we'd get a few small ones (cherries and 1.5 inch varieties like Black Prince, the mystery volunteer plant) but the big ones pretty much just went bad before they ripened. So no home-canned salsa for us this year.
Other things turned out much better. As you recall, we harvested onions and garlic in mid-September. They hung out in the warm garage for about a month, curing, and I spent an afternoon cleaning them - wiping off the dirt and dead skins and trimming the tops. We ended up with quite a haul!
We still have plenty of these allium crops left - I'll have shallots to plant in May, and I should make a big pot of French Onion soup one of these days. The onions are small but tasty. I'm going to experiment with better spacing this year, and see if I can't get more size out of the onions. I definitely can't complain about the garlic harvest!
Our big harvest happened on October 11th, and none too soon - we had a killing frost a couple of nights later (then no frost for about a month, darn it!), and it would have compromised the quality of things like squash, and ruined many other vegetables.
We did well with squash, too! I planted Honey Bear and Waltham Butternut and got good yields.
I put the butternut squash by the woodstove to cure, because it still had green lines. We had to harvest it a little earlier than optimal; it didn't grow as long as it should have, as it took so long to get going in July. But it's still good in the kitchen, and very tasty!
I'll definitely try the sweet potatoes again - I need to consider a better place to put them, and think about how they spread and that the vines like to dig into the ground.
The potato harvest is another story. The plants were beautiful, but the amount of potatoes in the converted garbage cans was a bit disappointing. I was hoping for a whole bushel! Next year, I need to:
1. Cut the potatoes up so there is one eye per piece. I have a terrible habit of not cutting potatoes, and I hear that's the worst thing you can do for your potato yield.
2. Plant fewer potatoes in each barrel. I again went overboard and crowded them. To prevent that, I ordered only 2 varieties this year.
3. Use a less rich soil. The compost was convenient, but the potatoes were scabby.
Of course, the potatoes were delicious, and we just ate the last of them in a beef stew a couple of weeks ago - I stretched them to make them last.
All in all, I'd call the 2009 garden a success. Potatoes and tomatoes were disappointing, but beans were amazing, tomatillos were excellent, peppers did well, and squash was a surprising front runner. I think the only thing I would not grow again are the Red Noodle beans - they took way too long to ripen, and I just didn't like the texture of them cooked. I am sure they have their place; it just isn't in my garden or kitchen. I got to can and put up a lot of yummy home-grown food (I don't have pictures of dilly beans and zucchini casserole, but the cupboards and freezer are still full), and we had lots of fun gardening, as always.
Here's to a successful garden in 2010 for everyone! I'm itching to get those seedlings started, but I know I need to wait a bit; too soon and they'll be leggy. More on that later!