Winding Down the Garden

The garden is still producing, but we can clearly see the end. We had a freeze a week ago that hit the pigs’ garden harder than the official one. I brought in a basket of squash, gourds and pumpkins from there. We got one pumpkin out of the corn patch. We may get some volunteer squash from the potato patch still, but I’m not counting on it.

Dried Tomatillos The tomatillo vines near the house are still fine, but the pigs’ ones are clearly in trouble, which seems to be (finally!) convincing them to ripen. Lisa has made two batches of salsa verde, and I dried a quart for use in Lisa’s mind-boggling chili. We could use another batch of enchilada sauce, but there are no more chilies.There are still many tomatillos out there. We’ve a friend in Boston who wants some, and I expect at least another quart of dried ones. As with dried tomatoes, they’re very hygroscopic, and we’re keeping them in the freezer.

The parsnips will be harvested in the spring. There’s a nice carrot patch that we can bring in any day. We never found time to thin it, which means many of the carrots are small. I suspect we have the same total poundage of carrots as if we’d thinned. Still, next year I’d like to thin.

The celery failed to do as well as last year: decent leaves, but little stalk. Gardener Google says the raised bed was too well drained. That is mind-bending this year, but I pulled one today and there was indeed dry soil on the roots. I know just where to put them next year.

I left the unripe corn after last week’s frost, because the stalks seemed to still be alive. I just brought in another basket, and if the frost holds off we’ll get two more weeks Lisa’s thinking creamed corn from this week’s crop.

We only got a couple of cantaloupe, and they were tasteless. That’s what we hear from others as well. Too much water, too little sun.

The leeks and onions did well. Our seedlings bulbed up immediately under the 24 hour lights. Duh. I ordered Copra plants from Millers and they did great. Many of them are still growing: I’m picking them as the tops die. They’re quite good, much better than the generic yellow ones from the store. I bought Copra because it’s a long day long keeper. I don’t think keeping past Christmas will be an issue. I’ll double the order next year, despite Lisa’s groans at planting and weeding. Plants are far less expensive than sets, and far less trouble than seeds. I think we’ll stick with them for awhile. Onions are not actually inexpensive, and these rock. The leeks thrived. They’re smaller than the ones at the store, but so uniform that I believe that this is the normal size for this variety. Once again, much more flavorful than the store variety, they’ve a really interesting tang that really enhanced the salsa verde. We don’t have a root cellar for them, but supposedly they freeze well. We got the 200 plant minimum order, and that seems to be plenty. We’re going to be challenged to eat four leeks per week 50 weeks a year. I suspect a lot of stock this year will be made with leeks as well as onions.

The frost got the sweet potato vines. I _must_ get out and dig them while I can still find them. Lisa bought horseradish and rhubarb after I said it was impossible. In both cases two out of 6 plants lived. We’ll have to move the rhubarb because the horseradish is eating it. The ‘super-male’ asparagus largely delivered. I think we have two female plants to twenty odd male ones. OTOH, the purple asparagus seems to be one with the snows of yesteryear. We’re hoping for at least a small harvest next year.

The nightshades however were a disaster. Late blight got the tomatoes and potatoes. We planted 90 lbs of potatoes and harvested 50. The tomato plants didn’t grow because it was cold and wet, and blight got what fruit they set. Fortunately Lisa canned two years worth of tomatoes last year. We’ve decided that’s a good procedure. Try to put away two years worth of any crop, in case we don’t get any next year. She also did two years worth of rocking salsa. Put it in pint jars next time. We were feeding six then, it’s two now.

Very Expensive Cabbage The peppers did not get blight, but did get sheeped, and got no sun. I’ve been watching bell peppers grow a quarter inch a week for a month now. Some of the Hatch chilies came through, and they rock. I had to buy 8000 seeds. Next year we’ll plant a thousand in case the germination is poor.

We got our first cabbage ever, after the sheep got them three times. There’s four gallons becoming sauerkraut, and several small heads still out there for us to eat.

Dilly beans The beans that survived the sheep did well as always. We discovered last year that we really don’t like canned beans that much. They keep going into soup. This year’s we ate fresh and canned as Dilly Beans which I’ve never had but Lisa promises will rock, and again, have some left from last year. Unlike the tomatoes it’s probably not a full second year’s worth, but they’ll enhance soups as long as they last.

Astute readers will notice the repeated word ‘sheeped’. Kaytla and Minx this year decided that they simply would not stay behind a fence if they could get out, no matter how yummy the grass and cushy the sheds. Kaytla, rest her black soul, busted her way back to the wormiest pasture one time too many. Minx is going to freezer camp. Gracie, our other leader ewe, dropped dead of something that doesn’t seem to be parasites. And our fences keep getting better.

4 thoughts on “Winding Down the Garden”

  1. Ah, I always use leek in my stock (my weekly vegie box is rarely without one). They are nice in Risotto and of course there’s always vichysoisse – potato and leek soup.
    I am envious of all your garden although since it’s as much as I can do to keep a couple of herb pots alive, I am possibly not envious of all the work. I grew up with a vegetable-planting mother, and have fond memories (not!) of the Great Cabbage Over-Supply of 1977.

  2. We both did laugh out loud at “Thec Great Cabbage Over-Supply of 1977”. We’re a bit less guilty: We’d have well fed livestock.

  3. @Pete, thanks for the useful link. I’ll say again though, that it’s no substitute for knowing your own land. That map misplaces (in both directions) entire towns in Cheshire, Windham and Sullivan counties of VT and NH. Contrary to what the USDA says, we hit -25 routinely in the 1990’s and even with global warming, -18 last winter. There are other folks that have 5 degrees in the other direction. Minus 20F (=-28C call it -30) is a magic number. There are many more varieties for zone 5 than zone 4. And for those in 5a, if the cultivar isn’t from UNH, UMN or AgCanada, don’t believe it. They hit it with -12 (and extra mulch) once in a five year trial.


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