This Week in My Garden :: August 26

It's cool now when we wake up, and I don't go out for my morning walk without a fleece or a sweatshirt.  I worry about when we'll get the first frost, but I'm hoping it's still a ways off since I've got a dozen or more green tomatoes on the vines and a cucumber patch that still has lots of producing to do.

I'm terrible at keeping up with the weeding.  And the harvesting, to be honest.  The tomatoes are easy because I see them flaming red on the vine and run out all excited.  But I've let some good kale leaves get devoured by slugs and Japanese beetles before picking them.

We harvested the garlic too late - neither of us knew exactly when that should be, and when I finally looked it up on the internet, we learned it should've been a week earlier.  As a result, the cloves won't keep as long.  They've lost some of their protective wrapping - the many layers that hold them all together.  The bulk of them will be stored in jars of vinegar in the fridge.  I've been told this won't dramatically change their flavor - it'll make them a little less potent but still good for cooking with.

You might notice that there's no longer a fence around the beds.  My dad was kind enough to dismantle the whole thing while he was visiting a few weeks ago.  (We've stored all the pieces for later use.)  Some folks weren't sure whether we should be taking it down, but I'm glad I stuck with my gut.  I always thought it looked a little weird because it was such a tiny little fenced area in a big yard, and I love the more open look now that it's gone.  We haven't had any issues with animals yet (knock on wood), and the fence would've only kept out deer, not rabbits or other smaller things.  But if we start seeing sizes of animals chomping in there, we'll throw up a temporary chicken wire fence that we can take down once winter begins.  

It's been a season of experimenting.  The okra didn't really turn out - either because the bed wasn't getting enough sun or they plants got too wet during June and July.  We're not sure.  Our peppers weren't a great success either.  But we've got some good tomatoes coming in - the San Marzanos are doing the best right now.  And I'm anxiously awaiting the burst of cherry tomato deliciousness when the dozens on the vine turn red.  The romas have been hanging green on the vine for what seems like forever, and just today I saw a hint of color forming on one of them.  The same with the Early Girls.  So far I don't have enough for the grand tomato pickling adventure I'd imagined, but I'm hoping to make a little salsa or sauce with the four San Marzanos I picked last week.

The cucumbers are sneaky.  If you don't do a thorough scan under all the big leaves, you can miss them.  But I've got enough now to make some refrigerator pickles - using dill and garlic from the garden.

In the kitchen with bounty from our own soil feels like the place to be now that there's that crispness in the air, that hint of fall, a few leaves already changing colors.  My desire to nest and putter and "put food by" feels almost primitive, like I'm carrying out a biological plan.  And perhaps I am.  Though thank goodness we get to count this season of gardening as an experiment, and I don't have to try to feed my family through the winter on a couple jars of refrigerator pickles and some frozen tomatoes.

What's going on in your garden this week?