We start to feel the changing light and tug of the season around this time every August, looking back and wondering how the things we planted from seed are coming so ripe and vital and looking ahead knowing that these same plants will be struck down by the first severe winter frost. Struck so badly we’ll hardly recognize them next year forcing us to consult our planting grid to identify the remnants of last year’s crops. Some plants surprised us this year. The Echinacea and Rudbeckia are having a banner season while the tomatoes are late in turning possibly due to the excess rainfall in June. Some caught a case of blight which we’re treating with lactobacillus made from a water dilute of yoghurt. Fingers crossed. Overall, though still a good season yield of old favorites and a couple of new.
At the beginning of August we pulled 200 bulbs of “music”, our porcelain garlic crop, hung them in a cool try place and skinned them just a few days ago. There’s no better table centerpiece than a bowl of these beauties. Also in early August the French beans took off and they’re still yielding baskets every day. Around mid-August carrots and potatoes were pulled. We never seem to plant enough potatoes and plan to double or triple the yield next year. We plant early Norland Reds and mid-season Yukon Golds to keep ’em coming. But the dining room seems to have a voracious appetite for these tasty spuds. Okay. More next year for sure.
Onions, beets & salad turnips [our favorite, the pure white golf ball size Hakurei are now in their second planting] are all in current harvest as are the flower garnishes like nasturtians, marigolds, coriander, thyme, dill & parlsey. Ildi & Sweet Million tomatoes are on the table every day.
The Saxon’s [best for stuffing] & San Marzano’s [best for sauce] are slowly turning. We have one in the green house a very nice shade of red except for one thing. It’s an Eva Purple Ball heirloom so it still has a way to go. Loves the heat, so we expect to see some purple soon.
New crops, all green house grown, include okra [we were fascinated by the hibiscus-like pale cream flower and how the branch produces its fruit].
Then there’s Ping Tung eggplants. They seem to grow half an inch each day in the August heat and have the most gorgeous purple and white striations.
The various peppers are producing and shaping up well. When the plant leaves started turning a bit yellow, we decided to give them a foliar magnesium jolt with a mild solution of water and Epsom salts. Did the trick on the leaves and on the size of the fruit. We’ll have sweet banana, multi-color bell, habanero & jalapeno varieties soon.
Meanwhile we are gathering seed from spent crops. We’ve got a bulging bagful of spinach seeds for Seedy Sunday Exchange here in St. Andrews every February. Chervil, coriander & that lovely new pest-repelling vanilla marigold is setting up nicely. We plan to grow a large enough crop of them next year to re-introduce a marigold petal garden salad we once served. What goes around, comes around.
We are forever fascinated by the tricks and surprises encountered in the garden. The mimicry is amazing. Plantains [the weed] hide in plain sight among beet greens and certain grasses have the same purple colors at the base as our mini-purplette onions. Requires careful attention when trying to make room for root growth so the grass is eliminated and the onion is spared. Overall, though, we have learned to be more tolerant gardeners this season. While once we yanked out sheep sorrel, wood sorrel & lamb’s quarter, we now allow and when ready [or in the way] we pull & add to salads. Who knew?
Best of all, tolerance allows for the unexpected, planted not by us, but by nature. There is a monster arugula plant attached to our compost bin. And a nice surprise left by some nature’s helper. A bird? The passing wind? Had we been aggressive in pulling what we didn’t plant in the herb border this spring, we would never have been greeted by the golden presence of this volunteer sunflower in August. It is welcome along with all natural things in our garden. Chemicals need not apply.