As we flail headlong toward October, the harvest of Sweet 100s and Various Chiles (Hatch and Oaxacan) continue apace. We've lost a number of tomatoes to end-rot and not many that have missed that lovely disease have made it to full size, so the winter will likely be a long, highly educational course in "soil management 501." (I'm figuring sand, manure and calcium. Sounds like an old farm poultice from 1853 -- "Well, it may not cure your warts, but sure as hell my ErmaJean will lose interest in ya.")
On the other hand, even though the weather is turning and crimping off some of the pumpkin vines, we've got a good crop this year, the best, by far, we've ever had -- six viable pumpkins -- only one of which has been attacked by the squirrels. (We might get another one that is growing in the shape of a Whitehead Torpedo, but her vine is looking particularly frail and I'm not sure she's getting the nourishment she needs to make it.)
They're not huge, but they are lovely. After five years of trying, we finally got growth, thanks to deep soil (new soil) and plenty of room to grow. Now, if only the Voles would stay out of the pumpkin patch and leave the roots alone, we'd be fine. Any ideas of dealing with Voles, short of a 12-gauge or various scenes from "Caddyshack," would be greatly appeciated.
We've got these two already hidden away in the garage, trying to protect them from a potential freeze and squirrel nips. Mr. Bitterman and Furious George are waiting for their pumpkins to get bigger. Bitterman wants to do one of those elaborate "prize-winning" carving jobs, while Furious George simply wants to punkin chuck his gourd over the fence and onto the deck of the bat-shit crazy neighbors since they stopped inviting him for afternoon cocktails. Something about an "enthusiastic excremental bombardment."
Don't ask me.
As long as he doesn't chuck Mr. Bitterman again, I'll be fine with it.
After all my worries and complaints, we have gotten a halfway decent harvest out of everything this year. The tomatoes have finally begun to develop, while the Sweet Hundreds are playing a major daily part in lunchtime around here.
The beans are also doing well.
These are Coronas, from Rancho Gordo Beans. (#RanchoGordo)
Great little company that keeps us well supplied in the winter months.
As for the pumpkins, I'm not sure which one this is, whether its Huey, Dewey or Louie, but they have gone to town despite numerous vole attacks on their root structure.
(By the way -- the idea that Cod Liver Oil will keep voles away because of the smell and possible intestinal distress, is a load of elephant hooie. I think the voles see it as seasoning.)
Once again, the Sweet Hundreds have done very, very well this season.
It's just amazing to me that one plant can produce this many tomatoes.
And, I'm not big on Cherry Tomatoes. But, I do love these!
Ah, yes, the pepper plants.
Like everything else in Mr. Bitterman's Garden, they took their time getting started, but we've harvested close to half a bushel today of Hatch and Oaxacan.
Bitterman and me are, I think, justifiably proud of what has finally come to pass this growing season. We both hope it can keep up for another few weeks -- month? -- before the first hard frost sets in. I would like to harvest the acorn squash and petite purple spuds before we get frozen out.
Started roasting the home growns this morning. Got great blistering on the Oaxacans. They should peel beautifully.
As should the Hatch, both Mild and Medium.
Our Elephant Garlic were roasted and wound up in here as well.
(Melted two plastic bags and burned one finger and one arm during the process.)
(Now, THAT'S excitement.)
With the Bumper Crop of tomatoes,
(Well, not a bumper ... more of a foison ...)
we'll actually be able to roast and freeze some homemade sauce this year.
(Never got enough last year to really pull it off)
Mr. Bitterman still can't figure out what happened to his crop of rutabagas.
He can't figure it out mainly because nobody has had the guts to tell him that Furious George rode over all the seedlings while he was learning to ride his Segway.
Oddly enough, Furious has become quite the video hit in Japan.
He's been invited to visit and address the Diet during the off-season.
I made him promise to take Mr. Bitterman with him when he explores the exotic east and not to tell him what he did until they cross the International Date Line.
Even then might still be too close.
As I ponder his reaction, I see that could be an exciting flight.
Despite some Noah's Flood moments this past weekend -- no hail, thank the Gardening Gods, but heavy, steady rain -- we've reached the point where we can actually harvest a few of our Million Dollar Vegetables (Harsh Reality and (tm).
Somewhere under all this greenery are two Acorn Squash. One about softball size, the other the size of a tennis ball on steroids. After a season of fighting with them, desperately trying to keep the little boogers alive, at least we'll get a couple of meals out of them. (I assume they know their fate.)
Here you see our "sad to the point of tragic" cucumber patch. One plant survived and has produced three pickling cucumbers over the course of the summer. It's embarrassing in a way, as I was planning a pickling party for later this fall, but such is the nature of dreams.
Red cabbage. (At least I think it's red. It's cabbage, that I know, but I lost the little sticker that came with the plants.) We'll celebrate our German heritage with red cabbage and bratwurst in a week or so, with all the wonderful musical German sounds that accompany such a meal. (It will be just like having Dad back for an evening!)
Christmas Lima beans from seed (well, beans). We've so enjoyed the beans we get from a company called Rancho Gordo that we've begun to plant them, more each season, in the hopes of actually growing enough for a tablespoon of bean soup.
We've still got a ways to go.
The Sweet Hundreds, which have been going gangbusters since August 1, continue to produce. Deep within that batch of leaves there are other tomatoes which are finally developing -- some even without end rot. It seems the calcium added to the soil actually did work this season. At least sporadically.
And, yes, the pumpkins. This is Adelbert, who we discovered quite by accident while showing off the garden to a relative. Hiding in the pine tree is Moe. Larry and Curly are on the ground between the gardens making it impossible to access the Sweet Potatoes. (I added the "e" on the end there in honor of Former Vice President Dan "Have You Already Forgotten Me?" Quayle.)
Just to give you an idea of the reach of these suckers, here is Adelbert's frond, reaching out of the garden, across the yard and into our manure producing cow's pen. I'm amazed that Lillian hasn't eaten it yet, as she eats everything we put out for her including a bowl of dog food and a lawn mower.
Ah, the chiles. The Oaxacans are giving all kinds of fruit, I must have picked ten yesterday. They are very spicy, but have a wonderfully deep, rich flavor.
The Hatch Mediums are also doing well.
The Hatch Milds are a little slower this year (hell, I'm a little slower this year), but are also coming along nicely.
And -- this is the result. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and more yet to come as long as the Weather Foiks are actually right this year and this will be a warm, non-frost September. :30 left in the Colorado growing season and I'm starting to sweat it.
Plans for The Upcoming Off-Season:
ODE TO A GARDEN IN HEAVEN
by Furious George
(Translated by Greg Moody)
The Shortest Path to Heaven
Is Through a Garden Gate.
It Opens With a Creaky Sound
I Hope I'm Not Too Late.
I Wait with Great Excitement
To Reach those Pearly Gates.
To Plant My Little Seedlings,
And Soon to Know Their Fate.
But Why the Rush for Heaven?
To Plant and Not to Fail?
Because Way Up There in Heaven,
There'll Be No Fucking Hail.