September 7, 2020

Garden: Summer Clean-Up & Fall Planting

September arrived and brought relief from daily picking, all-day preserving sessions, and the heat. Some things are still producing, but much is finished. Those are the beds I need to tidy up and plant for fall. I'd better warn you that this is a long post, but there's lots of pictures. 😄

Here's one of the beds that is still producing, mostly volunteers.

Cowpeas, a tomato plant, horseradish, a lone Swiss Chard,
and several potato plants (mostly died back by now).

Ozark Razorback cowpeas volunteered this year.

The only thing I planted in that bed was the Swiss chard. Of that, I tried to plant half a bed, but only the one came up.

Rainbow Swiss chard.

This chard was also a no-show in my African keyhole garden. Of the horseradish, I thought I dug it out last fall, but it came back with a vengeance.

One of my mostly finished beds is my summer squash below.

Tatume squash grew here, with tomatoes still on the far
 end. (Sorry for the smudge in the middle of the photo!)

Tatume is a Mexican variety of summer squash, and I find it does pretty well for me. It doesn't succumb to wilt or other disease. Squash bugs were a problem, which I kept under control through June. After that I didn't have time to keep up with them. The lone squash in the center of the photo got away from me, so I left it in hopes of volunteers next year.

Squash bed clean-up. I'll plant Daikons here next.

My method of clean-up has changed over the years. Before, I would pull everything out of the bed and toss it in the compost. Now, I cut off vines or plants at ground level and lay them back into the bed. Then I cover them, above with soil and/or wood chips and compost. So I now leaving roots in the ground, as per the soil building principles of A Soil Owner's Manual (my book review here.) Plant roots feed soil microorganisms: living roots first, dead roots second. Cutting and leaving plants is called "chop and drop" in permaculture; everything the plants took out of the soil is able to return back to the soil.

The last of the squash was half-a-dozen or so mature Tatumes.

Mature Tatume summer squash.

I scoop them out and save some seed for planting, then, I steam the scooped out halves, scrape out the flesh, and use it in canned soup.

Just below the squash bed is my rather disappointing field corn bed.

Gourdseed corn in a rather sorry state.

We had heavy rains and winds several weeks ago and most of the corn lodged (fell over). It was planted late, as a second crop of corn (I grew sweet corn early), then it had sparse germination. So I wasn't sure I would get even a seed crop.

I hand pollinated the half-dozen or so ears in my little patch.

Volunteer marigolds keeping the corn company.

Across the aisle from the corn are my black turtle beans. Four rows being taken over by blackberry vines, honeysuckle, and bindweed (morning glories). It needed rescuing.

These are a good dried bean for me to grow. They're a delicious and they tolerate our hot droughty spells. I mulched and watered them in the beginning, but since then they've been on their own.

My first pickings yielded small bean seeds, but we've had more rain since then. With the weeds now pulled, I anticipate the rest of the crop will be better. Yes, I do pull out persistent weeds and feed them to the goats!

I planted two kinds of winter squash: North Georgia Candy Roaster and Long Island Cheese. The candy roaster did fantastically well last year, but this year, meh.

I only got two small candy roasters before the vines died back.

The Long Island Cheese is part of a three sisters planting, along with the sweet corn and Cornfield Pole Beans. This squash was incredibly slow to get going. It got water early in the summer, but it had to survive the hottest, driest part of summer on it's own. But it hung in there and has just started to flower!

Long Island Cheese squash (sometimes referred to as a pumpkin).

If first frost holds off, I should get a squash harvest.

The pole beans were slow starters as well. But since our last good rain, they've taken off and are beginning to produce beans.

Cornfield pole beans, using the dead corn stalks as poles.

These are so named because they are somewhat shade tolerant and will use corn stalks for poles. These are the first beans and they're very welcome. I had to cut back my bush beans earlier because they did poorly after it became too hot and dry. Sometimes, even irrigating the beds doesn't seem to satisfy.

I still have a few tomato plants hanging in there.

Of the 40 seedlings I transplanted, I have less than a dozen plants still alive. So I only get a trickle of tomatoes, but I'm glad for each of them. The Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes are doing very well.

Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes. A keeper!

These tasty little guys are hard to keep up with!

I'm still getting watermelons too.

Watermelon—both fruit and flower—in the strawberry and garlic bed.

These are Orangeglo watermelon. They've been both prolific and delicious this year.

It really is a glowing orange color! Very sweet.

We've eaten watermelon every day since early July. Then one day, Dan announced he was "watermeloned out." So the rest, I'm dehydrating.

Dehydrated melon is akin to fruit leather.

It's been a long tour, I know, but this will be the last shot, I promise.

Jing okra

Jing was a new variety of okra for me. Even though I'm pretty sold on Clemson Spineless, the catalog description made it sound too good to pass up. My negatives about it was that it was another one that was slow to grow and start producing. Considering how many other things had this same problem, it may not have been the okra. On it's positive side, it has a delicious flavor, is highly ornamental, and the pods remain tender even when quite large (compared to Clemson Spineless). It's producing better now, so I will probably get several pints to slice and freeze. I don't need a lot of okra in the freezer, but oven fried, it makes a really nice side-dish for winter meals, or to add to soups.

So there's my garden in early September. I need to get cracking on my fall planting. But now it's your turn. What's happening in your garden?


Retired Knitter said...

Dehydrating watermellon! That is new for me. Your veggies looked great even in their last stages. It is a busy busy time that is quickly slowing down I see.

Cockeyed Jo said...

Funny, hot we had but late after the June summer start date. To live so close to each other it's strange that our weather was different. Our summer dry spell lasted one week. Since then, we've had rain almost every day in the afternoons and early evenings. I think I watered once all spring and summer long. I did lose all 64 tomato plants I planted though. It was a sad week.

I've always chopped and dropped in the garden. It didn't makes sense to me to haul it all over to the compost bin, and then haul it back as compost. I let it compost in place. The only thing hauled to the compost bin are yard trash and kitchen scraps. Oh, and the chicken bedding is kept in a pile to spread on the beds when I put then to sleep in the late fall.

Mama Pea said...

Great garden tour! You know I'm always eager to see what's going on in your garden. Mostly, I'm blown away with the different crops we can grow and how our methods differ. Not that I'm saying either of us is doing it the "right" way (or wrong way!) as our different climates sure do dictate how and when we manage to grow as much as we do. Food! That's the main thing. We're both doing a darn good job (lots and lots of experimentation, right?) of providing as much of our own food as we can. Since it's Labor Day today, I'm going to be laboring on lots of garden clean up. As you know, no "fall garden" for me. Garden on, my friend!

daisy g said...

You've done well with your growing and harvest. I need to plant cowpeas next season. My favorite way to eat them is sprouted. So good.

Another okra variety that still tastes good even when larger is the Bradford Family. It's green, but delicious.

I am hoping to get my fall garden planted before too long. One bed at a time...

Leigh said...

RT, dehydrated melon really makes a nice treat, especially when the sweet tooth hits!

Jo, so very true. Just shows how landforms (in our case, the Appalachians) can have huge impacts on weather. Keeps things interesting!

Mama Pea, I feel the same way about your blog! Very important lesson to learn here, that there is no one-size-fits-all for homesteading. It's challenging to work with one's one location and conditions, and I sometimes wish I could replicate what others do, but I still glean tidbits and enjoy the differences as well.

Daisy, thanks! I never thought about sprouting cowpeas. I'll have to give that a try. Yes, one bed at a time. And in fact, it's time for me to get outside and tackle another garden bed. :)

Rosalea said...

I love to see and hear how differently you garden much further south. I did plant a few fall greens in August, but they just don't grow like they do in the spring. I think it is the decreasing intensity of sunlight and the shorter hours of same. I have grown okra years and years ago, a variety for short seasons, and there are short season watermelons available..yours are tempting me to try!

Goatldi said...

I call your gardening method the “study plan, work hard no ego” method. You make it look so easy. 😊
But best you learn so much and share so much.

I also take close note of which plants do well for your climate. As I believe that if it tolerated your heat/drought conditions it would perhaps do well in my garden.

I plan on putting my small fall garden in later this week. Fire watching right now we have another one about an hour away that exploded and is at 73,300 acres.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, it was a rough go this year. Dried beans did absolutely nothing - I have no idea why I continue to grow them. Tomatoes were a bit of a more successful run - I actually got some this year - but heat and rot got most of what grew.

As with last year, sweet potatoes and black eyed peas are growing to beat the band. The okra was slow to catch on, but is now taking off. My onions did very little - but my Egyptian Walking Onions have done marvelously - so marvelously, I am not sure when I am supposed to harvest them (they are not dying back).

We supposedly are getting a "cold snap" of the mid 80's here. I am curious to see if it portends the beginning of Autumn.

Leigh said...

Rosalea, it is interesting to see how gardeners in different parts of the world manage their gardens and what they grow. I'm always learning something from others. Interesting how you can see a seasonal difference in your growing greens. Maybe the plants know what's coming. :)

Goatldi, I'm interested in what you're growing for the same reason. :) I'm sorry you have to be on fire alert in this location too. Worrisome, but I pray that everything stays safe.

TB, what kinds of dried beans have you tried? I tried several different varieties, but eventually narrowed it down to the black turtles, because they are the only variety that does well for me. Glad to hear you're having successes elsewhere. Mid-80s would be very welcome here! I'm ready for summer to be behind us.

Goatldi said...

Allow me to share my ignorance here. When you say dried beans I assume that is because after harvest you allow them to dry for future use. With that said can they also be used right out of the pod also?

M.K. said...

Beautiful produce! I like your soil method. Those Matt's Wild Cherries are just about all I grow now.

Nancy In Boise said...

Wow your garden looks great and it's hard for me to think of things winding down here. We had record high temperatures a few days ago 101. Now it's dropped 30 degrees and it's supposed to be a high tomorrow at 62. The only good thing about being a hundred and one here is at least a day's or a lot shorter so cools off faster. I've got a whole bunch of tomatoes to pick tomorrow and fries and I am currently canning corn relish for the next coming year. Great job!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, it's funny, but when I wrote that I wasn't sure it made sense. I was trying to say that I grow black turtles to use as a dried bean. Actually, I let them dry on the vine and then pick them. That way I know they're ready to go. :)

M.K., if it wasn't for tomato slices on hamburgers, grilled cheese, and BLTs, I think I could do with out them as well. I'm even freezing a lot of the Matt's for my pizza sauce making once tomato season is done.

Nancy, it's hard to think about fall planting when the temps are still that hot. Nice to hear you've got a good tomato harvest. "Experts" say I should be planting my fall garden in late July and August, but that's too hot and those plantings always seem to fail. On the other hand, if I wait until October, I don't get a harvest until spring. So September seems to be the month.

wyomingheart said...

Fantastic garden picks, Leigh! We are really winding down on the garden, but with the tomatoes still blooming, the candy rooster squash still blooming, and the cheesecake pumpkin blooming, we are still at it. Both the squash and pumpkin were very slow starters as well, but finally setting some yield. We are cleaning out half the garden today, as the neighbor is ready for me to haul off the horse manure...yippee! We let it set on the garden all winter, which really helps our clay soil. The freezer is bursting waiting for me to get things processed, but that will wait till it’s cold outside! I’m thinking of planting garlic in the keyhole to overwinter, my thinking is that it could be better in a raised bed, instead of in the ground with frost. Anyway, great post! I enjoyed reading with my coffee this morning! Have a terrific week!

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, sounds like your garden did very well this year! That's a good idea about the garlic; I need to start thinking about planting my keyhole too. Lovely that you get manure from a neighbor! Let's hope for late first frost to get plenty of squashes.

Ed said...

We gave up saving squash or pumpkin seeds a long time ago. For us, they just cross pollinated so easily and the following year we would get a frankenstein. I will be curious to see how your saved squash seeds do next year.

I've never seen dehydrated watermelon. I can imagine it tastes good but I would guess only after a LOOONNNGGGG stint in the food dehydrator.

JustGail said...

I'll keep an eye out for Jing okra for next year. Maybe if I can let the pods get a bit larger I can get enough for a meal before they go bad in the fridge. This is a year I'm looking at pathetic garden output (derecho & cleanup from that, then lack of rain) as... not a good thing, more of not all bad... since I don't have to worry about finding the non-existent canning lids.

I've always been taught remove all the plants at end of the season and compost it, unless diseased - then to the trash with that. I'm presuming with this method, burying only disease free material is still the rule? I think I need this book.

Leigh said...

Ed, yes, watermelon takes a very long time to dehydrate! But it's like candy when it's done. A nice no-added-sugar treat.

I don't usually plant two kinds of anything for that reason, cross pollination. Last year it was the candy roaster, from which I still have seed. This year, the candy roaster was done before the long island cheese even bloomed. So I think I'll be okay! That's assuming I'm able to get any pumpkins.

JustGail, I definitely recommend that book! Burying the clean (disease free) vines or plants isn't necessarily recommended, but over the years I seem to lose soil and can never put back enough mulch and compost to make up for it. So this is something of an experiment, to keep the organic matter and nutrients in the bed where they came from. I find that burying it makes it decompose faster.

Seems everyone's had trouble with their gardens this year, for one reason or another.

SmartAlex said...

My first two plantings of bush and pole beans pretty much failed also. Now my third plantings are thriving and I'm so pleased. I understand why new gardeners can get discouraged. After almost 20 seasons it took my three tries to get decent green beans LOL! If at first you don't succeed.... How do you use your Black Turtle beans? I always harvested dry and used for soup over the winter.

Leigh said...

Alex, that's exactly what I do with my black turtles too. Or sometimes cook them as a pot of beans to accompany cornbread. Leftovers go into the soup pot. I can them as well for convenience food.

I'm glad you didn't give up on your beans and are finally having success. Timing seems to be crucial this year, more-so than I remember before. Very discouraging for new gardeners, I'm sure. And I believe there's a lot of them considering how seed sales have gone. But it pays to not give up!

Debby Riddle said...

Aw loved the tour...I always learn so much. I've heard horseradish is hard to get rid of once it gets established. I, however, managed to kill it, or at least drought and neglect did. I love to observe wild plants and how they respond. So many of our wildflowers are bulbs, so I figure that root crops might do well. Leeks, for some reason, grow really well for me emerging after long seasons of drought. Blessings on your basket, and your kneading bowl, your barns, and your larder.

Leigh said...

Debby, there's a story behind that horseradish. Our first garden in that spot was in 2010. I wanted to plant potatoes and read that horseradish makes a good companion for them. But I also read that it's invasive, so I planted it in pots and mostly buried the pots in the potato patch. We pulled out the pots when we harvested the potatoes. I've had horseradish there ever since! Not sure how it spread, 'cuz I planted a hybrid. Maybe the roots escaped through the bottom of the pot!