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Friday, October 11, 2013

Giving Thanks for the Harvest

For Oct 3-13

Last year I think I put about two dozen grocery bags of garden tomatoes in the freezer for spaghetti sauce in winter. Every afternoon when I got home from work I gathered up enough tomatoes to fill a couple bags. This year I got two grocery bags and three batches of fresh salsa. Over the entire harvest. Not sure what happened. I must have planted a different type of tomato or something. The yield wasn’t anything like it was last year.
Our potatoes didn’t grow at all. They were complete duds. The Farmer even dug them up and replanted new ones and still, nothin’. It wasn’t a matter of potato bugs eating the plants, either. They just didn’t grow. How disappointing.
We did get a few huge Butternut squash (my favourite), some acorn squash and a huge crop of beets. The cucumbers weren’t bad either, although they were bigger in size than they were in number. The carrots were ok – tasty but short and fat. We only got a bushel of peas off that row and the line of pepper plants yielded about half a dozen fruit.
All in all, I’m pretty disappointed with our garden this year. And don’t even get me started on the string beans.
I mean, the package said pole beans. So I guess I was thinking about the lovely wax beans and butter beans that we grew last year, and gathered for weeks at harvest. Served steamed with hot butter and salt, they went with everything on the dinner table. Not so the pole beans. They are fun to grow, because the vine literally clings to the pole and the beans are very easy to find and pick. But then when you cook them, there’s this weird string thing running up the seam in the bean. What the heck? The first time we served them everyone at the Sunday dinner table was picking string out of their teeth. Niiiice.
And unlike the more favourable veggies, there was just no end to the pole beans! We would pick a huge tub of them and the next day there was another pile hanging on the vine. One week I steamed and cooled the beans, then hand-stripped them of their strings before covering them in cream of mushroom soup and turning them into a casserole. I did that once. It was delicious but far too labour-intensive. Eventually I gave up and just shoved a few bags of beans into bags and plopped them in the deep freeze. The Farmer is going to be absolutely thrilled to find those mid-winter, I’m sure.
The last few pole beans were pitched over the fence with their plants, for the sheep, horse and donkey. They were most appreciative. Although I’m sure they spent a few hours stressing over the strings in their teeth too.
I think next year I will go back to the Roma tomatoes for sauce, beets for Borscht, wax and butter beans, potatoes, carrots, onions and squash. Most of the veggies we plant are the ones that store or freeze really well but let’s face it – with an average 18 to 20 dinner guests every Sunday our veggies don’t last long.
The boys were pretty good at picking veggies; that is until they saw the toad. They won’t admit it but I think it really freaked them out. They haven’t offered to gather veggies again.
The one thing that I really enjoyed about the garden this year was the twelve-foot sunflowers that sprung from their own seed sowing. I forgot to plant them this year, and it’s a good thing I did because the garden would have been completely overwhelmed by them. It amazes me that they pretty much grew in a row, at the back of the garden, right where I planted them last year, even after The Farmer carefully drove his tractor in between the heritage peonies, added a layer of composted sheep manure and roto-tilled the soil before planting. The sunflowers sprang up and when I recognized their little plants I had to ask myself if I had planted them. I couldn’t recall.
Another growing season has come and gone and it’s time to carve pumpkins, bake apples, and decorate with frost-hardy Chrysanthemums until November.
Wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving and all the best in the coming season. Next year I’m planting the potatoes on the other side of the garden. Apparently they won’t grow in the same spot twice. Now you tell me.

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