Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011

This week is summer’s official end.  Forlorn, limp skeletons remain of the season’s bounty.  While an approaching front moving south out of Canada threatened to banish our hot-weather wardrobe into next year, we decided to don gloves in a whirl of activity.  It is time for the annual garden clean-up.  Tomato cage prongs come free of earth that held them fast.  A few vigorous shakes send crumbs of dirt and browned branches flying into someone else’s hair.  Bean pods dried and neglected now split open and hurl hardened seeds around, as what remains of the mother plant uproots with an earthy, velcro sound.
Old tomato vines overload this wheel barrow in
our annual garden clean-up

The earth, now uprooted, is crumbly and sweet.  Fragile brown leaves remain to grace the plot; a few crinkly and translucent skins remain also, dried over clumps of dirt, where in haste a wave of tomatoes was spilled last month.  We left alone two tomato bushes and a dozen pepper plants, but next month this section will be tilled under and planted with a cover crop of red clover.

Interestingly, as we were cleaning, we found several fat tomato worms with cocoons of parasitic wasps attached to them.  When larval wasps hatch, they feast on their wormy host (yuck!), once again triumphing natural pest control over pesticides.

We dug an armload of carrots, now six months old and not bitter.  Cabbage and brussels sprouts plants have adjusted fine in the last week after being transplanted to their permanent growing locations, and seeds of mixed greens, chard, and beets have sprouted with carrots just now coming up.  We’re already using some canned and frozen vegetables from the pantry to supplement limited fresh garden choices, while we wait for fall vegetables to mature.

Tomato worm with cocoons of a parasitic wasp -
natural pest control in action
We packaged seeds of 2 lettuces, green beans, carrots, and basil.  To save small seeds, break up the tops of branched seed heads (make sure they are completely dry first); rub them together between gloved hands to separate seed from chaff, and winnow using two sieves:  one to separate large debris, and fine to extract dust.  Seal in a letter envelope, label, and keep dry and cool.

Friday is the Autumnal Equinox, first calendar day of the season of Autumn: a time to enjoy the good of all our labors.

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (