Frost Drill

I’m still gardening.

Isn’t that crazy?

Here it is the last week of October and I’m still picking green beans and peppers!

Not that we haven’t had our close calls. We had a couple of mad dashes to the garden at sunset to cover plants, pick remaining produce and once to cut back all the sweet potato vines – just in case.

Plants got nipped both times – but we’re still gardening!

The melons, squash and pumpkins are done.

IMG_1670I’d say we did pretty good!

Take that you varmint squash bugs! I won this year!

Now to try every pumpkin recipe known to mankind to use them all up.

The sweet potatoes were dug for the first time ever.

They too were numerous – and in some cases – monstrous.

Like this one…

sweet potato It almost looks like a human heart! It’s actually several grown together because our soil was too clay to give them room.

It made a massive amount of sweet potato fries!

And remember those cabbage, broccoli and kale plants I put in for a fall crop?

They’re still alive! And growing!

We had kale for several meals and fresh lettuce again. The cabbage and broccoli are making nice heads – but they need a little more time.

I’m not sure we’ll get it though – the forecast calls for a killing frost Friday night.

Grow little broccoli and cabbage – grow fast!

Maybe my amazing husband can engineer some cold frames or hoop houses?

Or maybe I should just let the season end – thankful it was the best garden we’ve had in years.

Or maybe I should make another new pumpkin recipe while I decide.

Yes,  definitely that one.

Mutant Gourds

PumpkinsA spotty frost finally wiped out the mess of vines that had taken over the lower half of the garden – leaving the produce in full view.

Instead of a giant game of seek and find – we now had a recovery mission.

I sent Angel Girl and Buddy in the patch on a beautiful fall afternoon to find and harvest all the pumpkin and squash.

They gathered over 50 sugar pumpkins and about the same number of butternut squash.

Oh. my.

At least our squash-loving wood chuck left us a few! Ha!

I guess I need to find some friends or we’ll be eating a lot of pumpkin pie this winter. 🙂

But that number was nothing compared to the real surprise we found under the dead vines –

Gourdsornamental gourds.

Millions and millions of them.

And we didn’t even plant them this year.

We obviously missed a few gourds in our cleaning up last fall and they seeded themselves and came up as volunteers.

We also obviously missed the fact that they were gourds when we were weeding. But then – it’s amazing how similar the leaves look to both pumpkins and squash. Really it is. 😉

But we are determined to not make the same mistake again. No sir.

We spent hours picking up gourds this week and composting them FAR away from the garden on the wood pile in the north pasture.

Pedro dumped over 10 wheelbarrows full of gourds.

We’re talking thousands of the pesky things.

At one point, as we were braving the cold north wind on our hands and knees picking up the mutant gourds,  Dagmar looked at me and said, “We’re never planting these things again, right Mom?”

Never again! Although if we miss one of these this fall – we may not have to plant them!

And if we don’t burn that compost pile in the north pasture soon enough, by next fall they may have overtaken it, too.

Oh well. We’ll worry about that next fall.

But for now we have free ornamental gourds! All you can use! Come early for the best selection and bring your own wheelbarrow! 🙂

It’s a Jungle In There

It’s a jungle in my garden right now!

The entire bottom third of the big garden is one solid mess of vines – mostly butternut squash and sugar pumpkins.

MelonsAnd I do mean a solid mess.

There must be a ga-zillion squash and pumpkins in there – but I really don’t venture too far in to explore.

You see – the other day I tried it and something furry and four-legged rustled through the vines ahead of me.

It’s probably just a bunny – but you can never be too careful about things like that. I’m remembering our recent woodchuck with a fondness for winter squash.

He may have friends.

Maybe if I wore hip boots. Do you think a wood chuck could bite through rubber?

On second thought – maybe I’ll just wait for a nice frost so the vines die away a little! 🙂

TomatosThen there’s my monster tomato plants.

These things are like small trees!

They are huge and they are everywhere. It’s a nightmare to pick them.

You know how tomato vines make your arms turn green and leave a sticky slimy stuff when you touch them? I get covered with it every time I pick! I have to literally claw my way through the plants and reach way inside the tomato cages to finally get the tomatoes.

It’s a nasty job and nobody wants to do it.

I think my kids would rather scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush than go into the garden and pick tomatoes!

Note to self:  next year plant the tomatoes much further apart.

And get more and stronger tomato cages!

But in all seriousness – I love this season in the garden! It’s all about harvesting and enjoying – about planning your meals around what you just picked.

Even if it means wearing full-battle gear to get the harvest!

I’ve linked this post up with The Tuesday Garden Party over at The Oregon Cottage.

Happy Surprises!

A trip through the garden these days brings a smile to my face!

I love finding hidden treasures among the leaves! Like these cantaloupe…

melons

We’ve averaged about 2 melons a day for the last week and bumped up to 6 for a couple of days! We brought 10 of them to our family gathering over the weekend to share.  They have been so delicious!

We feel pretty rich having all-you-can fresh melon every day! Andsince new melons are still putting on – it looks like we may have melons till the first frost!

That watermelon is a treat! There were exactly 3 watermelons on the one remaining vine and we’ve been watching them carefully.

We ate one this week, and we have this one chilling in the fridge as I write. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

punpkin

As I was searching for ripe melons I was pleasantly surprised to find this beauty hidden in the leaves. I didn’t even think any pumpkin germinated – but there it was!

It’s leaves were so similar to the ornamental gourds that came up as volunteers that I didn’t  see them before.

A quick search showed at least 2 pumpkins on the vine. At least we’ll have a couple of pumpkin pies from the garden at Thanksgiving!

The second planting of sweet corn has been wonderful – so much better than the first planting was! We’ve had fresh corn every other night for the last week or so.  Yum!

And the best news of all – the tomatoes are finally starting to ripen! Slowly but surely we are getting some real beauties!

We have more than we can eat fresh – but still not enough to can – so I’ve been washing them and freezing them. When I have enough, I can thaw them and make my spaghetti sauce.

It’s not ideal – but as far as tomatoes go – we are well past perfect and into “just make it work”!

That pretty much sums up the entire garden season this year – far from perfect and into “just make it work”!

But right now I’m very thankful that I didn’t give up when things were so wet and cold this spring. I’m glad we persisted and kept replanting.

Now there’s another great life lesson learned in the garden!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9

I’ve linked this post up at The Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.