Summer and Fall Gardens

I haven’t posted much about gardening of late, but I’ve been busy dealing with the harvests. Even though this has been an unusually hot and dry year (5 degrees warmer than average, and 8 inches less rain than “normal”) our heavily mulched and intensively planted gardens have been extremely productive.

As of today we’ve harvested over 700 pounds from our gardens in 2010. We’ve gotten 170 pounds of tomatoes alone. Given the number of days we’ve had with highs in the mid to upper 90F range, that is truly amazing. I was expecting a lot less. The large fruited heirlooms have not fared well though. Many of those vines just shriveled up and died when the temperatures climbed (Druzba, Magnus, Opalka, Brandywine OTV, Golden Queen, Giant Belgium). All of the smaller fruited varieties (except Green Zebra) have done great, and the paste varieties grown using a stake and weave support system have done very well. The hybrid slicers are also holding their own. We’ve gotten lots of Ramapo, Jetsonic, Jetsetter and Celebrity. While Early Girl doesn’t usually win any taste tests here (it did beat Amish Paste), it just keeps cranking out the tomatoes. I got an oven full of larger tomatoes roasted yesterday, and the freezer is already full of sauces and purees plus dried and roasted tomatoes.

Besides tomatoes, it was a banner year for squash. We got 75 pounds of summer squash before the heat did them in, and we’ve also gotten 75 pounds of winter squash so far. I still have one late planted heirloom long-neck pumpkin squash that is growing strong and just now setting fruit. I’ve not seen any signs of squash vine borers, so perhaps the Neem oil does work as a deterrent.

We won’t dig sweet potatoes until October, but the vines are looking good. They don’t mind the heat or dry weather. We still have a few left from last year, though we are down to mostly the odd shaped ones.


fall planting of Swiss Chard

Of course, even as the heat wave continues, it is time to plan and plant our fall crops. I got some Swiss Chard going back in July, and it is growing nicely in the rich soil on the south side of the greenhouse. I even planted some late cucumbers in one greenhouse bed. We harvested 30 pounds from the spring planting, but the vines finally succumbed to the 120F daytime temps in there. I am hopeful we will get enough from this late planting for some salads and pickles.

young cucumber plants in greenhouse

I’ve also planted some late cabbage and broccoli, though far less than we had in spring. I set a dozen broccoli and about eight cabbage plants, along with a dozen plants of collard greens. I had to cover them all with bird netting since last year the birds pecked to death every seedling I set in the ground. I have a whole flat of kale that is hardening off and I should be able to get it in the ground next week.


fall broccoli covered with bird netting

I’ve got another spot ready for turnips, and I hope to get them sown tomorrow. I planted 3 rows of Purple Top White Globe at the church garden yesterday morning.

spot ready for fall turnips

And speaking of the church garden, it’s done well for a first year effort. The squash and cukes are done there, and we pulled the green beans a couple of weeks ago to make room for the turnips. The tomatoes are holding up to the heat, though the birds are pecking holes in a lot of them.

So that’s a little bit of what’s going on around here. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go roast another load of tomatoes in the oven!

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6 Responses to Summer and Fall Gardens

  1. Wow, that’s an incredible poundage of produce. Or should I say tonnage. I can’t imagine dealing with that much harvest. I’m looking forward to my first week of a harvest that is over 10 lbs. That’s plenty for the two of us to eat fresh, but it would be nice to have extra produce to can, dry, or freeze. Well, every little bit helps.

    • Villager says:

      We surely had more than we could eat of certain things, so we gave a lot away. And you are so right, every little bit does help!

  2. 170 pounds of tomatoes…you’re so fortunate. With our cold weather we have only just started harvesting our tomatoes in any sort of volume. It’s interesting that Early Girl beat out Amish Paste on a taste test though. We haven’t tried Amish Paste yet (almost did this year, but it got bumped for something else). I wonder if next year we should consider something else instead. By the way, your focaccia bread from the last post looked very tasty!

    • Villager says:

      I’m not sure the weather this year made for a fair test of Amish Paste. It was pretty prolific, and I will grow it again. We just didn’t think it tasted very good fresh. For cooking into sauces, it was a winner. It actually did much better than the San Marzano, which had very small fruit that was harder to deal with due to it’s shape (narrow neck).

      We are pleased with the tomato harvest this year. Last year we had wetter and cooler weather than the norm, and the tomatoes really suffered. Maybe next year, we will finally have an “average” year!

  3. debsgarden says:

    That is an amazing harvest. All I can think is, what a lot of work! But well worth it when you are eating all those delicious veggies. I really admire your spirit and your terrific garden!

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