Getting Our Second Wind

The heat and drought this year was hard on gardens and gardeners alike. The rain came back here in early August, which was too late to help the farmers’ corn crop, but was much appreciated by backyard gardeners like me. We actually got 5.37 inches of rain in August, and we’ve had 2.59 inches already in September. And those are the official rain totals right here in our own back yard since we are a CoCoRaHS monitoring station. We’re still way below normal for the year, but we are catching up. And the rain is definitely helping the garden get its second wind.

The July heat wave made most of the tomato blossoms drop off, and that was really apparent when there were not many tomatoes to ripen in August. But they are blooming and setting on green tomatoes now, and we are getting a few ripe ones again. I’m actually looking forward to using some green ones for salsa and relish before they’re done for the year. And I am looking forward to the first fried green tomatoes of the season. It shouldn’t be long. I have my eyes on a few that are sizing up nicely.

green tomatoes on the vine (click on any image to enlarge)

I’ve been planting for the fall garden for over a month now. The Impact Community Garden has a lovely fall planting of kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage and turnips. We’ve got some beets and kohlrabi coming along there too. I think we will be ready to plant lettuce next week, maybe some Asian greens too. Those plants are coming along nicely.

lettuce seedlings for Impact Community Garden

Here at HA I’ve got many of the same crops planted, just not as many. Except for the kohlrabi, that is. I planted about 30 plants here, most in the main garden but another 10 in a cold frame bed by the greenhouse. I have had to get inventive with deer protection this year. I usually use Agribon floating row cover material on the cold frame tops to protect from the winter cold, but this fall I used mesh bird netting instead. This material is a knitted green polyethylene with a 3/4 inch mesh, and is great for draping over plants to keep out birds and other critters. So far it has done the job well.

cold frame covered with mesh bird netting

The deer walked through Saturday night just inches away from the cold frames. They didn’t seem to eat anything, but they left hoof prints in a bed of turnips I had planted. I have another planting of turnips that are protected in the main garden, but I used a bed in the kitchen garden (formerly home to the 2012 garlic crop) to plant some turnips I plan on donating to the local food pantry. Even if they don’t eat them, their big feet can certainly do damage too!

deer tracks in turnip seedlings

I’m getting good harvests of pepper, eggplant and okra whenever we want them. I dehydrated a batch of sweet ripe peppers this week. And I harvested over a pound of green jalapenos to make some sauce. I’ve got them fermenting right now. I’ll let you know how they turn out, and share the recipe.

green jalapenos for hot sauce

I made a batch of Baba Ghanoush with some of the eggplants. Served up with pita chips, it made a nice side dish for a meatless meal featuring some chickpea burgurs.

assortment of eggplants

Baba Ghanoush

That’s a look at what’s going on here in early September. To see what other gardeners from all over the world are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays. And Happy Growing to all of you!


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18 Responses to Getting Our Second Wind

  1. Daphne says:

    At least that is one animal that I don’t have to worry about. I don’t think a deer could get into our yard. Too much traffic on one side. Too many fences on another. At my last house I occasionally saw them, but not often.

    I hope those turnips recover. Most of mine recovered from my sprinkler incident. It amazing sometimes what they can grow through.

  2. Patsy says:

    Your tomato plant looks nice and healthy! There aren’t many like that in eastern CT! The baba ganoush looks good, something I’d like to try sometime.

  3. Bee Girl says:

    I sure am glad I don’t have to worry about deer on my little lot! The biggest pests we have around here are mice and cats…a definite pain in the ass, but not as damaging as those big hoofs!

    I harvested another Happy Yummy this week…orange, sweet and hot! The Happy Hots are producing nicely, but maturing slowly.

  4. Dave's SFG says:

    You are getting a nice assortment of produce, so whatever you did to battle the heat seems to be paying off. My tomatoes are also starting to put out some growth at the top even though the bottoms have been wiped out by blight. Some of the cherry tomatoes are even ripening, but the bigger tomatoes may turn into fried green tomatoes or tomato chutney.

  5. Michelle says:

    Your deer are either less hungry or far more picky than the deer around here. The only thing that keeps them from eating my vegetables is a 7 foot fence.

    I’m just getting the first big flush of tomatoes, but my problem is cold nights rather than hot days.

    Yum, baba ghanoush, that would be a good thing to make with the bounty of eggplant that I’m starting to harvest!

    Hope you have a good long mild fall to make up for the atrocious summer. It’s always fun and inspiring to come by and see what you are harvesting

    • Dave says:

      The main garden has a tall fence. But until this year I have been lucky and able to grow some things outside the main garden. This year the deer pressure is much greater. Only the rotten egg deer repellent keeps them away, and even it doesn’t work that well when they get hungry enough.

  6. zentMRS says:

    Here’s to a second wind! Glad to hear your September has started off so well!

  7. maryhysong says:

    Very nice looking harvests; love all the colors of your eggplants. I occasionally have deer but they tend to stay on the outside of the fence, even tho it’s only4′. I think the crowded state of things on the inside scares them off.

  8. Norma Chang says:

    Oh dear, those deer, they sure make a gardener’s life more challenging. Besides hoof prints they also leave their calling cards all over the lawn,what a mess. Glad they left your cold frame alone.

  9. Jenny says:

    looks like you’re in for a nice fall harvest with everything you’re planting. Sorry to hear about the deer problems, but way to go on new tomatoes. Hope they’ll have enough time to ripen. Some of my remaining plants also forming green tomatoes so I’m thinking chutney.

  10. Nancy R says:

    Your baba ghanoush looks wonderful. Would it be possible to print your recipe? Eggplants grow well for me here in central Florida & I never know what to do with them all.

    I love reading about everyone’s harvests. I’m just starting to plant my fall garden. I didn’t have much to harvest here over the summer. I do wish other Florida gardeners would blog.

  11. Those dastardly deer seem to be having fun in your garden this season! I think I’m going to have to have a do-over on some of my own fall planting. The weather has been all over the place, and our kale grew so fast, that it’s huge, and already trying to bolt!

    Love you eggplants. What’s the pale greenish-white variety on the left of the photo? Your Baba Ghannouj looks yummy, I just posted a recipe for ours this morning…but we’ve run out, so I many have to make another batch this week!

    • Dave says:

      The light green eggplant is Green Goddess. I’ll have to check out your Baba Ghannoush recipe. It is one of our favorite things to do with eggplant!

  12. you always have such impressive harvests. sadly, I can no longer eat nightshade veggies. sigh….

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