Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Comes to the Garden

Our vegetable gardening is one of my favorite spinning plates of the summer months.

I learned to love gardening from my father, and the basics of preserving what we grew from my mother and my father's mother. The backyard garden behind the house where I grew up was a continually expanding project. Every year Dad would rototill up just another smidge of lawn, until eventually the garden ballooned to take up almost a third of the yard.

Our main vegetable patch here has stayed stable at 20-some feet per side, but we expand by finding new flowerbeds in which to plant produce. Rhubarb replaced hostas; basil replaced pampas grass; okra (with its beautiful hibiscus flowers!) replaced rose canes; a strawberry bed replaced a stand of Snow-on-the-Mountain; and this year my front flower bed held rainbow chard instead of salvia.

When the garden is in full swing, it's a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. Here's a shot JoyDad took back in August:
Basket of tomatoes, okra, peppers, cucumbers, beans!
Especially great crops this year: bok choy, kohlrabi, beans, peppers, the aforementioned chard. Strawberries and sour-cherries did pretty well too, as did the rhubarb and okra. Also mulberries, not in our yard but we picked and froze a whole bunch from a tree on nearby park property. JoyDad keeps pickling hot-peppers:
JoyDad canned a peck o' pickled peppers
Joy is willing to partake of just about everything we grow, even the kohlrabi and the pickled beets! Rose's favorites are the fruit and the sweet peppers and the cherry tomatoes. She likes rhubarb upside-down cake too.

I know I keep harping on the difference this summer's new fence has made to life with Joy in our back yard, but it's really helped with the gardening too. I can now let Joy play on her own nearby while I pick raspberries or go into the (separately fenced) garden to do some harvesting or pull a few weeds. So liberating to only have to keep half an eye on her!

The garden is winding down for the fall now, though. We've had a couple of almost-frosts which have slowed everything down. The tomatoes are petering out, we'll get one more bok-choy stir-fry, the beets and beans are all in, pretty soon it will be time to bring in the butternut squash.

Growing so much food is a help to the pocketbook in these troubled economic times. But mostly it's good for the tastebuds, and the soul!


Anonymous said...

As one of the lucky ones who have tasted some of these home-grown fruits and veggies, I can confirm that there is nothing like eating fresh-picked foods from the garden at joyMama's place!! I am impressed with that photo of the bounty, too! I'm glad that the fence is making your life easier and more enjoyable during the gardening season. Does Joy show any interest in helping to pick any of the fruits and vegetables? I have certainly witnessed her enjoyment of eating them, well even of eating in general!

mama edge said...

I bow before you, o goddess of the harvest! I barely managed to keep one container-tomato plant alive this summer. You have one impressive green thumb, neighbor.

Maddy said...

What a wonderful production! We lack the shade to branch out as much as I'd like and of course I'm the only one who eats any of it, so that would be a little selfish on my part.

I know that this year when the roses are still blooming in December I will never have the will power to cut them back as I know I should.

Quirky Mom said...

Ohhh, I really want a home garden, and this pushes me a little closer. :)