Normally, this time of year, the garden would be running a bit low on productivity, but this year, it sure seems like we’ve got a long(ish) way to go! It sure looks good, too, despite the notable lack of rain this Summer. I haven’t had to water for a few weeks, and the temperatures have been a bit milder recently.
The sweet potatoes are growing well (not really pictured, but just off to the right of this image), but the main story is the bottle gourds…which are apparently a thing?? Brooke picked up these seeds mostly on a whim and they’ve taken over the garden, and there are quite a few gourds growing (three in the image above – we’ve got almost 10, maybe?). I’m still not sure what, exactly, we’re going to do with them. I suppose we could carve one up like a pumpkin for Halloween?
In this shot, we’re still seeing a lot of bottle gourd plant matter (all those big leaves), but we’ve also got some zinnias! It sure took them a long time to get going this year, but Brooke’s had enough to pick here and there to bring into the house. I think she’s still planning on starting a new flower plot next year, so maybe the zinnias will move out there, but for now, randomly interspersed among the gourd plants, we’re still getting something out of them.
The sorghum are still doing their thing, of course. The tassels are mostly brown at the top, but it looks like they have grown secondary stalks, which is something we didn’t expect. The secondary ones are still green, so it may take a bit before we can do anything about them. When Brooke’s ready, we’ll use her new electric wood chipper to process them and see if we can get more than a teaspoon of molasses.
The beans are still coming along, too (pictured a few shots below). Brooke’s working on soup beans, and that will probably continue for the rest of the month. She ended up picking some green beans yesterday, despite the fact that we’d normally be done with them a month ago. She’s canned 9 pints of green beans so far, and she likely got enough for another 3 or 4 more. It wasn’t looking good earlier in the Summer, and we definitely don’t have as many beans as we normally would, but at least we’re recovering a bit compared to previous years!
The tomatoes needed some TLC, so last week, we removed as much of the greenery as we could while still leaving the green tomatoes on. We finally got a few “slicers” to ripen, but we still don’t have as good a haul of those as we have in the past few years. On the other hand, we’ve got a ton of romas this year, so we should be in good shape in the tomato sauce department.
The bell peppers, though…they’re a whole other thing. We haven’t had this good a pepper year since we lived in Iowa, and these last few Summers, I’ve questioned whether it’s even worth planting them because we get only a few peppers, sometimes one or two per plant. Well this year, we’ve got buckets full of them, to the point where the plants are so overloaded that they’re falling over (as seen above).
Those are some nice looking peppers, right?? And we’ve got multiple fridge crispers with more in them. And we’ve been giving peppers away because we’ve got so many. It’s. Nuts.
We’ve still got quite a few romas on the vine, as well as cherry tomatoes, but we’re about out of “big beef”-style ‘maters, sadly. Those are the ones I’d rather have, of course, but so long as we’re getting a lot of the others (and we are), it isn’t a total loss.
The peach haul this year was very disappointing, but the apple trees are actually doing pretty well! We won’t have enough to get a ton of cider out of them from our cider press, but they’ll definitely supplement whatever other apples we get from Peter’s. We’ve also picked some pears, but we aren’t sure they’re quite ready yet. Some are rotting on the tree, while the ones we preemptively pick don’t seem to be ripe. We’ll just keep trying, I suppose!
Last, but not least, the tobacco plant! It’s gigantic, and the flowers at the top are kinda pretty! The leaves started to turn yellow toward the bottom, suggesting that they were ready to be picked.
The leaves have been at a good size for weeks now, but only recently did we think it was time to try and dry a few. Not that we know what we’re doing, but you can see how the edges of the leaves are lightening up relative to the rest of the green centers.
And so, we’ve got some hanging up in the garage attic! It will be plenty warm up there, and hopefully humid enough to dry the leaves without overdrying (which is a concern). The whole point of the leaves are for them to produce smoke when lit, which means they need to be at least somewhat moist. Whether this particular setup actually ends up being the right one or not remains to be seen.
There’s probably a month left before we shut it all down for 2022! We’ve gotten plenty of produce this year, despite the fact that the proportions of fruits and veggies were different than we usually get. It keeps things interesting from year to year, I suppose!