By Jackie Hollenkamp Bentley
Just ask my husband: I hate Fall. I really do. Sure, the leaves can be beautiful (although, I think they’re pretty lackluster this year), and the blistering heat is gone. But I just don’t like what Fall symbolizes: the end of growth, for lack of a better description. Everything green starts dying, gardens included.
While this year has not been a stellar growing year for either my home garden’s raised beds and containers, it hasn’t been all that great for the garden my nephew, A.J., and I share on my parent’s farm.
With the impending doom of the dreaded frost and killing freeze warnings last week, I headed to the farm garden to pick the last of the peppers and tomatoes hiding in the tangled weeds, all the while cursing the change of seasons and the fact that I had to hurry and pick them before the cold took them.
The tomatoes sure are little, aren’t they? Thanks to the deluges of the spring, they didn’t grow as big as we would have liked, but they did grow. So, waste not, want not and I picked every single tomato on the vine — even the ones as small as nickel.
Those that look like they were going to turn red are now sitting on my kitchen table. Once they fully ripen, they’ll go into the freezer for a marathon tomato-canning session with A.J. in a few weeks.
The green ones? We’ve been having fun looking different green tomato recipes, fried green tomatoes aside.
Then there’s the peppers. So. Many. Peppers. What to do? What to do? Well, I canned more than a half of them. The other half will go into various hot sauces, salsa and assorted other recipes.
As for my own gardens, there were a few stragglers of producing plants so when I got home from the farm, I went ahead and picked the last of my container tomatoes.
I have to admit, after picking itty bitty tomatoes all day, I am pretty proud of these maters. These will definitely be enjoyed fried.
Then I thought I would check on my little cucumber vine that survived a second planting in September.
Actually, two vines grew from the seeds that I had planted (see September 9th CGGG: I May Have Picked The Wrong Time To Start A Gardening Blog), but something ate one of them down to the dirt which is why you see the nice white powder on the survivor’s leaves to kill unwanted insects. That little plant is just a weed, I think.
But I must confess to a bit of laziness on my part this weekend. Even though they were predicting killing freezes and frost, I didn’t cover the plant with a sheet or blanket as recommended. Since I had only seen blooms and no cucumbers, I wasn’t that motivated to protect something that probably wouldn’t produce anything by the time it snows.
However, I checked this morning, and it looks like it’s survived the cold despite my lackadaisical attitude. We’ll see what happens there.
So, that’s all that remains of my 2015 gardening efforts: one little cucumber vine struggling to survive.
Everything else has been picked clean, mowed down, rotted or just plain died and left to wither where they stand. Depressing, I know. And THAT’S why I can’t stand Fall.