Monday, November 30, 2009

The Bitter End

On the day before Thanksgiving, I finally had some free time to finish up my garden chores. Each gardening season brings its own set of challenges, successes, and failures, and this year has been no exception. My goals this spring were to accomplish the following:
  1. Grow some interesting heirloom tomato varieties
  2. Plant a lot more peppers
  3. Keep lettuces going all summer
  4. Keep up with the weeding (my goal every year)
  5. Plant winter squash instead of pumpkins
I don’t have to tell my fellow New England gardeners what a difficult year it’s been — I struggled with cool, damp, rainy conditions during most of June and July, and in late August my garden was hit by late blight, which destroyed my tomato crop — utterly. But the terrible summer weather has been balanced out by an unusually mild fall. As a result, all of the cool-weather crops have continued to thrive and grow. So how did this year’s garden turn out?
  1. All of my 18 tomato plants died before anything could ripen. I think I harvested about four fruits.
  2. My pepper plants were stunted by a frost on June 1 and never yielded more than one or two peppers per plant.
  3. Lettuce did fantastically, but the weeds did better.
  4. I harvested some smallish winter squash, but I also got four really large pumpkins from some volunteer plants that grew from last year’s discarded jack-o-lantern guts.
  5. I had the best cucumbers in years. Gardening authors always tell you to keep cucumbers well watered. They are right.
  6. We are still eating kale, Brussels sprouts, purple cauliflower, Swiss chard, beets, and carrots out of the garden. In late November!

Brussels sprouts


But the end is near. I harvested the last of the beets and chard, pulled up the kale and Brussels sprouts plants and placed them in buckets of dirt in the garage. I set up a cold frame and sowed some spinach seeds in it, planted garlic, harvested parsley and rosemary (still growing!), and then decided to take a last look around before coming in to write this. It was then I discovered another unexpected benefit of this year’s weird weather: several dozen mรขche seedlings were growing in a spot I had neglected to weed after an early spring harvest of salad greens. I transplanted them into the cold frame. Maybe this isn’t the bitter end after all.

Cold frame

— Ilona Sherratt


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Joana said...

What a beautiful image, I would like to live in a place with a climate that allowed me to grow as beautiful brussels sprouts.