Just like the gloves on the fence, many things in the garden are simply worn out after a long, hot summer. Fruit has been set, seeds matured – a plant’s basic mission has been fulfilled.
Time to turn up their toes.
The cucumber and squash vines are always the first to go, succumbing to powdery mildew in early September. Our damp climate is to blame – the dew is heavy all summer, and doesn’t dry before noon on many days. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I had pretty much had all the cucumbers I could take anyway! The winter squash gave me a presentable harvest this year as well. Ten of them are currently curing on the back porch. They’ll go to the basement for storage soon.
I stopped picking beans last week to allow the last few to mature completely. These actually make very nice soup beans, if you dry them out and save them. This year’s diminished harvest will probably only yield enough for seed for next year’s crop.
The tomatoes aren’t quite finished, but they have slowed down considerably. They are through setting new fruit, as our nights are now consistently below 60. There are enough green ones, big and small, to go another month if the frost holds off.
The summer lettuce has bolted, meaning it has run to seed. This makes the leaves bitter and inedible. It went to the compost pile not long after this photo was taken, along with the dead vines. The empty space where they spent the season will be covered in composted manure to renew the soil over the winter. (The squash bed will turn around a little quicker – the garlic will go in by mid-October.)
The end of summer is by no means the end of the garden. These lovely leeks will keep growing past the first frosts. I’ll harvest them as necessary until they’re gone. Just beyond them in this row are beets and carrots, which are also picked on an ‘as-needed’ basis. Everything you need for a hearty winter soup.
Over in the Fall bed, the lettuce and kale are coming along well. They, too, will survive some frost. The kale will last through December. Also in this bed are a few rows of beets and carrots, which should be ready to harvest early next spring.
As long as Chloe keeps her paws off. I see you, Sneaky Dog!