A late summer harvest was so bounteous, and this is only a small part of it. We loaded a tub of summer squash to give to the neighbors to feed their hogs. We feed collard greens, kale and Swiss chard to the young guinea keets in the pen next to the garden, and they love it! Why is it gardens keep you waiting all summer, and then give forth in such profusion that you cannot possibly take care of it? Or consume all of it?
I am reminded of my grandmother’s garden which was much larger than my own. She was far more efficient at preserving her summer bounty, and would rise at daybreak, pick peas and green beans, and the next day would be blanching and freezing the peas and canning the green beans in quart Mason jars. The cellar shelves would be lined with her peaches, pears, vegetables, pickles, tomatoes and apple sauce. She dried corn and stored it in 1# coffee cans for reconstitution throughout the long winter months. I loved eating it dry and would sneak a handful to chew on. Her winter squash would be stored in bushel baskets, and carrots, beets and potatoes were stored in wooden crates wrapped in newspaper.
Just before frost, I plant fall crops of red winter kale, spinach, and lettuce. When I recently went to prepare the bed I planned to use, I noticed the sweet pea vines I had planned to tear up were blooming and producing a second crop of peas! A cool weather crop, the peas had gone dormant over the summer. As I began gathering the mature pods, I discovered I had as many, if not more peas than I got from the early spring crop. I wondered if my grandmother had a second crop also, and wished I had spent more time with her in our family garden as a girl. I well remember the scolding and prying to drag me to the garden early on summer mornings, and how hard I tried to resist.
A light frost turned the tips of the squash and cucumber plants brown two nights ago, and served as a reminder it’s time to drag out the heavy plastic row covers to protect the garden for the next month to six weeks. We can always count on frost shortly after Labor Day, and it came right on schedule this year. Fortunately, we got an early warning light frost rather than a killing frost that would have wiped out the entire garden.
So much work, so little time!