Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Last Hollyhock

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Here in Northern Colorado, we are all feeling the gradual change of seasons as Summer gracefully wanes to let Autumn take charge. We welcome this change here on the plains after a hot, droughty summer. While the temperatures are still high, a cool breeze meanders through the Garden Spot, making ready for Autumn's anticipated arrival. We can say good-bye to the 90+ temperatures that we won't miss until the dead of winter. We are like that, aren't we?

It's an appreciated change for gardeners, for by summer's end gardening becomes a tedious chore with the demanding watering schedule and the tedious task of weeding. We are ready to put the garden to bed; thus, with bucket and bowl in hand, I set out to simply pick a few ripened tomatoes, but came back to kitchen with a bountiful harvest that did put an end to the vegetable garden for this season.

I began picking the abundant tomatoes. It was a rough year for them. With an unusually cold spring, the plants went in late. The Head Gardener planted both plants that he started from seed and commercial plants. We had Beef Steak, Better Boy, Romas that died, Sweet One Hundreds, Early Girl, Fourth of July, an heirloom variety Brandy Wine, Bush Steak, and Cherry tomatoes. It's an impressive list, but things didn't go well and from talking to others, tomatoes didn't do well this year. With the cold spring, the ground was still cold when the tomatoes finally were planted in June--at least that's what say--cold soil, cold feet.

Still we had a plentiful harvest of tomatoes. I've come to accept that the garden does not have to meet Better Homes and Gardens standards for beauty, style, and design; it just has to produce. I can't claim that we are organic gardeners either; instead, we are simple gardeners and maybe even lazy ones. Still we are cognizant and cautious using weed control around the food plants, so the food has to compete with bind weed and Canada thistle. Nor do we use pesticides or fertilizer, except when the plants go in. No heroic measures here.

When I gather from the garden, I like to use this large colander the I found at the thrift store. It's not the standard kitchen size, but it does fit nicely on the tomato cage. These are the Sweet One Hundreds that should be red, but are a bright orange and most certainly sweet as candy and abundant. I picked this vine clean and there will be more to come.

The green bell peppers, jalape├▒os, and Anaheim peppers didn't fair well either. Water? Who knows. The HG planted a combination of sets he started and one he purchased. Generally we have a great pepper production. This was not one. Not to worry; I have a good store in the freezer from years past.

The carrots surprised us, too. Slow to germinate, slow to grow, looking overprinted and crowded. The HG stressed all summer over these plants. So while was I picking tomato vines clean, I said, "Let's dig the carrots and see what we have." And there you have it, a nice carrot harvest. More water and they would have been bigger, but who's complaining? 

Next, we tackled the potatoes. A decent harvest, but a disappointing one since the potatoes were so small. Plant them deeper and water more. One of the hens joined in on the potato digging, knowing that the fresh turned soil would have a good yield of bugs and worms for her.

So here it is, a bountiful harvest.

The girls love to raid the garden, too. I wasn't going to be in the garden long, just long enough to pick a few tomatoes, but when I saw the harvest extending, I let them out.

When I did a head count, I short one hen, Olive, the Olive Egger. She was busy doing her part to put food on our table. She's one of the new ones and is laying the prettiest green eggs, still small, but as she grows, so will her eggs.

Today I had to process the harvest. I decided to create stew and soup packets: From the garden: onions, potatoes, carrots, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, and bit of fresh thyme.

I packaged them in vacuumed sealed bags.

Sliced a few. A few whole. Then I ran out of bags.

Paying Tribute to a Self Starter

Some of the dahlias might bloom so very late because they went in late. 

And one lone hollyhock with a huge bumble bee so loaded with the last of the pollen that it could hardly fly. 

There will be more work to do to put the Garden Spot to bed, so stay tuned.

Have a fabulous week and thanks so much for joining me.

I'll be joining Angie for Mosaic Monday. Hope to see you there.


  1. Ann - I think any harvest is a wonderful harvest, especially tomatoes and carrots! We do our best as gardeners, don't we? But in the end, we are at the whim of the sun and the rain and the soil. I feel for farmers everywhere! My garden is mostly in seed stage, but I am still enjoying the tasks that Autumn brings - pruning, seed collection ... Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

  2. There's always so much work to do year round. Love seeing the hens get to enjoy the garden too.

  3. We had a good year for tomatoes, peppers, and green beans. The carrots did well, but we’re still waiting in the last batch. Not sure they’ll make it this late. And I have plenty of chopped tomatoes in the freezer so that I can make something yummy in the middle of winter.


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