Thanks to the Great Goddess of Cortisone visiting my knees through Her minion at Bronson Orthopedics, I was able to spend a lot of quality time in the yard today. I began by pulling weeds. It’s been so hot and muggy this summer in southwest Michigan, and paired with the fact that every step was misery thanks to my arthritic knees, that was a long overdue task. I did plan to leave two of my raised beds fallow this summer to give them a little time to recharge, and the grasses that sprang up were a nice cover crop.
I am still picking beans, but I did pull up some of the plants that are clearly not going to help me out any more. My cucumbers are still setting flowers, but they have been a horrible disappointment to me this year. Flowers, but no fruit, despite copious watering and other babying. I have also found Lima beans to not be worth the trouble of planting and keeping happy, particular as inexpensive as they are canned and frozen. Next year I think I’ll be doing bush cucumbers in a pot. I don’t need a lot of them, just enough for cucumbers in rice vinegar with sesame, which I can eat all day. It’s my gussied up version of the summer classic cucumber salad.
My tomatoes are coming on, and I think in a week or so I’m going to be overrun with goodness. I highly enjoyed eating an Opalka Paste and an Ace-55 out of hand today, picked and ate them right there in the garden. Truly, a flavor like no other, a fresh, sun-warmed tomato. This is why I do so many of them every year, and this year has been a particularly good year for my plants.
I weeded the herb bed, and found that the lemon balm had escaped the bed and was hurrying away from its appointed spot. I gently pulled those plants up and put them back in the bed. I’d like to get a good, solid stand of those going before I let them run wild. Of course I’m going to let them run wild. Lazy gardener for the win, and the delightful scent of lemon when I step on them is an extra bonus!
Ground cherries are just coming on. I think they might have waited a bit long in the season to get it together, but I’ll encourage them. If it gets too close to frost, well, that’s what floating row cover is for. The zuchinni in that same bed is also kind of lagging, as are the tomatoes in the bed next to that one. I watered everyone heavily today, and put wire mesh over the beds to keep the deer away from them as I attempt to coddle them through fall. I have seen the deer out there, and they murdered my parsley, but I don’t plan to give them much more quarter.
***GROSS OUT WARNING AHEAD***
I had one of those mean little zippy squirrels jump into one of my five gallon buckets that has been collecting rain water. It drowned, and I didn’t notice it for a few days. After a ton of dry heaving, I fished the corpse out and threw it back in the woods. The water, though, I took out to the herb bed to show the deer, by scent, what happens to animals who cross me in the garden.
***TENDER EYES RESUME READING HERE***
I just came in from planting the first gang of fall crops. I am trying out Park Seed, since I’ve heard good things about their germination rate. I planted their baby pak choi (which is a new vegetable for me this year), organic kale, and Riverside spinach. I was a little disappointed in the seeds in the package, there is no way that there were 100 seeds in the pak choi. Maybe fifty. We’ll see how they turn out. I’m using up my MIgardener seeds from this year and last, planting carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. I love MIgardener, really I do, but the germination from this year’s seeds was not up to snuff for me. I’ll still shop with them, but I won’t put all my garden eggs in their basket. I’m also trying out Johnny’s Seeds, an employee-owned company. They were the only place I saw purple and yellow snow peas! I put those in today and we’ll see how they do. If they’re great, then I’ll have Mardi Gras pea pods, for a festive stir fry! I filled the curb-prized retro Coleman cooler with butterhead lettuce, which I can cut and come again with well into fall. I also started a pot of parsley and a pot of cilantro to go with the basil pots on the porch.
Don’t think that because fall is coming you’re done gardening. You can always do fast crops of radishes, kale, spinach, most other greens including lettuces, brassicas, and all kinds of other fall-sown crops! Some of them get even sweeter after a frost, so by all means, go play in the dirt! I’ll post some links below I’ve seen on favorite sites and the internet at large.
Fall is exactly the right time to plant garlic. Garlic is definitely the gift that keeps on giving, so I won’t be planting more for a while. Here’s a great piece from Kalamazoo’s own Wenke Greenhouse.
Burpee’s Fall Garden choices. Nicely done catalog with good information on what grows where.
I enjoy following Stoney Acres farm, and this just a taste of the plethora of excellent content on fall gardening. I’m in USDA Zone 6A. It’s important to figure out what zone you’re in so you’re not dooming yourself to failure!
An EXCELLENT article from my go-to resource when I have garden questions, Michigan State University Extension! They have helped me figure so much out in my time as a home gardener – they are an invaluable resource. I’ve relied on their garden calendar for years.
See if you’re inspired to try that fall crop life! I’m happy to answer any questions, though I’m no expert. That said, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years here at the Not So Seekrit Lair, and I’ve learned a lot. I love to see people grow their own, so go to it, my friends!