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We’ve reached the point where, when people ask me how the garden’s going, I say something like, “Well, the plants are winning now.” This is very meaningful to you, if you have ever weeded by hand a 70×120 foot garden. When the plants start truly winning, they also start shading out the weeds that are still there, so the weeds don’t grow as much. It’s also a deep breath of relief because, hallelujah, it’s evident that you WILL get a crop out of this!

The peppers still seem slow however. They are taking part in the drip tape experiment, and I’m just not sure what’s going on. The only thing that makes me think we might still be ok is that it always seems like peppers surprise me. Suddenly they just go nuts and you’ve got jalepenos out your ears. I’m hoping for a big surprise. Until Saturday, we were also still worried about our yukon gold potatoes. I’m not sure what their deal is… we planted them at the same time as the pontiac reds, watered them the same, but look at the difference here (pontiacs on the right, yukon on the left).

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It is obvious the golds are fairing much worse. They didn’t even flower. So Lynda and I decided to dig one of the biggest ones to see if there was anything happening under the surface. Surprise!

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So, ok, don’t judge a plant by its “over” (ground… I’m trying to be clever here…). What’s weird though is that, as you can see, all the potatoes are clustered together very close to the surface. Usually they would be more spread out and go down deeper. We’ll see how they continue to develop. Let’s continue our tour of winning plants…

Spectacular lettuces, kohlrabi, squash are out of control, tomatoes (kids in tomato jungle), baby carrots – yum!, and these are the mere beginnings of our chinese noodle green beans. I’m pretty sure they need about a 10′ trellis rather than our measly 4′ chicken wire, but I guess we’ll see what happens and make adjustments next year. I planted these thinking they would be fun. They should grow beans about 20 inches long each. So is that like 1 serving of vegetables per bean??

Friday I harvested all our garlic. I thought they would be bigger, but I’m pleased regardless because they look so beautiful! From what I’ve read, they will need to cure like this for about 2 weeks before they are ready for long term storage.

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Mentally, I wasn’t ready to plant again, but the seed garlic arrived and had to go in. Garlic needs a few weeks to get a start. Then it goes dormant over the winter and comes up in the spring! I’ve never grown it before, so, like so many other things, this will be another experiment.

I planted the garlic on Monday and today went to take a few pictures and cover the garlic. It is really cold this week, but will mellow out again next week; so I decided to cover the garlic to keep it warmer for a few days.

Good morning! Yes, that is snow on the ground.

And here’s our dead dead garden.

Today I cleaned up the carrots. I canned carrots last year and used them in stews and roasts. But the fact is, fresh garden carrots are just plain best. We didn’t have as many as last year anyway, so I got a tip from my friend Yvonne on how to keep them fresh. Cut the greens off the top, wash them well, dry them well and pack them in ziploc bags with some paper towels to soak up excess moisture. We’ll see how long they keep, but I think we’ll probably eat them all before they have a chance to go bad.

Ideally, you could set them outside for a few minutes in the hot prairie wind, but it was overcast and cold, so I used technology.

By the way, anyone who thinks a “leggy” carrot is weird has never eaten a homegrown, garden carrot — it’s very common. Warning: liberal propaganda ahead — We have been taught to believe what we find in the grocery story is normal and everything else is inferior or a malformed attempt at perfection. Boooo hegemony! Whew, glad I got that out of my system.

Ready to eat in my crisper drawer!

Like can so often happen in North Dakota, winter creeps in before its natural time. It will put the brakes on all your late spring excitement and slam you with a blizzard in the middle of May, or before you’ve even thought about what the kids will wear for Halloween, BAM, a freeze in the middle of September. This does not seem too crazy to anyone living in North Dakota. To a native Texan, it was a difficult adjustment.

The early freeze happened September 21, but was first predicted Sept 17. Monday the 17th I decided, since we had two markets that week – 18th and 22nd – we might as well just pick it all, because you definitely can’t cover as much as we still had going. I started harvesting about 10am and didn’t finish until 6pm. Jordan helped by digging all the carrots (which wouldn’t have been hurt by the freeze, but they were shouldering out of the ground and needed to be dug), picking cucumbers, pulling pimiento plants, and cutting the squash vines (for which you practically need a hand saw). Here’s the helpful hubby. Babe, you make that carrot look good!

Here’s the final visual tally of amazing delicious produce picked in one day!

Yes, I just piled the melons into the floor of my car. What about it?! And the eggplants in the first picture are stacked on top of a second bucket of bell peppers. The final shot is of a few pounds of lima beans, which deserve a post of their own, but I will let that wait for another day.

We pulled the pimiento plants because you can hang them upside down in a cool dry place, and the peppers will redden/ripen one at a time. It has been working so far! Check out these fibrous roots.

One more thing to mention!!! We walked into the garden and could not find our busy garden spider. A little looking found her on the other side of the same plant, but since she moved I was able to get a picture of all that was left of the grasshoppers she has been feasting on.

Can you see them? Apparently, the only inedible part of a grasshopper is its thigh! Funny, you’d think they would have a lot of meat in them. Pesky exoskeleton?

Now that all the markets are done for the year, I’m trying to preserve at least one thing everyday so I can get through all the stuff we have left before it gets over-ripe. Today I canned apple pie filling. Check out the new recipe I posted for when a jar doesn’t seal: What Can You Do With This Vegetable?

Last weekend was Grandma Caroline’s 95th birthday party. It was great fun to celebrate her and the long life she has used for what seems like only one purpose, to love.

There was a lot of family in town, which we happily put to work. Jenni, Josh, Bayley, Jordan and I each took a row of sweet corn and just worked our way to the end, and then we started over and over and over. Now the corn looks great!! And the popcorn is knee high by… the 18th of June!

Solveigh, Alice’s cousin, helped me plant a second set of onions and carrots. She was a pro at popping those bulbs in ­čśë

Following the weekend, we all bonded over the stomach flu. Awwww, family…

Back to work, I picked much much lettuce. We have had some fantastic salads! And the second round is popping through the ground already. It better hurry though or it will be too hot for it to do very well.

Jordan helped me put up a fence for the peas. I encouraged them to climb by tying them against the fence with old pantyhose. It is the best material to use because it is strong but it has enough give to be gentle on the plant. We’ll have some nice walls of peas pretty soon!

And Jordan caged all the tomatoes. Next year we will put up the cages when we plant them. We waited too long and had to damage some of the plants to get the cages on :(. The Dakota millets are especially bushy, so it was hard to get the cages on over them.

Otherwise, right now is just a season of weeding and tending. I won’t bore you with detailing it all and will try to just post pics when pics alone will suffice. And since we’re starting to eat from the garden, I’ll also start posting recipes and ideas to our What can you do with this vegetable? page, the first of which is there now – check it out!

Oh, and check out this wheat ready to head out!! That is when the grain comes out of the stalk. Then you just need to wait for it to dry out and it’s ready to harvest.