Isn't October bittersweet. On the one hand you get to reap the rewards of your summers labor by harvesting your crops. On the other hand the weather is getting cold and sometimes dreary and there is little to look forward to until March when you can put out your first seeds for next years crops. On the one hand you work your tail off trying to get everything inside before the frost and rain ruin it. On the other hand you have a few months of reprieve from the daily grueling grind of the garden. For now I'll dwell on the positive: the harvest.
Dug the potatoes this weekend. Oh, what joy does the homegrown potato bring! The plants spring up so bright green and lovely in June, they flower with delicate white and pink blooms through July and August and in September the plant slowly and gradually fades and dies. But while the bush withers something magical is happening under the ground--all the vitamins and nutrients are being pumped from the greens down into the tuber for winter storage. Let the dead plant lie for 10-15 days so the skin can "cure" and then carefully begin digging. It is so much fun and so pleasing and so exciting to see potatoes popping out of the ground by the shovel full. The red potatoes were so beautiful peeking through the soil; it was better than an easter egg hunt. Truly the most satisfying vegetable I've harvested this year. The girls and I pulled 30 lbs of potatoes out of the ground all started from just 5 lbs of seed potatoes last spring.
The girls pulled the pumpkins off the vines too. We have nine pumpkins this year three of which are still ripening on the vine because they are not fully orange yet. The picked pumpkins are setting in the sun this week while the weather holds. Next week they'll be brought inside for a grand total of 14 days of "curing" in warm conditions. This will help them develop a hard skin so they can last a month or so. I like to use my pumpkins for real pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies and yes even just plain ole pumpkin (you know like a vegetable with butter, salt and pepper!).
Tomatoes have gone a little wild this week and I started making salsa today. I got all the tomatoes chopped. Tomorrow I'll chop up the onion, cilantro, lime, etc, to finish it up. I got all the red toms off the vines but I still have a whole heckuvalotta green toms still on there. I've read that you can pull the whole bush up by the roots, hang it upside down and the toms will continue to ripen. The problem with that is finding a place for the huge tom plants to hang . . . . .
Still hangin' in there are my raspberries, strawberries and beans. They are tryin' to give me a little love before fall slips in. Got 4 raspberries 3 strawberries and 8 beans yesterday. Also, the crookneck squash that produced zilch all summer has finally given me 3 tiny squash. Very cute and delicious but still disappointing, I really wanted scads and scads.
Pears. Got my courage up over the weekend and asked a neighbor up the street if she would mind if I picked her pears (the whole tree went untouched all last fall and every last pear rotted on the tree or under it. Very sad and distressing to watch!) She claimed the pears were no good and that I could have whatever I wanted but that they were really bad pears. Should I tell her that most pears are bad straight off the tree? I doubt she knows that pears have to go into cold storage for 4-8 weeks before they're any good. I didn't say anything yet. Perhaps 2 months from now when her pears have reached perfection in my cold garage I will take her a gift of properly ripened and superbly delicious pears. Of course this may dampen her willingness to so freely part with said pears next fall. Perhaps I will keep my mouth shut.