My garden is still going crazy! I planted heirloom seeds this year instead of buying plants from the nursery like I usually did. Since we have a very short growing season here, I started them in the house before moving them to the garden in late May, when the soil reached the minimum warmth. I was very proud of how well my plants did in the house since my efforts last year were not very good. I used a different growing medium, started sooner, and kept them in the house longer this time, which helped. When they went into the soil, they looked good! Some of them became a sumptuous buffet for unidentified insects, so we didn’t have any peas and only a few green beans this year.
We had a crazy freezing spell in June and had to cover all the plants to protect them. My husband helped me with that, and the plants sailed through with flying colors. I was looking for freeze-protection fabric for the usual early fall freeze. Since it hasn’t hit yet, it is unlikely to be a hit-and-run freeze and will probably be a here-to-stay freeze, so maybe I’ll put off the freeze-protection clothes until next year.
I had a great tomato harvest last week! My freezer is full of pitted cherries, diced tomatoes, and tomatillos, so I had to get some guts and try canning. My husband brought his mother’s canner home a few months ago, and to my amazement and complete gratitude, he did almost all the work canning 11 quarts of crushed tomatoes with me last weekend. Since I’m barely tall enough to see into the tall canning pot on the stove, and he is a foot taller than me, I had to admit that he was better suited for managing the big boiling pots. He approached it like an engineering project and was fast and efficient. We are now plotting our next, more complicated canning projects. Since I know I will have his help now, I can focus more on the finished product going in the cans. The tomatillo plants have been prolific, and the grape vines are also doing well. I think that tomatillo salsa and grape jelly will be next. And I’ll can rather than freeze my next batch of tomato sauce. I’m going to have to buy more jars!
All of this is to say that our backyard garden has been generous this year, and I’m delighted to have some help with it. I often feel like gardening is like taking medicine – a necessary unpleasantness. It has taken me several years to begin enjoying it. My husband built me a second raised bed last year that is a joy to work in, and that didn’t hurt. The seeds I planted this year were heirloom varieties, and I’m a bit surprised at the difference in the plants I see. The heirloom varieties appear larger, more prolific, and hardier. I did not expect that! It is still a bit of a novelty to grow my food. For many years, we only got one or two of any vegetable at a time, so they really felt like a curiosity more than food. I found some great amendments to our poor soil, though, and they are going strong now!
We commiserated with our young peach tree this year. A poorly timed freeze meant that there were no peaches this year. I was very disappointed since the peach harvest was the highlight of my summer last year. I consoled my sweet tree this year, telling her not to be sad; it is a growth year. Next year she’ll be in even better shape to grow peaches. We’ll wait.