Fall Planning amidst Summer's Plenty

It’s a dark and stormy…morning, and I was propelled out of bed at 6:30 or so by the sound of thunder and the realization that I’d left the truck windows open.

We did need the rain after several scorching days and missed moisture opportunities that passed over and along to the east, but like my friend Maria commented on FB this morning–we are at once celebrating the gentle soaking and thinking about the wheat growers with their harvests in progress.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours out on the farm mowing inside the electric fencing perimeter and around the north central garden as well (which lies outside that border).  It’s looking, well–almost civilized out there.

Mowing the garden's greenspace

It was warm work, but once the sun came out, I was able to remove my headnet and see things a little more clearly than I have in a couple of weeks–without the veil of green mesh protecting my face and neck from the bloodsuckers.  I even wore shorts!

H was out doing a bit of tilling as well–prepping for the fall garden.  I’ll likely spend some of this Monday morning going through the seed stash and composting pretty much anything that isn’t from this year or last–the dampness of the basement has really affected the seed I’ve got stored there, and it’s time for an old seed purge.

Going through the seed will also help me determine what I need to order for fall, and what I need to get started right away down in the basement.  I’ve got a few red cabbages that need to go outside to harden off (to the heat instead of the cool), and then there will be space on that top light shelf for more good things.

I’ll probably start another round of kale and put this batch under row covers–my gorgeous spring planting has had its beauty much reduced by the imported cabbage loopers and my inability to keep the diatomaceous earth dust on the plants longer than a day or two during the June monsoon.

Thinking about fall plantings and the frost seems strange when the summer garden is just starting to hit its stride–look what I found yesterday!

First Sungold cherry tomatoes

These are my first ripe tomatoes of the year–except for that one Stupice fruit that ripened ahead of anything else.  Yep, Stupice–that heirloom Czech variety–wins again as the early contender.  It even beat the cherry tomatoes!

With the hot, dry days, I thought I’d at least start the process of watering everything in lieu of precipitation (this morning’s storm gets me off the hook for that onerous chore).  The cukes looked slightly piqued, so I planned on starting with them, but first I had to harvest all the shallots that were drying down next to one of the trellises–about a five-gallon bucket’s worth of copper-skinned bulbs.

After that, I dragged the hose over and started soaking those cucurbits, only to realize that in addition to watering the cukes, I’d better start PICKING them!

I guess I had checked a few days ago and saw there were fruits forming, which should have been an indicator that it was going to be time–while tomatoes will get loads of green fruit before ripening a single specimen (well, except for the aforementioned Stupice), when the cukes get going, they go for broke!

I’ve got three varieties out there–the main crop for deliveries and sales is Pinetree’s “Summer Dance,” but I’ve also got a few Mideast Prolifics from Seeds of Change and Northern Pickling from either Johnny’s or Pinetree.  The Summer Dance was new seed this year, and the germination was good, but the others–not so much.

I ended up with only one Northern Pickling vine, which isn’t going to be enough to fill my crock (as prolific as they are), but I noticed that another of our market vendors–Ruckus Ridge–did have a nice selection of picklers on their table last Thursday.  So, I may have to go that route this year.

There were five little picklers in my harvest bucket at the end of the day, and I determined that was enough to drag out, scrub down, and sterilize the six-gallon crock I bought back in May and get the fermenting process started down in the basement.

With all that garlic filling two big racks down there, plus getting more fall garden starts going on the light shelf, a corner for the vermicomposter, and a nook for the stoneware crock, where the heck am I going to put five gallons of drying-down shallots?

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