Saturday, October 11, 2008

Growing Challenge: Final Harvest

The first frost of the season is coming this weekend. Leaves are dying, changing color, shriveling up and falling off. The hummingbirds are all gone.


My garden is still producing!

The tomato bed looks pretty bad these days. The plants have grown up, over and out of control. Some got so heavy they snapped their stakes, most I just left the way they were and pick the tomatoes out in a vegetal game of hide-and-seek. The Caspian Pink on the end has surprised me by producing the best and largest tomatoes all season long. I'm definitely planting another next year.

I probably won't put 17 in a bed all together again, though. And I definitely won't try and stuff an additional 12 bell peppers in the same bed, either. Maybe just twelve tomato plants in a 5' x 12' bed...six on each side? Hmm....

Crashing and burning, but still makin' 'maters!

This late in the season, while my green beans and basil are just about done, the winter squash are all coming into their own.

Acorn squash.

The acorn squash had a disappointing output, but I suspect that may have had something to do with having to compete with buttercup, spaghetti and pumpkin squash all in the same bed. I probably won't do this again next year. I make no promises, though. Those acorn squash need to buck up!

The bees are still out and about, happily fertilizing everything that is still flowering, even if it's a fruitless endeavor (Hah! Gardening puns!). They worked really hard this year: let's give them all a round of applause! Yay bees!

Ever vigilant bees.

The buttercup squash went crazy at the end of the bed and threw vines up and over the edge, raced around in the grass and are looking for other yards to explore.

Buttercup squash.

There's just something so amazing about plants that go completely nuts and try to take over your yard and produce food for you at the same time. The thrill I get from watching them grow from seed is hard to explain. One small or large seed, a bit of soil, a lot of water, sun and time and in the end: food! We haven't bought any vegetables outside of garlic and onions this entire summer and it's been delicious!

Speaking of which: butternut squash, anyone?

Soup on the vine.

Considering that I had planted these a couple of weeks after everything else, the butternut squash was a resounding success. I made a butternut squash soup that was fan-TAS-tic! I'll give you the recipe on that one in a separate post.

Pumpkin with a pair of spaghetti squashes.

Considering that I'd never grown any winter squashes before the Growing Challenge, they were really easy, prolific and tasty. I'd definitely recommend adding some to your garden next year, if you like them. I've got plans for lots of different recipes for them and have been watching to see which ones Caitlin likes best. So far, she's decided to be picky and not like any of the squash. Good thing for her there are still a few green beans left!

On the other hand, the twins? They love all of the different squash I've offered them. Emma loved the soup and the spaghetti squash dinner, Logan loved the mashed buttercup and both went crazy for the crookneck and zucchini.

By the way, I found a pair that were hiding.

Monster zuke in the middle.


It was an unexpected find, too. I had thought they'd stopped producing, but perhaps they were just on a short hiatus? Now, if they can survive the next few nights outside, the temperature is supposed to bounce back up again.

Unfortunately, that didn't stop me from stripping it, almost bare on Thursday. I couldn't stand the thought of losing any of it to a sudden unpredicted frost. The weather is so funny in Colorado that even when looking at the daily predictions, you never know when it may abruptly drop even lower or shoot higher.

Hatchet picked a peck of perfect pie pumpkins.

Here's what I got for my last minute panic harvest:


That pile? That's 76.65 pounds of squash you're looking at there.

I haven't even added up the tomatoes and tomatillos yet.

Oh and don't forget the last of the peppers.

Purple Beauty.

Wow. It was a great year.

Updated to add: That was 23 lbs of tomatoes and tomatillos. Woo!


Melinda said...

"There's just something so amazing about plants that go completely nuts and try to take over your yard and produce food for you at the same time. The thrill I get from watching them grow from seed is hard to explain. One small or large seed, a bit of soil, a lot of water, sun and time and in the end: food." Indeed!! Well said.

I love your tomato/pepper jungle, and found the same things last year: planting too many tomatoes and peppers in one small spot = chaos. And my, I'm impressed at how many different winter squash varieties you planted. Wow. And how many pounds of tomatoes is that??!

Congratulations on a truly bountiful harvest!

ellen said...

Wow, I am amazed at all the wonderful goodies you got out of your yard this year. So incredible. Again, I have garden envy. Will I ever be as cool as you?

ellen said...

Hey, Hannah thinks you could survive in the 1800's. I told her all you'd need to do is learn how to can. Is that next years plan?

the sits girls said...

We're so impressed with all your growth! Seriously great looking fruit. What a reward for all your hard work!! Enjoy!

Scylla said...

Mmmm.... squash and tomatoes.
I have a warm happy place just contemplating your bounty.


Woman with a Hatchet said...

Melinda: Thanks! And it was 23lbs tomatoes. Between your challenge, my daughter's requests and my insanity, the vegetable gardening was really good this year!

Ellen: You are totally cooler than me! I've seen your quilts. Hell, I've GOT two! They're amazing. Anyone can plant a garden. You just have to be obsessive to go overboard like I do. Canning is definitely on the list for next year. This year I think I'm going to just freeze a bunch of stuff.

Sits Girls: Thanks! So far, nummy!

Misty: If you bring yourself to my place I can fill your warm and happy place with soup! Hmm...that came out a lot weirder than I'd meant it to. Oh well!

pamsvulcan said...

FYI - I just cooked some of the acorn squash you gave Matt - we already used some of the tomatilloes and of course Matt really enjoyed the tomatoes. Tasty! It was even a little sweet. Give the acorn squash another chance next year! Matt liked it so much he posted a pic at

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