On a whim, I decided to plant a few icebox watermelons. These are the type that are supposed to grow into round globes about 8-12 inches in diameter. On Tuesday, as I rushed around putting sheets over various beds in anticipation of a possible frost, I remembered to bring in the watermelons.
I wish I had put something else in the picture for perspective. The largest is just a bit bigger than a softball. Although you would think that they're not large enough to be ripe, they are. The rabbits got to two of these a few weeks ago, and after inspecting the cracked-open remains of their feast, I know that these should be ripe and ready to eat.
Would I grow them again? Maybe. We haven't tasted them yet so I don't know how good they will be - we'll have them for dessert tonight or tomorrow. They grew with no care whatsoever - I planted them and then paid no attention to them for the rest of the summer. I didn't even weed the bed they were in. The vines were short - about 2-3 feet long - so the plant didn't take up too much space. I believe these are Bush Sugar Baby from Burpee. I'm not sure, because I also planted Lantha from Veseys in another spot, and they did not grow. I'll have to check my planting plan to make sure.
The vegetable garden was filled with ghostly figures this morning . . .
The weather forcast said there was a chance of frost last night, so Spouse and I spent some quality time in the dark last night, putting up old sheets. I covered the Purple Podded Pole beans, which are still going strong, the bed of drying beans, which are about 2 weeks from harvest, and the tomatoes.
I also cut down all the basil and made pesto for the freezer. I ended up with 1.5 ice cube trays of it. You would think a garbage bag that full would have made more, but at least I have some for the winter months.
On the table, in the corner, is my box of garlic from Seed Savers. I hope to be able to plant it on Saturday. As one crop finishes, another needs to get into the ground. . . .
Okay, this is it - I'm not doing any more jamming this year!
Last night I put up 12 half-pints of plum jam. My brother- and sister-in-law have a plum tree in the backyard of their new house, and have more fruit than they know what to do with. They've estimated that they've picked 50 pounds, most of which they're going to use to make plum wine.
In the meantime, I asked for 4-5 pounds of the free bounty to make some jam. After this last batch, I've put up 60 half-pints of jams, 7 pints of pickles, and 2 pints of pickled peppers. I think that's enough for one year!
Next time: If I do plum jam again, I need to find a recipe that uses less sugar. Since I don't really like raw plums, I've never really cooked with them before. What surprised me was that when I simmered the chopped plums for 5 minutes (as directed by the recipe), they turned tangy and delicious. That's the flavor I want to preserve next time.
This is a very pretty plant. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the leaves are purple-green, the stems are purple, the unripe fruit deep purple, and the ripe fruit are cherry red. According to the description at Seeds of Change, this can be grown as a house plant.
Peruvian Purple has performed admirably this year. It has a nice upright habit, and it's the only pepper I didn't have to stake. When we were inundated with rain and my other peppers died from too much water, Peruvian Purple looked like nothing happened. The peppers are somewhat slow to ripen, however. The pictures above were taken about 1 week ago, and there were finally some red peppers.
I have yet to taste this one. I'll have to come up with something to make with these cute little red peppers this weekend.
One of my favorite beans is the Purple Podded Pole Bean. I haven't grown these for a few years because I wasn't able to find them, but this past spring I saw them in the Seed Savers catalog and had to have them.
Purple Podded Pole have very robust vines and are prolific producers. The flowers are a beautiful combination of lilac and purple, and the beans themselves are dark purple. (The flower you see in the picture on the left is not a bean flower - it's a morning glory flower that has closed up at the end of the day. Morning glories look very pretty growing with the beans.)
As you can see by the picture on the right, the beans can grow to about 9-10" long. At this length, a few of the beans have strings. However, they're not too long and really not noticeable when you're eating them. Picking the beans at about 7" long is probably ideal; however, they grow fast and one day can make all the difference.
Purple Podded Poles have a real old-fashioned home-grown bean taste. When cooked, the beans turn green. We normally eat our garden beans steamed with nothing on them, and they're great this way. You can also add a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Anything else seems sacrilegious!
These are prolific beans. At this time of year I'm generally picking about 1-2 pounds every 3-5 days. (My vines cover a trellis that's 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide.) This year I made the mistake of planting these beans under the snap peas. Because the snap pea vines were so thick, the beans didn't get enough sun to really grow well until I cut back the pea vines in early July. This meant the harvest time was probably 2-4 weeks shorter than it should have been. I won't make the same mistake next year!
As the garden season winds down, I find that I'm not motivated to post on the blog. There was a huge change in the weather patterns over Labor Day weekend, and we went from summer to fall, just like that. Even though fall is probably my favorite season, it's all come just too quickly this year.
By Monday the highs will only be in the 50's, with lows in the lower to mid-40's So, this weekend means making pesto, pulling up beans for drying, picking the remaining tomatoes and beans, and generally saying "goodbye" to the garden for this year.
One bright spot is that my garlic arrived from Seed Savers, so I'll be able to plant something tomorrow.
It's as if a switch is pulled on Labor Day. One minute it's summer, and the next it's fall. The leaves of lindens - native basswoods and others - are just starting to turn yellow and fall. The season is turning.
There's a hint of red in many of the trees and shrubs.
The wildflowers along our road are at their peak in early September.
The late summer wildflowers are blooming everywhere.
The first few weeks of September are melancholy. Summer is slipping away, and winter seems as if it's just around the corner. But after awhile, you realize that fall is one of Minnesota's finest seasons, and that you've got another few months of glorious cool weather and beautiful fall colors.