Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gardeners' Holidays 2016: Harvest Home

According to my calendar, the autumnal equinox was on Thursday. But when I stepped out for my walk that day, it sure didn't feel much like autumn. The sun was blazing down, and the heat index was over 90. It was definitely still shorts-and-sandals weather. Even yesterday, when I went to the farmers' market and saw all the beautiful apples and gourds on display, they looked out of place, like they'd showed up while summer was still in full swing.

But today, at least, it actually feels like fall. It's partly cloudy and a pleasant 72 degrees. The trees are starting to show their fall colors, patches of yellow and red blazing out amidst the green. There are acorns scattered around the feet of the oaks and round, ripening hips on the rosebush. It looks like this long, hot, brutal summer has finally come to a close.

And in the garden, we're already beginning to harvest fall produce. The tomatoes aren't producing as prolifically as they normally do in September, but we're still getting plenty of Sun Golds and a few small Black Princes and Amish Pastes. We've also gathered a handful of lima beans so far, and today, Brian went out and picked two good-sized butternut squash: a Waltham weighing at least a couple of pounds, and a Ponca Baby that's just slightly smaller. And while he was at it, he decided to gather some rhubarb, just to make sure we'll have enough for a pie this Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, we won't get a chance to do anything with all these lovely veggies tonight, because we're going out to a game party and won't be home for supper. But fortunately, the cooler weather is expected to continue throughout the week, so we should be able to fire up the oven for some of those nice, hearty meals it's too hot to make in the summertime. Perhaps we can roast up some of those tomatoes for a Roasted Tomato Fettucine and turn one of those squash into a souffle, or even my favorite Butternut Squash Lasagna.

One crop that's a bit late this year is our fall planting of lettuce. We were supposed to plant it in mid-August, but we forgot about it until the beginning of September—which may have been just as well, considering how unseasonably warm it's been until now. So we put in half the winter lettuce on September 5, and a second planting just went in today. The first batch is already starting to come up, so we'll be able to enjoy some fall salads—and the second batch, we're hoping, will overwinter right in the bed, just as it did last year, to provide us with greens when spring comes around. Because, hard as it is to believe right now, there will come a time when we're just as sick of cold weather as we are of hot weather right now, and those green leaves peeping out from under the melting snow will be a welcome sight.
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