Garden Harvest NE Ohio – September
Our Garden Harvest in NE Ohio in September is more like an August harvest in previous years. The above photo was taken on September 11th when we harvested a variety of produce from the garden. This post covers the varieties we like best that produce well in our semi shade garden and what varieties didn’t do so well. The light green peppers are Gypsies and the dark green pepper is a Block Chocolate that was small and misshapen so I removed it in hopes of the plant producing more, which it hasn’t but I think it was planted in a too heavily shaded spot. The odd-shaped tomatoes in front are Fig and they’re not quite ripe but the plant got attacked by drought or some type of wilt, so I’ve picked them early in hopes that they’ll ripen and be flavorful anyways.
Next on September 15th, you can see the tomatoes are still producing but no more Sebring Zucchini yet. Some are forming — we’ll see if we get them before frost. We also have some Gypsy Peppers coming along that will be ready before first frost, I’m just leaving them to see if they’ll color up a bit more.
On September 21st, we’re still getting tomatoes and there many more forming on the plants so I’m hopeful we cash in on a really good harvest for freezing and drying if the frost holds off for bit longer. The yellow tomatoes are Yellow Fargo Pear, a favorite producer last year that isn’t doing as well this year. I was thrilled to get a few of these off the sad looking plants. The longer oblong tomatoes are Juliet. Love that tomato. The darker red rounds are Black Cherry which are very rich in true tomato earthiness. The other small rounds that are red are Principle Borghese, a favorite for drying.
There are several factors at work here for this crazy gardening year that we’ve had to overcome.
First, the rain – we had plenty of it, then it disappeared. We had so much rain early in the year that it was impossible to dig in the muck to plant. Anyone who planted early is probably experiencing the same as those of us who planted late. All the plants are producing at once RIGHT NOW. I planted the latest I ever have which was either the end of June or beginning of July. That I’m even getting fruit is a miracle.
The other key factor is that some of the plants didn’t make it through the bombardment of rain, or they didn’t make it through the drought, or they’re producing weird-shaped and smaller fruit. I have the weirdest looking banana peppers only about an inch to two inches long and they’re curling. My block chocolate produced one pepper and it’s not a block but more like a Cubanelle or Gypsy. I will sing the praises of Gypsy peppers, though, they’re the one pepper that produces well in a good year and still going at it consistently in a bad year in a semi-shaded garden. Love them and will plant them again next year. Pictured above are the Gypsies on the plant, not quite ready to harvest.
Last year was the season of the cucumbers for me — I couldn’t eat them fast enough. This year I barely got any and they’re all curled in shape. Both plants died within two weeks of each other so this is the last of the cucumbers from our garden. I will go back to last year’s varieties next year and order seed for them specifically to see if variety was the problem this year or if was just my late planting. Of course, it didn’t help that while cutting a cucumber off the vine, I cut half the vine off the healthiest plant too! Arrrgh — dratted bi-focals — I should really take them off when gardening.
Zucchini used to be something I could produce easily enough, but not during the last couple of years. All my Zucchini plants died from too much rain this year except one lonely plant, the yellow Sebring pictured above. It’s a gorgeous variety and produced fairly well last year too so it’s a winner as far as I’m concerned. It also has the brightest yellow skin that is so striking and glows in the garden when the sun hits it. The flavor is wonderful and tender and the texture is firm.
My Yellow Squash are flowering their little hearts out but no fruit. I finally gave in and tried to self-pollinate them with a tiny paint brush this week. I’ll let you know if they believe I’m a honey bee!
Where are all the honey bees? We always had plenty of them here until the last couple of years. I have plenty of other pollinators but no honey bees. I miss them and would jump at the chance to have a beehive here if someone else would tend them. I’m not quite brave enough to do that, even though I get up close and personal with all stingers and buzzers in the garden with my camera. Just the thought of them landing on me in volume, even with a netted suit on, gives me the willies. One or two, not a problem, but in volume, no thank you.
As for tomatoes, I have several favorites that are still producing nicely in my semi-shade vegetable garden in mid-September when temps are much cooler at night. My new favorite this year is Juliet, a nice little meaty Roma that’s great for eating per Mr. Carnivore who eats them as fast as I pick them, but I also hear they’re good for drying and roasting, neither which I’ve tried this year with them. Black Cherry tomatoes are a favorite because they have that true, rich tomato flavor. They must be picked at the exact right time or they’ll split so that takes a bit of practice but I’m hitting them perfect now. Principle Borghese is another small, meaty tomato favorite good for drying but we haven’t had as many of those this year. Yellow Fargo Pear was by far my favorite last year but this year’s plants didn’t fare as well in the rain. They’re barely hanging on with few leaves and dwarfed growth, whereas the Juliet is so beautifully rambunctious.
Your results may be completely different than mine as I face one huge gardening woe. I have mostly shade, so vegetables must grow in partial shade almost everywhere I plant them. Yes, you heard that right — vegetables CAN grown in partial shade. The production will be lower and sometimes not as tasty but you can grow them. I find that the smaller variety of tomatoes fair much better than medium or large so that’s mostly what I grow. I also recommend pots that you can move around to find the best pockets of sun. I do that every year and have particular good results with Basil if it’s planted with a tomato. The variety of tomato doesn’t matter and half the time the tomato barely produces but it keeps its buddy Basil merrily happy to perform quite well in partial shade. My best results in pots have been with the Early Girl variety of tomato or one of the Patio varieties that are made especially for pots. Early Girl will produce in semi-shade in a pot but Big Boy doesn’t do so well, which is the variety I tried this year.
So, a weird year in the garden but I’m still happy because picking food from my own garden feels like a freebie. It’s really not free because I did buy my plants this year versus growing my own from seed, a much cheaper and viable option. But I bought most of my plants from Crown Point Ecology Center, and that I feel is a gift to humanity, so it’s more like a donation than a cost in my mind. I’m hoping to grow my plants from seed next year as I now have the perfect spot that’s sunny to set up my light table for supplemental lighting. Besides the economy of growing from seed, it’s also a lot of fun. Just pouring through the catalogs on a cold, blustery day in January gets my heart racing. 🙂 Only other frenzied, obsessed gardeners will understand my giddiness for the new season, but we’re willing to welcome you into our fold anytime! We’ll even give you catalog suggestions so you can be crazy too!
I’m so ready for a new year! If you want to see what I’m planning to grow next year, follow me on Pinterest and watch my 2016 Garden Want List which will be added to as I find more to add to my plans, or figure out more places to put them!
Are you already planning your garden for next year based on this year’s results?