Around southwest Indiana this time of year I see a lot of gardens that have mostly been abandoned. The tomatoes have been picked, the squash is done and most of the plants are diseased and dying so why bother? There’s more than one reason to invest some late season work in the garden. There’s still a lot of production to be had from plants already established and it’s well worth doing to continue to get fresh vegetables.
Some varieties of tomatoes will finish up early and some will continue bearing until frost. The Supersonic tomatoes have usually been reliable bearers for me until frost, as many of the modern hybrids are. The Silver Queen okra hit its stride about the end of August and has been producing heavily, although the recent cool spell slowed it down.
The Genovese summer squash plant has produced only about a squash a week this year. Most of the summer it lived in the shade of a very large Honey Bear acorn squash and was kept in check. That was fine with me. I like small doses of summer squash but do not want great quantities of it, and there are other vegetables I prefer. Now that the acorn squash has been removed I redirected the summer squash, just lifted it and pointed the stem back into the bed. Now that it has the sunlight all to itself it has put on a growth spurt. Since the other vegetables are winding down a few more summer squash each week will fill the gaps.
The butternut and Teksukabotu squash were harvested this week. They were grown in a new bed in the barrens near the pond – ground that had been scraped clean of topsoil to build the pond. The bed was a terrace, two 2x4’s set against stakes with some soil piled up on the high side.
The plants grew well in early summer then stopped growing. They produced a few squash but it looks like I’ll have to improve the soil if I want a better harvest next year. The butternuts were small. I’ll let them cure in the sun for a few more weeks. Not much for eight plants but they are a bonus, coming from space that was not used previously. I'm anxious to try the Teksukabotu squash.
The beans have really slowed down with the cool weather. About one month ago I planted three rows of Tendergreen beans, the last patch of bush beans for the year. Lately the Mexican bean beetles have been shredding the leaves, the first time I’ve seen the beetles this year. I sprayed them with pyrethrins a few days ago. The beetles came back and I had to make a decision. I could let the beans grow in the hopes of getting a few more beans, knowing that I could not spray them once they set beans. If they grow they will be incubators for next years bean beetles. I decided to remove them. The few beans that would come from that patch aren’t worth it when weighed against the potential insect problems next year.
I remove any plant that is finished and compost it. There’s no point in letting a spent plant remain in the garden and serve as a host for they myriad fungal diseases that take over this time of year. I used to pull up the plant, but now I cut them off at the soil line. Let the roots decompose in the soil where they will add organic matter.
Here’s the harvest for the week. First beans, okra and squash. I wanted some brussells sprouts and picked a few from the base of the plants.
Later in the week some Scarlet Nantes carrots (the carrot on the left is a New Kuroda) were pulled. The long red pepper is a bullhorn, the blocky lobed pepper is Cabernet, and the small heart-shaped pepper Lipstick. They are all very good. The ancho peppers had been sun-drying for two days.
The Honey Bear acorn squash that were picked last week were entered into the tally. Not a bad yield from one plant – nearly 10 pounds.
For the week: okra 22 oz, summer squash 2 lb, brussells sprouts 12 oz, snap beans 13 oz, eggplant 5 oz, carrots 2 lb 4 oz, tomato 10 oz, peppers 1 lb, acorn squash 9 lb 10 oz. Total for the week 18.8 pounds, for the year 235 lbs.