Friday, September 6, 2013

Winding down

At this time of the year many of the vegetable plants are past their peak production, while others are finished.  Many growers plant a fall garden.  I don't because it won't grow.  The grove of trees to the south of the garden comes into play in autumn as the sun descends lower in the sky and by late September the hours of available sunlight are not enough to sustain growth.  The plants just stop growing and go dormant.  The only fall-planted vegetable that I've had any success with is Chinese cabbage and I don't like it that much. 

I will seed some spinach in a few weeks for overwintering, the same for garlic.  And I planted one last patch of Tendergreen beans about three weeks ago, which should give me a few more beans, not that I need any more.

One vegetable that still has not peaked is the Silver Queen okra.  This is an old variety with huge leaves that has produced slowly most of the summer.  Now it has really turned its energy into making pods instead of adding more foliage.

I like this okra, it has great flavor and the walls of the pods are very thick.  It also makes a great okra pickle.  The two plants are small trees at this point, each over six feet tall.

In contrast the Millionaire okra that were planted in self-watering containers are nearly spent, having lost nearly all of their leaves.  It's amazing that they kept making pods even though they had only a few leaves left.  While the Silver Queen okra was producing little last summer the Millionaire okra was making lots of pods during July and August.  It looks like they are done now. 

The Honey Bear acorn squash plant was a large vigorous plant this year.  It's been in decline for several weeks and it seemed it was time to pull it up and dry the squash.

I put the squash on a drying screen in one of the vacant beds.  Many of the squash are just single serving size, but there are quite a few of them.  I'll let them cure for a few days before bringing them inside.  The squash are upside down with the stems poking through the screen. 

All winter squash should be harvested when they are fully mature so they have sufficient dry matter content.  This article from Johnny's,  Eating quality in winter squashes provides good explanations of how to handle the different species of winter squash.  This chart shows how long to cure and store the different species for the best flavor.  

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