Fall Wrap Up

Although the temperatures are still ridiculously warm for this time of year, there’s no doubt that autumn is here and the gardening season is winding down and it’s time to look back at what worked, what didn’t, and start making plans for next year.

The tomatoes are pretty much done for the season. We’ll probably still get about 15 lbs or so off the last remaining plants and then we can clean out the raised beds. The tomatoes weren’t as good as I’d really have liked to see, but we still got more than enough to stock our shelves. There was a bit of blossom end rot at the start of the season, but we’d been doing calcium supplementation and that kept it from being a real problem.

One of two shelving units covered with canned stuff. A few of these are from last year but most were done in the last couple of weeks, plus almost as many on the other shelf. Gee, you might get the impression we like tomatoes around here…

The tomatoes all were canned in one way or another this year. We didn’t freeze any because the freezer is packed solid. We did pasta sauce, tomato soup and just plain canned tomatoes for use in things like chili. I didn’t keep track of how many pints and quarts we put up, but it was a hell of a lot. I think we used just about every jar we have. Our big canner can hold 16 pints in a batch, so it really doesn’t take long to do it. I’m writing this as I’m waiting for another batch of 14 pints to finish up.

Those dahlias I picked up for half price in June turned out way, way better than I could have hoped. Amazingly beautiful, long lasting flowers, and they’ve been in perpetual bloom since early July.

That stuff up there inside of those yellow buckets (the bottoms are cut out) is celery. The buckets protect them from critters and makes weed control easy. Works very well indeed and we’ve been growing celery like this for some time. We’ve been cutting celery off those plants since, oh, early August, I think. Cut a few stalks off and it just keeps regrowing. Incredible flavor, too. The thing with commercial celery is that it has little or no flavor. That’s not the case with the home grown stuff. The celery flavor is intense. Very intense. It kind of surprises people who’ve only ever had the commercially grown variety.

I talked before about the mild jalapeno pepper plants I planted in pots on the front porch as an experiment. That worked out beautifully as well. The two plants produced more than enough peppers to keep me satisisfied (I’m the only one who really likes jalapenos so just two plants were enough). And the flavor was very good indeed. They had the right flavor, but very little heat, just what I was looking for. The plants are pretty much done for the season, so I’ll pick the remaining peppers and the plants will go to the compost pile this weekend probably.

Two more successes were the wax beans and the bell peppers. The wax beans are in the front, the peppers behind them. We’d put in a row of green beans, but something ate all of the plants almost as soon as they sprouted, but whatever it was left the wax beans alone. The wax beans more than made up for it though. Great flavor, good texture, and ridiculously prolific. We’ve been picking beans every four or five days since early August and there’s no end in sight, they’re still in full blossom and producing beans.

The bell peppers seem to always do good in this location. We’ve been getting absolutely beautiful peppers off the plants this year. They’ve been well formed, growing to almost ridiculously large sizes, thick walls, firm texture, good flavor. A lot get eaten fresh but we’ve been dicing up and freezing some as well.

No pears this year.

Not everything was successful, though. We aren’t going to get any pears off our tree this year. The tree looks nice and healthy, but almost no fruit. The problem was the weather. When the tree was in full blossom the weather was still ridiculously cold and wet, so it didn’t get pollinated. In fact, I didn’t even start to see bees until two or three weeks after the three blossomed. Earlier in the year I counted about 20 or so pears on the entire tree. There are maybe fifteen up there now, and I saw today that something is eating them while they’re still on the tree. Birds, probably.

The other disappointment is the squash. It started out well but went nowhere fast. Only one plants looks reasonably healthy, but it’s much smaller than it should be and only has a couple of gourds on it. The other plants are much worse, with a few very undersized gourds that will probably end up in the compost. We get lots of blossoms, but very little fruit. I think this is the last year we’re going to try growing squash. It just doesn’t work out for us.

We need to start doing garden clean up much earlier than we normally wood. MrsGF is going in for knee replacement surgery in early October so we want to have everything done that we possibly can before then because after that, well, trying to get anything done outside is going to be awkward because I’m not going to want to leave her alone in the house with a bum leg while I’m out puttering in the gardens.

We’re already talking about putting in a third and maybe even a fourth raised bed for vegetables next spring. They just work amazingly well and are so much easier to take care of than a regular garden plot would be. We’ll probably keep putting veggies in the corner where the beans and peppers are, but the rest of our yard? The soil is so poor and gets so water logged in rainy conditions that it’s difficult, even impossible to grow much of anything except ornamentals.

That’s it for now. Time to pull the jars out of the canner and start cleaning things up.

Let’s see, what else? I’m putting together an evaluation of a new transceiver I just picked up a couple of weeks ago, a Yaesu FT-450D. I hear so many people complaining about how expensive amateur radio is that I wanted to do an article proving that it really isn’t anywhere near as expensive as people think it is, and the 450 is at the core of that piece.

Moving all my equipment to the new location in the basement is about half done, but is now on hold because of MrsGF’s upcoming surgery. I can’t be hiding down in the basement while she’s recovering from knee replacement, so I’m going to be leaving the big equipment up here so I have something to play with while keeping an eye on her and making sure she isn’t trying to do something she shouldn’t. I know her, and I know damn well that she’s going to try pushing things too far, too fast.

And here’s a picture of a cat. Just because.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

12 thoughts on “Fall Wrap Up”

  1. Great pictures. Nice garden you have. We skipped doing a garden this year but plan on having one next year. We just got done clearing out one of our planting beds where we had some flowers, shrubs and a young willow tree. Now that those are all transplanted, we have a nice area to start a fresh new garden in the spring.

    I don’t care so much about the production of the plants. It’s more for the enjoyment of it. But if we can get enough to do some canning, we may just try that again. Your full shelves have inspired me. Now all I need is for my wife to try a recipe for sauce that is actually pleasant to eat. 🙂

    Fall is here and I swear as soon as the calendar changed from summer to fall, the leaves and acorns went nuts. It’s crazy how much is on the ground already, even though I just cleaned it all up. Oh well. I do love the weather this time of year here in northern New England.

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    1. I love New England. My wife, son and I took the motorcycles up there, oh, must be 15 years ago. We spent three weeks just cruising up around. Went through Northern New York State, spent July 4th at Fort Ticonderoga (amazing place) then scooted through Vermont and New Hampshire and then over to Portland.

      Gardening is great fun. I’d still do it too even if we didn’t get any produce. I get as much if not more enjoyment from the ornamentals we grow. The veggies and fruit is just an added benefit.

      When it comes to canning, experiment. Everyone has their own unique tastes. Start with small batches, do something that sounds good to you. If it works, keep it. If not, try playing with the spices to get something you do like or find an entirely different recipe. That’s the great part about it, you aren’t dependent on some manufacturer to produce something you simply tolerate, you can create your own suited to your own tastes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve lived here in New Hampshire all of my life. (over 40 years now) It’s beautiful, especially in the fall. We’ve traveled to upstate New York a few times. It’s also quite nice. Actually, it’s a lot like here. I went to Fort Ticonderoga as a kid. I don’t remember it much. Maybe I’ll have to revisit it now with my kids.

        I like gardening. I like to watch things grow and enjoy fresh food we planted ourselves. Tomatoes and some nice squash are always welcome here.

        I think I just like being outdoors and working with my own two hands. I’m always changing the landscape here, never being satisfied with the layout. It can be a lot of work, but the reward outweighs all the negatives.

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  2. As a almost full time landscape gardener perhaps I don’t get as excited about gardening as I should. Thankfully my produce garden is all cleaned out and wrapped up for the season. Next year is next year. If I had more time I’d play around with produce that grows late, or early, something that can take a bit of frost and still thrive. It’s been relatively mild here in SW B.C., Canada the last few years. Climate change? I don’t know, I seem to remember other times some decades ago when it was mild winters with little or no snow and no ground frost. Love the cat picture!

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    1. I’ve always enjoyed puttering in the garden, even when I was a little kid. Well, except when the mosquitoes were bad. When I was really young, oh, couldn’t have been more than four years old, we had these monster rhubarb plants. On super hot days I’d crawl under them with a coloring book and laze the day away under the shade of the huge leaves. I still have a soft spot for rhubarb.

      Climate change has been pretty noticeable here. Oh, we still get cold snaps and the occasional massive snowstorm, but on average winters are more mild and are shorter. Studies of ice cover on lakes around here show that lakes are now ice covered an average of 16 days less than they were just a few decades ago, if I remember right.

      That’s the thing with the climate, people confuse climate with weather. Weather is what’s happening right now. Climate is what is happening on average over the long term. We’ll still get bitter cold and snow, but that is weather. The long term trends are towards shorter winters and more mild one, and more chaotic conditions powering more frequent storms and extreme weather events.

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    1. Not really. Just as things start to get back to normal we seem to get hit with another rain storm. We only had to water the gardens three or four times all season long. Just had another 2-3 inches the other day. Seems like we might be getting a drier spell now. Hope so. Soy beans aren’t ready yet but I’ve seen some farmers out chopping corn for silage and the higher ground at least looks pretty good.

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  3. Wow That is a whole lot of work you guys put in to can that much. I love tomatoes but I’m not sure I can face that level of commitment. 😜 Your gardens look great. It’s too bad you have to tear them down a few weeks early. But for a good cause at least. I hope Mrs. G’s recovery is quick and seamless.
    I’m in deep planning mode for next spring. I have narrowed down my tomato plant varieties to 4, but I only have room for two plants, so decisions must be made.

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    1. trying to decide what to plant is always hard, even here where we have some room. There are always trade offs, it seems. I always felt that any plants are better than no plants (which is probably why the south window in the living room is starting to look like a jungle).

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  4. I admire your resourcefulness! I do some home canning but nowhere near the scale you are at. I would like to do more but I work full time and have a lot of outside demands on my personal time. It seems every weekend it’s something.

    You are right that amateur radio does not have to cost a lot of money. A lot of it has to do with perception. I have an acquaintance who thinks I’m goofy for spending $200 on a handheld radio. This is the same guy who spent $25,000 on a fishing boat that he uses only a few weeks a year.

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    1. When my wife and I were both working, trying to do canning was difficult. We did manage, somehow, but wow, it was hard trying to get everything done! Doing a batch of tomato soup takes, oh, must be at least three to four hours total, including canning time.

      You’re very right about the cost factor. That 450D I picked up, I’ve seen that for around $400 used, new for around $750, which isn’t bad at all for a transceiver that good. Just add an antenna and it’s on the air. And it’s one heck of a nice radio for the money, too. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles something like my 990 has, but heck, almost no one needs all that anyway. I certainly don’t. I’m embarrassed to admit it but there are still functions on the 990 that I haven’t used. That little 450 does everything I need it to do, and more.

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