Gardening When You Can

Our gardening experience this year has been different. Not a total failure, just different. It started out like it usually does in the spring, in bits and spurts around my work schedule at school. Then Frank started having serious trouble with his back. School was almost out, so work continued around his medical needs and the garden was last in place. We still got it planted and many things came up, but then they were pretty much on their own. I did get some squash and squash relish canned but that was about it. After that, I picked and cooked what I could, but haven’t canned anything since spring, that in itself is strange. We have frozen many tomatoes and a few peppers for later use, and hopefully canning. For now, here is a tour of the garden, which in spite of me, is still producing.

The green beans are worse for the wear, between the grass, weeds and grasshoppers.


The Cushaw squash is growing and starting to put on quite a few squash. There is this one big one and many small ones. I have been checking for, and squishing squash bugs morning and evening on the way to the barn to milk the goats. Powdery mildew has begun to grow on some of the leaves. Most of these I have cut off to try to prevent spreading. One organic remedy I have read about is mixing one part milk to 9 parts water and spraying the stems and leaves. I haven’t tried it, but it sounds like an easy solution if we need one.

The turnips are up and doing well. I have thinned a few plants in places and fed them to the chickens. As the plants get bigger we will be enjoying turnip greens as well as continuing to feed them to the chickens and goats. This is one of our experimental livestock feeds. We hope to be able to supplement the animals feed with turnips and cut down on the grain we buy.

The kale is doing okay. It hasn’t really taken off yet, but it has a decent start. I don’t think it likes the hot weather we have been having, but that should change before long.

The carrots and broccoli are just barely peaking out. The challenge will be to keep track of them among the weeds that are growing faster than they are. Here is where they are growing, and I have to be very careful even walking out here, let alone trying to weed without getting the vegetables. The carrots are another crop we hope to use for supplemental livestock feed. They will be left in the ground until we need to till the garden again. It will be another experiment of how to store some feed sources in the winter.

There are a few Mangel beets coming up here and there, but not in any abundance. The extra patch of beets we planted down by the okra appears to be a tasty snack for someone. Our experiment of making sugar from beets will probably have to wait another year. We’ll see how big these get before winter gets them.


Our fall potato crop is almost non existent. Out of the two rows we planted, only these two plants have emerged. I dug around in one of the rows and found the potato we planted and it has just begun to grow. I don’t know if the hot weather is holding them back, or if growing a fall crop just won’t work in this area. The interesting thing is that some of the potatoes we missed when harvesting the spring crop have come up here and there down by the Cushaw squash, so either way, we hope to have enough fall potatoes to use for seed next spring.

The purple hull peas are still there, it’s just that the crab grass has taken on the roll of camouflaging them. That’s a nice way of saying the grass has just about taken over the pea patch. Interestingly enough, more peas are coming up next door in the potato patch and other areas we tilled for the fall garden. I don’t know if they will have time to produce before frost, but they might.


I have tried something different with my okra harvest this year. As I picked the pods, I trimmed off some of the leaves that stick out into the isle I was working from. This way I can see better to pick and I am not getting itchy from constantly brushing up against the leaves. I got this idea last year from CQ at Hickory Holler. It works great.

Another thing I did a few weeks ago was cut the top off of the plants that were too tall to reach.

 This prompted the plants to sprout out from the bottom forming new ‘branches’ or suckers. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but now as the branches get big enough, I am cutting off the top part of the plant altogether to concentrate the energy into the new branches. I have already started harvesting okra on these ‘new’ suckers.

I continue to be surprised at how many tomatoes we are still harvesting. I have lost count of how many gallons we have in the freezer, at least 15, that we plan to can plain and make into salsa later on.

It has been a very wet year compared to most. We have only had to water a handful of times. In years past, we had to water regularly from the beginning of July, so that has been very nice. We have had a cooler summer, like everyone, but still days with the heat index at or a little over the 100 degree range. Overall, the garden has been very happy among the weeds and grass. It’s nice to know that during years like this, with surgeries and accidents, there is still food to be had from a forgiving garden. I hope the first frost of winter holds off until October 31st or after, which is our first average frost date. But many are talking about an early, long, very cold winter. Even so, we will manage. Hope your pickings are plentiful and your shelves are full.

Until next time – Fern

15 thoughts on “Gardening When You Can

  1. Others, for various reasons, have had to neglect their gardens this year and have had banner crops. So, is this what we should do every year? Just food for thought. Sorry about your mom. Life has it's priorities.Frank

  2. I've had the same kind of summer you have. My 90 year old mother fell in June so the whole summer has been a blur of care for her and the drive 2 hours away each week. However, despite the neglect, I have had a spectacular garden! It is badly in need of weeding but the tomatoes have out-done themselves, ground cherries, broccoli, onions, beets, carrots….so many things have just had banner years and have weathered my neglect. I echo another comment about God's goodness! He provides!!

  3. I sometimes find the resilience of our garden plants to be amazing. A lot of them are able to withstand the encroachment of weeds and grass, not all, but a lot of them. And so the harvest goes on..Thank you for sharing, Just Me.

  4. My husband and I just harvested October beans from the grass. We usually let them dry on the vine then pull. We run the risk of having bugs, but in past years it has worked well. We also have three rows we planted late, we will harvest these as fresh, if the frost doesn't get them. We just planted collards, garlic, beets and our late tomatoes are doing great! God is so good!Kelly in K'ville, NC

  5. Isn't it wonderful how the man upstairs takes care of us in our times of need? Even though you were having a time of it he still was watching the garden and making it grow. Love the tour….

  6. I am sorry to hear about your water situation, Vickie. That has to be a difficult situation. It sounds like you have been busy canning, in spite of it all. Good for you. Fish was the first thing we ever canned when we lived in Alaska. It was a great learning experience. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  7. I missed having a real garden this year. I have a few tomatoes in pots and a few in a raised bed, but other than some basil and our trees, my gardening has been pretty limited this year. Which is probably best at this point because we live in California and we are enduring water rationing right now. We can only water our lawns and/or gardens twice a week on specified days. The trees don't mind, but if I had a real garden in, with our heat (it's supposed to get to 101 today) we would need to be watering at least every other day. Despite that, I have been doing a bit of canning from foraged blackberries and gooseberries, along with learning how to can fish, beef, chicken and pork with my new pressure canner. Here's to a bigger and better garden next year!

  8. I loved your garden tour. We have had some issues with things getting away on us too. Ralph's night shift work in combination with rain late in the season has had the garden kind of turn into a jungle. It is like a Safari when we go out to pick. Isn't gardening a marvel? Always varied and it seems always producing the unexpected. I have had a good year with canning, dehydrating and freezing. God bless you both!

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