The Last of Summer’s Bounty

996865_10153082642595013_287191354_nThere is a cool mist in the air this morning as there has been all week. It’s still warm outside, but hardly like it was in the midst of the prolific heat we had this summer. I am looking forward to cooler temperatures and light showers that come with early fall. Four weeks ago, I was dreading the end of the summer, but the change in weather has brought about a change of heart.

Our garden is still producing well. Several zucchini and cucumbers still cling to the vines, although these will be the last. The kale and chard have been chewed on, so we continue to harvest the tender new leaves. Our spring rapini (a mildly bitter green) reseeded itself, and is now sending up a whole bed of tender greens. We are harvesting some now to thin it out, but will also allow it continue to growing to have larger stalks to harvest. We  let the radishes go to seed, and I am curious to see if we get a fall radish crop!

Our beans have slowed but are still producing, although we will leave some pods on the vine now to continue growing. Once the pods have reached maturity and start to brown on the vine, they are ready to harvest in order to have beans to plant for next year’s growing season. In a few weeks we will pick the pods, and dry them out in a dark, dry spot until next spring.

Our tomatoes are at their peak production. It is time to break off any new stems and fruit, knowing that they will not be ready before the frost, and so that the plant puts its last efforts into the fruit that is already set. Our kids seem to have found their appetites for tomatoes this summer, and so we are eating almost all of them as they ripen. I am still putting some away for a rainy fall day though. I core and freeze them at the peak of ripeness, to be made into a giant pot of tomato sauce along with the garlic which is curing in the garage.

In the next few days, all of our basil will have to be picked, and I will make a large batch of pesto. I freeze single portions in reseal-able bags to use throughout the fall and winter in various sauces and pasta dishes. Later today we will also harvest our red potatoes. Once dry, we store them in single layers in cardboard boxes with holes cut in the boxes for airflow. They will keep in a cool, dark place throughout the winter. We will also save a few to be planted in the spring.

Now we look ahead to our fall crops: The winter squash look bigger every time I check on them. Our apples are turning from a bright green to a rosy pink, and will deepen to a ruby red once ripe. Although, the kids have already sampled a few, “just in case” they are already ready! The beets are still in the ground, continuing to grow and sweeten. And our kale will now flourish again once the cabbage worms have had their fill and cease to devour the leaves.

Now that summer is almost over, I don’t feel sad to say farewell. It was been an incredibly busy two months. I welcome the routine of fall: school, activities, volunteering, work, and the garden. We are taken off the high heat, and our rolling boil settles back into the gentle simmer of calm, consistent work. While we have enjoyed this summer season and its abundance, we can now look ahead to the joys of what autumn will bring.

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