Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back into the Garden...

It was sunny and 70+ degrees today, so I decided it was probably time to hit the garden and yank out the sunflower, okra, and tomato stalks and throw them on the burn pile. I managed to get out the sunflower and tomato stalks, but couldn't budge the okra stalks (picture at left). I had forgotten how thick they get and how tightly they hold the ground, unlike the sunflower stalks, which are a bit easier to remove. My low back was already hurting a bit from lugging boxes of books around inside to put on the Ikea book shelves, so I didn't have much oomph to put into the okra. I'll have to see if I can talk hubby into digging them out for me.

A few days ago, I decided it was time to harvest the last of the green peppers, no matter how small they still were. I had diligently covered them with kitty litter buckets at night and on days when the temperatures were supposed to get near freezing, and they had been uncovered for several days where lows were in the 40s. But then, when I went to harvest them, they clearly had not survived the cold, wet weather (picture at right). The plants were shriveled and brown, and the peppers were a sickly green, wrinkly, and sporting black rotting spots. Only a week before they were green and healthy looking. [sigh] The moral of the story is, I guess, to plant green peppers much sooner in the season. I knew it was a crapshoot when I planted them, but I was hoping to get at least one pepper! At least I have several bags of diced green, yellow, red, and orange peppers I nabbed at the farmer's market over the summer.

Once I had all the sunflower and tomato stalks on the burn pile, I took one last quick survey of the garden. I need to rake the grass clippings and compost a bit more evenly over the garden (a job for another day, because the garden is still a bit muddy). It's a very different sight from the lush, green garden of summer.

But wait...are those onions?

Yes! They are! I couldn't believe my eyes. The cold and wet had taken out my precious pepper plants, but the white onions I couldn't find because of all the other encroaching plant cover were growing up through four inches of grass clippings, and looking pretty healthy at that! I wasn't sure at first whether they were onions or shallots (I never did find my shallots), so I dug a couple up. They were small white bulb onions. The outer couple of layers were slimy and clear--probably destroyed by the cold--but the rest of the bulb looked healthy. They were too small to do anything much with, so I left them to rot in the garden, to provide nutrients for the soil for next season. What amazed me is that they had about 12 inches of green on them from the top of the bulb to the tip of the green! They really wanted to get to that sunlight!

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