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End of the summer garden

2 October 2012

October is here, and that means most the plants in the summer garden will start dying from cold and lack of light.  Overall, I’ve been pleased.  I was certainly able to cram a lot of plants in a compact space using John Jeavons’s Grow Biointensive method.  I’ll definitely be doing this again next year, though I’ve learned a few things.

I didn’t get a single ripe tomato this year.  All the tomatoes just turned to mush once they got to full size.  It doesn’t seem like quite the same thing as end blossom rot, but I’m not sure.  It might be a mineral deficiency.  I also had the tomato plants too close to each other.  I’ll spread them out next year.

The Cuban oregano was the star of my garden this year.  It’s such a potent herb and it thrived in heavy rain, drought, and heat, though it doesn’t care for the cold.  It grew around other plants, over the fence, in the shade, and in the sun.  It’s a great way to add a savory flavor to a dish, and I’m always looking for ways to add savory flavors without meat or animal stock.

A purple hulled pea plant grew out of the compost pile after my dad and I bought and hulled some for dinner one night.  I was going to transplant it but my neighbor warned me not to, so I’ve tended it where it is.  I’ve harvested a few dozen pea pods from it over its lifetime, though certainly not a large amount, as it’s just a single plant.  I did notice something unusual, however.  The invasive fire ants absolutely love this plant.  They crawl up onto the “joints” where the pea pod meets the stem of the plant, bite into it without harming the plant, and suck on the sap that comes out.  They’ll just sit there on the stems of the plant all day long, which is abnormal for fire ants.  This also makes them very docile, and I’m able to handle the ants without them swarming and trying to attack me (luckily, I am not allergic to the chemical they spray from their abdomens like most people are).  I’m really curious about this behavior.  Is it like an opiate to them?

This is a pot my dad tried to grow tomatoes in.  I warned him not to, that he should just plant them in the ground, but for some reason he was convinced they’d do better in pots.  They died almost immediately.  However, the species of oxalis (some people call it sorrel) that grows wild around here took over these pots and flourished.  The leaves on these particular plants are about twice as big as the ones that I find growing in the yard among the Bermuda wiregrass.  One of the botanists at Firefly Gathering told me this plant is edible, so I harvested a little and ate it.  It has a pleasant lemony flavor.  I might use it in salads or hummus.

More pictures of the final days of the summer garden are in today’s gallery.

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