Thursday, September 1, 2011

beginning of the fall

today's harvest from our community garden plot
On my way home from work today, I stopped at our community garden plot (or allotment as they'd call it in the UK).  I got off the bus one stop early and walked over.  It's only two blocks from home, so it's an easy side trip.

Still I hadn't been there for over a week and I wasn't sure what I'd find.

What I did find was that everything is fruiting like crazy right now.  The hot peppers are finally bearing heavily, garden peach tomatoes are going nuts, long beans are still producing, the watermelons are coming ripe and the pumpkins (not pictured because I didn't pick any) are busting out all over.

We even got a few cucumbers, after I came up empty on the last few searches.  And one red okra pod.

The garden is showing some signs of wear.  The pumpkin vines are mildewey and dying off.  I doubt any will make it to halloween.  That's OK though.  Better to pick the pumpkins and store them before the neighborhood kids decide to smash them.  The Opalka tomatoes are withering.  Some of the fruits have blossom end rot, or are dropping off the vine.  The one I was successfully able to start indoors and transplant is almost dead from fungal blight.   I started with such high hopes for Opalka and have been horribly disappointed.

The yellow watermelon were fantastic though.  We tried them too early in August and they were underripe and sour.  Now they're delicious.  Crisper than red, and sweeter- they're the perfect summer fruit.  Shame that summer's almost over, but there's still time to enjoy them.  Today still feels like summer- 94 degrees and humid.  I'm not complaining.  Cold will be here soon enough.
butterflies in the garden

 This summer both kids took an art class that a local teacher puts on in a church basement.  "Art With Ellen" has produced some really charming and surprising results.  One was the butterflies and dragonflies I found on our garden fence one day coming home from work.  Each kid made a butterfly and a dragonfly.  Then when they got home, they decided to put them on the garden- near where we see the real butterflies.  It made my daddy heart all happy inside.

little guy is a natural risk taker

 I love that they've taken the garden and made it their own.  That there's not a distinction made between the food growing area and the play area.

Sure, I don't like it when they squash the seedlings, but both are at the age now where they can understand where to step and where not to, at least most of the time, and can tread gently enough that I don't have to worry.

little farmer girl looking for potatoes

kids in the kale and broccoli.  they even love eating the stuff.

Of course, the plants are so big this time of year, that there's no chance they would trample them anyway. 

They both really enjoy digging and beg me to get shovels out of the garage.  Here my daughter is looking for potatoes.  We had a couple of volunteers pop up from the remnants of last year's potatoes.  They've already been dug, but I didn't want to ruin the fun for her.

The kale and broccoli are tall enough to be a little forest hiding place for them.  My daughter was picking the broccoli leaves and feeding them to me in the garden.  When I hesitated, she told me  "eat it Daddy, it's really good for you".  So I did, and she was right- it was good for me.

September is the best month of the year for all of these reasons.  It's my birth month too- so I admit that I'm biased.  But it seems that all the best things come in September.  The harvest, the best weather, the state fair, leaves changing colors.  How could I not like this month?  The beginning of the fall is the best time of all.  Maybe not so much for empires, but for gardens, definitely.

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