September in the Garden

For weeks I’ve been resisting the inevitable, not quite ready to accept that fall was on its way and that the plants in the garden would soon start winding down. But then all of a sudden about a week ago that little switch flipped inside my brain. I’m starting to get excited about eating soup and wearing sweaters again. Friday evening I went over to the garden and I was suddenly struck by how tired everything looked. The sunflowers were about to keel over and the squash vines had nearly all withered.

A few weeks ago I discovered signs of late blight on one of my tomato plants. I cut away all of the affect foliage and gave all of the tomato plants a good pruning, and thankfully I didn’t see anymore signs of it for a while. But then on Friday I noticed that it had suddenly spread to just about every one of the plants. So I picked every last undamaged tomato, and now I’ve got about 15 pounds of green tomatoes at home! Now who’s got a good recipe for me?

I went back over to the garden early Saturday morning  feeling motivated to get started on my fall clean-up. I ripped out all of the tomato plants, except for the cherry tomatoes, which didn’t seem to be affected. These little sweet pea currant tomatoes are still going strong, and they’re the most colorful thing in the garden right now. We pulled up waist-high basil plants that had gone to seed, and most of the squash and melon vines. It felt so good to get rid of all that stuff, and the garden doesn’t look quite so sad now.

We were feeling energetic, so we decided to turn the compost and were pleasantly surprised to find a nice big pile of finished compost at the bottom of the bin. Not bad considering how little effort we put in to maintaining the pile. We shoveled most of it out and sifted it, and now I have plenty of compost to work into the beds before I plant my garlic in a few weeks.

Since the end of July I’ve been sowing various greens as the early crops have come out. So now I have plenty of kale, chard, mustard greens, lettuce, and spinach to keep us in greens well into the winter. With the help of some floating row covers and a couple of new cold frames, I’m hoping to keep most of these greens going at least until everything’s buried in snow.

I think the best things in the garden this month are the chile peppers. The tomatoes may be finished, but the chiles take a little longer to get established and in late summer they are really only just getting started. These yellow ones are called Santa Fe Grande and this variety is definitely a keeper! They start off pale yellow and then ripen to a beautiful bright pinkish-red. They are the most prolific of all the varieties I’m growing this year, and they taste good too.

I have a bit of a chile pepper mystery too. I have tow plants that were supposed to be fish peppers. The one above looks like what the fish pepper is supposed to look like, with long, thin peppers with unusual coloring. They start off green striped with yellow, and then ripen to red.

The second plant has the same variegated foliage, but it was later to begin setting fruit. When the first peppers started to appear last week, they looked completely different. These ones are tiny and purple. I haven’t been able to find anything in the seed catalogs that quite matches the description. There’s a variety called Variegata that sounds similar, but it has purple flowers and this one has white flowers. Maybe this is an accidental cross between Variegata and Fish.

21 thoughts on “September in the Garden

  1. Nice photos. I moved to PA two years ago after 30 years in north Florida. I resisted the winters here and wondered how I would ever survive. This is the first year I’m completely into the change of seasons and finally feel the rhythm of the whole thing. I too look forward to wearing sweaters, viewing the colors, eating the labors of summer, and I’m even OK with the white stuff when it inevitably falls. After all, it is those extremes that brings us the stunning spring colors and summer bounty. Thanks for post.

  2. It is that time of the year…I’m pulling and getting ready for the upcoming winter. I’m going to look into your Santa Fe pepper variety for next year.

  3. Your garden still looks great! I need to pull my basil too…my pumpkins have some sort of blight too with bugs all over them – too bad, at least I have a few that are ok. Hoping you find a good recipe for your green tomatoes (I still have a lot too)!

  4. The squash vines are gone, with the exception of the zucchini – variety ‘Black Beauty’. A++, will plant again! Turning the pile this weekend, now that all the volunteer winter squash are picked…
    It was a true Sweater Morning today, wasn’t it?

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