After the Harvest – An Update on the Potager plus what to do with a twelve pack of snakes.
I had high hopes for The Potager back in June, but there may have been a reason my dad planted his garden in the corn field where it could sprawl among the rows of corn. Sprawl is the key word here. My potager was a testament to good soil, it was so prolific, but then it was a hot humid summer with lots of rain, ideal conditions for a rain forest.
It rained every weekend, and during the week, every few days in fact. This made the mosquitoes plentiful, and some new species of tiny black bug called no-see-ums appeared and left bites which itched for days. I had never seen a no-see-um before, but they left a lasting legacy of scratch marks. I gave up and refused to go out. Luckily, I did not have to water as Mother Nature did it for me, even as she left us bereft of any beach days.
The romaine lettuce was bountiful, and after the first crop, I replanted and it was bountiful too.
Three cucumbers sprouted from the small-garden plant, just the right amount for a Greek salad, with some tomatoes if only I could find them, and when I did find them, many had split from too much rain.
The tomatoes threatened to strangle everything so in early August I gave it a haircut. By mid-Sept it had grown back, requiring a regular trim every 4 to 6 weeks.
I untangled the sole squash, mistakenly uprooting it’s lifeline, and leaving the fruit to wither on the vine. Not deterred, it re-blossomed, producing a final harvest of five smallish orbs.
I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the multi-colored carrots, and so were the bunnies. We were both disappointed.
While the tops were luxurious, the carrots were sparse, spindly and white, (and maybe useful for the Simply White Dinner). They say you reap what you sow, except I planted three seed potatoes, and got two.
In mid-October (no frost yet, leaves barely changing), I dug up the rest of the russet gems. Not bad for a first crop, but hardly enough to get me through the winter like my Irish ancestors.
Luckily the orange carrots were plentiful, if somewhat deformed from being crammed into too small a space. The bunnies were delighted, as God is my witness, they would never go hungry again. (Scarlet O’Hara – Gone with the Wind). Due to the intricate web of netting I set up, the birds didn’t get as many of the strawberries, but then neither did I – it was too much of a hassle to open and re-close all those wires to pick one or two berries. While reading about another bloggers garden adventures, she recommended rubber snakes be set among the strawberry plants and moved every few days in order to fool the birds. Thank god she told me Walmart sells them online, because I don’t know where you would buy a twelve pack of snakes, and also thank god, those birds aren’t too bright. I’ll keep that in mind for next year, or maybe I’ll just freeze some of the carrots. I also wish I had put spacing and gravel around my boxes like Empty Nest Adventures did, for easier access.
After the Harvest is a time to reflect on lessons learned….next year plant less, no matter how much you may anticipate the early specimens being carried off by nighttime woodland creatures.
Plant one of everything, one squash, one cucumber, if it’s something you don’t want to breed like rabbits or possibly two like Noah and the Ark, two tomatoes, two potatoes, but no zucchini – ever.
Or just buy more boxes……the New England Arbor charity sale is coming up…..
PS. There is nothing so wonderful as a golden field of wheat being harvested, or so awful as After the Harvest when you would have to bale all that straw into small bales, with a baler which was forever breaking down, and then load them into the hayloft, a process which was hot and dusty and took hours. Now every time I pass a field with those really big bales that are scooped up by a front end loader, I wonder, why didn’t someone think of that sooner?
Song of the Day: Harvest Moon – Neil Young