Don rain gear and garden

I’m a reluctant harvester, but harvest I must. After all, that’s the point of raising vegetables. The chard is getting its umpteenth cutting. We will be eating chard until the end of time. All this from a 3-foot square planted from seed. The stuff just won’t quit.

Three varieties of broccoli found a home here this season: Packman, Arcadia and a new one for me DiCiccio which won’t ever grace this garden again. It didn’t produce enough to say so and it is very finished at this very moment while the other two varieties are at least attempting to produce. The DiCiccio will be pulled out this week. The others are reduced to being gleaned but produce enough to make it worth the effort.

The garlic, Inchelium Red, is drying in the basement along with Ambition shallots. I’ve come to depend on this particular garlic because it produces under a variety of conditions and, here in Homer, we certainly do seem to have a variety of conditions. I’ll wait as long as I can to plant this fall. I don’t like the idea of planting too early and having the cloves rot (a very real possibility). Wait too long and we could have a good solid freeze and we won’t be able to get the cloves in the ground. There is a happy medium, wait for it. You could opt for a spring planting that has proven trust worthy. Start the cloves in the house in a flat about a month before you intend on planting them out. The bulbs will be somewhat smaller from a spring harvest but not enough to discourage you.

The artichokes are ready to harvest. They are early this year and I’m certainly not complaining. What a treat to feast on homegrown artichokes. They take up a considerable amount of real estate but I continue to plant two every year. Once harvested they hold in the refrigerator for about 10 days.

The fennel bulbs are equally adaptable. I have yet to “do” anything with these bulbs. I know there are oodles of recipes out there but eaten fresh from the garden is such a delight that they satisfy us as is.

We’ve made the transition to Bolero carrots on the recommendation of a friend. I’m even using pelleted seed, that certainly made life easier. These carrots are delightful freshly pulled yet are an excellent storage carrot. Best of both worlds.

There is one problem out there: I’m trying a winter squash Sunshine Hybrid for the first time. Although it is producing, the squash looks absolutely nothing like the picture. I can’t even find anything in the Park Seed catalog (where I bought it from) that looks like it. It certainly is the correct size with a mere 6-foot spread. Compared to the hog Small Sugar pumpkin, which has two gorgeous pumpkins and a few more that might make it. I’m always on the lookout for a small winter squash that won’t take up the entire garden area. Besides, I don’t have great luck with winter squash. Therein lies the beauty of a high tunnel.

The greenhouse is as happy as can be, which in turn, makes us ever so happy. The tomatoes have been magnificent this season. Although the cucumbers got off to a rough start they regrouped and we are awash in cucumbers. I have a very simple pickle recipe that I resort to if necessary, otherwise, once again, we prefer to beauty of eating fresh. Its a long winter.

The perennial beds are tattered. The wind we’ve been experiencing has taken a toll. But, if you don’t have asiatic lilies in your garden you are missing a treat. The ones here are firmly established and bloom at various times throughout the growing season. Blooming right now is “Near Black” and it has the unfortunate lot in life to belong to me. No planning, just clumped out there. Really and truly, my best intention is to spread them out come spring. Cross your fingers. They are gorgeous and deserve more. I planted them in the aftermath of the “Winter of 2012” when we were encased in ice and almost everything suffocated. Tragedy. While Homer was being “iced” I was at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, oblivious of what was happening here. While there I was drawn to the lilies and came home with way too many. When the ice melted and I was able to assess the damage, my good intentions for those bulbs also melted. I just stuck them in the ground and there they are to this day, hale and hardy. Goodness.

The Johnny-jump-ups that I seeded in the beds may be charming but too much of good thing is just that, too much. I really did try to thin them this spring but they got away from me and were just everywhere. I’ve been pulling them out this past week, making the beds look neater and, hopefully, discouraging the rampant re-seeding that is underway.

When you remove or cut back plants that are looking tattered, you improve the whole mood of the perennial beds. Everything looks neater, the plants that are still blooming have room to shine. The filipendula Kehome is on the brink of full bloom at this very moment. I love this plant. There are five of them out there because they are really easy to divide and the late season color is so very welcome. The late blooming annual godetia is keeping them company.

So, it may seem like you want an bottomless cup of tea and a stack of library books but, really, you need to keep gardening. Don your rain gear and get out there.