Friday, August 31, 2012

End of Summer Doesn't Mean End of the Growing Season - Yet

August 31st, the end of summer, not officially of course.  That doesn't happen until September 22nd 10:48am to be precise, autumn officially starting a minute later.  Some kids in our area have already started back to school; my son started his freshman classes at Ithaca College and my daughter starts her Junior year of high school next week. The last days of summer come far too rapidly for most of us.
The garden has been producing delicious lemon boys, succulent supper 100s and other gorgeous and scrumptious heirlooms for months now.  We have canned various sauces, frozen a few and instantly enjoyed many others. The eggplants keep coming in; they did very well this season in the two containers we grew them in.
The cucumbers have been plentiful, inspiring new ways to enjoy them. Mark made a delicious cold cucumber soup for me last week since I had had one earlier in the summer and had raved about it.  The kids love the cucumbers and will eat them sliced up anytime I put one down in front of them. The leaves on our vines got dried up and yellow though -- thankfully after the family had been over for a family luncheon to send my son off to college -- I trimmed back the leaves and dead stuff and discovered we have at least another 10 cucumbers growing healthily on the vine.  I am amazed at how plentiful the cucumbers have been, so far this season we already have taken in from the garden close to 30 cukes and as I stated there at least another 10 out there still growing!

The beans continue to come in as well, next year I want to plant more of those since the kids devour them.  The also loved the snap peas which I also would like to plant more of those as well.  Those were so good they hardly ever made it the 65 steps back into the kitchen from the garden being enjoyed immediately by who ever was around.
The cooler temperatures of September will bring new crops which I recently planted from seed -- lettuce. About a week ago I planted a few containers with a variety of lettuce seed. Winter Density lettuce and Red Sails lettuce are two varieties of Lactuca sativa which should compliment each other not only in the containers but in the salad bowl as well.  Winter Density is a mix between romaine and a butterhead lettuce; whereas Red Sails is a red- bronze tipped leafy green with a buttery flavor. Yum!  Too bad I have to wait a little while longer.
Gardening vegetables teaches you patience, particularly when starting from seed. But the rewards you get are many and in the grand scheme of things you don't have to wait too long to enjoy your harvests.  We forget in these days of instant gratification and high speed this, that and the other thing that you should slow down now and again and stop and smell the flowers. In this case the beautiful flowers which eventually become tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants etc...
Taking care of the garden this summer, we shared the experience with the kids and theri friends. They watched us as we built and planted the garden and became active recipients of many of our homegrown harvests as we headed back to the kitchen.  Initially they were casual observers, but as the fruits came in their interests increased. Not surprising since we are talking about a bunch of teenagers. They enjoyed the beans and snap peas - some had their first bites into cherry tomatoes. They munch on banana peppers and of course the cukes!
I hope they got a taste of how rewarding having a vegetable garden can be and hopefully will one day remember their time sitting in our yard enjoying the fresh produce and try to do it themselves.  As the dog days of summer end, I look forward to the fall harvests and the beautiful autumn colors.