It’s 82 degrees and I’m inventorying and evaluating the condition of my turtlenecks. Some are ratty, but keepers, some are summer sale items that still smell of store bought newness. That won’t last. Shots of red foliage, ripe acorn squash, and piles of split wood waiting to be stacked in just about everyone’s yard grabs hold and insists one look ahead. I don’t mean to get all Game of Throne-y here, but Winter Is Coming. The sun sets, slice by slice, each night further South. The rams are starting to stink of “Ram Cologne” banging and shoving each other, knowing the girls will arrive soon. The grass grows, but it’s browning out, fields left fallow bloom with milkweed, some yellow flower I don’t know the name of, and geese have arrived for a layover before continuing South. The forecast says we have more warm weather ahead, but there’s little time left to pick pears for chutney, apples for the upcoming apple press party, and to barter with my talented gardening neighbor for his giant flavorful garlic bulbs which I’ll break apart and plant in exchange for some lamb sausage, which I didn’t make, but I did, shall we say, grow the meat.
Though we are enjoying late sunshine and warmth, this was a dumb summer with little heat, plenty of rain, few reasons to dip in, or paddle on, the rivers. From the start I neglected my garden and it paid me back in kind with crummy cukes, the few tomatoes that turned red were tasteless, the eggplants were sub-par. Only the tomatillos went bananas, but since I’ve never really cooked with them, those too I’ve neglected. (But Todd did make a delicious Chicken Tinga using some in the Instant Pot a few weeks ago – have to get him to make a few more batches.)
I managed to salvage a rosemary plant, and you can’t kill my sage bush which doubles in size every year no matter how badly I ignore it. My dahlias finally turned green and grew, but produced next to no blooms. The zucchinis are another matter. I don’t eat them and yet I plant them. I took over 60 pounds to an area community kitchen and eventually ignored the obscene globs that protrude, swell, and extend across the black plastic tarp that allows me to skip weeding chores.
This week I’ll dig up the potatoes and learn if they took hold or not. So far, I’m batting .500 on the potato front – one good season, one not-so-good. But I did pick up an old potato hoe two years ago at an alpaca farm that was shutting down and learned but quick that if you do have potatoes to harvest, this tool makes the treasure hunt memorable. But who knows what lies beneath the weed choked plot I call my potato patch?
In short, I am a disappointment on the garden front. If my sister hadn’t visited at critical times on the calendar – think: planting, weeding, harvesting, canning – I really wouldn’t have much to show for the season. The good news? She returns to the farm in a few days! In the meantime, I’ve decided all the turtlenecks are keepers and my wool long underwear can wait to be sorted until the temps slip a little further. Which they will. To be sure.