Looking back, this is a particular "bad" year for vegetable gardening. The cold and chilly weather lingered around until the end of June, and the cool rain started right on time, on Halloween. So that left us about 2 and 1/2 month of "normal" growing time. The thing is to counter natural unpredictability, we need to have our own strategies. We can do this by planting early maturing crops. Radishes, baby bok choys and letuce did great early part of the season. The peas came along fine, petered out around July. And, if you never planted a fall garden before, this should be the year that convinces you do.
Normally I transplant my tomatoes and peppers in Mid May, and eggplants in late May to early June. Because of the cool weather, they struggled a bit at the beginning. I got ripe tomatoes at the end of August and I count myself among the lucky ones. My "luck" came from planting the early tomato varieties. The ones I like particularly well is "Fire Ball", a medium sized tomato with low acid, and nice forms. It also fared well after the rain arrived. Another variety called "Wild Strip" also did well, it is a small variety with yellow strips on, produce massively and early. Roma did well also. I have two late season tomatoes that did well in later October, when all other tomatoes are gone. One is Yellow Cuban Grape, a tiny yellow grape tomato loaded with flavor and holds up surprisingly well in the rain (you only need one plant, it is a massive yielder). The second one that always do well in late fall is "Marrie's Wild", it is a tenacious variety that survives under negligence.
Cucumbers got a late start. The cold weather early on had a sever impact on the may planting, it did not produce like normal years. I planted another crop at the end of June, they did well and produced until October. As the cold weather moving in, and the night temperature gets down to the low 40th, I covered the cucumbers with a shower curtain. It provided just enough warmth for the cucumbers and I had cucumbers until end of October.
Speedy Silver Zucchini planted in May took off once the weather warmed up. I planted another crop early July and am still enjoying them now. Although that about to come to an end. I cover the plants at night so they will produce longer. The nice thing about fall gardening is the zucchinis don't go crazy on you if you leave them there for a few days.
Corns, beans did well for the season, besides being a little late. Della Fave broad beans are gaining more popularity, they are big and ugly, but ooooh soooo good! They produce extremely early as well, and is a heavy producer. Now it is late October, I am letting the beans mature on the vine, and use the fresh beans inside. I boil the beans in a pot of salted water with some fennel seeds for about 15 minutes, delicious!
Broccoli, namely "Green Comet" did extremely well. I bought the plants from Portland Nursery and transplanted them in the garden in May, and they produced all year around until early October. The bad news is, I couldn't find seed source for this variety. I am saving some seeds from the plant, and will try to grow from the seeds I saved this year.
The gardening season is officially ended. I cleaned out the tomato vines, removed all eggplants and peppers from the plants. I canned tomato sauce, salsa, made salsa verde with all the green tomatoes, pickled beets, made zucchini relish. Froze the beans and corns. Made two batches of caponata (see my caponata post), and froze them in the food saver's hand held ziploc bags...
I am glad I put my winter garden in, it is going strong. Got a nice bed of carrots, beets and Swiss chard, they were planted on July 19th.
Flowers in the garden: This year I planted nasturtiums and sunflowers, they provided nice attractions to the garden, bringing bees and other pollinators to the garden. And the chickens loved the sunflowers heads...
Now is the time to go plant garlic, well I better get to it, I hope you do too!