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Winding Down…Or Up…

Five years gardening here now and I still am never entirely clear about fall in North Carolina. In a normal climate, we’d be revving up for harvest, bringing in the sheaves, all that good stuff. (It is, in fact, the Harvest Moon next week.) The heat is oppressive, though, and under normal circumstances, we’d have another few weeks of summer before fall came along.

We are not under normal circumstances. This is the weirdest damn year most of the locals can remember.

I do feel better for having gone to the farmer’s market and talked to my local farmers. What’s happened in my garden is dead normal. Everybody’s tomatoes were meh, everybody’s cherry tomatoes went nuts and then petered out fast, everybody’s squash got the blight and fell over and died. Most people don’t even have as good a tomatillo crop as I do, and tomatillos are so rugged that they would probably grow on the surface of Mars.

It’s still kind of depressing to be under the harvest moon and have maybe a handful of grape tomatoes, a load of basil, and a bunch of beans.

The leaves are starting to turn, but that could be drought. From tropical rains, we’ve got to “normal” summer weather—humid without rain. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except that it was too wet early on and all the plants got shallow rooted and huge and now they can’t really cope.

There are little green acorns pattering down everywhere.

It was, despite the vegetable garden, a fabulously productive year in the garden. There are woolly-bear caterpillars on the weeds (there are still a lot of weeds, despite intense efforts in recent hours) and Fledgling Count 2013 hit a whopping 14 birds. At least one spicebush swallowtail survived to adulthood, and our tiger swallowtail count was off the charts. My new groundcover of choice, Hypericum buckleyii “Appalachian Sun” is kicking butt and taking names in the backyard. So I shouldn’t complain too much.

Theoretically we’re moving into fall planting season…probably…but I’ll be honest, I don’t have the faintest idea what’s going on with the weather, so I’m a bit leery of plunking down more perennials. Perhaps I will simply let the season wind down with little gardener supervision, and hope that next year is a little less peculiar.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

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Edible and really hard to kill, that's what I would be planting, if I still had a garden. Suspect the future holds a great deal more meteorological peculiarity.
Speaking of hard to kill, it's not the season for it, but have you tried the viney New Zealand."spinach"? Kind of nice, very heat-tolerant.

I've tried it, but we never really got around to cooking it. It grew like gangbusters, but apparently overseeds like the devil in my climate, so I didn't plant any more, since we weren't actually eating it!

Edible and really hard to kill

Kudzu?

My garden was a disaster. The only thing that thrived was the kudzu. It took back over the area that I'd managed to clear. Oh, and milkweed. Lots and lots of milkweed. Vegetables were a dead loss.

The goats are enjoying the kudzu, though.

My condolences on your squash.

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Weirdly, the weather around here has been much more temperate and moderate this year (inundations aside) than it has been for a while. I'm sure the hot is coming, but this year I don't think we hit 100 degrees once the whole summer. And winter was just bizarrely mild. This year we've really had two seasons: All Of The Rain, and None Of The Rain.

Is irrigation out of the question? Maybe add more water-storing material to the soil, to smooth over fluctuations more.

I've got soaker hoses among the vegetables--it only does so much. Much more weather like this, and I'll need to start using the ones running to the rest of the garden!

I'd expect weird to be a continuing trend. I knew something was up about 8 years ago when we had cherries blooming in January. Heat waves in March have also become a thing, and then there was that funnel cloud over the harbour. Mind you, it's always been weird here, but that's a bit silly even for Nova Scotia.

Yeah, Rhode Island had fruit trees blooming in November and March. Crazy.

I have a saying that I pull out every now in then in hopes that I sound less like the awkward person that I am and more like a rural Oscar Wilde. Whenever weather comes up in conversations (as it aways does with people that you know, but not very well) I say, "The thing to remember about Virginia is that we do't have any season. What we have is an excess of weather.

Climate is what you expect...
Weather is what you get...

I'm kinda glad it wasn't just me. The tomatoes did good, once they got going, the cilantro and the radishes were good. But the squash, which usually grows so well I'm constantly giving it away, and the cucumbers (didn't even have enough for pickles this year) and the eggplants were all just...bleh. The peppers didn't even grow well this year and last year I canned like 2 dozen jars worth from all the extra they didn't eat raw.

Meh, at the beginning of August I just the let garden go, I'll mow it down in a few weeks and start over.

What's really odd is that my garden is similarly affected way up here in the Canadian Prairies. Strange.

Same here, and I'm in Portland OR. Tons of cherry tomatoes still going strong, but it looks like we'll get maybe 3-4 heirlooms off of each of those two plants, and the squash all got the white spotty blight.

And the lemon cukes failed but we've got a couple burpless! :)

My tomatoes had two wild weeks and then petered out. My cucumbers have popped out one or two every week or so. My tomatillo crop is burgeoning, and I will have a bit of time if they all come ripe together.

My squash... I got one huge angel's trumpet, and nothing else. My beans have sputtered along -- I hope to get enough black-eyed peas that I can make hoppin john for New Year's with them.

However, my potted peppers turned out to be reliable producers, and the ones in the ground are finally coming along now that the tomatoes have died back a bit. I'm looking forward to more chile verde -- Hatch green chiles and cubed pork shoulder, braised together in broth. Oh nom nom nom.

Even in normal seasons, September in the south is strange. Beautiful, but strange. I think of August and early September here the way that people up north think of February. Actually, this is the time to tear it all out and start the fall/winter crops. If I had time, I'd already have collards and arugula and dill and coriander seeded.

Here in South Western Australia our indigenous population has six seasons, and they are deemed to occur using phenological changes.

So we're entering Djilba now and we know this because the swooping of the Koolbardi (Magpie) - (a butcherbird here) to anyone they think are threatening their nests, and the cream coloured flowers and Banksia will start to flower.

Far more sensible to have a season start when the indicator species show it, rather than some arbitary date.


That's rather lovely.

I'd start the run-up to winter here when the juncoes arrive...

We're having much the same here in Georgia. Already had a whole year's worth of rain, but now things are really getting dry, and no chance of rain for at least the next week or so. Poor crops of many things, oddly timed crops of other things (earlier/later/shorter/longer season than normal). And oh my god the MOSQUITOES AND GNATS. Also, we had chanterelle mushrooms out the wazoo--I had never seen any before (lived here 12 years) and this year they were freaking EVERYWHERE.