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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!

New Zealand spinach doesn't really taste like spinach, and the fuzzy leaves give it a funny mouth feel. My late wife and I planted some many years ago, and it took about 6 years to get rid of it all. I'm at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, and it even grows on the levees by the former salt ponds. Talk about invasive!

Huh, the plants I had weren't fuzzy-leaved. And there wasn't any issue with self-seeding, probably on account of too much winter.
But I can see it becoming invasive in a milder climate - for me, no, but it did get beautifully.vigorous toward the end of the growing season.

Mine were slick but kind of...glutinous? But yeah, it went pretty nuts in our hot weather and I could see it being a problem in the future.

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