September Mid-Month Meanderings (& a Project)

The daylight is decreasing, the heat is gone and the tomatoes are done for.   It hasn’t been the best year in Pacific Northwest history for gardening yet, I suppose it is all part of the cycle of things.

As fall approaches, I’ve done less in the garden, despite my proclamations to have a fuller winter garden, than I intended.  I diligently nursed fall/winter crops from seed and planted them only to let the chickens ravish them.  Oh well. It seems we’ll be buying starts this  year to add to our always-abundance-of-kale.

Come along and see what is winding down. Also leave me a comment if you have any answers/thoughts to my questions!

september mid month meanderings garden seattle

Still looking strong. After I took the picture, I harvested all the green tomatoes & that ONE red one! See it? And ripped out the plants for (city) composting

september mid month meanderings garden seattle

The pole beans have reached the top of the old ladder trellis and are twirling around. Love it!

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Black-seeded Blue Lake Snap Pole beans. What is your favorite bean variety? Bush, pole or otherwise?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Rattlesnake Snap Pole Beans. This variety was new to us this year and I love it!

Does anyone else prefer their green beans raw?  I always think I should preserve them. Pickle, can, freeze….but really I just like munchin’ on them raw. Yummy!

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Loads of green. Loads and loads of green. Green today. Enchilada sauce tomorrow.

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Sigh. Even the cherry tomatoes didn't ripen except for a few random ones here and there. They look gorgeous though don't they?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Last year= swimming in hot peppers. This year= a few stragglers. Hopefully they'll be scorching and earn their keep!

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

We had a lot of powdery mildew that I just picked off as I noticed it. But it didn't stop the cucumbers from coming. I fermented a big batch and have made loads of delicious refrigerator quick pickles. Do you get powdering mildew? How do you non-toxically manage it?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

First time growing winter squash. We planted 2 varieties of delicatas and they are doing great! They also have a lot of powdering mildew, but still going strong. I have no idea when I should harvest and store them however. Anyone with an idea?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Sprouts are getting bigger! I've heard pros and cons to snapping off the branches below the forming heads? Anyone have an opinion?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Rutabaga! About ready harvest. And figure out what to do with it. Ideas anyone?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

....and we're done. Most the sunflowers have said good-bye. We cut some to keep for seeds and the others we leave for the birds.

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Potato foliage dying out and ready for tuber harvest. I can't wait to see what we end up with. I forgot what I planted.

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

The black-eyed susan's are so cheerful! I love them!

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Spiders...wow, have we had spiders! Anyone else with a plethora and/ or and explanation?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Asian Pears~ many are ready and I've been munching. We have a lot of columnar apples that I have been snacking on also. Crisp and yummy!

september mid month meanderings seattle garden and chickens

And! Our first egg, right at 20 weeks. Prize going to "One of the Annies," though we don't know which one. I have a hunch. The Annies are the Buff Orpingtons. Now, to get them laying in the nest box...suggestions?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden and chickens

Isn't she a beauty?

september mid month meanderings seattle garden and  chickens

Look at the gorgeous yolk! It tasted amazing!

And I started on the reclamation of the parking strip. Seattle has decided that people can garden in their parking strips which is awesome!  People have done it forever, but now it is encouraged. Some neighborhoods have had trees provided, including watering bags that are filled by the city (like us!).    I began late spring by covering our weedy strip with tarps/black plastic because it was quick and it was what we had available at the time.

The area is now sheet mulched which is basically a great way to kill some lawn.  There are many methods of doing this but they all involve layering different substances over doomed turf.   This allows for items to decompose and add soil fertility.  Come spring I’ll be ready to plant.  We did this method for our raised beds with amazing results! The soil is fertile, worm-y and grows anything!

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Look at this scraggly eyesore of a parking strip? UGLY. And unproductive. I removed all the plastic/tarps/bricks.

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

To get the project underway I raked all the fallen leaves off the hill on top of the weedy grass.

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Next, I covered the leaves with straw. I edged the sides with old decaying burlap bags to help keep the straw from blowing out all over the neighborhood. I will top this soon with the dirt from the Tater Towers once I harvest the potatoes as well as some chicken droppings and bedding. The further layering will be followed by a good water soaking.

september mid month meanderings seattle garden

Covered with giant sheets of cardboard that someone who visited on the Edible Garden Tour gave me! (Thanks if you are out there reading!!) I need to add some more bricks/boards to keep the cardboard in place. Soon...

What are the plans you ask?  We are thinking of a mix of native plants, pollinator plants (like the Pollinator Pathway in Seattle) and perennial herbs/edibles.  The idea is densely plant the area to provide bird habitat, plants for beneficial pollinators, beauty and interest to an otherwise ugly corner and edible and medicinal herbs, etc.   The area is not easily watered, other than by rainfall, so the plants chosen will need to be summer hardy as well.

So…what do you think?  Plant ideas for the area?  It gets morning shade, afternoon sun.  It is near a busy corner and like I said, water access is an issue (but not impossible).  I know we’ll be dividing black-eyed susans, daisies, crocosmias and lavender and planting a lot of sunflower seeds.

Hope you enjoyed the look around!  Stay tuned next month for more meanderings.

Coming up this week is Can Jam- Stone Fruit!

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16 Responses to September Mid-Month Meanderings (& a Project)

  1. Travel Mommy says:

    The egg is beautiful! Your garden is amazing – you have done a ton more on your parking strip. Can’t wait to see what you have been doing!

  2. Robin Taylor says:

    Congrats on the first egg! Our youngest two have decided to tie their legs together so that the eggs cannot come out. The other five have been molting, which means fewer eggs (by far). To get them used to using a nest box, leave an egg where you want them to lay. Store-bought eggs will not work (they’ve been cleaned and possibly waxed, so they don’t “smell” like an egg to your girls). Once one lays in there, others will follow. Don’t be surprized if you get a girl who’s rebellious. Portia lays in different spots in the coop, in the compost bin, behind the tall thistles….

    Hmm… Next time, cover those tomatoes with plastic. They should be able to mature until we get our first frost. The plastic also keeps the rain off of them, and we all know that rain is bad for toms this time of the year. I pruned ours down to the nub yesterday. Sometimes a little brutality goes a long way. An extreme pruning can give them a Henny-Penny-the-sky-is-falling perspective, so they ripen up QUICK. Pull them up by their roots and hang them in the basement, or paper bag the green ones and you’ll get red delight in a week or two. Ah, the tricks of tomatoes from years of disappointing harvests. This is PNW life at its best.

    Rutabaga recipe that cannot fail…. http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2007/11/thanksgiving-vegetables-leek-root.html
    Those folks know thier veggies. I omit the sweet potato and load it full of rutabaga and turnip. You can also sub in celeriac or parsnip.

    How do the columnar apples do? We want to plant some fruit trees in the spring, and columnars would definitely allow us room to breathe.

    • Good tips for the eggs! Next egg appears I’ll pop it in the nesting boxes!

      I pruned the heck out of my tomatoes…and do all along. I do the late, great tomato plant massacre year-round. It has worked great- letting in lots of light and pushing energy to ripening all along.
      I considered pulling them to ripen, but decided to make some tasty enchilada sauce with them and am ordering cheap bulk buy tomatoes via annette @ sustainableeats for canning.

      Thanks for recipe!

      The columnar is in its 2nd year and did GREAT! I was surprised…I was a little skeptical that it would produce anything worth having. But this year it is loaded and living in a pot. I’ll post a picture. I still have the little sock booties on the apples (lazy gardener that I am) so it made for an odd picture. They turned out nice, crisp and tasty!

  3. carbzilla says:

    I heard you can put a golf ball in the egg box. Tricks ’em even though there’s nothing egg-like about it.

    Can you illustrate how to save your sunflower seeds? I picked one out and it doesn’t look anything like a mature seed. Thnx!

    • I’ll try the golfball trick too!

      I usually cut the head off the sunflower and bring it somewhere (with good airflow) away from birds and let it dry a bit. Then I pop out the seeds. Once they are dry enough they just pop out. When still a bit wet/damp they just stick in and make a lot of work for you. It seemed to work well last year! They also popped up all over my yard where they fell and/or birds got them. Kind of messy, but gorgeous! I love sunflowers!

  4. briggsy says:

    great pics! we have so many spiders that it’s ridiculous! all over our tomato plants, deck, anyplace they can spin their webs. i’ve noticed that seattle has so many more spiders than i ever had in the midwest or east. i’d love an explanation! and congrats on the egg!

  5. Meemaw says:

    Congratulations on the egg! It was beautiful. It’s interesting that you can’t use a store bought egg but a golf ball might work. A friend here says someone he knows puts a blue plastic egg in their egg box. I can’t believe how much you’ve done to the parking strip! It’s going to be fabulous. Your yard and plants look so yummy and inviting. Can’t wait to be there again.

  6. Laura says:

    Meg! hard working gal that you are as always.

  7. Brittney says:

    Meg,
    I love your garden and following your blog. You’re inspiring me to do the same thing with my parking strip. Can you share your recipe for enchilada sauce? I have so many green tomatoes I’m gathering ideas. Rutabagas are great mashed like potatoes or mixed in with mash potatoes. I’ve heard lots of spiders mean a cold winter….I don’t know if that’s true though. Congrats on the first egg! I was SO excited when our chickens laid their first egg last year, you’d think I was the one that laid it 😉

    • Thanks for following! I’ll be posting up the enchilada sauce as soon as I get them processed (I haven’t yet decided which one to do). Digginfood has a recent post where people have submitted green tomato recipes…so I know that is a great source!
      I hope the spiders mean a cold winter! I would love some snow this year! I am a sucker for some snowy days!

  8. Angela says:

    Ruatabagas are a traditional ingredient in pasties. You can add carrots and potatoes, turnips and beets plus cheese for a veggie pie or you can toss in some meat.
    I built a tater tower this year following your directions. It wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped, but I got a few pounds of beautiful redskins. It didn’t help that I got a really late start. Next year I can fill it as soon as the weather allows.
    My girls have always used the box so I don’t know about that. Only once have I found a real egg in a strange place but I think the box was occupied when she needed it. I have found a couple of lizardy eggs not in the box; the girls seem to have enough sense to not lay their “deficient” eggs in the box and soil it. I’ve heard of the golf ball trick but my money’s on the egg in the box.
    I was going to ask for the enchilada sauce recipe too; I have piles of green tomatoes and had to pull all my plants after an early frost.

  9. Brittney & Angela- The recipe I used was “Mexican Green Tomato Relish” from I-Don’t-Know-Which-Book (borrowed from a friend). But, as soon as I try it and see if I like it, I’ll post it and find out the real source!
    I’ll try and do it this weekend!
    It sounded similar to some other recipes I saw for enchilada sauce.

    A friend just roasted green tomatoes (just like she would ripe ones) with some olive oil and salt and said they were fantastic. I wish I would have tried it!

    Angela- I had a lot more potatoes this year than last. I got a great tip from Annette @ sustainableeats to use straw or coffee chaffe to fill the towers so I am going to try that next year. Buying the soil to fill gets pricey and straw is cheap… plus it will be lightweight and easier to sort through. I am going to try later maturing varieties as well next year as I heard they do better in the towers.

  10. Barbara says:

    I’m enjoying your blog. In answer to your rutabaga question: my mother always used them as an ingredient in “New England boiled dinner”. OK, we kids hated it, but it was one of my father’s favorites (he was from Maine). It’s basically a boiled beef stew with carrots, potatoes, onions – and rutabagas cooked along with the meat. Vegetarians could experiment with just leaving the meat out.

  11. Pingback: November Mid-Month Meanderings II | Grow & Resist

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