Monday, September 12, 2011

Living Off the Land (or Not, As the Case May Be)

Ahh, this picture of the garden's gifts may make it appear that I am Demeter,
Goddess of Farming, herself, but pictures can be deceiving. If you shove
enough of what you harvest into the picture frame, you too can look like
you run a successful organic family farm.
We just finished a record-breaking streak of warm September weather here in Seattle (9 days that hit 80 degrees or more), but there's no denying that autumn's lurking (OK by me, as autumn is my favorite season--not that I have a choice about it arriving or not).

One of the autumnal signs is an email from the P-Patch people reminding us that it's time to think about winterizing plots--mulching, planting winter crops, and putting in cover crops.

Which means, of course, that one has presumably brought in the harvest, yes? And that once again I confront the evidence of just how hungry my family would be if we ever tried to survive on the bounty of our garden.

The scorecard:

Strawberries: 3 berries, total.
Black raspberries: Several sour, seedy, super-staining handfuls.
Peas: 1.5 cups, after shelling. Sufficed to round out one meal.
Chard: Bolted early in season. Several cups of chopped leaves flavored some meals.
Collards: Always a hit--a few pounds of leaves, blanched and reduced to a one-gallon freezer bag.
Zucchini: 3 or 4 pounds of mini-banana-sized fruits, after problem of squash-end blossom rot was resolved by steady watering and an application of epsom salts.
Red cabbage: So far, one large, rotund head and one tennis-ball-sized specimen; others still growing.
Green cabbage: Pretty much a crop of baseball-sized lumps stuffed with slugs--really just Escargot-in-the-Round.
Tomatoes: Damp, cloudy, chilly July meant late tomato production, yielding a few pounds of small but succulent fruits.
Rhubarb: First-year plants thriving, but can't pick any stems yet.
Potatoes: Haven't unearthed them yet. Cliffhanger--will they be marvelous or will they be mushy, rotten blobs?

So. I've planted some chard and Brussels sprouts in the faint hope that some winter crops will grow, and have two raspberry bushes ready to plant, one of which has already suffered badly in the heat wave, which of course is a really encouraging sign that we'll be able to grow, perhaps, two weeks' worth of food next year instead of just one week's.


  1. Too funny, Christina! I've always wondered about the return on all that sweat-investment, and now, thanks to you, I know.

  2. I dunno...I look around me and see people hauling in bumper crops of berries, squash, tomatoes, and making quince jam, and running out of boxes to store their backyard chickens' eggs...meanwhile, I "harvest" the potato crop yesterday, and what do you think? I planted four seed potatoes, and got back a grand total of 10 potatoes, several of which were no bigger than marbles. It's as if I simply stored the contents of my crisper in the ground for 2 months and then took it out again.

  3. My potatoes several thousand miles away from you didn't do any better, if it's any comfort. Went and thrashed a path through the nettles to where I'd planted the potatoes earlier in the year and uncovered well, not very much at all really.