On a wildly productive season

I love seeing red:  Jimmy Nardello’s peppers and a couple bells

So yes, I ran out of canning jars Tuesday.  This is a sign that the garden has been quite fruitful this year.  I thank my lucky stars, too.

You see, so much in the garden is out of our hands.  It is complete hubris to think a good garden season has anything to do with the gardener:  it is due to about a thousand other factors, of which only one of them is me.  I really do believe so much about why plants grow (or don’t) is unknowable.  I read books like this one about soil and this one about microbes and my mind blanches at the thousand million cajillion variables that go into any one seed’s becoming one productive garden plant.  The dirt, the soil, is as vast as the cosmos above, and about as easily understood.  And then there’s weather, and then there’s the insect world, and then there’s wild fauna…there’re a lot of things, in other words, that work against that little seed.

Whatever the reasons, all things seem to have aligned to benefit this gardener this year. I just go to the garden and do my happy dance of gratitude.  And then I fill up the Mother of All Colanders and get to work on preserving the booty.

For I know what it means to have a shitty harvest.  Last year was such a year:  amazing rain in August did in so many of my winter storage veggies; bugs did in my winter squash.  There are some things in this gardener’s control, though.  So I did the Scarlett O’Hara thing and also dug a trench and buried pipe all the way around the garden beds and somewhere along the line also decided another greenhouse was in the cards.  I also, stupidly, grew too many seedlings this year:  many were destined for our daughter’s school garden, and we needed fewer than I optimistically grew.  Sucker that I am, I didn’t just compost those extra tomatoes and broccoli and cabbage; no, I planted them.  (For future reference, a family of three does not need 70 tomato plants.)

So I am gleeful this year, and feeling quite flush with garden goodies.  Our iffy harvest last year, the first of our complete “live off the farm” year, meant there were some rather thin meals last winter and early spring.  One should be thankful for what one has, and believe me I am.

If you drive by and see me doing the happy dance, though, just honk, okay?

15 responses to “On a wildly productive season

  1. It’s always a good thing when you run out of canning jars. Think of all the wonderful food you’ll have this winter!

  2. I’m struggling with the shitty harvest this year. But at some point I have to let it go, stop mourning the huge loss and move forward. hmpf! And now I’m wondering if you’ve ever been successful at growing potatoes this late in the season? I’m thinking about trying it with a short season variety…any thoughts?

  3. TS: Hah! You are actually close enough to honk! (does a little garden jig)

    Mrs GH: I agree. There’re a lot of goodies downstairs already. Yay!

    Hi Kathy: Well, potatoes and onions too can’t really be forced to sprout until they want to. Stubborn things. I harvested a couple of beds of spuds yesterday and noticed a few HAD started sprouting again so they’re going back into the garden into a greenhouse bed. Can’t hurt I figure. But yes you certainly can try to get them going. And yes too the good thing about succession planting is you can hopefully squeeze a few more things in later in the season if the first part was crummy. The sun is still shining and the days are still quite warm. Like our zucchini: I planted another batch about 3 weeks ago because usually at this time the first planting gets squash bugs and dies. It’s even been a light year on the squash bugs so now I’m swimming in the things. Ah.

  4. Very impressive, El. You should be proud, even if you do acknowledge how much is beyond our control. It’s hard work no matter how the variables shake out. Running out of canning jars is worth bragging about.

    As an addendum to your tomato plant observation, a family of two doesn’t need 21 tomato plants.


  5. And if one doesn’t know how to can produce, 8 tomato plants are too much for one family. 🙂

    Any advice on the best sources of good canning info?

    I did read, several years ago, that no home canning was truly safe (can’t remember where I read that). Botulism was the scary monster in the canner, if I recall correctly. I don’t want scare stories to stop me, if there are reliably safe methods.

  6. Honk!
    (can you even hear me? kinda far away.)

  7. Honk my foot! If I drive by that way and see you dancing, I’m coming to join in!

    but…since I’m not….HONK!HONK!HONK! (I can’t just honk once!)

  8. I’m with jules! Although I think I’ll be dancing my way into the garden and pilfering a few goodies. I’m experiencing a crappy year as well, in some areas. Like those tomatoes and peppers you’re enjoying so much of! Eat a few, right from the garden, for me! 🙂

  9. I want to move next door to you, so I can be a grasshopper and borrow canned goods all winter.
    Happy dancing.

  10. Ah, Kate, but we love our tomatoes, no? But thank you for the compliment. It is hard work at times and yes I do get frustrated if the garden doesn’t meet my (even low) expectations…which is why I am dancing!

    Anne! I am giving you the task of looking in your library for the food preservation books that I have in the Books tab above, and also setting you loose on the following two links for home preservation. This should keep you busy over a long weekend. Ball’s site even has videos. But of course any site and any book is going to scare the hell out of you. Given a choice between a 3 year old can of preserves and going to McDonald’s I will take the preserves, thanks.
    USDA: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html
    and Ball’s site: http://www.freshpreserving.com/pages/home/1.php

    CC and Jules: I actually can hear you! And actually I would want you to stop by. I could use the help…

    You too Ang! You know I would put you to work, after we stopped dancing, that is. The kids could play.

    Ah, Pamela: we just opened a jar of corn/bean salsa for lunch. Ohmigosh. MUST make more salsa now that we’ve opened one! Stop on by.

  11. El…I just love the Nardello peppers. This year I’ve tossed a hand full in with a batch of dill pickles as an experiment.

  12. De-lurking – love your blog! It’s a wonderful education for someone still a couple years from having land and doing any large scale growing.

    What you say about gardening made me laugh, because it’s what I have often felt about birth and baby-making. I was a maternity nurse for several years, and it always blew my mind how complex the whole process is, and how many opportunities there are for things to go wrong. And yet…they so often go right! Who the heck really knows why?

    It also seems to hold out on the reading/knowledge front. If you do too much reading before you ever plant a seed (I swear I wasn’t trying for a pun there…), or give birth or parent you can make things too overwhelmingly complicated before you even start. But with some time and experience it often ends up seeming simple again. Dig a hole, plant a seed…hope.

    Or maybe that’s me babbling after a really long day. Yikes. 🙂

  13. Woody! Wait ’til you get a permanent skin on that greenhouse of yours and JUST WATCH what kind of peppers grow well in there. Granted, you’re a lot warmer down there than we are up here. I love these peppers too.

    Aw, thanks, Karyn. In re: childbirth/childrearing, gosh I completely concur. I was an insane reader of the “process” and dang am I glad my daughter came along to completely disabuse me of so many preconceived (my turn to pun) notions. But do hold that little tidbit in your mind when you do turn to gardening. Mostly, things do go right, and…you end up with 70+ tomato plants you don’t know what to do with!! My motto with most things: trust your instinct, tune in to what you might be trying to tell yourself.

  14. I had to laugh out loud at your statement that a family of 3 does not need 70 tomato plants because that sounds so familiar. In early spring it was exciting to watch these small, ‘more sticks than plants’ thingies grow up to become respectable tomato plants. Now of course I question all that early enthusiasm, because there is just that much room in my freezer and my friends and neighbors are by now pretty much full up also 😉
    This year we are lucky too, because the harvest is fantastic. I live in a farming / wine growing community and that makes one realize how much can go wrong in so many ways, as you have pointed out. Hail, rain, no rain, diseases, and on the list goes. It is upsetting if things go wrong in my little garden, but I do not make my living with it. It can be a disaster if one does. It should come as no surprise that every fall we celebrate and give thanks for it all .

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