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Launching Post Produce: September 22, 2011

Sorry. I had to lead with sad apples. It rained nearly every day from apple blossom time until June. To grow pretty apples in such conditions, you need to apply anti-insect treatment constantly, and that gets really expensive. I can buy a bushel of apples for around $12 at the farmers’ market and I might have spent $40 or more to keep ahead of the rain. I gave up very early in the season, and this is typical of what’s on my trees now.

September 22, 2011 is the first Post Produce day. Because my Small Kitchen Garden has experienced its worst growing season in 16 years, I’m tempted to share scenes of sickly vegetables and rotting plants. But the whole point of this day is to Post Produce in celebration of kitchen gardening.

There have been some bright spots, despite the crazy weather, and I’ve captured many of them in photos. Captions accompanying the photos provide details. I hope you’ll join me in this monthly celebration of home kitchen gardening and post about your own produce. Find instructions for how to participate by scrolling to the bottom of this blog entry.

If any kitchen garden plant likes rain, it’s tarragon! I set three tarragon plants in a new bed last fall and they have grown into a forest. In fact, I cut them back aggressively about a month ago and already they are overwhelming the shorter thyme plants in front of them. Until this season, I’d grown tarragon only in containers, and I had no idea how massive these plants could become.

Another standout rain-lover in my small kitchen garden is sage. I moved several plants from a wooden barrel planter last fall, and they have exploded with new, lush growth. Those pretty flowers are invaders from my wife’s nearby ornamental bed. If I ever plant a show garden, I may pair these two much as they look in this photo.

I planted a 14 foot row of chili pepper plants in a repeating sequence of jalapeno, banana, and poblano. Apparently, that row ran above an underground lake and the plants’ roots were waterlogged most of the season; I harvested about a pint of tiny, shriveled peppers. Happily, I also set some bell pepper plants in containers on my deck. In a few more weeks, I expect nearly a dozen large fruits to be red or orange and ready to harvest. They all will end up in a pot of red pepper relish.

While my main garden bed spent two-thirds of the season as a swamp, my garden annex drained quite well (it used to be a sandbox), and bell peppers and poblanos I set there produced a modest number of fruits. It’s not a typical abundant haul, but we’ll enjoy a few meals that feature these smoky delights.

Cucumbers disappointed me this year. They grew vigorously in containers on my deck, but none of the fruits they produced were quite appealing enough to pickle whole. Still, I have used these little morsels in salad, and I’ll probably mix up some pickle relish with the dozen or so that are ready to harvest.

Yippee: green beans! This is my first significant harvest and I collected them today. I planted Kentucky Wonders to climb on my tomato trellises and all the plants died as a result of heavy rains in August. But I’d planted a short row in one of our ornamental beds, and they have grown into a nearly impenetrable clump of intertwined vines. This first picking could serve a family of four if three family members despised green beans. There are green bean babies on the vines, so I’m hoping our first frost is still a month away (though, given the way the season has gone, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got frost at noon today).

This year’s big winner is winter squash. Sure, there are water stains on some of them, but these neck pumpkins and butternut squashes look spectacular considering the season. The biggest neck pumpkin weighs about 12 pounds, and the heap weighs more than 50 pounds. There are several more fruits ripening on the vines (even as the vines drown from recent storms), and there are even a few Blue Hubbards in the garden showing some promise.

Join in and Post Produce!

Join the celebration and show the world what you’re eating from your garden. To participate, Post Produce on your own blog. You don’t have to post photos. List what you’re harvesting, write a poem about it, record a song… create whatever post celebrates your food-growing successes.

Then, return here and create a link to your Post Produce post. Also, leave a comment to entice other participants to visit your blog. That’s all there is to it!

For a few more details about Post Produce, follow this link. There you’ll find a bit about why I started Post Produce along with further suggestions for types of things you might post. I’ll watch for your Post Produce posts and visit every one.



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11 Responses to “Launching Post Produce: September 22, 2011”

  • Great idea, Daniel! Here’s a link showing what I’ve been up to in my new potager kitchen garden, and what I learned this year.

  • I LOVE this concept. Thanks so much for pulling it together. Your veggie pics are beautiful. I shot mine with my I-phone, and it shows! Next month, I’ll pull out the Canon!

  • Aaron Orear:

    I’ve posted my produce! Good idea.

  • I love this idea, sadly,though, my garden fared poorly. Really poorly. To the point I’m ripping it apart and starting fresh!

  • Mark:

    I’m sorry I only just now discovered it. What a great idea. Maybe there will be an October edition. I’m crossing my fingers that there is for more reasons than one. I found your blog via your appearance on GardenFork Radio.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Mark: I’m glad you stopped by, and please do join Post Produce in October. I’ll host every month on the 22nd in hope that Post Produce gains some traction and I get to see what kitchen gardeners are harvesting and eating everywhere all through the year. I stopped by over at Shady Character and enjoyed many of your posts; I like your “try it and see” attitude!

  • Oh, this Post Produce is such a great idea. I’ll totally be joining on the next one!

    The tarragon definitely looks great. My tarragon is loving the rain too.

  • What a beautiful harvest you had! I just brought in some tiny but delicious carrots, and earlier in the season we had more peppers and tomatoes then I had any idea what to do with. This year I’m going to be trying to grow green beans, basil, and pees inside *fingers crossed*

  • Zemmy:

    I am an excited new gardener. I am putting up a green house this year. I want to grow cucumbers, that are trained to grow up a trellis. I plan to trim them so I can increase the number of plants in a 12 x8′ area. How many plants can I put in? I live in northern Canada so my growing season is at the most 90days.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Zemmy: I wish you all the best luck with your new gardening activity. I hope it proves satisfying so you keep with it and expand your efforts over the years. Your question is very, very big! I could easily turn the answer into a lengthy blog post.

    If you follow spacing recommendations that come with your seeds, you create “hills” 3 to five feet apart, and you typically plant five or six seeds per hill, thinning to 3 or 4 once the plants emerge. This gives 3 to 5 foot vines plenty of room to spread.

    Trellising changes everything and the style of your trellises affects the performance of your plants. If the trellises are bulky, they can cast shadows that might affect the growth of some of your vines. Trellises running in East-to-West rows might favor the southern-most plants. Creating steps in the garden–or planting on a slope (that runs downhill to the south)–can overcome the problem. Trellising with hanging strings or wire can also reduce shading of the northern plants. If your garden plot has unrestricted sun all day, trellised plants may surprise you despite rather dense spacing–perhaps 2 feet between hills with 2 or 3 plants per hill–or, defy the “hill mongers” and simply set plants four to six inches apart. Train them up a wire fence or tomato cages or hanging strings to create 1-foot-wide “hedges” and they’ll produce for you…

    I hope you’ll share photos and stories of your experiences through the growing season.

  • My family and I operate a modest homestead based business. We grow about two acres of produce. General produce goes to the farmers market and like events. We also grow the super hots like ghost pepper, trinidad moruga scorpion peppers, carolina reaper peppers and so on; but those sell online and get shipped across the country. Not nearly the fun of farmers markets.rnrnWith two acres of garden, much for market, you might not think I’d be interested in kitchen gardens. But learning small personal gardens and even winter time window grows can be very emotionally uplifting. As we started selling more and more, i think I lost / forgot some of the reason we first started homesteading.rnrnGlad to have found your blog this winter because it is really helping me to remember why I started doing this in the first place. Great timing too because not only is it winter, but I am couch locked due to surgery. OK, not exactly locked to the couch but if I do not occupy it more my wife might chain me there.

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