Things haven’t been going so well with the fall plantings. The hellish heatwave that settled over the central part of the country and just SAT there for weeks was fatal to most of the plants we transplanted, and almost universally fatal to all the seeds.
Out of all the dozens of tomato plants I lovingly nurtured from seed to seedling to transplant, we’ve got exactly 5 weedy-looking tomato plants left.
Two basil plants survived, while literally none of any of the other herbs even managed to get a toehold during the heatwave. Thyme, cilantro, oregano, all wiped out. The eggplants died. The beans refused to sprout. None of the flower seeds sprouted, even the sunflowers. One solitary acorn squash has managed to make it from seed to plant, and I give it props for sheer determination.
There are a few squash and zucchini plants hanging on. Just male flowers so far, but I am hopeful that they’ll live long enough to give us another crop of squash. We missed out on most of the early crop due to our vacation and the Hellhound’s depredations.
We do have a watermelon plant that’s decided to eat the yard. Incidentally, it has a couple melons on it, but its real plan is world domination.
The pumpkin plants are struggling on, despite their patch turning into a grass and weed infested mess– there are several small fruits on the vines. We’ve harvested one pumpkin, and that one wasn’t intentional on our part. Miss Autism decided that the pumpkin was orange enough for her tastes, picked it when no one was looking, and stuffed it into the refrigerator’s vegetable bin. I rescued it and put it on the mantle, where it’s finished turning orange at least. I have a feeling that it’s a strictly decorative pumpkin, though, as those things go.
There are signs of hope– some volunteer bush beans have grown up here and there, and the dwarf okra is soldiering on. We’re still a long way from getting fruit from anything, though, and unless the heat breaks some, I doubt we’ll get much of anything good.
The plan now, with so much empty space in the rows, has changed. I’m just going to keep it weeded down for another two weeks and then plant in a few rows of kale, mustard and turnip greens, and chard. I’ll probably replace the dispirited cucumber vines with sugar snap peas and snow peas, and try to get a couple garlic and onions going. The garlic only does well here if it can overwinter, and we keep a few onions going all winter just to provide green onions for cooking. Even if we do get the rare snowstorm, onions and garlic don’t blink.
I’m pretty disappointed that the flowers didn’t make a go of it, but I have some fall/winter varieties that I can plant soon as well. My poor zinnias have about had it– I’ve got four colors left, and each day the stalks look a little paler and more dried-out. I’ll roll the seeding cart back into the house this afternoon and start again. I’m not sure if I’ll even bother with herbs at this point– I’ve not been using many lately, and the Hellhound has a fondness for tearing them up, plant, root, stem, pot, dirt, and all. Any dog that can casually munch her way through a 4×4 post as a chew toy isn’t going to be particularly daunted by a thyme plant in a plastic pot.
It’s not been a great year for food production, that’s for sure. I’m hoping to get some good basil dried to replace the old stuff, though, if those two bunches stay alive and thrive. And, who knows, the third crop of beans that I planted three nights ago may actually take off and give us a bounty of beans to cook before cold weather sets in. I’d love to see a few pumpkins make it to maturity, and a couple acorn squash would be nice as well. We’re limited in space these days, as everything has to be fenced in securely from the Hellhound, so we don’t have nearly the room we used to be able to utilize. And even with fencing, she still gets into the plots and wreaks havoc. She’s obsessed with the mice and rats that sneak through the pumpkin patch, so one of her main goals in life is to get over or under that fence or through that gate.
I’m hopeful. I guess that’s the main requirement for farming and gardening, though, isn’t it?