A Garden of Goodness and Plenty!

Badminton with my nephew Eli.  10/10/2020

We did our big garden harvest this week.  I won't say it is the final garden harvest because we've got stuff in the greenhouse yet, but the garden is pretty much put to bed for the year.  It looks so naked without that hedge of tomatoes and the sprawling zucchini and butternut vines.

An empty garden, pretty much.  10/14/2020

Matt commented that it has been the nicest weather we've ever had for our big pick.  He was in a t-shirt.  Our fall has been extra warm and sunny and we've been capitalizing on that slowly and steadily.  It seems like we're always trying to push the growing season envelope so we can squeeze the last drop out of our limited window for red peppers and tomatoes.  And then we end up harvesting the garden in a cold fall drizzle because we pushed it too far.  Not this year!  The warm weather held and we were satisfied and ready to call it a day.  Plus, the cool weather and perhaps even snow are in the forecast.

The basket at left are Green Zebra tomatoes which truly ripen to that green color.  Matt will make green tomato ketchup from those.  The basket on the right in the same row are tomatoes that matured to purple.  We also had Moonglow tomatoes that ended up a brilliant orange color.  We canned one batch of tomato sauce made exclusively with Moonglows and so have a handful of jars that are a radiant orange color.  The rest of the baskets are a mix of roma and paste style tomatoes.  10/14/2020

Man! What a wonderful garden season we had this year!!!  I sure wish we'd been tracking the harvest weights.  We got lazy and kept absolutely no garden notes whatsoever this year.  I bet it would have blown us away.  We has some big hauls this year.  I stand by my early assessment that increased time at home and more sun following the tree removal would contribute to our best garden yet.  Indeed it has.

A full garden, pretty much.  That one tree is always the first to turn at our place.  10/7/2020

  • We harvested 20+ big beautiful butternuts plus three squash of an unknown volunteer variety.  We've never been this successful with winter squash before.  I adore roast squash and am over the moon.  
  • There are 11 baskets of tomatoes in the livingroom waiting to be processed into ketchup, sauce, and salsa.  That's on top of the dried tomatoes, salsa, bruschetta, crushed tomatoes, and sauce we've already stored away or eaten.  It has been a crazy tomato year.  Near the end of the season we noticed aphids moving in on one of the two rows of tomato plants.  That was new, but only cements the idea we had about buying a batch of ladybugs and/or praying mantises to watch over and enliven the garden next year.
  • The vegetable drawer in the fridge is packed to the brim with orange, green, and red sweet peppers, many of which will get chopped and frozen for winter dishes.  I harvested one plant this week that had 12 large peppers on it!  It was like hitting the jackpot.  They've been incredibly productive this year.  The seedlings Matt started in the basement were also the most vigorous we've ever produced.  I had high hopes for those peppers and they did not disappoint me.  Peppers are my favorite vegetable overall.
  • I added three more handfuls of cayenne and bird peppers to my stash of hot peppers and have made several batches of hot sauce already.  I made one yesterday before work in fact.  So much spicy deliciousness to be had.
  • We did a terrible job of keeping an eye on the zucchini and thus got mostly fruit the size of my thigh.  I prefer them about the size of a banana.  Oops.  They're tricky like that.  Stop paying attention for just a few days and they balloon right up past the ideal stir-fry stage.  We've got a tote full of the mondozucchini in the basement.
  • We ate our last eggplant two weeks back.  That was a nice long run of them.  Unless we treat ourselves to some Siam Thai we won't eat eggplant again until next summer now.  It is a truly seasonal food for our household.  The white Asian variety was particularly productive.   Matt perfected his veganized take on Eggplant Parm, too.
  • Matt decided we should only grow fingerling potatoes this year.  They're his favorite and they're relatively expensive to buy at the grocery store.  He figured it was more worthwhile to grow fingerlings than Russets or Yukon Golds.  And boy wasn't it!?  What a bumpercrop of spuds!!  Matt sorted them by size and has them stored in bags in the basement.  They are magnificently yummy in every way.
  • Most of the peaches fell off before they were ripe and though we tried to ripen them in boxes it didn't really work.  So we put out the boxes for the friendly neighborhood squirrels.  It is hilarious to watch.  That alone might be worth it, though we hope for a better peach harvest next year.  Matt's work-friend has a peach tree and said it was a strange year for it with such a long hot summer and prolonged heat even into fall.
  • The squirrels also enjoyed my Grandma Grapes, though I kept chasing them off in that case.  They might call me greedy, but I wanted those grapes for myself.  They taste like candy to me. We have a couple quarts in the freezer for smoothies and I'm down to my last cup of fresh ones.  Matt won't eat them fresh and so I am almost glad to see the back of them.  I was starting to feel a little pressure to eat them while still in their prime.  There were a lot this year--hooray!
  • We picked a bunch of apples from Ryan's tree and the neighbor's, but our duo in the backyard had a bad year.  The Honeycrisp, to my dismay, cracked down the trunk mysteriously and died.  We pulled it and now have a bigger badminton court.  We might replant.  We might not.  The Haralson apple tree just didn't make much fruit and what it did fell in the wind before ripening.  Thankfully apples are easy to come by around town if one keeps an eye open.  We only made applesauce this year since we still had a reasonable amount of pie filling left from last year.
 Bell peppers, fingerlings, and bruschetta.  9/26/2020
After unintentionally skipping last year we were all set to do No-Shop November for 2020.  In the end though we decided against it.  I have no doubt that we could have pulled it off quite easily, but we opted to keep our pantry full instead of eating it down this year.  Who knows what is gonna happen with the pandemic or what people's responses to it will be.  We want to have a full pantry just in case everyone loses their mind and buys out all of the pasta or beans again like the did back in March/April.  So, maybe next year.
Matt showing off the cayenne pepper that is grew to chest height.  10/1/2020  
We still have tomatoes, peppers, and basil in the greenhouse.  Soon enough though it will become the winter hammock clubhouse again.
This has been an especially stunning fall.  So much red, orange, yellow, brown...my favorite color scheme, really.  Especially against that big blue sky!  10/7/2020


  1. Hi Beth,
    ...that's a pretty awesome garden haul...all those tomatoes and potatoes...you should be really pleased...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. Thanks!! We sure are!

      We have been canning and freezing and drying and...we've still decided we have too many tomatoes and are going to give some to friends and Matt's folks. Our bounty overflows!


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