It’s hard to believe winter is coming when you’re lying out, soaking up the sun.
That’s what my journal reads from a week ago, just three days before a chilly mountain blast sent us running inside from the garden, our arms laden with the last of the tomatoes rescued just hours before an icy death. In three days’ time, we went (I kid not) from this to THIS.
We went from shorts and t-shirts, busy as the bees still working the garden, last Wednesday . . .
to building our first fire, settling in for board games and read-alouds on Friday . . .
then welcoming our first magical snow day Saturday morning!
What they tell you about Montana is true. It’s wild.
The tamaracks tried to tell me, but summer seems eternal when your hair is sun-kissed, and your arms and legs feel golden as the trees.
And just like that, our glorious first harvest season has come to an end. It’s ok, it was more than full. In fact, it was overflowing. And as far as I’m concerned, we enjoyed three bonus weeks of harvest that we had not counted on.
To wrap up our first hallowed harvest on the homestead, here’s a peek at all our successes and “learning opportunities” these past few months. Enjoy!
Best-in-Show for Harvest 2022:
#6.) “QUEEN BEANS”
If we’d gotten them in the ground just a few weeks earlier, we would have had an absolute bumper crop. As it was, the kids had plenty to munch on inside their teepees, and we enjoyed them cooked up with garlic on the side of our dinners throughout September and into October. We even harvested a bunch after the first snow. Not only were they so fresh and delicious as only home-grown green beans can be, these heirlooms ranked high on the beauty pageant lineup as well. The white and purple splotched Monet-like beans are called “Dragon Tongues” in the seed catalog, but our family has renamed them as “Queen Beans.” They outproduced all the other varieties and made us swoon day after day.
I’d never grown tomatillos before, so I had no idea what to expect. Oh, these big, bushy, Chinese-lantern laden plants just gave and gave all summer long. They added fullness to our garden as well as enchantment. We made batch after batch of tangy Salsa Verde and our three-year-old just loved hulling a giant pile of tomatillos day after day.
This one was a pleasant surprise. For some odd reason I assumed growing lettuce would be hard. I imagined lots of pest issues and thought that lettuce would be tender to weather conditions. Well, quite happily, I was mistaken. Not only were these lettuces among the easiest plants in our garden, they grew fast and full. Plus, every single last one was a stunner.
We harvested so much chamomile this year, we don’t even need to grow it next year . . . but we will, of course 😆 . Add to the ease of growing of this weed-like herb the bee benefit, and chamomile easily holds its rank.
I started this post back in early September. At that time, the tomatoes didn’t even make this list. We had thousands of tomatoes on the vines and almost all of them were infuriatingly green all summer long. I had almost entirely given up hope in tomatoes this year by mid-September when suddenly they exploded into color overnight and then proceeded to dump on us for an entire month of out-of-control processing. I made vat after vat of tomato sauce, salsa, tomato stock, and stewed tomatoes until I was positively sick of all things tomato. Almost one entire deep freezer is full of tomatoes in one form or another. For the past few weeks, we’ve been giving tomatoes away by the box load to friends and acquaintances.
Tomatoes would have made the top of our list except for the fact that their season was so short. In other words, although we got by far more pounds of tomatoes than anything else, best in show on our list produced faithfully, prolifically, and a whopping month sooner than the tomatoes. However, in light of our wintry spring and the colossal August hailstorm that hit our green heirlooms, we are insanely happy with our tomato harvest this first year.
Our cucumbers were gangbusters. The kids each ate a fresh cucumber almost every time we went out to the garden all summer long, which made this mama positively giddy. We ran out of meals featuring cucumbers and ended up giving them away by the bag for weeks on end. Even then, we still had more than we needed for munching, pickling, and steeping in pitchers of water. In addition to their generosity in number, they added so much charm hanging from their wire trellis tunnels in our garden. There is nothing quite like walking into a shady green tunnel on a hot summer’s day and plucking down a cool, sweet treat to munch on under the sun.
What they lacked in quantity they made up for in quality. I plan to grow a lot more eggplants and peppers next year. Every single one we harvested was positively gorgeous and was just packed with flavor. Plus, you can’t buy dark purple bell peppers with bright green insides, or Ping-Tung white-to-purple ombre eggplants from any old grocery store.
Worst-in-Show for Harvest 2022:
We did get some broccoli to harvest, but not much. I will say, what little we did get was exceptional. But next year we will need to combat the bugs early on.
Although it was gorgeous towering over our garden, we just didn’t get it in early enough. That being said, we have some gorgeous Thanksgiving decorations to show for our efforts!
#2.) ARUGULA & SPINACH
The bugs just loved our small greens to death. And then our intense northern summer sun finished them off. I didn’t even get pictures of them, that’s how bad they fared.
Let’s suffice it to say, the Cabbage Loopers won. We did not get a single of the lovely cabbages pictured above to harvest. At one point, we lowered ours heads down to the bed and I promise you we could quite clearly HEAR THE MUNCHING. We will try again next year with netting and a wheelbarrow full of BT (organic pesticide).
So, what’s the ONE VEGGIE I FLAT-OUT REFUSE TO GROW?
ZUCCHINI. The only way our family actually enjoys zucchini is when it’s unrecognizable in a moist loaf of sugar and spice bread. There is an old joke in the south that the only time to lock your car is in the church parking lot in July for fear that you’ll find a bag of zucchini deposited on the passenger side seat. I have found that as long as I have even one gardening friend, I’m sure to have my zucchini bread needs more than fulfilled minus all that horrible guilt of throwing boat after boat on the compost heap.
That’s it for today, friends! Thanks so much for taking a peek at our homestead! If you enjoyed this post, please share! 🙂
Happy Hibernation, all!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~