High Harvest Days and Garden Reflections

Rowan berries ritual strung and ready to dry for use in magical talismans and as ritual offerings.

A good season for staying is autumn,

there is work then for everyone before the very short days.

Dappled fawns from amongst the hinds, 

the red clumps of the bracken shelter them;

stags run from the knolls at the belling of the deer herd.

Sweet acorns in the wide woods,

stubble around the wheatfields over the expanse of brown earth.

There are thornbushes and prickly brambles

by the midst of the ruined court;

the hard ground is covered with heavy fruit.

Hazelnuts of good crop fall from the huge old trees on dykes.

– Irish, Eleventh Century*

September is upon us, thus the high harvest is in full swing.  The farmers’ markets are piled with beets, corn, and squash.  Yesterday, a friend gifted me with a couple butternut squashes.  The day before that, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a pumpkin from their garden.  A pumpkin, bright orange and ready for pie!  The trees are starting to drip with their own harvest – apples, acorns, and rowan berries.  While in Alexandria Bay a few days ago, I gave offerings in exchange for some of the latter to dry for future workings.

My own garden continues to produce a small bounty.

Cheyenne Peppers photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012
Tiger Zucchini photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012
Lemons ripening  photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012
Tomatoes photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012
Flowering woodland tobacco photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

In addition to all the lovely plants photographed above, I have some fall crops emerging from the soil.  I hope I don’t jinx it, but I finally seem to have a good group of carrots growing.  There are more radishes on the way.  I’m not sure about the turnips I planted.  Something ate most of them.  I’m not sure if it’s too late to try again this year or not…  However, each time I try and fail, I learn something new.  I feel better prepared for next year.  That is a good harvest in itself!

Next year!  I’m already excitedly planning for it.  There’s a certain peace and wisdom in living fully in the moment, but when you garden, foresight is very important.  This morning I gathered the dried seeds from a yellow onion plant and some dill.  I’ve been keeping note of what I definitely want to plant again next year and what I don’t think is worth it.

Definitely:

  • Alibi cucumbers – These guys are perfect for containers.  In the right container, they’re very prolific.  I grew enough to make a small batch of pickles and have continued to grow enough for salads all summer long.
  • Mohawk Peppers – Although they didn’t mature until mid to late July, these guys were worth the wait.  I love the orange color and the flavor is mildly sweet.  Wonderful in a stir fry, chili, or salad.  I had a very high success rate with these guys.
  • Green Tiger Zucchini – Very successful sprouting. Did great in larger containers with beautiful, big leaves and bright striped fruits.
  • Totem tomatoes – A medium-sized tomato photographed above.  These guys flourished in the large, raised-bed style container.  Great for salads.
  • Radishes – I can’t remember the variety I planted this year but I finally understand these plants.  I would like to try other varieties next year – possibly the heirloom cherry belle.
  • Snow peas – Once I figured out how these guys worked, I loved them.  Although it took awhile to get actual pods, they are delicious!  I love to eat them raw or steam them.
  • Basil – I understand them better and now know how to harvest them so they yield higher harvests.
  • Dill – Finally used them in pickling so they were worth it.

Maybe:

  • Igloo Cauliflower  – Out of all the seeds I planted, only two plants grew enough to escape the dangers posed by standard pests.  One is still pretty small and the other seems to be producing a head but it’s TINY.  A larger container may be needed.  Otherwise the success rate this first time was poor and the growth rate is very slow.
  • White finger eggplants – This was another first attempt.  Last year I grew Ophelia eggplants, another for containers, and had a much higher success.  I really want to try the White fingers again, but none of the seedlings made it this year and I felt it was too late to try until next spring.
  • Tan tan lettuce – Slow growing but tasty once it matures.
  • Bush delicata squash – This is in the maybe because none have matured yet. It’s a winter variety. I also only have two plants out of the handful of seeds I planted.  We shall see.
  • Oak Leaf Lettuce – I didn’t have as much luck with this variety compared to last year.  I’m willing to give it another try but if it isn’t as productive again I’m done.
  • Purple top Turnips – As explained above, I’m not having a good sprout rate.  Those that do tend to become food for pests.
  • Green bush beans – Although easy to grow, I never harvest more than a handful at a time.  This seems so pointless…  Good for a snack but I never get the bounty my parents did for dinner sides.  I need to rethink my beans.  May move to a pole variety.

Forget About:

  • Tumbling Tom Red Cherry Tomatoes – Although I did harvest several of these, the plants themselves appear sickly.  Perhaps I did something wrong, but they were planted in a variety of ways – hanging baskets, self-watering containers, larger non self-watering containers.  None of them looked happy or healthy…Not a very attractive or productive plant in my experience.  Perhaps they are more susceptible to the blight than the totem tomatoes.
  • Really large carrots – I tried, but they don’t seem to do well in containers.

Hopes and Dreams:

  • State Half Runner Beans – This is an heirloom variety and is supposed to be part runner and part bush which could be a good next step.
  • Parisian Carrots – Another heirloom.  They’re short and round which may be perfect for a container.
  • Hot Portugal Pepper – Yet another heirloom.  Are you seeing a pattern?  It’s a hot pepper – something my garden is lacking this year.
  • Red Deer’s Tongue Lettuce – You guessed it – an heirloom!  Supposedly, this lettuce is cold and hot tolerant.  It’s slow to bolt.  Definitely worth a try!
  • Green Deer’s Tongue Lettuce.  See above.
  • Cherry Belle Radish – An heirloom.
  • Brandywine Tomatoes – Another heirloom.  Not only does it make me think of Lord of the Rings, but this tomato is amazing.  It’s huge and delicious.  I grew this for two years before taking a break to try new things this year.  I really miss it.
  • Martino’s Roma Tomato – An heirloom paste tomato.  I’m ready to get into the world of sauce!

There will probably be more on my wish list.  It grows each year.  And of course, this list doesn’t include all the herbs, dyes, and spellcraft plants I plan on!

What are you harvesting this season?  What do you dream of planting in the spring?

*Found in Mara Freeman’s Kindling the Celtic Spirit, page 261.

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

2 thoughts on “High Harvest Days and Garden Reflections

  1. Oh, I envy you for being able to grow all these fancy vegetables! Would love to grow peppers and basil and lemons! I’ve tried planting lemons twice and they froze to death even though I kept them in my kitchen 😦 It’s just to cold here but I stick to my winter-apples, radishes and beetroots 🙂

    1. This is my first year with lemons. I got a dwarf tree variety and it hasn’t experienced a winter yet. I will, of course, take it in. We live in zone 3b, I believe, which is up there and quite cold. Fingers crossed it survives! Best of luck to you with your garden!

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