Summer Leftovers

We’ve had a great summer break here on the knoll (that’s a ‘hill’ to most Texans).   Now. just as the weather begins to cool a bit, it’s time to get back out to the garden and take care of fall chores.

Even though our summer CSA ended at the end of July, the garden has continued to produce on a smaller scale.   The heat-loving crops that were so very slow to start last spring finally got going.  Better late than never, right?

Melons and okra were both particularly slow getting started across East Texas.  Everyone was a little disappointed not to find their favorite summer treats ready for the 4th of July picnics, but I have to say you are missing a treat if you don’t take advantage of these fall bonanzas!   Get yourself down to the Farmer’s Market and find some on Saturday!

I pickle some of the okra (the littlest ones) and dry others for chips.

What’s that?  You haven’t tried okra chips, you say?  Maybe we will bring some for sharing to the Fall Festival at Athens Organic.  That’s October 24, so you might want to pencil that in to your calendar.  <hint> <hint>.

Herbs, of course, love summer!

Hidden among the weeds are some nice stands just perfect for harvest; basil, mints, sage, oregano, lemon grass, ginger, and lemon balm,   Not to mention some of the natives like blackberry (root) and Sassafras leaves (gumbo file).   We’ll make some of the basil and mint into pesto.  Whatever survives fresh eating will be frozen in ice-cube trays to use later.  Other herbs will be dried to use as spices and teas.

Ginger is one of the best to keep around.  It’s one of the healthiest herbs out there!    We add fresh ginger juice to a hot lemonade/raw honey/ginger tea to soothe (or prevent) colds and flu. (Disclaimer:  I’m a gardener, not a doc.  Just sayin’.)

Of course, since we work hard at finding and developing heirloom varieties that grow well in our sandy East Texas soil, we also save a lot of seed for next year’s garden. It assures us of a good source of seed and contributes to preserving this genetic resource for the future.

Seed saving isn’t the most picturesque of our chores.  Plants gone to seed blend in well with the weeds that got away from us somewhere along the way.

summer weeds

How to resolve this?   Most of the area (except for the smaller winter garden area) will be mowed, tilled and planted in a winter cover crop of elbon rye (prevents erosion, helps control root-knot nematodes and provides for lots of nice organic nitrogen in the spring.)

Then we’ll get busy on our winter projects.  A new composting area, planting of fruit and pecan trees, removal of invasive trees, fencing….    I’ll keep you up to date on those as they come about.

In the meantime, would you like to have coffee and talk garden?   I’ll be at the Athens Organic coffee shop (Hwy 31 E of Athens) about 9:00 AM for the next few Tuesday mornings.   We could plan winter gardens or seed-starting schedules for spring.  You bring your seed catalogs and I’ll bring mine.