"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year,
bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil."
Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905
It's harvest time, a time when many gardens are loaded with late-season vegetables and fruit ripening to perfection. So, it seemed the right time to give you a quick tour of our kitchen garden this year.
Vegetables and flowers are close neighbors in my suburban garden. Above, 'Rosa Bianca' eggplants grow next to sages and other flowers and herbs.
'Rosa Bianca' is an Italian heirloom variety, which is prized by chefs because it rarely becomes bitter. We've grilled the eggplant with olive oil and herbs, as well as featured it in casseroles with feta cheese and other vegetables. This variety can take 70-85 days from transplanting to ripening, so start seeds inside in the spring and plant seedlings after the first frost.
'Fairy Tale' eggplant is a lovely variety of eggplant that really produces well in containers. As the variety only takes about 50 days to ripen, this eggplant is ideally suited for shorter growing seasons. We've sauteed them with olive oil and other vegetables for delicious side dishes.
'Packman' broccoli just keeps on giving. It starts with a single stalk early in the season. Once you harvest that central stalk the plant produces side stalks throughout the summer.
We planted broccoli seedlings in late-April and are still eating from these plants in late-September. If you look closely, you can see all the many side stalks developing into tasty vegetables for us to eat.
With more than 10 varieties of hot and sweet peppers around here, we've been drying them, grilling them, stuffing them, you name it... Above are some paprika, cayenne, hot Thai and jalapeno peppers just waiting to be picked. (Be sure to wash your hands, however, when you do. Hot peppers can burn your eyes if you aren't careful.)
Lipstick' sweet pepper is one of several pepper varieties we're growing, including 'Sweet Banana' and 'Giant Marconi.' With all this abundance, we're freezing peppers now so there will be plenty around for colder months.
Speaking of colder weather, earlier in the season we planted cool-season vegetables such as peas, radishes and beets. In the foreground are 'Forellenschuss' lettuces, which have become a family favorite. The speckled leaves of this delicious romaine-type lettuce are not only lovely, they also maintain their shape well and don't become limp and boring with salad dressings.
Once those cool-season vegetables were pulled out in the summer, we planted a bean teepee in one bed and sweet peppers in the other. Above is a photo taken last week. As you can see, with the right growing conditions, you can have beans later in the season than you may think.
The bean teepee is planted with 'Ideal Market' and 'Purple Pod' pole beans, which are starting to ripen now. The goal is to keep picking these vegetables as they ripen, so the plant keeps producing as long as possible.
But even as these warm-season vegetables ripen, the growing season is by no means over. There are still those cool-season vegetables to grow in fall, such as Brussels sprouts, kales, 'Tom Thumb' peas and more.
In other words, we may not yet be eating from our garden all year long, but we're working on it. Yep, we are definitely working on it...