I’m so bad.
I haven’t blogged about my garden in THREE MONTHS.
Not only three months, but the most awesomely exciting three months my little garden saw for the entire year.
And I’m going to try to distill it down to an update that doesn’t have you scrolling for days.
I said “try”, ok? 😉
Unfortunately I’m looking through my photos and realizing I should have taken so many more. Where are the pictures of the last of the cucumbers? Or of the artichoke shoots springing out of the ground next to the dead stalks, like little phoenixes? (For the record, the reason the dead stalks are still sitting in my garden is because they were too hard to cut with my little cutter and I couldn’t find the saw, and now they’re just too close to the new plants). Or the brand new plants I just brought in, or the old ones that have suddenly sprung forth new life… Or all the basil plants I spent hours pulling last week because they were just too huge and overgrown and blossomy?
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
First things first!
My 24 pound watermelon!
We harvested most of our watermelons during August. The first two were 24 and 18 pounds, respectively. We had a little party to celebrate, and crack them open:
My Daddy cutting into the melon
STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL yellow flesh on the melon. My mom was worried to taste it at first, thinking it might be strange, but it was SO sweet and good!!!!!
I distributed slices of this melon to my neighbors and my grandmother and great aunt and uncle.
The following week my husband was walking into the house when he noticed a big CRACK in the third melon in the yard – it had split right open under its own weight! It was around 20 pounds as well, and surprisingly perfect (we were afraid the flesh would be mushy and overripe, and also that bugs might have infested it, but we cut off the split and the rest of the melon was wonderful).
It cracked open! Oops!
The fourth melon (the one you can just barely see in the background of this photo) didn’t fare so well – it, too, split open, but by the time we noticed it, it had rotted (it was quite a bit smaller than the rest and I’m not sure how long it was sitting there, split, before I threw it in the trash). I saved the seeds – hopefully we’ll be able to grow more melons next year! There a little more to come about the melons, but I’ll come back to that in a bit…
This is how my pumpkins looked in August, the day I harvested my first two melons:
Yes, that’s powdery mildew you see in the photos. No, I haven’t taken care of it yet. I keep meaning to spray milk solution on it (thanks Dana!) but I haven’t had a chance to just do it. The plants seem to be fighting back pretty well, though, so I’m not super concerned – I think it’s just an occupational hazard of a small garden and a lot of dew. That’s also a good deal of grass poking up in the photos – we seem to have lost the battle against the crabgrass, especially with all the rain we’ve been getting this season. We don’t have time to pull it all so we just have decided to ignore it as best we can. It’s not pretty, but so far it doesn’t seem to be choking our vegetables.
By the end of September, my pumpkins had fully ripened.
I finally cut them off the plant about two weeks ago, partially because I didn’t really know what to do with them, and partially because they just looked so pretty. But I thought perhaps it would promote further growth of the plant if I took them off, and I didn’t want any neighborhood kids to get any ideas just before Halloween!
Our smaller pumpkin, weighing in at 16 pounds. It's so pretty and perfect!
Our larger pumpkin, weighing in at 20 pounds. This was the one farthest from our front door. It's easily one of the most beautiful pumpkins I've seen!
My husband wants to carve these guys up on Sunday, but I’m 99% sure I want to save them and cook with them. They’re Magic Lantern type, which is supposed to be just fine for eating… But maybe I’ll break down and let him carve one of them? 🙂
We had a lot of comments over the last two weeks – “You harvested your pumpkins?” – from passers-by. It makes me so happy that we brought smiles to the faces of random neighborhood-goers.
The same day that we harvested the pumpkins, we harvested a BUNCH of butternut squash. These squash came off of two plants I grew from seed, so I’m especially proud of them (my pumpkins were from transplants). The squash in this photo were literally taken right from the ground and lined up, so there are some dirt smears and wood chips on them, but you can see the variation in size and shape – I loved that we harvested a single-serving size and one big enough for a family of four at the same time!
We harvested nine butternut squash of different sizes that day too!
We also grabbed the very last, tiny (in comparison to the others) watermelon out of the yard. I’m not sure if it’s good – we still have yet to cut into it (we should do that tonight!) – but it looks and sounds pretty… What a strange harvest! I love San Diego!
Yes, these were all harvested the same day: 2 pumpkins, 9 butternut squash, a watermelon, 2 eggplants, and a pepper
That night I made a butternut squash soup for dinner, with sage browned butter drizzled on top.
I really don’t have a recipe for this – basically I roasted the squash in the oven, peeled and cut it, and pureed and simmered it with broth. I finished it with a little cream and then served it with the sage browned butter (basically just sage leaves from the garden cooked in butter until the butter solids turned color and the sage was crispy). The photo is a little dark but it was SO good.
Now for the things I don’t have photos of…
I pulled up all the dead cucumber plants, and the dead tomatillo, and two of the dead tomatoes. I pruned back the Sungold plant like crazy (I was going to pull it but noticed a ton of green shoots with little blossoms and so I left it). I also cut off a few shoots and stuck them in water to root. It looks like they may have been successful, and I’ll plant one this weekend (and hopefully bring the other to my parents).
I’ve planted brussels sprouts, two more kale, another few tomatoes (early varieties, the first of which has a red fruit just waiting to be picked tonight!), and some more lettuce. I also have broccoli waiting to be planted, and some more beets (I actually need to pull the beets I planted during the summer and plant these new ones in their place). We’re still getting okra and eggplant, even though we’ve been having unseasonably high rains and unseasonably low temperatures.
And we have a baby watermelon! It’s about 4 inches long right now, and perhaps 3 inches across. The plant seems to be thriving with the rain and so far it’s growing well. I hope that it continues to – wouldn’t it be a trip to have a home-grown fresh watermelon in December or January?
We also have two baby pumpkins – sure enough, the plant started blooming like crazy shortly after I cut off the ripe fruit, and had its first female blooms this week. One of the female blooms was (hopefully) fertilized on Monday while I was at work. This morning I noticed another one as I was walking to my car, so I quickly pulled a male flower and hand-fertilized it. Hopefully we’ll have fresh pumpkins in December or January too!
I’ll try to take photos of the watermelon and pumpkin babies, and maybe of the back yard too… And hopefully share sooner than 3 months next time!