My Kitchen Garden in September

My Kitchen Garden in September

I really can’t remember a more beautiful month of September here in Iowa. With 30 days of sunshine, warm temperatures, and a good rainfall about once a week, the garden is still going strong. And there’s no end in sight. The extended forecast isn’t showing any danger of frost until after Halloween.

As I told you in my garden update for August, I spent much of that month preserving the surplus garden produce. That work continued into September, and I now have enough tomato sauce, pickles, green beans, and the like to last through the winter and beyond. So beware. Don’t send your kids trick-or-treating at my house. They may be very disappointed to walk away with a pint jar of homemade tomato sauce!

Here’s a look at what’s been going on in my kitchen garden in September.

The demise of the killer cucumber

Feed Me

All summer long, I’ve been chronicling the adventures of the cucumber plant that I affectionately named “Audrey II” after the man-eating plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. Once poised to take over the world, the plant’s days are numbered, as you can see in the photo above. Somehow it still manages to produce a cucumber every couple of days or so on one of its numerous offshoots. Hey, I will take two or three cucumbers a week versus the 200 a day that we were getting when the plant was in its prime back in July:

cucumber plant

Audrey II’s place in the garden has been supplanted (yes, pun intended) by the crazy pole beans I planted around the chicken pen to give the girls a little extra shade during the heat of the summer. Rivaling Jack’s beanstalk, these beans have grown up and over the top of the pen:

pole beans

I have to harvest the beans from inside the pen and through the roof as the chickens run around under foot.

pole beans

The little tomatillo that could

Another crazy plant in my garden in September is a tomatillo plant that’s growing up in the middle of the bush beans in the lower tiered bed. Mind you, we intentionally did not plant any tomatillos this year because we still have loads of tomatillo salsa leftover from 2014. However, late in the summer, I noticed a volunteer tomatillo plant growing up in the middle of the beans. I decided to leave it be, figuring it was so small that it would never get around to bear fruit before the end of the growing season.

Boy was I wrong:

tomatillo plant

While I may never get around to doing anything with all of those tomatillos, I’m glad I left the plant. The bees love the blossoms, and I love the bees:

bees on tomatillo blossom

A banner year

After a disappointing 2014 growing season for peppers, 2015 has been quite the opposite. It’s amazing how many peppers one can harvest from a 4′ x 8′ raised bed:

pepper plants

The habanero plant in the front corner alone has produced literally hundreds of peppers. Considering that one habanero goes a long, long way (it’s one of the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale), it’s been a challenge figuring out what to do with them all.

Fortunately, we also have had a bumper crop of peppers that we use liberally in cooking, like orange bell and ancho:

orange bell pepper ancho pepper

More good stuff

We planted many of our vining crops late in an effort to thwart the squash bugs. That strategy worked well. We began harvesting cantaloupe in September:

cantaloupe cantaloupe

The squash bugs did get the better of the butternut squash vines, but not before at least a dozen of beautiful squash like these developed, now ready to be harvested:

butternut squash

And the fall plantings of lettuce and chard are coming along nicely:

fall greens

Meanwhile, in the egg garden …

I was hoping to have some pretty pastel eggs to show you this month, but the Easter Eggers, now at age 22 weeks or so, still haven’t begun laying. While they may be slackers, they have developed into beautiful hens:

Easter Egger hens

At least the other three hens are still pulling their weight:

backyard chicken eggs

What’s been going on in your garden in September?

zinnias and bees