Autumn… briefly.

The change in weather has brought changes in the garden. The tomatoes and peppers that languished through the height of the summer have now taken off. I must have a dozen new bushsteak tomatoes now that the weather has cooled and over thirty new cherry tomatoes. The peppers that became few and small through August and September are now flowering and fruiting with abandon. The scraggly looking mint that had to be given a crew cut is now lush and green. Lack of pollinators seems to be a major problem with yield in the garden, but the heat didn’t help anything. Even self-pollinating plants suffered until it cooled. I wish I could be thrilled with all the good stuff growing in the garden this month, but, truth be told, I’m a little pissed about their horrible timing. Our average first frost date here runs about November 26. Is it just me, or does winter sneak up on everyone?

Transition

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TAMU Jalapenos

It is trying very hard to be autumn here in south central Texas. We have lovely, cool mornings and warm days here right now. Highs are in the low nineties and when the humidity drops, even that is easily bearable. Who knows? In a couple of weeks, the low may drop below 65°F and we can all break out that one sweater we own.

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Okra

There are changes going on in the garden. The marigolds have had it. The basil is trying to bolt. I’m easily getting two and three okra a day off my one Red Burgundy plant. The drop in temps have revived the peppers and vining tomatoes, and they have begun to flower once again.

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Cowpeas!

Some things have been given new life. Others are done for the season. Some, like the yard-long beans, just keep going and going. The marigolds interplanted with the tomatoes back in March just up and quit on me recently, but I was able to save some seed. I can’t seem to remember what kind they were or if they were a hybrid or not. I guess I will find out next spring. That was easy to do because they called it quits on their own terms. The determinate tomatoes are another story. The cooler weather has caused them to begin to flower again, but none of them seem to set. A quick run on the math tells me that, if they were to set, they may not have time to mature. This is “thinning” at its worst. Do I hang on to the tomato plant with hopes and prayer, or do I yank the thing and make room for something new?

Broccoli
Broccoli

While I go back and forth about that, I went ahead and yanked the runner beans that never really caught on to make room for carrots and radishes. I’m still waiting for evidence of the parsley seed I planted in place of the marigolds, and I’m jammin’ radish seeds anywhere I can find a wee bit of space. I’m trying my hand at collards, kale, and cabbage. The seedlings are looking good and growing well and it looks like I may just have some success with the broccoli I planted.

Cabbage, collards, kale... really!
Cabbage, collards, kale… really!

Right now, I’m just trying to pace myself. I want to just plant everything all at once, but I know if I’m not careful, I may end up eating radishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. I have a new fondness for the crisp sweetness of a homegrown radish, but I don’t want to ruin that, so I have to reign myself in. What is making that even more difficult right now is a big box full of seed packets a neighbor gave me. She said she had been admiring my little container garden from afar and when she finally caught me out there watering, she explained that she, too, loved to garden, but was pursuing a graduate degree and didn’t have the time. I can’t wait to show her which of her little seeds have become seedlings now. Hopefully, I’ll have some nice cabbage and lettuce to share with her soon… and carrots and broccoli and radishes!