The Garden in September

September is a funny time of year for gardening in Ottawa. August is usually full of rain, cool weather and cloudy skies. In September, the weather warms up and feels more like summer than fall. Then it’s cold. Then it’s hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Hot.

This month is flip-flopping between beautiful warm evenings and bloody freezing days. I just don’t know what to leave in the ground or what to salvage, because who knows when the cold days will decide to stick around for good.

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Most of my tomatoes are still green. I left them in the ground for as long as I could. When a coworker mentioned that we’d be getting frost one night, I picked them all.

Now that I have picked them, it’s nice outside again but oh well, better safe than sorry.

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I’m leaving them in the kitchen to ripen. Not sure what I’ll do with them then. Maybe I’ll make a ton of pasta sauce and freeze part of it.

The cherry tomatoes on my balcony are more sheltered from the weather and I’m able to check on them every day, so I’m leaving them up for now.

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There are still some green ones growing. Once those are ready, I will turn them into sun-dried tomatoes.

Next up are the carrots.

 

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They are doing well. I pulled up a few to check on them.

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They are still small, so I’m leaving them to grow some more.  Thankfully they taste sweeter after a frost, according to a gardening magazine I read.

Okay, so I’ve got tons of swiss chard. They are gigantic!! I may have let them grow for too long – pretty sure I read somewhere that the leaves become more bitter the longer you leave them unharvested. Oops.

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They are taking up a cozy corner of the garden plot. The ones on my balcony aren’t growing so large, but the leaves are small and tender, so I guess that’s okay.

Chard is supposed to be cold resistant, so I am harvesting it in batches. I took most of the outside leaves this week and left the middle leaves to continue growing. We’ll see how much more I can get before it gets too cold.

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I didn’t know what to do with it all, so I made a stirfry with the chard and the beet tops. I might blanch and freeze the rest. Then I’ll have frozen chard that can then be added to soups or to smoothies over the winter.

Now for the experimental watermelon plant. Despite planting it late, I was able to grow it to an okay size and even get a flower to bloom. However, last time I checked, the flower was dead, no fruits forthcoming – as expected.

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At least now I have an idea of what to expect next summer when I try watermelon again. It trails along the ground and takes up a fair bit of space. It’s easy to trample, so I’ll probably fence off part of the plot to protect it from animals and from my own feet.

Okay, beets! I’m pleased with how they turned out. Not many of the seeds germinated, but that’s my own fault for not watering regularly.

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I have probably mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. Beets are related to swiss chard, so that’s why the tops look so familiar.

As you can see, these are protuding above the ground and are more than ready to harvest!!

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Look at how big that one beet is! The ones at the store are puny by comparison. Haha! I don’t know if the size will compromise the taste, but oh well. It feels pretty cool to have grown a giant beet.

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Last but not least, the malabar spinach. I planted it way too late in the plot. It was doing okay at the time I took this photo, but last time I checked it hadn’t grown at all. It doesn’t like the chilly weather.

However, it is doing just fine on the balcony.

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It’s so pretty that I don’t want to eat it! I brought the pot inside last night in the hopes that I can keep it alive over the winter.

That’s it for now! I have transplanted some of the herbs into smaller pots to bring inside.

The kale seems to be doing better now that it has grown colder. Being a cold-hardy plant, I am planning to take advantage of that by planting more kale seeds. I know they can survive winter when grown in the ground and mulched, but I’m not sure how it will fare in pots.

I guess we will see!

How’s your garden handling fall?

K.

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