Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Butterfly Moon

The traditional name for October's full moon is the Harvest Moon, which would be nice if I were harvesting anything. This is another case of Phoenix Moon Grove's name being more appropriate, because I have seen quite a few butterflies around, especially since things have finally cooled down. This is the time of year monarch butterflies, the state insect of Texas, migrate through on their way to Mexico for the winter. I've also seen quite a few swallowtails of various sorts feeding from the flowers that have bloomed now that we got some rain.

I think it's safe to say the Worst Summer Ever is finally over! Cold fronts have brought cool weather and rain, and that 100 degree October day I feared won't happen after all.

In the garden there are a few survivors of summer's wrath. The California Wonder bell pepper plants have started putting out fruit, at last. The problem is I'm not sure if I'll get any to mature before frost. It might be too late for that. I'll save seeds from them if I do.

Only two tomatillos survived. I never got any fruit before the extreme heat set it, and like with the peppers, I am afraid I might not get any before frost. We usually get our first freeze somewhere around Thanksgiving. Looks like it turns out that watering these plants all through summer wasn't worth it, if I don't get a fall crop. I guess now I know better for next year.

Here's something unexpected. Once it started raining again, some of my sweet potatoes have re-sprouted! I was sure they were all dead, and I had mowed that spot down. Looks like I've got a couple of Vardamans and a couple of Nancy Halls coming back. Maybe I'll dig them up and put them in pots to overwinter them for next spring.

I've been working on planting the fall crops I started in pots. This autumn is turning out to be much more a time for planting than for harvesting. Here's my bed of cauliflower, mustard, and collards. They're doing pretty well so far.

In another bed I direct-seeded peas, and root crops like radishes, carrots, turnips, and beets. Most of them are sprouting well.

Now I'm thinking it may have been a mistake to start peppers in the fall. They didn't get big enough in time to plant them and get a harvest before frost, so I'll try to keep them in post over winter, but they're getting big now. I just pruned them back a bit because they were starting to get tall and leggy. Maybe once it gets colder that will slow down their growth.

Here's my lettuce I've started in flats. The last time I did an online seed swap I got a whole lot of lettuce seeds. Since lettuce seeds don't have a long shelf-life, I decided to plant a whole bunch this winter. It will be much more lettuce than I could ever eat. This will be more of a trial to see which varieties do the best, and then I'll save seed from the best ones (thankfully lettuce doesn't cross-pollinate much, so I can save seed from more than one variety at a time). As you may be able to tell from the picture, some of the lettuce varieties have much higher germination rates than others, so it's probably a good thing that I'm renewing them this winter before germination drops off even more.

Well, it's a huge relief that summer is finally over! I'm worried that the drought will continue next summer, but at least for now the weather is bearable, and even if we stay behind on rain, cooler temperatures will make that a little less bad.

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