|50 Chandler Strawberry plants, from Ison's Nursery|
It is too late in my area for planting most cool season crops, but this is the month to set garlic and shallots in the garden, and last night I planted a lot of little strawberry plants that had arrived (very well packaged) on Wednesday. There are still about 20 plants that need to be set into the garden, but the ground is mostly prepared for them.
Planting is a very hope-filled activity, and it usually involves some serious work.
We still are bringing in hilariously large quantities of peppers from the garden, along with the first of the cool season vegetables.We've brought in bok choy and winter radishes, and the first beets are almost ready to pull. The sweet potatoes, one of the remaining summer crops, will be coming out of the ground this weekend, too. This part of gardening for me is packed with amazement and joy; always, I think "wow! this really awesome food grew in my garden!", even when the day's harvest is just one radish.
For the peppers, "process" means chopping up for either the dehydrator or freezer; for the bok choy, "process" means chop-and-stir-fry for the evening meal. For winter radishes, slice thinly and sprinkle with salt to eat with crackers and either cheese or hummus.
Based on comments and questions in my inbox at work, I will not be the only gardener in Cobb County curing sweet potatoes in the back of a car this year. Taking advantage of the greenhouse-effect in a car to achieve the high temperatures that work best (covering the sweets with a towel or newspapers to keep the sun off) is all the processing that sweet potatoes need. I bring my basket of sweets into the house at night, when temperatures are lower, and then set them back in the car to cure in the sunny parking lot at work during the week. After a week or so, I quit driving them around the county, letting them stay in a basket on the floor of the kitchen until we have eaten them all.
Processing food for storage or for eating can be a very creative endeavor (as when Joe thinks up new combinations of vegetables to ferment for pickles or sauces), and it can be stunningly tedious. Soon, we (well, mostly Joe, since he does a lot more of this than I do) will tire of chopping vegetables into small pieces for the freezer and dehydrator. Luckily, we get a break from that with the cool season vegetables, which we usually eat the same day they are harvested.
The truly amazing part of gardening is that we get to keep going, in a pattern that rings the year. The good food keeps on coming into the kitchen for us to enjoy! Of course, I've left out the boring weeding-part and a bunch of other maintenance work involved in the space between "Plant" and "Harvest", but the work is part of the whole, sweet cycle. I hope everyone else is enjoying this time in the gardening year!