Garden Lifestyle

Last Day of Summer

Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow heralds the autumnal equinox.

Woohoo it is chile harvest season and no better time to celebrate Capsicum, Herb of the Year 2016 and the autumn equinox! These 'Brazilian Starfish' are a favorite new cultivar--sweet, then hot! Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow heralds the autumnal equinox. The summer garden is definitely looking like fall is in the air. See what my zone 7 Maryland garden looks like in the photos in this blog and what I’m harvesting and preserving right now.

I’ve just returned from a fortnight in Ireland where the landscape is still bright green; no sign of autumn colors there yet. However, that is not the case in my garden–something happened in the two weeks that I was traveling–and it no longer appears verdant summer green. Of course, the weeds grew huge in my absence, the tomato and bean vines shriveled and began turning brown and stopped producing. The zinnies and marigolds are showing off their rainbow colors more so than ever and the chile peppers are so laden, many of them are bent over sideways nearly touching the ground. The goldenrod is also so heavy it is sweeping the earth with its huge golden flower heads. Amaranth and castor bean plants bring Jack-and-the-Beanstalk to mind.

All varieties of basil, which I harvested previous to departure, are ready to be harvested again; some of them are even beginning to flower even though they were recently cut back. Besides drying the leaves and having pesto for dinner this week, I will be making aromatic herbal pastes with the leaves for the freezer. I will do this with the ‘Genoa Green’, ‘Mrs. Burns Lemon’ and ‘True Thai’. Here is a link from a video that I did a few years ago, which will take you from harvesting to freezing so you can see how easy it is to do. /item/3753/video-how-to-freeze-herbs

We have been making fresh tomato salsa all summer and I have dried trays of red chiles. It is easy to do in the oven. /item/6734/red-hot-how-to-harvest-dry-and-store-mature-red-chiles. I also ferment and pickle them. /item/12966/from-chiles-to-sauce I will be harvesting mature red and yellow chiles from my 25 different varieties this week. If there is danger of frost, harvest all chiles–if they freeze then you have lost them–since they become mushy and cannot be dried or preserved in that state.

It’s time to get busy–get out there and gather the bounty–the autumn equinox is a perfect day to harvest what is left of summer and preserve it for good eating during the cold weather ahead. Farewell to summer, thankful for this year’s bounty and welcome the fall season.


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