Summer harvest was plentiful, but enough is enough

 

The calendar flipped to September this week, and despite a short summer, I’m already feeling autumn in the air. The same thing happens every year — the days start getting shorter and cooler and my devotion to my summer plants wanes.

I’m a sucker for yellow squash because it’s dependable and comes early. I relished the first harvest, but when my plants developed mildew on the hot, humid days at the end of July, it didn’t break my heart. By mid-August I was eating yellow squash for breakfast and serving it again at dinner and rooting the mildew on. Saturday, with a feeling of relief, I uprooted them.

The nearby English cucumbers were also covered with mildew, and while I like them more than squash, I’ve also eaten more cucumbers this year than I thought possible. Powdery mildew did more of a job on them than on the squash, so they died on their own, although we haven’t run out of cucumbers yet.

We still have lettuce, but the extra salad greens like mustard are going to seed, which is fine because we can use them in the kitchen for cooking. I’m about ready to quit green beans right now, too, although the vines are still producing.

I’m tired of cherry tomatoes and annoyed that the slicing tomatoes are just starting to blush. They are so slow this year. I’ve picked just one so far.

The sweet red peppers are also behind, but I should be able to stuff the first batch next week. We usually have the first stuffed peppers in July, not September.

My vegetable garden consists of 19 pots and a small area for pumpkins, butternut squash and kale. That’s a far cry from the subsistence gardens people depended in the United States a couple of generations ago. Most people labored throughout the year to preserve food so they had something to eat through the winter. Few were brats like me who complained about eating too many beans, cucumbers or squash.

I live with the modern miracle called a grocery store, and my garden is primarily for the pleasure of growing plants. I can complain about too much squash because I can easily buy something else to eat. But I planted beets in the empty squash and cucumber pots, so maybe there’s still some old-fashioned subsistence farmer in me somewhere.

Our garden still has kale, pumpkins and butternut squash, and we’re hungry for the taste of them as the days grow short and cooler. Plums, pears and apples are still to come, too, so the year’s harvest is far from over.

I find I’m more interested in fruits than vegetables. Maybe sweet fruit is simply more appealing than healthy vegetables. I suspect I just lose interest in annuals the longer I care for them. I’m tired of watering the window boxes of petunias, too.

Waxing philosophical about my good fortune doesn’t make me sorry to see the last of the squash and cucumbers. We’ve shared and will continue to share the vegetable bounty with friends and family. But sometimes, enough is enough. Bring on the slicing tomatoes and peppers. I’m more than ready.

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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