a change of seasons

After a scorching summer with unrelenting days of temperatures over 100 degrees, this past holiday weekend finally brought a partial reprieve for Texas. On Labor Day, the mercury didn’t even break 90 degrees. During the worst of the heat we’ve been watering our garden in the morning and evening, but when I walked outside to water on Monday morning, the air was surprisingly chilly. I purposely call it a partial reprieve, though. As of the week before, Stage 1 water restrictions for our area began, and despite the welcome drop in temperatures, we still need rain, desperately. 

Fortunately, watering by hand is allowed anytime, and with the cooler weather, we’ve only needed to water thoroughly in the evenings during this past week. The plants in the garden are responding to the change too. The lanky, leaning poblano pepper plant has exploded with new fruit, and I’ve had to prop it up with tall stakes. The banana pepper plant, which had been slowing down its production, is now blooming again, along with the hybrid jalapeno. And finally, after a summer of unfruitful waiting and pampering, the green bean plants, with their pretty little white flowers, have begun to produce tiny little green bean sprouts.

For other plants, the summer has come to an end. Yesterday I harvested the very last zucchini and removed the beleaguered zucchini vine. That plant hung on valiantly against the dastardly attack of squash vine borers, and still produced beautiful edible flowers and fruit to the very end. The lemon mint herb, happily invading everyone’s space in the raised bed, unhappily went to seed after I re-potted it in the confines of a container. The tomatoes were fiercely tested by the heat this summer, and in response pretty much unproductive (other than several small cherry tomatoes). Yet they survived and remained free of pests. That is, until I moved them to a new location, in the grass, next to the back of the house, where I thought they’d benefit from spending a shorter amount of time in the sun. A few days later, between the three tomato plants I found a total of five tomato hornworms. These unwelcome devourers look almost exactly like a tomato leaf when they’re clinging to the stem, munching away. Of the three tomato varieties we potted, one now remains. Maybe with the better weather, and a vigilant worm watch patrol, we’ll see a few more tomatoes this fall.

I’m sure every person who undertakes raising a garden has their share of success and frustration. For the first-time gardener like me, there are many new experiences. I’ve made uneasy truces with bugs that are friends of the garden. I’ve captured or squashed its enemies. I’ve not yet been able to diagnose the exact disease on a leaf of an afflicted plant. Some days, as I’m watering or wandering in the backyard, it feels like all is well and healthy. Other days, I admit I’m a bit overwhelmed with the task and I realize how much I don’t know. But I’m still glad we started the garden, because growing more of our own food is a direction I intend to keep moving in.

As part of a new season, in addition to recipes, I also want to include more of this direction in my weekly blogs. I hope to offer information, resources, and links to other like-minded blogs for readers who are also wanting to start their own gardens and grow their own food. Mostly, I’ll be sharing what I’m learning along the way. With our changing economy and subsequent goals, I have other ideas in mind, too, and hope to share those with you in the future.

I hope you’ll join me-thanks for being a part of “the musician, who cooks…”

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