Hard Harvest Moon

The moon last night. A total wow. How fitting for 9/11. A full moon, low in the sky illuminating the earth, illuminating our hearts.
 
Last night’s moon was the last full moon before autumn’s official arrival. That makes it the “Harvest Moon.” It was named “Harvest Moon” because this time of year is crop gathering season for many farmers. And that big, bright moon gives them extra time to harvest their produce.
I don’t know about you. But I wasn’t bringing in any crops. My garden is quite bare. Sadly bare. My major harvest this summer was tomatoes and basil. They are both long gone now.
 
But being a “harvest” moon and all, I knew I should harvest something. So I got rather loosey-goosey with the definition, as I often do. I’ll tell you what I’m harvesting in just a minute, but how about you? Did you harvest anything? Either in your garden, or in your career, or in your home, or in your family, or in your head, or in your heart?

The problems with my garden this year have been numerous. First, we’ve had an extraordinarily dry growing season. The summer air remained sticky and heavy; yet there was never enough moisture to relieve the plants of their thirst. Instead, the humidity and hot sun made it hard for the garden-tending humans to be outside. I have convinced myself that I captured the haze of ‘southern humidity’ in pictures I took one evening in the garden. Is that possible?

 

This was at the end of life for my tomato plants. They were dried up and looking poorly. Poor them. Poor me for not having any more fresh red tomatoes.
 
Do you know that this is the first summer I’ve longed for a swimming pool in my backyard? Ever. I’m not much of a sun worshipper or swimmer, so I’ve never even thought about the prospect. But this year I couldn’t get it out of my mind how refreshing a nice, crisp pool might feel. So you know what I did instead? I bought one of those little plastic kiddie pools, filled it with water, and I’d sit in it after working in the garden. Plop. I loved it.
So did my three dogs. I don’t know how many times I’d spot one or more of them standing in it. 
 
Okay, so other than the dry season, there were also the PESTS!
 
I had planted a few of those long, lovely, tasty Asian beans. Have you seen those? They are bright green, grow at least 2 feet long, and are very skinny.

Truthfully, the joke never got old. I’d take one of those beans, put it somewhere unusual (like on top of the towels in the cabinet, or in the driver’s seat of the car), and I’d wait. The single, long, slender bean looks exactly like a little grass snake. Of course, it wasn’t as funny when the trick was played ON me instead BY me.
 
Anyway, the aphids found them. And then—to the rescue, the ladybugs found the aphids. Natural pest control at work.

And looky here. More ladybugs on the way….

I didn’t have much luck with my Red Russian Kale, no natural pest control showed up to save the day. They were decimated before I knew I had a pest problem.

I quickly found the reason.

Isn’t it cool how the catepillars are the same color as the kale leaves.

Wait. You probably can’t tell that. Since the leaves are GONE.

But they are.

And. No.

I didn’t.

I just let them be.

I mean.

It was too late already.

And they might grow up to be some spectacular butterfly.

You know?

Live and let live.

And what about corn? Is it even possible to grow corn organically? What, with all those worms that get into the husks and eat away. This year we planted some red popcorn, just for the fun of it. The worms ate every bit of it. We didn’t get to pop ONE. I planned on popping the ears in the microwave like I’d read about, but we never had the chance. In retrospect, it might have been for the best. You see, at about the same time the popcorn ears were maturing, my daughter was beginning her orthodontic journey. “Absolutely no popcorn,” her orthodontist preached.

Oh, and we had this little one.

I removed him at least a dozen times. (Him, that is, or someone who looked exactly like him.) I’d pick him up from under my tomato plants and carry him outside the garden fence to the front yard. “Here, little one, you’ll be happy here. There’s lots to eat and plenty of cover.” Nope, he’d always made his way back.
I planted soybeans. Not a one came up. Not a single bean.
 
I also planted Swiss chard in the new garden area. One came up. Just one. It had done so well near the house.
 
That was my big clue: it must be the soil. Swiss chard planted in my tiny side herb garden area: does well. Swiss chard planted in my big, new, beautiful garden: does terrible.
 
The new garden area was scraped down by a bobcat when we moved back to this house. What I’ve got to work with is hard, dry red Georgia clay. The soil is simply too hard and dense to allow seeds to pop through.
 
Hmmm…it now occurs to me, as I ponder this post, that the gardening problems never appear to rest with me, the gardener. It is always the soil, or the seed, or the lack of water, or the pests….denial, yep, it’s my good friend named denial.
 
Okay, So this fall and winter I decided I’d try to remove the “poor soil” excuse from my list of excuses of why my garden fails. Before spring planting time rolls around next year, my soil will be amply amended.
 
I bought bags and bags of dirt, manure, soil conditioner. I bought BIG bags, bigger than I could handle. I unloaded them by picking them up to the extent I could, twist and throw down off of the truck, over into the garden. And whoops, there it went—not only the heavy bag of dirt, but my back too. (I keep getting reminders that I’m not 25 anymore. Dangit. That hurts on so many different levels.) So currently the bags of dirt are lying there in my garden, waiting for me.
 
Now, for the answer to the question of what I am harvesting this Harvest Moon: creativity! Ta-Da!
I’m counting down the days until the Creative Connection Event in St. Paul! Just a couple more!
I’m bringing my Law-Maze Program there, to teach creative entrepreneurs how to get their business off the ground and soaring. I can’t wait to meet artists and crafters and be in the presence of all that creative energy. I’ll stand out like a sore thumb–I’ll be the boring one in the black suit! Maybe I’ll take my cowboy boots just for fun.
I’m beyond thrilled to be there for the MaryJanesFarm Day on Saturday. Check out the website for more details. It is going to be such a special time.
 
Now, how about you? Tell us what you are harvesting….in any sense of the word.
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

Leave a comment 27 Comments

  1. I harvested the last of the Early Girl/beefsteak that were a quarter the size I expected them to be today. (Um, that was a bit run on.) Still have a Roma tomato going strong in a pot in the backyard. It definitely felt like fall today though.

    A little pool like that is a brilliant idea! I shall have to try it next summer. I bet the dogs will think its fun too.

  2. Cindy says:

    OK so I had a bad harvest year too…sort of. We weren’t going to have a garden this year, but I wanted everyone to plant just one edible item. How could I not plant one thing when I asked others to do so? I just posted a picture of my pathetic looking tomato plant. And I had a bare area so I threw a bunch of flower seeds in the ground. THe flowers did great! And in our oh so weedy back yard….sweet annie. Lots and lots of it. Sooooo, I have a huge harvest of Sweet Annie!

    Cindy Bee

  3. Janice K. says:

    Right now I am harvesting a beautiful crop of cucumbers (my neighbors and everyone else that I run into LOVE me) and tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, zucs, onions…
    Yes! This was the year of aphids (covered my dill!), earwigs, ants, slugs, spiders….. We had a wet spring and we blamed it on everything that has to do with bugs. Now we are having a warm summer’s end and we are blaming that for the huge amount of yellow jackets and hornets. This was the first year in many that I got ‘stung’. I don’t let them bother me and try to remain calm. Usually works! I am experimenting with natural traps, made out of water bottles.

    Then there are the MICE. I usually don’t do anything about the colony that lives in the garden area. This year they have invaded my tomatoes and have eaten their share. At first I thought that it might be one of my rabbit colony that lives in the iris bed. I covered everything in the nylon screen material that is supposed to be a wildlife deterrent, even though my hubby told me it was ‘MEECES". When my first wonderful heirloom fell to their chomping little mouths, we resorted to trapping. Yuck…Yesterday caught 20…Now there is a skunk eating the corn!
    Ah, the unpredictability of gardening!!

  4. Barb Lavell says:

    I’m still harvesting herbs & vegetables but, even though this was an unusually hot summer, I don’t think it was as hot as yours. I’ll be picking tomatoes & summer squash until it freezes (which, according to the weathermen might be in the next few days). The cucumbers, eggplants & all lettuces are long gone and my peas never got off the ground! I still have potatoes & sweet potatoes to harvest & they seem to be doing fine. Oh, I have a few green peppers still on the vine as well. I also moved my peas to what I thought was a better spot – they apparently didn’t agree as they refused to grow there. Gardening is a learning process, I am constantly learning. Gardening keeps me humble.

  5. Debbie says:

    Ah, Texas has been hit hard this summer as it was the hottest state on record and we are in one of the worst droughts ever with almost everyone in water rationing. And then there are the fires! So my garden this summer was the worst. But the one thing that has survived is my okra. It has been a thing of beauty! In this trying time, I decided to almost double my veggie garden area – why I don’t know. Maybe I’m just waiting for better days ahead.

  6. Keleen says:

    Thank you for this post! I didn’t harvest much from my garden this year either. We live in SC, due east from Atlanta, and our weather was the same as yours. We even have the same red Georgia clay. If the seeds actually do sprout, the roots smother from lack of oxygen. So next year I plan to have raised beds, and also purchase seeds for plants that will produce fruit in consistently high temps. Many of my plants had gorgeous blooms, but did not fruit. Gardening is a journey; we learn as we go. Next year we’ll both have bountiful harvests!

  7. Penny says:

    Your garden sounded like mine…we planted so much this year and almost harvesting anything to put up for the winter. Oh well, there is always next year. Thank you for sharing your story I really enjoyed reading it.

  8. MaryFrantic says:

    Harvest what?…Everything is "eaten up", "dried up", "buggy beyond redemption", "scalded", or in a couple of cases they were harvested by deer and groundhogs, aaaaagggggghhhhhhh! The other morning I went to check on some scraggling green tomatoes. During the night some creature had pulled them off the vine, chewed out a place in the side and just left it there to torment me, aaaaaggggghhhhhh!…I am going to put in some KALE and CHARD seeds (here in OHIO) and who knows maybe I will get a harvest for Thanksgiving?..It happened once before, so???

  9. CJ says:

    Our garden is minimal, at best! I’ve never had such a "minimal" garden and it’s so very disappointing. However, we are harvesting volunteer pole beans, some tomatoes and a few carrots or beets. My hubby brought in three carrots, or what was left of them, the other morning. Those dirty, rotten, gopher scoundrels had eaten most of them away, from the bottom up, of course.
    But, I’m also harvesting satisfaction in my life and my heart with the completion of projects, pursuit of friendships and the enjoyment of my family.

  10. Blair says:

    Greens and herbs!

  11. carol branum says:

    Hi Becka,My garden was simply awful,it started good early in the spring and I took things to the market along with all the clothes I sew and then it got too hot and I started getting hot flashes along with the heat,and I just could not take the heat.I think I will make some Chow Chow just coz I like it so well in the winter with a big pot of beans.I am still trying to be creative.Things are good here as long as I stay positive!Wish I could be at Creative Connection with you,it would be so good for me.Money issues for me,or I would be there,see negative thinking again.I am still doing a lot of hair and a lot of sewing.Getting ready to do my 4th fashion show,if I get finished Oct 13th,Its so much fun.have a great day,carol Branum

  12. Joan says:

    Oh my ‘sister’ I feel your pain – did EVERYTHING right – new beds, new soil, NEW – started my seeds inside to give them a head start AND THEN – late freeze, snow, ice, hail – so ok I’ll spread some seeds – 1 white pumpkin plant/2 pumpkins – 2 cucumber plants – 10 cucumbers – 3 tomato plants a couple doz. tomatoes – then the HEAT – had to water no matter if most of the water was dripping from me – NOW the plants have dried up – so quit watering – just took some sun flowers, cucumber and pumpkin vines to the chickens – they sure were love’n them. BUT there is always next year – isn’t that they motto of a FARM GIRL. Hope you have a grand time at the Creative Connection Event – sounds like great fun. Also hope your back is better – I can relate to that too – had 2 spine surgeries later in my 50’s but keep’n on keep’n on.

  13. rebekah says:

    Jackie, Do find me! I’d LOVE to meet up and visit! I’m there Thursday through Saturday!

  14. Rebekah, Hi, did you try lasagna gardening, putting a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard, wet down generously, followed by mulch followed by compost repeat until about 24" thick and then let it break down for you so that your beds will be ready for your plants this next spring. Hope this works for you to amend your soil and also to keep from having to weed.

  15. Judy says:

    Here in Sacramento, California we had a pretty mild summer compared to what we usually get heat-wise. I planted my tomatoes in pots around my pool, because most of the yard is in the shade, and they did very well there. We have had a steady stream for eating but I will have to go buy some at the farmer’s market to put up any. Everything else was a bust. Normally I have zucchini coming out of my ears but I just got 3 small squash. My Serano peppers are just now producing in time for fall, and I only had a few string beans and a couple of asian eggplants. My arugula didn’t come up at all but my herbs are doing so well I am drying some for winter use.NowI look forward to sowing a fall/winter garden and take some more abuse. I don’t know why I find this so enjoyable but I do.

  16. Patty says:

    Ahhhh yes but denial has its uses! Because of denial you will probably try veggie gardening again and again and that is a very good thing.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Rebekah,
    Thank you, from one backyard Georgia gardener to another!

    Red Clay is extraordinarily difficult to work with, isn’t it? But look at what you were able to grow and you did it organically! Do not despair. Turn over all that vegetation right into your beds, as Green Manure is the best composting material. By next season it’ll have broken down and turned into a nice rich humus. Don’t let your garden sit idle over the winter. Sow some red clover cover crop now that you will turn in next spring as green manure. Also, you need worms! Lots and lots and lots of worms. Worm castings…awesome.

    And, instead of digging down, try building up. Amending upward, implementing a raised bed technique, will definitely pay off. I live in the N.GA mountain area and pulled off a decent first year garden utilizing the ‘lasagna’ layering method, raising my beds and some heavy mulching. Moisture remained deep in the beds and while watering was a challenge, I did not notice the effects of our drought until very late into August.

    If you can get connected with some Alpaca manure, jump right on it. Alpaca manure can be applied directly to your beds as it is cool enough that it will not burn your plants. Most all Alpaca farmers employ organic farming principles due to the sensitivity of the Alpaca digestive system, so their manure is ‘clean’ and very, very, very good fertilizer. Your flowers, shrubs, vegetables, everything will love it!

    As for the bug issue, try some more extensive companion planting. Herb and Vegetable Combinations really deter pests. Beneficial bug wildflowers are also very helpful. You’ll be amazed at the results. Rodale’s Organic Gardening Reference Books are a must for your library.

    Looking forward to next year’s growing season…

  18. Debbie says:

    Hey Rebekah!
    I feel our gardening pain! My garden at home did diddly squat, but the two little 4×4 raised bed we planted at our cottage did wonderful. I had cuc’s to share and I’ve got a bowl full of the last of the tomatoes that I hope to make salsa with tomorrow! Have some basil in a pot on the deck and I’m going to try making my own pesto sauce too! So…. not as glorious as I had planned or hoped for, but still enough of a little harvest to keep this farmgirl in the garden for years to come… for better or worse!!! LOL!
    Besides veggies, I harvested something else too! We’re moving kids around in the house there will be a small room available so I nabbed it! I’m finally going to have my own little nook for daydreaming, creating and writing!!!

    Sure wish I was going to see you at the CC this year :( I almost made reservations, but then hubby had to be out of town for work…. NEXT YEAR I’m going!! Good luck with your class. I know you’ll do great and inspire lots of women!!!
    Here’s a hug for you and give MaryJane and Meg one for me too!
    Love,
    Deb ( your beachy farmgirl sister )

  19. MaryLynne says:

    As the beauty of seasonal change just keeps going we keep learning and loving our gardens. I met my first horned tomato worm this year and have gotten up close and personal withat least 50 so. Iowans had the heat so that things like beans and zuc did not pollinate. The last month has brought good conditions for growing so we’ll see. Squash and melons are plentiful the beans have recovered, tomatos still growing. During the harvest moon I did a garden walk in my pj’s. I am overwhemed with gratefulness that I (like you) have a place to harvest our veggies, our profound thoughts, and reap the products of our creativity. Next year I resolve to prevent tomato worms by spending more time out there in my pj’s with my morning coffee!

  20. Cathy Harvey says:

    Rebekah, you’re the coolest!

  21. Aloka Mukherjee says:

    The summer was either very dry or very wet herein Kentucky. But we did manage to get quite a number of tomatoes. Our five okra plants is still providing us with a lot of okra.Being Indians we planted some bitter melon seeds and I am stll getting a lot of those vegetables from those creepers. Our biggest surprise is our yellw squash creeper. That one grew out of some seeds that I had thrown last year. I have already harvested one and will probably get three or so squashes from that vine before frost gets to it. I am thankful for litle miracles such as this one!

  22. Marce says:

    wow! all these hints… well here’s a bit more. I live in the NE Tenn mts and we too have hard red clay. Been here 2 years and we tilled in our own organic compost and lots of homemade fermented compost tea and the soil turned a rich brown. We’ve had a great garden two years now and by adding the compost tea, we have not had a problem with unwelcome insects but do get lots of ladybugs and other welcome bug friends. When the garden stops bearing we till all the leftovers in along with more compost. Should be great next year. Each year we decide what crops we don’t want anymore and what we do want but less of for the next year.

  23. Howdy! You sure got my attention with that Eastern Box Turtle! I have one just like it. She has been with us a dozen years or so and she just LOVES all the stuff I give her to eat from the garden!
    Otherwise, we also tried out a new garden bed this year and luckily, had a great result. Our soil is pretty decent to start with and amended with chicken poop, the garden was pretty much gangbusters! We did have to contend with predators (the worm type, the rabbit type, the mole type, the deer type), super cold temps, super hot temps and a shortage of rain. Somehow, though, we worked through it and I am so thankful for our harvest.
    I hope to hear your luck has changed next year. Stick with it, there is a life lesson in there somewhere.
    Suzy aka The Pocket Farmer

  24. Nicole says:

    Summer never really hit the greater Portland Oregon area until the beginning of September so the tomatoes are just getting ripe, but we have a huge crop. My zucchini grew enough to satisfy; we got a few artichokes, and a bunch of hot peppers. Strawberries came out our ears and from down the road we picked 25 pounds of wild blackberries. I planted the corn green beans to early so next year I’ll take a clue from my more experienced neighbors and wait until they plant.

    Other harvest of note:
    I sent my manuscript for a novel I worked on over the last year to my writing group and got great feedback (not now to prune and trim the story). I also got a nice blog up and running and delved into the world of twitter to connect with other writers and agents.

    As a family we harvested up a few warms days to spend on the boat at a nearby lake and out on Columbia River (avoiding the salmon fishermen) so we could tube and swim.

    All in all a productive and satisfying summer.

    Rebekah- thanks for the the post! Love your thoughts.

  25. Kimberly says:

    Much appreciated for the information and share!

  26. Suzanne says:

    had to say how much i love your blog!

  27. tamra Litz says:

    Hahaha…I found you because os seeking images of Tomato plants as poor looking as mine!!!!! (bleh)

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