A few weeks ago I placed a plastic bag over the head of one of the sunflowers in hopes that I would beat the birds and squirrels to the seeds. I couldn’t just cut off the head because while the flower had been pollinated, the seeds weren’t done forming. The bag was a big success. Yesterday I thought, it’s about time to cut the flower head off. Since I had plans on being out in the garden doing other stuff Sunday I figured there was no harm leaving it until today. The bag, after all, had been doing a great job at protecting it.Bookman and I managed to sleep late this morning, well late for us anyway, and we got up and had a lazy breakfast of from scratch gingerbread waffles. I pulled open the blinds and looked out into the garden and something wasn’t right. There was a hole in the landscape, what was missing? And then I realized it, the sunflower! The stalk was broken off about knee high and the rest of it was on the ground. I could still see the plastic bag so I thought, naively, that it had deterred the squirrels from the seeds. I put on my wellies and tramped out to find the squirrels had ripped open the bag and eaten every single seed. The remains of their feast was scattered around amidst the peppers and tomatoes where the flower stalk had fallen.
If I had cut off the flower head yesterday I would have been shelling sunflower seeds right now. Note to self, deterrents only deter for so long. If it is ripe, don’t wait or you’ll be sorry.
The weather has taken a decided turn towards autumn. We came very close to actually having frost Saturday morning. I alsohad to scramble at the end of the week to find clothes to wear because suddenly all my summer clothes weren’t warm enough. The change in temperature has definitely put a halt to the warm season vegetables getting on. The corn is done. The zucchini is done. Tomatoes and peppers, the ones currently on the plants will only grow a little bigger and may or may not get fully ripe before we actually do get a frost. Ironically, the eggplant has just now decided it is going to fruit and we have three beautiful purple and white streaked fruits about the size of a gherkin pickle. There isn’t enough growing season left for these to get full size so they have suddenly become gourmet baby eggplants. Didn’t know that was a thing did you? Well it is now. Hopefully they will at least get to be big babies before we have to pick them. We’ll see.
This afternoon Bookman and I were out starting to clean up the veggie beds. We pulled out the pickling cucumbers that hardly produced anything. We pulled out the bush beans too. We weeded and scattered clover seed to grow as a cover crop and act as a green “manure” in the spring when we pull it out to plant vegetables next year.Fall also means it is apple picking time. Usually Bossy, our green cooking apple tree, produces apples on alternate years. Last year was a bumper crop year so we thought this year we’d be lucky to have any apples at all. But Bossy has quite a few apples. The squirrels have been helping themselves to their share this past week, but in this case there is enough for everyone. Bookman and I picked a bucket and there is probably another bucket or more on the tree. Problem is, they are all at the top of the tree beyond our reach even while standing on a step ladder. And they are big apples too! We aren’t sure how we are going to get up there to pick them, I suppose we have to try using the extension ladder on a day that is not breezy so the branch the ladder is braced against doesn’t move around and tip the ladder and Bookman over.
Last week I was sad at the prospect of it turning cool and gardening season being over. But the cool, dry, and breezy week and weekend is kicking up dust and pollen into the air and has my allergies working overtime. My eyes are dry and scratchy and my sinuses a bit inflamed. It is not bad enough to make me feel bad and keep me from doing things, but it does sap my energy. As the day progresses I start to notice just how worn out I feel. All that to say I am no longer sad gardening season is coming to an end. Mother Nature and my immune system had a chat and now my brain is in agreement. Yes, please, a hard frost would be quite nice. Trouble is, now that I have decided I am ready to be done for the season, there is no chance of frost in the forecast for the rest of the month. Temperatures will be cool and seasonable which means no frost until early to mid October. I guess when the freeze finally does come I will be extra happy and have not a twinge of sadness at the change of season.