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Volunteer sunflower

In spite of the days still being warm, the late summer has arrived and with it a creeping taste of the season changing. The days are getting shorter. Early mornings are cool. The ducks and geese are flocking. The squirrels are chowing down and fattening up. My late summer allergies punched me in the face. Between my allergies and all the work still to do in the garden, I will very soon be looking forward to winter when I can rest. Until then, I am not quite ready for it all to be over yet, which is good because there are still some weeks to go.

About a month ago we had a baby rabbit move into the garden. It was tiny and cute and it wasn’t bothering anything so we weren’t worried about it. Now we have an adolescent rabbit, still smallish, still cute, but not so very welcome. It hasn’t bothered many things in the garden but it does have a fondness for green beans. Every day I go out and one more plant has been turned into a stick. There are so many places in the garden for the rabbit to hide, there is no way I can get rid of it.

So I let the Dashwoods into the main garden hoping that their roaming about will convince it to go elsewhere. The only trouble is, the Dashwoods do their own kind of damage. Like dig up the potatoes. The potatoes were ready to be dug, we just hadn’t had the time to get to them yet. The Dashwoods decided they could help us with that. Both Elinor and Margaret got themselves lovely big blue potatoes and me running out and shooing them away while frantically trying to cover the potato bed with lengths of old cardboard. The remaining potatoes were saved, and dug up by us. But the Dashwoods had a great time following after and rooting up all the tiny little potato nubs we missed.

Lady Godiva pumpkin vines

The pepita pumpkin growing in the chicken garden continues to vine out all over the place. The pumpkin growing on it is now as big as a beach ball and starting to turn orange. While trying to harvest elderberries, I discovered a number of other smaller pumpkins that were hidden under pumpkin leaves and elderberry branches.

Pepita pumpkin

The variety is called “Lady Godiva” and I have decided the name was given because the leaves are big enough for the famous Lady to need only one, maybe two, showed she choose to go out for a modest ride. I am really hoping there are a lot of seeds in these pumpkins! Not sure how the flesh will taste, I have heard it might be rather blah. If that’s the case and we are unable to find anything to spice it up, the chickens will get to enjoy it.

The pie pumpkins were doing well. I had six lovely nice sized ones just turning orange a few days ago. Now I have two. The blasted squirrels ate the others! I covered the two remaining ones in row cover fabric in hopes the squirrels will leave them alone. They can easily tear the fabric if they want to so we’ll see if it works. In the process I found a third, still green pumpkin so I covered that too. Last year the squirrels ate every single one of my pie pumpkins. I had been used to them biting them a little but never going any further than that. The little devils have also taken to eating my tomatoes this year too! They like the red ones best, but they are not above eating green ones. So frustrating!

“Mammoth” sunflower

There are a couple of volunteer sunflowers in the garden. One of them is about 9 feet tall and has several small flowers on it. We’ve been laughing as we watched the plant grow—such an enormous stalk for such small flowers. The sunflower we planted intentionally is just as tall. The variety is “Mammoth.” It is supposed to be tall and have an enormous flower full of tasty seeds. The flower is certainly larger that the tall volunteer, but it doesn’t begin to approach mammoth proportions, which is rather disappointing. It’s still pretty though and the bees are happily enjoying its pollen, so I can’t really complain. The squirrels are, of course, enjoying the sunflowers too. They climb up the stalks and eat the seeds, or chew through the flower head and run off with it.

Grapes after rain

All my grapes are ripe and picked. There are quite a lot of them. They are seedless table grapes and James and I enjoyed some on a picnic at our neighborhood lake the other day. There are too many to be able to eat them all before they go bad so I have washed and frozen the rest. I am looking forward James making them into jam.

And now, as I mentioned earlier, I am picking elderberries. Washing and freezing them. Once they are all picked they will be cooked into jam.

When the elderberries are done the only things left growing in the garden are blackeyed peas, pumpkins, zucchini, and carrots. Oh, and there are green apples on our front yard tree to pick. It was not a big apple kind of year, but there are still enough to make a few batches of apple sauce. And we are going to try our hand at making our own apple cider vinegar from the scraps.