The threat of an overnight frost drove me into the garden this evening.  Frost is Nature’s way of telling the gardener and farmer that it is time to slow down.  The hard work of the season has come to an end.  The growing season is filled with endless tasks to assist, as best as humanly possible, the growth of bountiful crops.  But Frost steps in and brings with him an abrupt end to the season.  With one visitation many of our beloved warm season vegetable crop’s growth, comes to a halt.

Tonight I entered the garden with the expectation of a final harvest.  I meticulously moved my way from plant to plant harvesting what needed to be saved from the impending doom.  I didn’t waste my time with the green beans; they had already given their last few beans last week.  The cucumbers had begun to fade a few weeks ago, but there were still a dozen lemon cukes that I’ve been planning on turing into pickles.  I grabbed the dozen I wanted and left three times that many on the vine.  Those left were either overripe or damage and will meet their end in the compost pile a week from now.  Next came the harvest of onions.  I stooped down to the hard soil (you should stop watering your onions a week or so before you harvest) and dug each onion out by hand.  The onions ended up with quite the range of sizes, from tiny, shallot sizes to huge, softball sizes.  I think of everything grown this year, onions seem to pique my interest the most. Tomatoes and cucumbers-those are what normal people grow in thier gardens.  Onions, however, seemed to be outside of the norm for the average backyard grower.  It’s been amazing to see them go through their growth phases.

After the onions it was on to the peppers.  Small tiny purple beauty, still green “golden bell” and the hot-pepper-looking sweet peppers whose name have escaped me all were harvested.  I’ve heard rumors of people digging up their pepper plants and potting them up to keep them indoors through the winters (most peppers are natural tropical biennials.) but I decided that that might be too much work for me.  Now on to the tomatoes.  I’ve learned countless things this year, but one thing stands out when I’m looking at my tomatoes: give them more room and more support.  I know that’s two things, but the two go so well together.  My tomatoes outgrew their cages and started to sprawl all over.  As I was harvesting the ripe and larger unripe fruit I had to untangle 4-6 ft. tomato branches.  Not next year, if I can remember about this hassle.  I harvest purple “Black Krim” and orange “Hill Billy” and red “Amish paste” and black “Black Cherry” tomatoes ripe and ready to eat as well as their green, yet to be ripened, counterparts.  I have several large green tomatoes that I am excited about turning into “fried green tomatoes.”  I’ll let you guess which cultivar I think would be most appropriate to be eaten fried-it has the initials “H B.”

After I finished harvesting what I wanted I stood back and looked at what was left of the garden that I spent the summer toiling in.  My heart was filled with a great sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt in quite some time.  I had crafted this garden plot into an investment of time, resources and emotion, and had harvested ten fold what I put in.  I wish more people could experience this feeling.  I want to help more people experience this feeling.   But now, with the frost quickly approaching, my job is to inspire people to take part in this expeirence whether through digging up thier yard and planting rows of crops or simple filling a pot with some soil and a few seeds.

The harvest has been abundant.