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Fall Harvest

I live in southern Minnesota, where - for the non-frozen half of the year, anyway - agricultural abundance abounds. Early fall is the time of spectacular backyard gardens, wild temperature swings, colorful leaves, tasseling corn, and farm equipment bustling slowly and self-importantly down the road, snarling up traffic. ;-)

Everywhere I look, I see visible signs of abundance - especially in our garden, which we harvested last weekend - with some help from our younger cat, Slinky.

It was 90' F. in the shade. The mosquitoes were horrible. And what were we doing? Digging, pulling, and gathering. Peeling, chopping, and cutting. Blanching, bagging, and freezing...until our eyes were bugging and our butts were dragging. We had cucumbers, carrots, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, ground cherries (ick) and okra (shudder) coming out of our ears. Being no fan of heat, humidity, or frankly physical labor, I think if I had to touch one more piece of produce that weekend, I was gonna scream. Or at least decamp to the nearest mall, a good 30 miles away.

With some help from anthropomorphic carrots (ahem), I've since recovered.

Last year, our assembly line harvest weekend yielded so many bags of vegetables that Mark, in his precise, geeky manner, actually sketched a map and taped it to the inside lid of the chest freezer so we could find things later on. This year's harvest was much more manageable. While I don't think I'll need a map to find grilled garden corn to make chicken pot pie, I might request one just for the sheer adorable factor.

Reality check: I woke up to a thermometer reading 37' F. a couple of mornings ago. The season of garden abundance is clearly over. So, until the snow falls and melts, the earth comes out of hibernation again, and we plant next year's garden, the freezer will provide.

Do you have a green thumb? (Me? NOT.) What's your favorite vegetable?


  1. Hey, Tamara, great post. Can you have a part time green thumb?
    Sometimes I grow great stuff, and other times, no. :) My favorite vegetable is tomatoes and I love it when I can grow them. I ate so many before my daughter was born (was in St Louis during Army reserve work and dropped by a farmer's market every day for fresh tomatoes), my daughter's hair was red. Really. :)

  2. My green thumb was overpowered by weeds this year, and then it quit raining for over a month. I got a little bit of squash, a few cucumbers, some okra (which I like but no one else does), a few tiny, spotty tomatoes, some decent peppers, but not a single green bean. All I have to show for it now are a couple of batches of pesto (the only thing that made it into the freezer) and a pretty nice garlic braid.
    I guess green beans are my favorite vegetable, but I REALLY like that carrot....

  3. When I lived in Boise I had a beautiful garden. It was the lazy gardener's garden--self-watering (in Boise, if you don't water, it don't grow) and wood walkways. I had composted for seven years so we had the world's most fertile soil, and I tossed lettuce seeds everywhere so there were no weeds, just lettuce around my precious vegetables. One year, I harvested over 300 lbs. of tomatoes along with corn, zucchini, squash, eggplant, rhubarb, bush beans, pole beans, peppers, and occasionally asparagus. Boise has few bugs, few rainy days--a gardener's paradise especially if you're not paying for water (irrigation rights are a precious thing). I would think that anyone could have a green thumb there.

    In Maryland--not so much. Between the bunny rabbits, the deer, the bugs and the cost of water it's a wonder there's anything left for gardeners to harvest.

  4. Oh Tamara! That carrot is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

    I admit I blinked a couple of times as I read that you "harvested the garden." I"m thinking, you mean all at once? Why do that?

    Then I read that one morning the temp was 37. Wow. I understood, but I still can't really wrap my mind around it. In North Carolina, canning a freezing, putting up preserves, is spread over a period of several months.

    I'm not much of a gardener any more. Truthfully, my husband was the owner of the green thumb. I miss having a garden. These days, the tiny patio space of my townhouse, and the deep shade pretty much assure that I can't grow so much as one potted tomato plant.

  5. I love sweet potatoes! What a cute picture of your cat. I didn't know cats liked corn. I'll have to give mine some and see.

  6. Oh my gosh! Those veggies were awesome. And that! You really do have a green thumb. I love veggies, but I'm not very good at growing anything. I forget to water stuff.

    I bought one of those topsy-turvy tomato planters because I love tomato sandwiches, and it's huge, but I don't have tomatoes, just leaves. Well, a few. I think the squirrels are stealing them. My mom cans everything. She's canning apples now, and just finished making blackberry preserves. Yum! The greenthumb canning thing skipped over me.

  7. The picture of the cat and the corn is priceless!

  8. That carrot is priceless! Since I'm just over the state border in Wisconsin, I sympathize with the sudden change in weather. Shorts to sweatshirts in one day!

  9. Wow, that is quite a carrot! Ahem!

    I grow lilies. Why? Because they take care of themselves. I used to love to flower garden (not vegetable), but I've become too busy to find the time.

    Favorite vegetables? Peas. Green beans. Corn. Fresh spinach (but not cooked, ucky slimy!). I don't like many vegetables to be honest. I'm a meat and potatoes kind of gal.

  10. I'm thinking my favorite vegetable might be that carrot... *waggles eyebrow.

    Full on kudos for gardening in 90 degrees. I live in the humidity-encased Northeast and you will not catch me in a garden at all. Been there, done that, sweated through all the t-shirts.

  11. Hi everyone! Sorry for catching up to everyone's comments so late in the day, but we were returning from a family golf outing. In typical fall Minnesota fashion, we teed off in 51' F and wind. in the northern part of the state, and when we arrived home (300 miles south) it was 80' and sunny. Luckily I've lived in the state long enough so that I was prepared for golf with coat, hat and mittens, and was stripped down to a tank top the time the car got home. ;-)

    The abundance of the garden is 100% Mark's doing. In the spring, he digs trenches in the dirt for me to drop seeds in, he keeps things watered, tells me when things need picking, weeds (I can't tell weeds from seedlings). He's a farmboy with tech skills - truly the best of both worlds! But I'm the one who keeps an eye on the weather in the fall and decides when it all needs to come out, lest we lose it to frost or freeze-outs.

    Shana, Slinky is the only corn-eating cat I personally know, so let me know if your cat likes it. Our other cat, Weasel, won't touch it, but he'll slap a potato chip right out of my hand, the rude little bugger.

    Isn't Mr. Carrot a hoot?!

  12. Hi Tamara! I had a cantelope eating cat oce, but not corn. My new favorite veggy is your Mr. Carrot!

  13. I had a green thumb. Plants all over the house and they thrived. Then deadlines came more and more frequent, plants didn't thrive as well.

    Now it's silk plants. I can't kill them. I just have to remember to dust them.

  14. Hi Tamara,
    Loved the post. I definitely do not have a green thumb. Plants don't last long with me. Indoor. Outdoor. None of 'em stand a chance at my house. By the way....that is some carrot. ;)

  15. Hi Tamara! I live in the desert, so miss all the abundance of harvest. Sure enjoyed that pic of the carrot. :}


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