Back to the Garden (and Harvests)

My wife and I have been gone for a week and a half on vacation (more about that in a later post). Before we left, we did our best to put the gardens on autopilot. We watered, mulched, and then watered a bit more. We crossed our fingers and hoped everything would make it while we were away. This has been a very dry year, and plants has been struggling.

When we got back, everything seemed to be doing pretty well. We even had about a half inch of leftover rain in the rain gauge. That’s not a lot, but it’s the first rain we’ve gotten in September. We got less than an inch in August (we average 3 inches per month in both months). At this point our area is in an official drought, and our yearly rainfall is about 11 inches below average. This is really hurting local farmers, since irrigation is not widely used here, or subsidized by the government as it is in many parts of the country.

In early September I planted lettuce in the greenhouse, and mulched it heavily with shredded newspaper. I was happy to find it growing along nicely. I should be able to start harvesting some of the leaves in a couple of weeks.

lettuce growing in greenhouse bed

Daytime temps are still getting pretty hot in the greenhouse, so this won’t be the best lettuce, but it will be good to eat all the same. This New Red Fire doesn’t get real red in the heat of the greenhouse, but it’s a good grower and tasty.

New Red Fire lettuce

I also was surprised to come home and find some ripe figs! I’ve planted several figs on the south wall of our workshop building, and they are thriving there. The variety in the bowl is Brown Turkey. They are so sweet!

Brown Turkey figs

This plant is at least 8 feet tall, and loaded with figs. Here’s one that is almost ready to harvest.

Also waiting to be harvested was some Swiss chard and a few tomatoes. The fall-planted chard is really producing well for us.

We managed to harvest 3.5 pounds of goodies in this short (for us) harvest week, bringing our yearly total to 754 pounds. For more harvests visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays.

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18 Responses to Back to the Garden (and Harvests)

  1. Stevie says:

    awww, now I miss my figgy days of august.

    Is that shredded paper you use as mulch?

    • Villager says:

      Yep, that is shredded paper, mostly newspaper. I usually use whole sheets of it in the main garden, but for closely spaced plants I run it through the shredder first.

  2. Shawn Ann says:

    what kind of things do you do with your figs? I got some at the produce market and made baby food with it. He loves it, but of coarse that is a lot of fiber for a little baby…I have to spread it out and mix it up! But I have never tried any myself. Except in a fig newton of course, but I don’t think that counts!

    • Villager says:

      I’m new to figs myself. So far we’ve just been eating them as-is, or adding them to our morning yogurt. I’m looking for ideas! I’d like to dry some if we have enough.

      • Figs make excellent jam! My family loves it plain or with a few strawberries mixed in. I use 1/2 sugar and 1/2 splenda to cut the calorie count. It is VERY simple to make and jar.

        I am DELIGHTED to see the shredded paper mulch. I have been using it for chicken bedding but as I am cleaning out the old filing cabinets – I also have something to use in my lettuce beds! Thanks!

  3. Emily says:

    Figs must be quite a treat. I’m glad your garden survived while you were gone.

  4. Daphne Gould says:

    I love the shredded paper as mulch. A good way to use up trash. It probably helps keep the soil cooler too since it is white.

  5. debiclegg says:

    I love fresh figs!! Your pics made my mouth water!

  6. kitsapFG says:

    Those figs look simply tempting! I have wondered about whether I could grow them in my climate and guess I need to do some research on that – as your pictures have me wishing I had some. 😀

  7. thyme2garden says:

    Did you plant lettuce seedlings in the greenhouse and put shredded newspaper around the seedlings, or did you mulch the bed first and the lettuce germinated through the newspaper? This looks really interesting and I’m really curious about how you did it!

    The lack of rain and hot summer has been a terrible combination for my fall seedlings. I direct sowed my lettuce seeds outside in late August and early September, but mine are not nearly as big as yours yet.

    Your figs look delicious! Do fig trees overwinter okay in Indiana?

    • Villager says:

      I planted lettuce seedlings in the bed, then mulched them. I usually grow lettuce from transplants, unless I am sowing a mix like mesclun.

      My figs die back to the ground in winter, then sprout from the roots in spring. I don’t know if any figs are hardy to zone 5 or not.

  8. michelle says:

    I’m amazed at your figs! I didn’t think that Brown Turkey would grow in your climate. Do you have to wrap the tree for the winter?

    • Villager says:

      Michelle, I don’t wrap the figs. I mulch the roots, and they die back to the ground in winter. At least they have died back the two winters they have been planted here.

  9. Barbie says:

    The lettuce is beautiful. Grand idea with the paper. Here in Florida I’m afraid it would make the excess moisture even worse – but an awesome idea for the greenhouses!

  10. Nice looking baby lettuce. I’ve always wanted to try figs, next year. Have you ever gotten a rash from the foliage. I read about that this year for the first time. I”ve never noticed it when being near fig trees before.

  11. Kelly says:

    Everything looks great. i just picked up some figs and blue cheese, I plan on topping a pizza with them and some caramelized onions.

  12. mac says:

    I like the shredded newspaper idea, I should try it someday.
    Your Brown Turkey figs look really nice, I wish my figs are darker color, but they taste just as sweet, sometimes I broil the figs (cut into half) with a piece of brie on top, than add a piece of prosciutto to cover the cheese, broil for few minutes, it’s sweet, salty, and creamy all in one, my family love it.

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