Patients is one of those things I am going to spend the rest of my life learning (or trying to learn, as the case may be.) Growing anything from a seed teaches you a lot- if you are willing to listen.
The good thing about Maine is that when fall comes there is a tangible difference each day.
The way the air feels, the color blazing from the trees and seeds ripening, all remind me that things are changing.
The garden is a great teacher of patients especially when you are trying to harvest seeds and create hybrids. Things have got to be allowed to mature in their own time. They simply are not done, till they are done.
There is nothing I can do about this fact but wait and wait and wait some more. You have to wait for the seeds to grow and flower.
Wait for the flower to be pollinated. * Crosses arms and taps foot rapidly. *
And for the seeds to mature while the rest of the plant wains. There are few plants that look as pitiful as sunflowers- when their heads are laden with seeds and they can no longer follow the sun.
I made the unfortunate discovery last month that some of the sunflowers are supporting a large population of sunflower weevil. A nasty little bug that lays its eggs in the spring and eat the pith of the stock all summer.
The larvea will overwinter in the roots and emerge next spring to start the whole life cycle over again. We might be able to thwart them next year by planting later (after the larvae emerge) but we might just take a break from the mammoth sunflowers next year. We could use insecticides but we won’t.
The little worms weaken the stocks and cause them to fall over but they do not kill the plant so we do expect to get a seed harvest from them.
Growing your own food and managing your soil year over year is much different than just growing a garden for the ascetics. Plus you have to let it look like a shriveled mess in order to let seeds mature.
If you have any chance of maximizing your yield (especially with such a short growing season) you must be able evaluate and make choices based on observation, trial, hard work and error. A lot of error. Like planting corn to closely.
My husband the “canning monster” has grown, harvested-
and canned over 150 jars of organic, non GMO tomato and tomotillo sauces. Each batch is a moment in time- we let the day’s harvest determine the recipe so each was different.
We still have two more tomato patches yet to harvest completely.
Our bean tent is still green and new morning glories are opening daily.
The Roamine Lettuce below it has been a welcome addition to our dinners, lunches, snacks etc.
It is all I can do to leave the Jewel Corn alone. I want to peek SO BADLY, but that would allow bugs to get in and so- MORE WAITING!
The longer we leave them the prettier they get.
The colors will darken as they dry but more time on the stock the better.
The drying is another part of the seed storing process that requires more doing nothing, then- some more nothing. We have a revolving system of drying, shelling, and storing seeds so that they do not mold or spoil. Otherwise what’s the point?
Out little sugar pumpkins are turing. We have already cooked few and they are amazing!
We have a couple larger pumpkins still growing, including our confused bean pumpkin.
It is an honor to know exactly where our food comes from. We sowed the seeds (many from our own stock) tended the plants, harvested, cooked and preserved them.
There is still much more to do before the snow flies and the hard work has only just begun. Now we will turn our efforts toward wood for the winter and battening down the hatches of all coops and hives.
It is the time to think about providing everyone warmth to get thorough the winter.
Providing just some of the basics for yourself is hard work but I believe it teaches some of life’s basic truths:
Hard work is good work.
Patients is more than a virtue, it is a necessity.
A good harvest must happen in its own time or it will not bear future generations.
Timing is everything.
Just because you can force a thing to happen does not mean you should. If you do- the fruit you harvest will be bitter with impatience and lack fullness and balance.