Good harvest, despite squash bugs

The carrots in my garden are no worse for the freeze last weekend, but I'll have to dig them soon. Once the water is switched off, the ground gets too hard to pull them out of the ground.

It was just as well that the garden froze last weekend.

Although we had been thoroughly enjoying and devouring every single tomato I grew, I got too busy playing to weed by the end of July, so it was getting harder and harder to find the veggies. Plus, when we went on vacation at the end of September, I was tired of fighting with the squash bugs, so I just left them in charge.

Thanks to the freeze warning, I was able to pick all of the cold-sensitive veggies, which turned out to be quite a haul of green beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, summer squash and basil.

I left the kale, which was somewhat infested with aphids, and the swiss chard, which never got very big due to its shady home, and the carrots, which seem to be growing all over my garden.

I'm happy to report all three survived the first frosts, as did most of my herbs.

I'm pretty sure the cold took care of the aphids, so I'm hopeful the kale will perk up enough for my traditional Thanksgiving, last-of-the-garden-kale salad.

I know the kale-haters out there think kale salad is a desecration of all things good and right about Thanksgiving, but with enough clementines, dried cranberries, pears and blue cheese, it's quite tasty. Plus, it makes you feel like you're eating health food at Thanksgiving, which automatically qualifies a person to eat two pieces of pie.

In the garden, I try to figure out what worked and what didn't at the end of the season. Usually, I've already done that by now, but this year, the garden fails stumped me.

My cucumbers refused to cooperate and I didn't get a single one, in spite of planting three entire packets of seeds and buying a couple plants.

The winter squash bloomed like crazy and the bees had an ongoing party in the flowers, but no little winter squashes grew. And none of the melon plants produced.

I'm willing to concede that winter squash and melons are iffy in my shady garden spaces, but I used to be able to grow enough cucumbers to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then make pickles and experiment with gazpacho.

This is the second year in a row for bad cucumbers, and I haven't figured out my cucumber strategy for 2020, yet.

In spite of the unsolved mystery with the cucumbers, I have started thinking about where I'm going to plant garlic and spinach this fall.

My garlic this year was good, but not as enormous as I'd like, so I'm sure I can find a more perfect spot for it somewhere else. There's nothing like planting in the fall to give a person hope for the coming year.

Since the growing season is winding down, I won't be eating the yard and writing about it for the next few months.

Look for the return of this column when the weather warms up and the garlic and spinach have both sprouted.

Penny Stine is the staff writer for The Daily Sentinel's Special Sections department and can be reached at

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