Months ago I joked about Graduation Day not being in May for the Gardener. Well, its finally here in September for our bunch. They’ve planted, grown, tended, and now harvested tons of great fruits and vegetables and for most it’s time to rest for the winter. Some will plant fall crops and a very few have high tunnels and will put in a few winter crops, but most will rest. And they’re really looking forward to the rest….

Sweet Potato Patch

Several of our gardeners have sweet potatoes growing away in their gardens. They are looking forward to selling buckets full at our late Farmers Markets. Buddy Hackworth has over 1400 sweet potato hills going strong. This is the biggest crop I’ve seen in years. Folks better take advantage of this abundance and put buckets back for the winter.

I remember Granny Reffett telling us not to store them in the cellar because it was too moist there. They needed to be stored under the bed. We would chuckle, but she was actually right. They need to be kept inside the house for the best chance at lasting through the winter. She would keep a few pecks under her bed and send us under to get her one when she wanted a sweet potato for lunch. She knew what she was doing…..

All the Goodies!

Everyone is eating, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting as fast as they can. Produce is pouring in right now and kitchens are brimming with pictures of veggies going into the pantry and freezer. The following pictures are from half a dozen different kitchens that are putting up this year’s bounty.

The Shepherd’s are patiently waiting for their Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelons to ripen. Kipper, their grandson, is a enjoying the gardening journey with them and learning so much!

Siracha Anyone? 

The most interesting things I’ve seen are the fermented products. Cajun Chef Chris is making a fermented Siracha from hot peppers that he grew and it takes 6 months before he moves to the next step.

He also makes an amazing commercial salsa that he sells called Kiss of a She Devil ~ Shhhmedium and Very Hot!

I know my dehydrators have been going steady all week. I’m dehydrating some starchy sweet corn to see if I can replicate a childhood favorite we called parched corn. Grandma rehydrated it in a pan with a little bit of milk and a tablespoon of sugar and it was delicious! I wish I could find a tried and true recipe to follow. Most folks I ask know Parched Corn as a dehydrated sweet corn that is later popped in a little oil like popcorn.

Cover Crop to cover the bare soil

The gardeners will be instructed at our final meeting on September 13th by Brian Jeffers on the benefits of planting a cover crop. At the end of the season the soil is usually re-tilled and left bare. That bare soil invites all kinds of weed seeds to germinate. We want to cover it with some type of crop to keep the weeds out of next year’s garden. This month we’re handing out 5 lb. bags of a mixed blend of winter rye, oats, wheat, and an Australian pea for Nitrogen. The winter rye is a plant that naturally inhibits weed seeds from germinating, so it’s a perfect cover crop. I was excited to partner with the Soil Conservation Office in purchasing enough for all our gardeners.

The Finale’ to this season will be the upcoming Graduation Party we’ll have on the 13th. We’ll report back on that next month, so stay tuned!