How does my garden grow without me?

I planted my garden in the spring, watched it start to grow, and then abandoned it for three months for a trip across Canada. Well, not totally abandoned – a friend was taking care of it. But I missed a lot of it from August through October. Some of it did pretty well without me, and some of it didn’t.

I have a plethora of store mannequins (more on that story for another time). So I decided to use a couple of them for bean and pea trellises, with the addition of willow-branch cages around them. I think my neighbors were a bit worried about me for a while, especially before the peas and beans started to grow:

The sugar snap peas grew faster:

But the pole beans made the nicest mannequin dress:

And after the vines died off, one yellow bean remained as an earring for the mannequin:

I planted nasturtiums between the trellis mannequins as well as around a mannequin torso on the deck and in the vegetable garden:

Fresh nasturtium flowers, leaves and seeds are edible. They have a tangy, peppery flavour and are delicious in salads and look very pretty. Nasturtiums also help to keep some bugs out of the garden. I harvest the nasturtium seeds every fall and replant them in the spring. I leave them in a flat container to dry completely before storing them for the winter:

I also harvest and dry marigold and calendula seeds and petals. Their fresh flowers are also edible. The petals have a stronger flavour, so I use them more sparingly in salads. Calendula officinalus (a particular type of calendula) tea can be made from the dried petals, and has many health benefits. Steep 2 teaspoons of dried calendula petals in a cup of boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes.

Root vegetables were another story. On the not-so-successful side, the beets did not fare well. Apparently the beet leaves were being enjoyed by some creepy crawlers who ignored the warnings of the nasturtiums, and the beet roots never really grew. The yield from the garlic was actually less than what I planted. How did that happen?

But the potatoes and carrots produced admirably. I just harvested the last of them and I have put them into moist sand in burlap-lined baskets in the cold room that I made in the basement. I insulated a small room that has one uninsulated concrete wall. The carrots will be put into a separate sandy container, and I will spread another layer of moist sand over both the potatoes and carrots so that they are covered completely. This is my first try at a cold room (other than the one I grew up with. It had salamanders that terrified me when I had to get potatoes for supper). I suspect there will be no salamanders in my cold room, and if there are, it will be worthy of some scientific investigation.

Happy harvest!

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