Fall solstice isn't a bad time to check in on how the garden grows. The carrots and pole beans are gone, but the tomatoes and peppers are in full swing.
I planted 12 tomatoes this year in 6 different varieties. My Juliets and Cherokee Purple did the best, but that's because they're in the bed to the far right. Clearly, I've got strange nutrient problems going on in my garden. You can see the difference between the tomatoes growing in the three beds. The left are thriving and outgrowing their 7' stakes. The ones in the middle, not quite so much. The ones to the right are downright pathetic. So, despite my efforts to "throw everything at" my soil, like leaves and steer manure and purchased compost, I've got nutrient deficiencies I'm going to have to deal with come spring and hopefully revive my beds.
Nothing in this bed to the far right is performing like it should. The plants are showing signs of nitrogen deficiency, and my effort at weekly doses of fish emulsion haven't helped. I am going to have to bring in a good veggie mix from Wheeler Zamaroni to get this one back performing again.
Aside from that, my other beds are doing pretty darned good. I'll have these cucumbers producing through Halloween if the weather holds up. And this year, I didn't get one bitter one to speak of. The new brand I bought, Corinto, from Johnny's Seeds was way better than what I had last year. It's a good variety if you're looking for a plain old cucumber.
Despite getting attacked badly by birds in the spring, these bell peppers have been producing great. I grew standard Ace bells, then a sweet smaller pepper called Lipstick. Love them both, so much so that they'll be a staple in all future gardens. They don't come out as large as what you find in the store, but the flavor is much more intense. (And nice to eat a bell pepper that didn't come coated in that waxy crap).
What you can barely see here is my attempt at a fall planting of carrots. I lost a number of seedlings because I don't think my water was getting to all of them. I also find fall is a harder time to get carrots than spring. I try anyway, because it always seems like a waste to leave a space empty when the weather is still warm.
I didn't plant broccoli seeds early enough to start my own, but I did find some starts at Friedman's. I've just got 4 plants, which will be enough for a quick fall harvest--if I can keep the bugs off them. The downside of fall plantings are the bugs are in full swing, much more so than in the late winter when everything's too chilly.
And in my "sick" bed, I am still managing to get some butternut squash. They're small, which is actually perfect, since I'm the only one in the house that will eat it.