Summer is over… well… almost.

It's not summer any more
It’s not summer any more

Today I faced facts.  The tomatoes needed to come out.  They were brown and mostly dead.  There will be no miracle springing them back to life.  They had lived a long and healthy life since they emerged from their seeds ten months ago and now tired and exhausted they have given up but not without producing an abundance of delicious tomatoes for us along the way.  The best part was – they died of natural causes and not the dreaded blight.  Not this year my friends.

The rain finally stopped and a sun that doesn’t quite have the energy it once did, but still able to warm the air, came out.   I looked about the garden for something to do.  There is always things to do in the garden no matter what time of year and some things are just a mere trifle of a task that would take no time at all, and would probably have an insignificant impact on the overall view of the garden.

You can't turn back 'thyme'
You can’t turn back ‘thyme’

Today I was after a job I could get my teeth into.  One that would be noticed.  One I could say “look what I did!”  And there is nothing like removing dead plants especially when they are big and there are loads of them.  So I dragged my one armed wheelbarrow (with a cracked pan) over to the tomatoes.  I say dragged as it also has a flat tire.  I really need a new one, and I fancy one of those four wheeled ones that look more like a trolley.  But for now I only have my poor old barrow and it is still up to the job, surprisingly.

I then carefully set about chopping up my plants, removing any late tomatoes as I went.  I chopped them up into short lengths and put them in the wheelbarrow, taking care not to drop any as hygiene is essential with dead tomatoes.  You really don’t want next year’s crop ruined because last year’s tomato lurgies were left hanging around.  I put all the old ties in the bin because they weren’t recyclable and they are also the perfect place for lurgies to hide.  I couldn’t believe how much I actually used.  But then again most of it was for repair jobs as the wooden stakes I used were – hmm thinking of the right word to use in polite company – disappointing.  They rotted off at the base early in the season leaving my precious plants flailing about in the wind.  So the whole lot needed to be lashed to extra stakes.   My tomatoes really weren’t all that pretty this year.

One cold and frosty day I'll be warming my fingers with the remains of summer
One cold and frosty day I’ll be warming my fingers with the remains of summer

We still have a fire ban in the area, despite the last few days of rain, so I loaded all the chopped up bits and pieces into our braziers waiting for the day when we get the all clear and we can start burning things again.  I’m not even tempted to put this lot on the compost heap, just in case.

Ready to go again with a different crop in a couple of months
Ready to go again with a different crop in a couple of months

Then I gave the bed a bit of a weed – not that there were many in there – just a dozen or so small thugs with a try hard attitude.  But I soon knocked them down to size with my handy dandy wee hand tool.  Then I gave it all a rake over, leaving it looking all lovely and ready for re-enriching for the next crop which will be the onions and garlic in a couple of months’ time.

The last fresh tomatoes we will see in a while
The last fresh tomatoes we will see in a while

I managed to salvage two kilo of tomatoes that was to become part of an annual ritual – The Last of Summer Relish.  All the previous batches of tomato relish were done with a ‘chore’ attitude.  “It’s boiling hot outside and it’s the last thing I want to be doing, but fresh is best…”  This batch is different.  It is the very last one.  The next time we see tomatoes is a long way off.

8 Jars of Last of Summer Relish
8 Jars of Last of Summer Relish

So there it is – summer is officially over… there are no tomatoes in my garden.   Well… that’s not entirely true.  The Yellow Brandywine didn’t look dead. In fact it looked quite vibrant.  There is every possibility that the tomatoes held within its branches could make it to vine ripened.  But I’m dicing with the frost…  And then there are the cuttings I took in the hopes of growing them on in the greenhouse and keeping summer alive all year long.

A picture of health
A picture of health

Come again soon – I think I need to begin harvesting pumpkins next.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

30 thoughts on “Summer is over… well… almost.

    1. Hi Marisa. Thanks so much. I’m glad I did it today. The weather is supposed to go all yucky again tomorrow! I guess in autumn you have to take a good day and do as much as possible.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  1. Good Job! This is so familiar; and so sad. I am still postponing the inevitable. Sad to say goodbye to summer. colours, smells and taste. Project for this weekend. Thank you for the encouragement. :O) Dina

    1. Hi Dina. I always hate removing the tomato plants as they are such a dominant feature in the summer landscape and without them it all seems somehow empty – like something is missing.
      However there is always next year, but in the meantime I should really focus on all the cool winter crops.
      I hope the weather holds out for your weekend project.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. It’s weird reading about you taking out your tomatoes etc due to summer being over and I’ve only just started mine off 🙂 Got 6 seedling pumpkins as well. The bed looks good and ready for its’ next tenants though.

  3. Such a good feeling cleaning up like that. My husband decided we had to leave things so it would catch the snow. Now it will delay us getting into the garden in spring. Oh well, wish you luck keeping plants over in the hot house. Sounds like a great idea.

    1. Hi Lucinda. As much as I miss the tomatoes (or the thought of having them in the garden) I also like a clean empty bed, ready for something exciting. There is so much hope resting in the bounty that will come from the plants to grow in it.
      I have learnt (the hard way) that it is much easier to clear out a bed at the end of the growing season than at the start of the next one. The weeds left in all winter are a hardy breed and take way too much effort to evict them! Good luck getting your garden ready for the spring once all that snow goes away.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. I take care with the tomato vines as well—but I also rotate, never putting tomatoes in the same place as the last year. Actually I try for a three year rotation. Can you move them next season?

    1. Hi there. It seems odd to be almost fanatical about hygiene in an environment surrounded by dirt!
      I have an easy crop rotation system. My garden is divided into three sections and at the end of each season I take the large plant signs and move them all clockwise. The long beds the tomatoes are in get a four year rotation and the square beds actually get five.
      It did take awhile to figure out what crop is best to follow what, but now I don’t need to think about it – I just move the all the signs. It also helps to keep a record of what when where each year – just in case you need to know.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  5. I am SO envious of your prospective pumpkin harvest! The wallabies ate them all this year, even the protected ones. I guess desperation breeds inventiveness and it was a constant battle between the native animals and me to see just who got what. Next year will be different :). Is N.Z. now part of Antarctica like Tasmania? It has gone from 30C+ temperatures for most of February and march down to 4C here on Serendipity Farm for April. A rude awakening to the coming promise of winter being somewhat more chilly than the last few years. I MUST dig up those poor self sown mango plants before we get a frost here and they get ruined. They will overwinte in the glasshouse with my avocados :). Its great sharing gardens with such close neighbours 🙂

    1. Hi Fran. I have to say I am blessed not to have too many wild beasties – except the cursed popcorn mangling varmit. I don’t even have a fence. Although now that I have said it, every marauding pest will be having a field day in my patch. And a fence is in the final vision (once I stop expanding!)
      Our weather is crazy at the moment. One night we need another extra thick feather duvet and the next it is tossed aside along with the other duvet as it is too hot. I’m sure that first frost will come along and blindside me if I don’t watch out!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. Yeah…I recon we are in for a cold one this year Sarah so extra brassicas ahoy! 😉 At least the Brussels Sprouts should do well…they LOVE a good frost 😉

  6. I have some Yellow Brandywine’s still hanging on to life too. They are in a large pot. I wonder if my husband will mind if I nurture them in the laundry over Winter… Me thinks not.

    1. Hi there. I love the Yellow Brandywine – but they are so slooowww! They were the last to fruit and then it seemed to take an absolute age for any colour to appear let alone come ripe. I think next year I’ll start these ones earlier to see if that makes a difference.

      The things Hubby the Un-Gardener has had to put up with, I’m surprised he’s still supportive of my gardening endeavors!

      A laundry seems a reasonable enough place to overwinter a yummy tomato – bribe him with the prospect of fresh food! Good luck.

      Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. not confident in ‘driving’ this web site…..but slowly slowly, will share more on a rainy day when cannot be in the garden….and when i will have the patient to figure it out.

  7. I always have mixed feelings about autumn. No more fresh veg but then you get a break for awhile from all the work. 🙂 We’re in the process of planting now. I’m in the gungho stage.

    1. Hi there. I think we are in a blessed position where I can carry on gardening all year with cool season crops in the winter, so although it is less hectic than a full on spring, it still means I can keep my hand in, but at a much slower pace. I hope the craziness of spring allows you time to stop and smell the flowers.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi there. This year we had swan plants in the garden for the first time and it was so lovely to see the monarch butterflies glide through the garden. Although I think we planted them too close to the washing line as a couple of caterpillars decided my favourite t-Shirts were a great place to hang their chrysalis.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  8. A dilemma – what to do with T shirts with chrysalises on them! I think you might have had a higher conversion rate of caterpillar to chrysalises than we managed.

    1. Hi there. It always seems sad to pull out all the summer plants, but at least I’m blessed to be able to grow cool season crops through the winter and I get to read about all the awesome northern gardens.
      Have a great season.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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