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I used to parboil and peel my tomatoes for sauce. Now I just grind them, peels and all.

Yes, that is an old fashioned food mill bolted to our table. I’ve been processing tomatoes from my little suburban Wake County garden since the second week of July.

Tomato pie, tomato sauce, tomato salad, tomato sandwiches, tomato jam…I’ve made them all.

What I haven’t done is write in the blog, and I feel more than a bit guilty for neglecting it.

But there is only so much time in the day, and I’d feel even guiltier if I wasted my tomatoes, eggplant, and basil.

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And then there are the cucumbers. Every time husband Bill goes out in the backyard, he brings in a few more.

No matter–these plants are all coming out this week.

I feel a little guilty about that, too. It is wasting food after all.

But the start of the new garden is waiting under the crape myrtle. It’s time to plant kale, leeks, mustard and chard. And space, like time is limited around here.

So goodbye summer. It’s been fun, but exhausting. Who would have thought I could get so much food out of two little plots.

How did your summer gardens grow?

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One day I will have a fine lath house, inspired by the huge one at the JC Raulston Arboretum.
But until then, I will tote and fret, bring the tomato seedlings out in the morning, indoors a night, and worry all day long until they GRADUALLY become accustomed to outdoor conditions.

Otherwise all our efforts could be lost. And cold temps aren’t the only enemies.

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On the first few days out, I place the trays under large bushes with low hanging branches. This gives tender plants shade and wind protection.

When the weather warmed this week, I started leaving the tomatoes out over night in protected places: a covered porch, under the slats of a bench, and in my well-used cold frame.

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But that doesn’t mean I can quit worrying. I check the seedlings at least twice a day for water and sun-scald. And last night when thunder rolled all around us, I sat up in bed in a panic.

So yes, that woman in a bathrobe fussing over a cold frame in the rain at 4:55 this morning was me-

Happy to say all plants are Ok this morning.

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And speaking of the JCRA, their Raulston Blooms festival of birds and flowers is this Saturday.

Raulston Blooms  for Facebook

There will be a plant sale, info seminars, food; the always inspiring birdhouse competition, plus arts and crafts. I’m been invited to sell my garden tool aprons and other upcycled fabric creations–so come check it (and my work) out!

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It’s time to photograph your bulbs.

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Not like this–the bulb companies have all the close-ups covered.

But bulbs disappear in the early spring and winter landscape. So take ugly pictures like these.

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Show where your bulbs are now, and where you want to add more–

Then go to your September calendar and write “Order Bulbs!!!” at the end of the month.

And make sure you can access the photos in September. Digital files do tend to wander and the bulbs and their foliage will be many months dormant by the time to order more.

Also, when thinking about bulbs, think outside the tulip-daffodil box.

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These spring star flowers dig dry shade and they lend my flagstones the “abandoned place” look that I love.

And while we’re on ugly photos, co-blogger Melissa suggested I remind everyone that cold-burned leaves are Ok on shrubs and perennials. These hydrangea leaves will come back–

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But if you have tender plants….beware. Our last average frost date in central NC is April 15th. That’s why my tomatoes and basil have taken over the dinning room. It’s too soon to put them out!

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So what’s growing at your house?


The last of summer from the garden is always precious and bitter sweet.

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Pal Robert sent this photo from his Clayton (NC) garden a few days ago. I like the fact that Robert always includes flowers for the table in his pickings.

Last week, friend Margie emailed to say they were still getting tomatoes and peppers in her Douglasville, Georgia garden.

About the same time, I made my last harvest and pulled out the scraggly plants.

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This bounty was followed by a few busy days in the kitchen.

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I roasted the peppers, made chili, and froze the rest of my roasted peppers in ziplocks.

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With the eggplant and few tomatoes, I cooked a big pan of caponata, the sweet and sour Sicilian relish. My favorite recipe comes from Martha Rose Schuman’s Very Best Recipes for Health. This is the book I reach for most often when I’m cooking fresh veg-

The leftover caponata is in the freezer, making me feel very RICH. What a nice way to transition from summer into fall.

Have you picked your final harvest yet?


Is anything nicer than Autumn sunlight slanting through trees–

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My favorite fall camellia heavy with blooms–

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This is William Lanier Hunt, a Camellia Forest introduction.

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A long awaited honey-do project finally getting done–

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Thanks to pals Ivy and Megan for the gate and husband Bill for doing such a splendid job hanging it.

A new bed waiting to be filled–

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Our pup Tralee also likes to garden.

A newly arrived bulb order waiting to be planted–

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More on this mass of bulbs in a later post. I’m in a hurry to finish writing and go enjoy the sunshine.

Fall is the best season in the South, time to get back to the garden and all its pleasures (including the garden blog in my case–sorry for my long absence).

How are you celebrating the season?

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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