I took a photo of the back of our house about two months ago and it’s been sitting on the desktop of my computer since then. My original thought when taking the photo was to show off the huge grapevines growing on our pergola or how big the tomato plants were just outside the back door of our house. TG had just found a great old metal lawn chair at a garage sale for five dollars and we managed to get some good use out of it sitting in the later summer sun.

After several hard frosts in our area, though, just about everything that was flourishing in the photo is now dying. The tomato plants are completely decimated, nothing more than floppy, wet strands bent over the metal cages that used to barely hold them up, while the leaves on the grapevines have all turned brown and are starting to fall into the grass (which has also lost a lot of its color).

Instead of the fresh smell of basil greeting you when walking out the back door, it’s now the slightly pungent aroma of vegetables starting to rot. We need to take the time to cut everything back and put all our vegetable cages into the shed for the winter, but we either haven’t had the heart yet, or the time. We’re getting close to finally using up the last of the peppers that we picked, and while we did manage to save a few tomatoes and sack them up in a paper bag for continued ripening, it’s just not quite the same as picking them fresh.

There’s a possibility of snow in the forecast for tomorrow, so I decided to finally post the picture of the green backyard for reference over the course of the next couple desolate months.
backyard and house

After a long, hot summer and a rather nice, somewhat extended fall, it seems that cold weather will finally be arriving this week in Nebraska. It’s supposed to freeze the next couple nights in a serious enough way that covering plants won’t be enough to save them. Because of this, TG and I have been trying to gather just about everything we can out of our garden before the frost hits and everything dies. She went out the other night and brought in everything that was of a decent size, including a slew of peppers, a huge bowl of chard, several butternut squash, some tomatoes, and a pumpkin.

Veggies from the garden

We had such a successful garden this year that it makes me a little sad knowing that I won’t be able to go out in back whenever I’m cooking dinner and grab a green pepper or a tomato to add to the recipe. We have loads and loads of homemade pesto in the freezer (and I might get one more big batch made if I can motivate myself tomorrow night), but it seems that the fresh organic veggies grown by our own hand will be coming to an end very, very soon.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of compost going for next year already, and we have even more plans and ideas for what we want to let loose in the spring. It’s still gonna be a bit sad seeing everything wilt and come to an end.

I mentioned the garden a long time ago, and despite a rather brutal heat spell a couple weeks back, it’s now growing and thriving more than it ever has. Due to some diligent composting by TG and a lot of groundwork by me, our expanded beds have provided us with lots to eat this summer.

First off, we have the basil plants. We have several varieties, and what started out as three small plants has not only taken over nearly the entire herb garden bed, but have re-seeded around themselves, leaving small plants growing out of our brick path and a small planter that was sitting nearby (the picture area is roughly 4 x 2 feet). We’ve made batch upon batch of pesto, and from the looks of the new growth I’m going to have to make some more this weekend.


Next up, we have our swiss shard, which went through a really productive stage before being beat back by the heat (and is now back again). This stuff is amazing in soups or even sauteed up by itself with some diced onion and balsamic vinegar.

Swiss Shard!

On a whim, we planted a single small chili pepper plant and it has completely gone off. We both like hot food, but these little peppers are so strong that it only takes two of them to do an entire batch of soup or stir fry. They’re strong enough that you don’t want to cut them up and then go to the bathroom anytime soon unless you’ve washed your hands really well. I found that out the hard way. We’ll probably end up making some chili paste out of them.

hot pepper!

We have a couple green pepper plants, a single sweet gypsy pepper plant, and a couple red pepper plants as well. Although we’ve gotten quite a few from each plant so far this year, all of them seem to be absolutely flourishing right now. It’s hard to tell, but this shot is of the top of a single plant, where there are at least six peppers all growing near one another. The entire plant has something like ten to fifteen peppers growing on it, and that is repeated for each plant. So yeah, we’re going to be eating lots of peppers soon.

green peppers!

One of our experiments for the year was to grow some viney plants, and our luck with them is hit or miss. The butternut squash plant has gone insane, spreading all around our beds and forcing us to wind and re-wind the vines around as it continues to grow. We have between 8-12 butternut squashes growing right now in various sizes. Kick-ass soup will be made with these.

butternut squash!

Lastly, we have the lone pumpkin that has grown from our pumpkin plant. Like the squash, the vines are snaking all over the place, but it’s just not putting out. This little fella is cute enough, I suppose, but I was hoping for at least a single pumpkin big enough to carve (or make cinnamon-pumpkin ice cream out of).


We also have some huge tomato plants, carrots, and a couple other things, but everybody has tomatoes and ours are going through sort of a quiet streak right now.

Needless to say, our little garden experiment has gone really well this year. We even had enough raspberries to make homemade ice cream with earlier in the summer, and our grapes (Concord, not the greatest) fed the squirrels and birds for weeks. Once again, we learned a lot about what grows well and where, so hopefully next year is even more successful for us.