The Late Summer Garden

As much as I love the beauty of delicate spring flowers, there’s something about the robust and deeply-hued blooms of fall that makes my heart happy. It’s a bittersweet view in my backyard, as I know what’s around the corner, but for now it feels like a celebration out there.

The tallest varieties of sunflowers have reached their astounding height and are in full-faced bloom.



Bees add to the vibrancy of the picture.

sunflower head


Years ago, I planted Joe Pye weed in the meadow, not only for it’s color, but because it’s an important late summer food for butterflies and bees. It’s humming out there.

Joe Pye Weed


Goldenrod, too, supports native creatures. It self-seeded in the meadow. The goats are pleased, because when the heads die off, I cut it down and feed it to them. They like it more than hay.



In the vegetable garden, some plants, like peas, are long past harvest, but the tomatoes are ripening.



The basil has done really well this year. I’ve already frozen a bagful, and it keeps on forming tender, and not at all bitter, leaves.



After a hard pruning this past winter, and some attempts at pest control, the peaches are looking really good. But, whether I get them before the worms and the chipmunks is yet to be seen.



At this time of year, mildew wilts the leaves in the pumpkin patch,


but it won’t do much damage, as the vegetables are already formed and hardening off.

acorn squash

Anyway, I’ve grown way too much winter squash for my family to eat. Most are slated to be fed to the chickens this winter. They’re going to be happy and busy girls.


  1. I love that variety of sunflower. And the Joe Pye weed is really pretty…I need to look into that. I would love to naturalize the area around my coop run. I planted bee balm there in the spring and it was so pretty reaching up through the green back there.
    I planted my peas late and I am just now getting some snappin’ goodness from that corner of my garden. :) The mildew really did a number on my squash early on and I had very bad luck with all of those plants. But in good news, my tomatoes are lovely, as were my cucumbers.
    Luckily I have family who like to share their harvest, so I currently have 4 huge zucchini to stuff. Do you have a favorite recipe for your zucchini?

  2. Joe Pye – I hadn’t heard of that for bees, and we’ve taken classes this year and read many books and articles. It turns out that they like wet soil, and we have a couple of problem areas like that. It would be great to have them blooming during this dearth period. The bees are eking out a living right now on the clover we planted for them. Next season for certain, Joe Pye it is! This was the year we planted trees for the bees, though. Forty of them!

    • Forty trees! I hope that you had an auger on a tractor for that task. You’ll love the Joe Pye. The variety I planted gets 6 foot high.

  3. My pear tree finally produced fruit this year. Only problem is I don’t know how to tell when it’s ripe.

    Love the sunflower.

    • Ken, pears don’t actually ripen on the tree. You’ll need to pick them and store them somewhere on the cool side and with good air circulation and they’ll ripen over a several week period. I watch my pear tree like a hawk and when they get to a good size, I pick them, or, if it’s been a tough year and they’re all small, I wait until the very first one pull off the tree with only a very slight tug or twist. Then, I get them off the tree fast, or the critters will get them first. Good luck!

      • Thanks, Tracy. Pears are one of those fruits that are SO much better homegrown. You’re lucky to have a tree -despite the work.

  4. I’m jealous, Terry – our flowers are almost all of the early summer type. I need to think about some things I can plant to enjoy later in the season next year.

    For (the other) Ken: Pears are only perfectly ripe for a few milliseconds. And they ripen from the inside out – if you allow them to ripen on the tree like you might a peach or an apple, they’ll get grainy & mealy. For the first time since we moved in, our ancient pear tree has borne a goodly amount of fruit. We’ve picked most that we could reach – you’ll want to pick them when they’re a bit underripe. You’ll know they’re ready if they come off easily in your hand when you tilt them up horizontal on their stem. Then store them off to the side in a cool-ish place, and they’ll ripen up nicely.

    Our pear tree produced these small, lovely variety (I’ve no idea what type the tree is. We inherited it with our property. They look like small seckel types. We’re using them up today while they’re still a little green to make pickled pears. I’ll try & post our recipe on our website along with a photo or two of the end result.

    • Thanks Ken G. When I get home I’m gonna go pick some and do as you say.

    • Sorry, Terry. I missed your response to Ken. At least we gave him the same advice!

      • I put our recipe for pickled pears up on, along with pictures of the fruit. Gold start to anyone who can identify the specific variety. They’re only about the size of a large duck egg.

        (and it’s not just any place on the internet that I could compare something to a duck egg and feel comfortable that people wouldn’t blink).

  5. Love the sunflower!
    Terry, what method do you use for freezing your basil? Do you freeze the leaves in water or something? I threw basil in the freezer one year and the leaves turned black once frozen, so since then I have made pesto when I harvested my basil crop, if I had time, because that freezes fairly well.

    • A very good question. I will work on a post. The short answer is that I make a paste of it in the food processor with some olive oil or water or both, freeze in ice cube trays, then pop out and keep in a zip bag in the freezer.

  6. Terry..your garden as usual, is gorgeous. I do not know what is going on out here but last year I had so many tomatoes that I froze them. I do not have a ripe one yet! Have you gotten any riding in lately? Your temperature is perfect for riding…..too hot here! Enjoying my book by your friend Lauren! Such a good read! HUGS!

  7. Those peaches make such a pretty picture. There is nothing sweeter to me then ripe peaches right off the tree. Not that I have one, but have spent many summers in the Okanagan, where they are grown in great abundance. I have been watching the crows enjoying great feasts in our Japenese plum trees. It is fine with me, as I manage to get enough of the fruit to snack on and the birds are fun to watch. At least they do not damage the trees like the Deer do.