It's almost mid-October, and our garden is just about done for the season. It was a long, rough summer for our veggies. We had cooler-than-normal temperatures in Alabama for most of the season, and some weeks it felt like the rain would never end. After a lengthy drought here in our part of the country, the rain was definitely welcome, but it sure did a number on a lot of folks' gardens - including ours. Our watermelons ended up rotting on the vine, most of the cucumbers turned out a strange yellow color, our corn was flattened to the ground in a strong summer storm, and I harvested about half of our purple hull pea crop in the pouring rain, with the already molding (or in some cases, sprouting) pods sliding off into piles of mush in my hands.

We're only at the farm a couple of days a week, so in addition to less-than-ideal weather, harvest times were limited. We definitely learned our lesson this year about which vegetables to focus on next year! The ones that require almost daily picking - such as okra, cucumbers, and squash - aren't such a good option for us. With better weather, I think the watermelons would have done fine, especially in our very sandy soil. The Lima beans were real champs, and are still producing a few beans now. The peppers did great too, and as you can see from the photo, we're just now getting the colored varieties to turn (and finding out why red bell peppers cost 3x as much as green ones).

This year's MVP (Most Valuable Plant) award goes to the tomatoes, however. They fought off pests, (mostly) survived the weird weather, and taught me why folks say there really isn't anything better than a homegrown tomato. The taste is phenomenal, and we enjoyed many a BLT and side of fried green tomatoes this year. Not only that, but just when I thought they were completely dead and done for the season, those tomatoes surprised me one more time this week and started putting out green growth again - even a couple of tomato blossoms. In October.

If you planted a garden this summer, how did it go? Any tips for next year? Plans for a winter garden?