We started harvesting arugula during the first week of October. It’s the first of our cool season veggies. The other lettuces shouldn’t be too far behind. We also harvested some more red bell peppers whose season is coming to an end. We should get another round or two from them. At the end of the warm season you should pinch off the flowers that won’t have time to mature before the cold hits. This focuses the plant’s energy on ripening what is already there instead of making new flowers.
Storyteller clipped off the peppers with pruning shears. She’s harvested before but it was just food that can be pulled off the plant such as tomatoes, apples, peas and strawberries. I think this was the first time she’s used the pruning shears. She accidentally cut off a leaf and was pretty upset that she killed a leaf. She bent down to pick it up so that she could save it. Underneath the leaf was a huge hornworm! It startled her pretty good and got her laughing again.
We moved onto the radishes in the girls’ bed. They planted two seeds per hole and now it was time to thin them. Storyteller chose the best looking seedling and I clipped off the other. She was sad to see those tiny plants cut so we talked about why we have to thin the seedlings. It made her feel a little better but not much. We put a few of the seedlings in a big book to save them.
Next we started harvesting the arugula. With non-heading type salad greens you can harvest the outside leaves and leave the rest of the plant to grow for more harvests. Sometimes these plants are called ‘cut and come again’ plants. I figured that Storyteller knew this but explained it again. This was definitely not the first time she’s harvested lettuce with me but for some reason that day it was just too much even though we weren’t harvesting the whole plant. She’s always been very sensitive to plants and bugs dying. She gets upset when she picks a flower and it later dies. So we’ve had a lot of conversations about how plants grow and die. She’s seen our garden change over several seasons now so I thought that she understood the idea of growing plants to eat. She was still very upset about clipping off the leaves of arugula even though I explained that the plant was still going to grow. Hubby came to the rescue and walked the girls through the steps a farmer goes through to grow, harvest and sell produce so that we can eat. It was clear that they already understood most of it but talking about the process step by step helped Storyteller calm down.
Last spring she was very upset when it was time for the broccoli plants to be pulled out of the garden. We actually let them go to seed so the girls could see them in flower and then develop seeds. The plants were covered in bees. They really got a kick out of that. It’s almost time to pull up the pepper and tomato plants. I’m really not looking forward to that after the tears she shed about harvesting arugula and thinning radishes. It’s time to start talking with her about it so it doesn’t come as such a surprise. I think I’ll let her pick out what we’ll plant in those spaces so that she can be an active part of the transition.
The girls are now my Bug Patrol team. They look over all the plants and find bugs. They actually haven’t found many yet but they enjoy the hunt. Just two days after the girls harvested the bell peppers I found an enormous hornworm. I think it’s the biggest I’ve seen yet. You can see the Sharpie in the picture below to get an idea of the size. I can’t believe we didn’t find it the day they harvested. They really combed through the pepper plants. Naturally, that led to a discussion about how these buggers are so hard to find. Without much prompting Storyteller told me how they are camouflaged to look like the pepper and tomato leaves. I was really surprised at how many details she knew. I guess she does listen to me at times.
We found these cute little guys on a tomato plant.