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ANTICIPATION IS SOWN WITH EACH SEED THAT GOES INTO THE GROUND. With the first sign of germination is the hope that success and sustenance may be in the offing. No seeds deliver like those of the radish family, pushing up through the soil within three days of planting. Carrots, onions and celery on the other hand come with hand wringing and second-guessing since they can take up to 21 or more days to pop through the soil.

MY vacation from gardening now effectively over, soil prep and direct seeding began the first week of August as there is plenty of time here for late fall-early winter harvesting of many vegetables and many overwinter nicely around here.

When I put the garden to bed before our long trip I used heavy black plastic to keep the weeds from taking over. And so far, the only unwanted seeds that have sprouted are squash, melon and tomato seeds from the compost that I laid down for the fall garden. Weeds are blessedly absent!

Volunteer squash seedling

Although it is really late in the season to see any productivity from these volunteers, I have left a few of the squash (melon? cucumber?) seedlings to see what develops.

The volunteer(s) 28 days later and still an unknown.

Arugula seedlings, like radishes up quick!

Carrot seedlings, germinating over a period of 8 to 21 days

Direct seeded: Beets (3 types), turnips ((2), carrots (3), radishes (5), fennel (2), kohlrabi, kale (3), chard (3), arugula, dill, Chinese/Napa type cabbage (2), radicchio, Asian type mustard greens (3), Walla Walla onion (for transplanting in February), and a big mix of a lot of lettuce seed that is anywhere between 10 and 2 years old (kind of my own mesclun mix to see what actually germinates.) In my experience lettuce seed seems to have the shortest viability of all vegetable seed.

Red cabbage start from the nursery

I also started a number of brassicas, some chicories (endive, escarole, etc), and a few lettuces in six-packs just now ready for transplanting. Thankfully mornings are cool this time of year, perfect for transplanting. I also purchased a six-pack each of purple cauliflower and red cabbage a couple weeks ago that had a big head start on my starts.

Buttercup squash

I planted some squash seeds when I set out the tomato plants and this buttercup squash is the only one to have germinated and survived in our absence. It is happily crawling up the tomato trellis and there are three squash so far. And the half-dozen tomato plants have produced tomatoes in spite of the lack of regular water and pruning for seven weeks. Hurray, all is not lost.

The vegetable garden, week five–anticipation rewarded!

Rescue Pear

The pears are lovely and large again this year even without thinning. The Akane apples are a total loss due to the apple maggot but we have lucked out with the Spartans which are sweet-tart, crisp and picture perfect!

Spartan apples

Now all that’s left to do is harvest some tomatoes, apples and pears and plant garlic and fava beans next month.