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The harvest, the weather make September great

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Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 9:31 PM

I’m a fan of September – if it had an Instagram page, I would follow it; a Facebook site, I would like it.

The cool mornings, afternoons in the 80s and nights with open windows make up for the lost time in June when going outside was a potential health hazard. It also allows me to have the most comfortable clothing ensemble: T-shirt layered with sweatshirt, shorts, a ball cap and flip-flops. It’s what dreams are made of.

Local gardens and farms are pushing out the fruits of a summer’s worth of labor. Even with our small garden plots, we have a fridge and counter full of green beans, kale, shishito peppers, tomatoes and beets.

This is the first summer, believe it or not, where I have really fought wildlife for my produce. After going 12 rounds with the neighborhood bully deer and the elusive skunk/racoon/rabbit (I don’t know what it was because I never saw/caught it), I would say that it probably ended in a draw.

The deer pruned my tomatoes and peppers in early July, when the family (and our dog) was out of town. But with weeks of hot days and warm nights, the nightshades popped right back, and now, we are sick of shishito peppers and sungold tomatoes.

I’d say I won those rounds. However, whatever kept digging up our carrots, beets, onions and green beans most likely won. I would see a bed full of small holes and dead plants. I’m betting it was a skunk, as they like to dig, but whatever it was, it sure liked to uproot my plants, sample them and move on.

Win some, lose some – but that’s gardening every year, right?

As I have mentioned throughout the summer, we are having a banner year for tree fruit production. We have freezers and Ball jars full of frozen and dehydrated cherries, plums and peaches, and we don’t even have fruit trees on our property. But that’s the beauty of community. Go to fruitglean.org and you’ll see dozens of trees that have excess fruit.

And if you have excess fruit yourself, put your tree on the page. Residents can get in touch with you through the website, and you can help feed the masses while reminding the bears: “No fruit for you!”

If there isn’t someone there to pick your tree, members of the Good Food Collective have a gleaning team that will harvest your tree for you and redistribute the food to people in need. They can also grab your excess garden veggies while they are there.

Apples will be ready in the next six weeks, so expect more of this community goodness. We don’t always have years like this – ones that combine (and remind us about) the communal spirit with the communal bounty.

It’s a special combination that, at least in my case, has left me with a belly full of cherries, a compost pile full of peach pits and peels, a beard full of peach juice (sorry, Beth) and a heart full of community.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at darrin.parmenter@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464.Darrin Parmenter

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