The BEST Thing About a September Garden are the Secrets it Holds.

“Oh! It’s the end of the summer. You must have a lot more time on your hands now that the garden is winding down.”  Anyone who says these words to me will see me snap, gurgle out a few swear words and then shove them into a puddle.

Karen Bertelsen wearing a brown t-shirt and shorts walking through her community vegetable garden.

No. No, September doesn’t mean the garden is winding down. September means EVERYTHING has to be picked before it either rots in the ground or gets eaten by something with fur, feathers and a very low IQ; yet still proves to be smarter than me. THAT is the truth of the September vegetable garden. 

A rabbit with her babies sleeping in a burrow in Karen's vegetable garden.


September means picking, digging, washing, processing, canning, freezing, pickling, threshing, storing and wondering what’s sticky under your feet in the kitchen ALL MONTH LONG. 

A clear glass bowl and clear glass jars filled with Classic Bread & Butter Pickles sitting on a marble counter top.

Classic Bread & Butter pickle recipe

And I love it.


A shot of Karen Bertelsen's community vegetable garden showing various greenery and two cold frames. A hoop house and straw garden umbrella can be seen in the background.

I love every single bit of it.

An overhead shot of green (left) and red (right) cabbages growing in Karen's vegetable garden.

I love the colour and the sounds and the quiet of a September garden.  


A corn cob that's ready to be picked growing in the garden.

There’s the last of the corn to be picked and eaten fresh off the cob right in the garden. Tomatoes spilling everywhere. Walking past the melon patch, you can smell the sweet fruit fragrance in the air.

An overhead shot of four cantaloupes and their abundant greenery growing in the garden.

I just harvested my wheat. Let me say that again because it’s a sentence I’ve never uttered before and it’s a LOT of fun to say …


Wheat stalks that Karen Bertelsen grew in her garden.

I used this cute little book called Homegrown Whole Grains that focuses on small scale wheat growing to help me through my first year of wheat growing.

The front cover of the book "Homegrown Whole Grains" by Sara Pitzer shows a hand-drawn image of a woman harvesting wheat in her garden.

The second crop of peas are making their way to the trellis.

Late-summer pea plants starting to grow against a trellis in Karen's vegetable garden.

Dahlias are coming into their most abundant blooming time, their heads nodding with the weight of their beauty.

A blush-coloured dahlia bloom in the foreground with unopened dahlia blooms and greenery in the background.

I’m even  happy to look at the Brussels sprouts.  So long as there’s some sort of protective layer between them and me.

Brussels sprouts growing in a hoop house in Karen's garden. Part of a chain-link fence and various greenery can be seen in the background.


But the best, the very BEST thing about a September garden are the secrets it holds. 

An overhead drone shot of Karen Bertelsen's community vegetable plot in the foreground with mature trees growing in the conservation area behind her plot in the background.

Below the ground, hidden from view are all the root crops that were planted months ago. Quietly growing away under the cover of soil. The only hint of what’s going on can be seen in the carrot bed where their shoulders flirt with the sun.

The orange "shoulders" of carrots can be seen popping through the ground with their green tops dappled with sunlight.


Saucy little things.

A row of mature onions with their tops turned down beside a row of onions still growing in the ground.


Things get dug up when I have time, but I try to leave anything that grows underground in the dirt as long as I can because it’s the perfect conditions for preserving them.


Once you pull up a carrot or potato, you have to find somewhere cool to store it with the right humidity.  Once October hits, finding a spot inside to store root crops is easier because the outside has cooled down. Once that happens it makes vegetable storage areas like mudrooms, garages, basements or kitchen cupboards cooler as well. (Kitchen cupboards that are on outside walls are always cooler than regular cupboards. So if you have nowhere else to put them, store your root vegetables in that cupboard, in a cardboard box, as close to the exterior wall as possible.

The top of a red beet popping out of the ground in Karen Bertelsen's vegetable garden.

Beets, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and carrots are all hidden under the soil but it’s the potato crops that keep their development a complete secret.  Beets and carrots peek up a bit.  Potatoes do not. Potatoes are incredibly secretive.  Everybody says so.

Harvested potatoes in various containers against a rustic wooden background.

Potato harvest day is like Christmas morning for adults.  At least it is for adults who have an uncommon love of tubers.

That would be me. I am that uncommon person. I love my potatoes with the fierceness of a mother. If they’re big enough I’ll put them in a frilly dress like a mother too. So that’s something to ponder. 

Overhead drone shot of Karen Bertelsen's community vegetable plot.

So no, dear friends. September isn’t a month that turns your garden into a relaxing breeze; rather it turns you into a bit of a hurricane.

And a puddle pusher.

And a revealer of secrets.

Karen Bertelsen walking away from the camera with her head turned toward the camera in her community vegetable plot.

That’s the September vegetable garden. 

The BEST Thing About a September Garden are the Secrets it Holds.


  1. Suzanne says:

    To echo everyone else, this post is written in a particularly musical way, so lovely to read on a Sunday morning on the front porch with my first cup of tea!

    And these photos are really awesome! Do you ever use that drone for nefarious purposes? 😉

    Have fun storing, pickling, canning, drying, etc. !

    • Karen says:

      I do not. :) The drone battery only lasts 15 minutes and I’m not very skilled at it yet so I don’t think the drone and I are talented enough to act nefariously, lol. ~ karen!

  2. Alexandra says:

    That’s the loveliest bit of writing I’ve read in quite some time. Thank you, it was much needed.

  3. Celia says:

    Someday I hope to have a bit of land for roses, fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Until then, I can dream!

    I love this post. Please remind me how big your garden plot is? It certainly seems more than enough for one person. Thank you,

  4. carswell says:

    Nice post Karen. Seeing your garden in the aerial shot – wow!!

  5. Ardith says:

    Hello, Karen. Your gardening posts are always magical, so thank you for sharing another beauty here. Cheers, Ardith

  6. Melissa Keyser says:

    Oh yeah, I’m glad you got that book! I know I mentioned it to you. :)

  7. Vikki says:

    Wow! looks like Potato Claus was really good to you this year! Love those dahlias.

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