By Phyllis Galowitz

Summer has ended; not the best of summers in the garden. Rain, flooding, bugs; very few gardening days and now it’s over. Our vegetable garden was washed out in July and although I attempted to make new plantings, all-in-all, it was not a successful garden this year. I doubt whether the tomatoes will ripen and even the zucchini, which at this time of year I’m usually giving away to anyone who will take them, are very disappointing. All of the wonderful (and expensive) nutrients that had been lovingly worked into the soil, were washed into the street (notice the healthy look of Route 28 in front of my house), along with the gravel from our driveway, filling the ditch along the road and causing more flooding.

Admittedly, some things benefited. The phlox, coreopsis, begonias, and the dahlias were, and some still are, extraordinary. The trees and bushes have flourished. The grass is the greenest ever.

The growth of the trees has robbed the sun from the vegetable garden and next year maybe I’ll move the vegetables to the containers on the terrace where there’s plenty of sun. I love having them there anyway, where I can pick them as needed as I’m cooking.

“Autumn Joy”, in the sedum family, is truly an autumn joy. The flower starts out a light green which gradually becomes a rich cream. Right before your eyes, the cream becomes the palest pink, but grows darker each day, passing from pink to raspberry to a dark red. Finally, it turns a reddish-brown and stays that way for the whole winter. It also easily reseeds itself and pops up in other places in the garden, like magic.

If you’ve been successful with your vegetable garden and are reaping the harvest, you probably have more than you can possibly consume. Freezing is an easy way to keep fruits and vegetables for use through the winter. Most cookbooks contain instructions for freezing and I follow the advice in The Joy of Cooking. The “Extension Connection”, a pamphlet put out by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, has a good article in the September 2006 publication called “Freezing Fruits and Vegetables”.

Herbs can be dried for use all winter or frozen for cooking. Wash and dry them thoroughly. Pack in small plastic bags and freeze or place small amounts in ice-cube trays and cover with water and freeze. When frozen, remove from trays and store in plastic bags in the freezer. What could be easier?

Will this summer of rainy days produce a beautiful fall? I wonder.

Too many tomatoes ripening at the same time? Try the following marvelous recipe tasted recently at one of the Andes Roundtable dish-to-pass dinners. (See Recipe by Bob Lidsky)