I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Fall garden chores....

Well, the weather person said it was going to rain...there were two and a half inches in the rain gauge yesterday at noon, and it is still coming down! We sure needed it though, as the ground was becoming dust-dry. The fall equinox occurred yesterday, and the rain and cooler temperatures have arrived, right on cue. (6 inches (!!!) in my rain gauge this morning at 7AM, and still raining...so glad we live on a hill!)

It's been a busy time, stashing away produce and fruit, processing tomatoes and trying to clean up the garden wherever things are finished for the year.

The squash and pumpkin vines turned yellow and mildew-y, so I harvested the Red Kuri squash and the pumpkins. The squash were starting to grow odd little bumps on them, but I think that is normal for this variety.

Kuris to the left, pumpkins to the right

We found a potato rolled out of it's hill, just laying there, and on investigation, it looks like some curious critter (probably our resident fox) sniffed its presence out, and dug it out to see what it was. No harm done.

The sweet peas across the front of the asparagus patch are pulled, the hardware-cloth fence removed, the soil turned, and yes, there were a few marble-sized potatoes there which had managed to grow despite me yanking out the sprouting tops regularly. I'll lift the existing old hay mulch among the asparagus stems, add some manure there, as well as along the front of the patch, then put new mulch over the whole bed. It will be just; The Asparagus Patch; from now on. There are lots of sturdy big stems and I'm looking forward to next spring's bounty!

The garlic and onions have all been cleaned and stored.

The garlic is amazing, but I'll never use it all. Plans for planting later this fall will be for less than the 100 cloves I planted last fall, for sure!


The onions have been so full of moisture from all the rain we had this summer, that they appear to have been splitting their skins while they were drying?? (They were intact when they were harvested.) I am concerned about how well they will keep this year, and will be checking them often throughout the winter.

The yellowing vines have been pulled off of the bean fence, and the dry pods I left to cure, have yielded some lovely big, fat, bean seeds.


Eight of the turnips are pulled and cleaned ready for waxing, but the main crop is still in the ground. 

We ate two small ones..Yum
 

Once things dry up after this rain, I'll be pulling, cleaning and storing the rest.

Tomatoes are still ripening, although I have pulled and tossed a few plants of those big, beautiful, but tasteless specimens. I am sure they will be back to haunt me next year, when all those seeds germinate from the compost! The paste tomatoes are pretty good, so I'm concentrating on them.


Two batches of salsa, one of chili sauce, and one of pasta sauce, are on the shelves. 
Carmen peppers and onions for Chili sauce

More tomatoes have been squirreled away in the freezer for later processing when the wood stove is going. On the agenda now is a batch of Grandmother's green tomato mincemeat, a Christmas tradition here, for pies and tarts. I ferreted out the amount of green tomatoes needed for the recipe, and there actually weren't a lot to find!

The eggplants are still producing, one plant in particular is so beautiful, and loaded with fruit.



On a recent walk around the bush trails, we found some mushrooms fruiting, but expect a whole lot more after all this rain, especially if the forecast for continuing mild overnight temperatures is true.



 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Harvesting....

 September.... sunny days of yellow, gold, and fading greens.

The red maples along the edge are starting to turn a dark burgundy colour. From waking up time, until the daylight grows, and the sun finally peeks through the trees, the length of darkness stretches so much longer. The overnight temperatures are creeping ever downward, now in the high single digits C. (high 40's F) and the mornings are very dew wet. We are watching the forecasts for the first frost warnings. 

Fall colours are showing up, mostly on the red maples, the tips of branches here and there, sometimes a whole red branch, and in lower, wet places along the highways, whole blazing red trees. All the trees are looking more faded, their greens dulled down from the glorious green of spring and summer.

Timing is everything, they say. Well, here is the dill, ready, finally.

and here is the cucumber bed...dismantled!

A neighbour dropped in and we sent her away with bags of ripe tomatoes, a big bunch of lovely straight, unmolested carrots from the second planting. (no sign of any carrot maggots in this crop), a bunch of peppers and some of the long mauve eggplants that are crowding this most beautiful specimen of a plant.


The buckwheat grew up rapidly, 12 to 15 inches high,
and started to put out buds. We turned it over and chopped in all the greenery.

What on earth will I do with all of these?

Cayennes. I had this thought of drying, and powdering them for my own cayenne pepper....but how much does one need?? 

We are in the middle of apple season, the shelves are filling, applesauce, apple jelly and dried slices,


and I think I have enough frozen slices for pies and crisps now. One of our trees bears the most pretty, pink-fleshed (and delicious) apples.

The tall ladder lashed securely into the back of the truck is still a difficult way to harvest from the tops of these old, old trees.

We've ordered an apple picking pole. Why we haven't done that before is a mystery!

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Garden stuff, critters, and a surprise plant....

September has come in with a distinct drop in temperature and a thankful absence of the humidity that was so energy sapping. The nights are cool, and it rained just a little less than half an inch last night. That is enough to be going on with, as crops are maturing in the garden. The cucumber vines are calling it quits, the squash and pumpkins are colouring up nicely, and the tomato harvest is on. Some mid-summer planted lettuces under the shade cloth, are now coming into their own, and looking good in this cooler weather.

There are a few fat berries on my hodge-podge of varieties of strawberries plants.


There are June bearers and everbearers, and I've lost track of who is who.
(I had bad luck twice with bare root stock, so bought plants that were available to fill the spaces.) I've let the biggest, strongest runners root, and cut back all the others. That in itself is almost a daily job, as they seem to send out new runners overnight. I'm hoping to actually harvest some fruit next year, as all the plants will be mature then. That will depend on weather and pollinators of course. 

This little guy hopped up on the screened lid of a water barrel I'd removed to scoop out a bucket or two, to water some flowers during that two week window between rain events.


It is a tiny spring peeper frog. If you look closely, you can see the identifying X on his back.

This pretty Admiral Butterfly was checking out the new paint on the verandah this morning, and catching a few rays.


My newest addition, a third compost bin that Hubby built by milling the boards out of a big poplar tree that fell, with his chainsaw mill.


A big surprise a day ago was the discovery of this...


That vine I've been cursing as it curls around my rolls of fencing and hardware cloth stored behind the garden shed...is a hop vine! Who knew? I should have, as the old milk house on the farm I spent some of my youth was absolutely enveloped by hop vines. This vine, a remnant from some former caretaker of this property, has found a new lease on life because we cleared out this area, let the sun in, and it has been a stellar year for rain. It is crawling across a rock pile, taking a run at the Jerusalem artichoke patch, and climbing up to festoon the branches of the trees along the bush edge with garlands of lime green hops. (click on the pics to get a better view.)

(Credit for the Hummingbird-Gladiola header picture goes to our son.)

 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Gardening, Processing and Critters....

It's a beautiful August Monday morning. The sun is sparkling through the raindrops hanging on everything from the good Gardener's inch, plus, of rain we had overnight. My glads took a beating, and now we have an indoor bouquet to admire at close range.

 
It has been dry since August 11, with only the odd shower and no measurable amount of rain. I had to break out the hoses and do a little watering! There isn't as much ground to cover now, as the onions, garlic, beans and some carrots have been harvested, so just had to give the vine hills a good drink, as all the turnips, tomatoes and peppers are well mulched. Feeling down around at the base of those plants, one can feel the cool moist soil.   
Seeing all those areas of bare soil, I was inspired to buy a bag of buckwheat seed, spread it on them, scuffle it in a bit, and because things were drying out, I watered it for the first few days. I planted it on August 21. It was sprouting on the 24th,and this was taken on the 26th,
 
and this is today!

Man that stuff grows quickly!

This is our fifth growing season here, but only four with more than one garden bed. Every year has been an adventure, either too much rain, (2017, there were puddles as big as little ponds in the yard on the first of July, with wood ducks frequenting them! To 2019, with the August drought, and 2020 with the spring drought, and August deluges.) This year has been a good gardening year all round, really. In between the rain events, there has been lots of heat, especially in July and August. At times I've felt guilty to be getting all that moisture, when so many areas of the continent have been on fire....

So, the crops are coming in now, the tomatoes are ripening well.


I've never had such big, beautiful, unblemished fruit,
 and am planning a trip or two to the local food bank, as I do not need it all. I've picked a few peppers and dried them for winter pizzas,
and the bean harvest is winding down.
Thankfully, the forecast is moderating, the heat and humidity is supposed to ease as we head on through this week, so I'll be able to do my processing in the kitchen, instead of on the verandah.



We have not seen too much activity in the bush on the trail cameras, but just yesterday, we picked up the SD cards, and there is the fawn with her mom, much bigger, her spots fading.


On the same camera, a little later, this is what appeared, 

and then this,

the curious culprit bounding off to keep up with mom!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The garden in mid August.....

Over the past week, we've had quite a few days of brutal heat and humidity, but on Friday, things cooled a bit, and working outside is a much more pleasant experience now. According to the weather forecast, the heat and humidity are on their way back for the latter part of this week. (They are here now!)

This day lily keeps blooming and blooming!

My first planting of beans has been harvested, processed and the plants pulled. The second planting is blooming now.


Tomato plants are loaded with green fruit, and some fruit are showing a bit of pink.

We have picked and eaten a couple off of one plant, that were red, but they could have used just a tad more time on the vine. That variety, although called Ultra Sweet, was flavourless, and I wonder if all the rain we've had could be the reason. As other varieties ripen, and are tasted, I'll have a better idea if that is the case. In other words, that first tomato, although lovely and juicy, was just bland.

We've tried a couple of the little Chocolate Sprinkles.
A couple of the top ones on the stem seemed ripe, although they have a pretty green mottling on them, so its hard to tell. When cut open, the insides were dark red and had a good flavour, so I am waiting patiently for some more of them to ripen. The only two tomato plants I raised from seed, that survived the late May frost, are Sweet Millions, and we've had a handful or two of those sweet little red orbs. 

The squash and pumpkins are growing by leaps and bounds, the squash are getting a nice, deep orange colour, and some of the pumpkins are starting to turn pale orange.


Best Buds are getting bigger!

The cucumbers have vined out, the picklers draping themselves further over the pallet ramps than the Straight 8's.

I've already made one batch of Bread and Butter pickles and almost have enough cucs for a batch of Nine Day pickles, two of our favourite sweet pickles. 

 


I'm still waiting on the dill to ripen some more before I tackle a batch of those.

The gladiola row has put out a phalanx of bud spikes, and the first few are opening, and are being quarreled over by the resident Hummers.

This year's hatch have taken wing, and the heavy traffic to the nectar feeders require them to be cleaned and refilled every 3 to 4 days.

I'm keeping ahead of the zucchini harvest... just...having made three batches of zuc bread for the freezer, frozen several bags for future muffins and made boats of one that got missed, and grew large.


Up in the barn, the garlic spread out on the old screen doors, and the hanging onions, are drying.

 
 I've used some garlic cloves in a couple of batches of basil pesto...what huge, crisp, juicy cloves they are!

I pulled my first planting of carrots which were nestled between the tomato plants.

There was the odd forked one and a few had signs of carrot fly maggots, so those were sliced and blanched, and are in the dehydrator. The rest are layered in paper towels in my vegetable crisper drawer, as I've found that is the best way to keep them.

I've picked and dried some of the herbs I'll use over the winter, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, savory, mint, borage and parsley. The red peppers are turning from green to red, and soon there will be enough to make red pepper jelly. Relish, salsa and chili sauce are still on the to-do list, but will have to wait until those tomatoes ripen.