Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wrapping Things Up

    The first big frost of the season happened on September 11th.  The bean plants, dahlias, and some of the marigolds took the biggest hit.  Fortunately, I had covered the tomatoes!  I have been cleaning up the garden and processing more vegetables since.  Before the night of the 11th, the weather was mild and sunny. After the 11th, also mild and sunny.  If only we hadn't had that one night of frost, the beans would have had another week of maturing and drying time.  Still, compared to the last few years, this September has been mild and cooperative.  No freezing rain or snow, and only a few nights of light frost.  No running around in mittens and a toque, madly pulling green tomatoes off the plants while I get pelted with ice pellets.  It's a nice change!

    The carrots were small this year, overall.  The Jaune Obtuse du Doubs (pale yellow/orange) and Snow White carrots seemed to grow the largest.  Hardly any purple or red carrots.  Lots of orange carrots (Scarlet Nantes, Chantenay), but they were much smaller than my past harvests.  Most I peeled (we no longer have an old, heavy-duty washing machine in which to clean them *sob*), chopped, and blanched so they could be dehydrated.

I started bringing in the dry bush beans as the cool, damp (and sometimes frosty) nights were preventing them from drying further.  Several pods were damp enough that the (supposed-to-be-dry) beans inside them sprouted.  You can tell by the thin, orange ring around the eye of the some of my bean varieties (Mary Ison's Little Brown Bunch and Canadian Wild Goose) that they were harvested before they were completely mature.  The Flagg (also called "Skunk" and "Chester") beans were the first variety of dry pole beans I have managed to grow successfully.  The pods were harvested before they were dry, but the beans inside seem mature and are drying well indoors.  Mary Ison's Little Brown Bunch  They produced a LOT of pods.  A very prolific variety!  The problem is, they didn't even come close to drying on the vine.  I have four boxes of these beans in the plant room and a fan going during the day, trying to salvage some of them.  They are supposed to be a dark tan colour with deep brown flecks, but harvested at this stage, they are beige with brown flecks.  It would have been so satisfying to have harvested them at maturity, and in dry pods.  They are a really cute little bean.

The North Georgia Candy Roaster squash produced lots of female flowers, but when the cool, wet August weather hit, two or three of the small squash shriveled up and fell off the vine.  We managed to harvest four good-sized ones, though!  They ranged in length from 18 to 23 inches.  The largest one is around 12 lbs.  One we gave away, one will be cut up for seeds (and anything that can be salvaged, eaten).  The other two will be stored until later in the winter. This variety apparently makes excellent pie!

We still had plenty of apples left, so yesterday, R. made some spiced apple rings in the dehydrator.  Tasty!  He will make another batch using a sweeter variety of apple later this month, as we’d rather not add sugar to the spice mix. 

Some of the sunflowers around the garden...

Russian Giants

A multi-headed sunflower

Sunspot sunflower - this one has already been enjoyed by some little birds, including a chickadee. :)

A tiny sunflower that popped up beside the kale.

A few of the bean varieties I grew...

Painted Pony - I received some of this kind in a trade and was growing it out.  It did well, and was one of the earlier varieties.

Molasses Face - Another variety I was growing out.  These developped runners, which I trained up short bamboo stakes.  This is such a pretty bean, but it was not particularly productive.  

Cattle - Another one I grew out from a few beans obtained in a trade.  I was surprised at how well these did.  Despite the bean's large size, the pods of these plants were among the first to start drying.

No blog entry is really complete without a picture of a furry friend. Here is Loulou snoozing on the cat tree.

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