Thursday, September 28, 2017

Autumn Memories


It has been one of the mildest Septembers in recent years.  Right now, it is 5:15pm and 23 degrees.  It looks as though the awful black flies/gnats that filled the air for the first three weeks of the month have either met their Maker or have moved on.  Thank goodness.  The quality of the light and the smell of the air today reminded me of the Fall afternoons Mom and I would take the truck to get water from the spring out of town, and family drives to the farmers markets in the Valley to stock up on fruit, squash, potatoes, apple cider, goodies, and decorative gourds.  Nice memories. :)


The last of our carrots were sliced and done in the dehydrator yesterday.  Hallelujah!  This morning, some cherry tomatoes and celery went in and should be dried by tomorrow.  Great to have on hand to make soups during the winter.


Heritage Mix beans, which includes Small White Navy, Green Hutterite, Swedish Brown, Purple Gnuttle Amish, and Mitla Black beans.  Originally purchased from Salt Spring Seeds several years ago.  They are described as early varieties that are great for soups.  Some of the varieties are definitely earlier than the others. Thankfully, I played it safe and put short bamboo stakes throughout the bed, as they all had runners!


Date sown:  May 29 (raised bed)
June 17 – Very good germination rate even though seeds were from 2013.
Most harvested between Sept 6-20.

Drying time - earliest to latest:
1) Swedish Brown (prolific, earliest)
2) Mitla Black (prolific, early)
3) Small White Navy (prolific, early.  Dried about the same time as the Mitla Black beans)
4) Purple Gnuttle Amish (pretty!)
5) Green Hutterite (quite late – most of the pods still firm/damp when I picked them in mid-September and several of the plants are still hanging to dry in the laundry room!)

 
Tiger Eye beans  - third year growing these.  Easy to grow, pretty to look at.




Painted Pony beans - second year growing these.  Prolific and early.  This year, though, I discovered that quite a number had sprouted in the pods due to the wet spell we had mid-month.





Cattle beans - second year growing these, if I recall correctly. Not the most exciting bean, but a very good producer and one of the earliest to dry, despite it's large size.




Pink Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes





A few days ago, I brought some of the floating row cover inside, intending to fold it and box it for storage.  I plopped it on the floor, went into the kitchen to drop off some potatoes, and when I came back to fold the row cover, found this:




*The row cover is still there, being used regularly as a napping spot.*



Monday, September 25, 2017

Garlic's Planted!


I planted my garlic today.  Strangely enough, now that that is done, I feel like I can relax, though there is plenty of yardwork and preserving still to do.  

I moved the garlic to the south garden for next year's crop.  A friend who grows thousands of bulbs every summer told me that it is best to rotate planting spots every 2 years or so as a preventative measure against a kind of mould garlic can develop.  I can't remember what it is called, but I gather it can take up to 10 years for your garden soil to be free of it once it effects your garlic crop.  Point taken, and garlic moved!

I planted the Siberian, Central Siberian, and Brown Tempest rounds from the bulbils I sowed last Fall in pots again.  Those rounds are still quite small, and I don't want them overtaken by weeds or accidentally mistaken for grass and pulled out of the patch.  The Kiev and Baba Franchuk's rounds seemed large enough to plant directly in the ground, so I planted them beside the regular cloves of garlic.  In total, 33 rounds were planted in pots and 49 cloves & rounds in the ground (the cloves are mostly Red Russian with a few Northern Quebec).  I am tempted to run out and stick another clove in the ground to make it an even 50!

In the next few days, I'll mow some leaves and mulch the garlic patch with them.  Looking forward to having the garlic "put to bed" for the winter.

Update:  I know, it is a picture of dirt and rocks.  But this is the new garlic patch!  I'm sure it will look more enthralling next summer.





And yes, I did run out and stick another clove in the ground.  Hee hee...




Friday, September 22, 2017

Hard Frost and Wrapping Things Up



It has been a busy week.  Yesterday, I finished bringing the tomatoes and dry beans indoors.  I boxed the tomatoes with newspaper so they can ripen, and hung up the dry bean plants in the laundry room.  I cut the heads off the two large sunflowers and brought those in to dry as well.  I'm glad I made the effort yesterday, as we had our first hard frost this morning (-4 on our thermometer).  The carrot tops, potato tops, pepper plants (I forgot to cover them!) dahlias, parsley, and even the Red Russian kale got zapped.  The leeks, red cabbage, and the curly kale look like the only things that might survive the frost.  I'll know later today, when it warms up.




We have started cooking down the ripe tomatoes in batches and freezing the sauce.  Lots of carrots have been enjoyed fresh and lots have been sliced and dehydrated to store.  There is still at least a bucketful in the ground.  There are 2 small buckets of apples in the laundry room that I haven't had the time or energy to deal with.  I'd like to make a few batches of apple crisp, but there is so much else to do outside first:  general clean-up, putting away the garden lights, stakes, and containers, digging up the potatoes, draining and stacking the rain barrels, tilling the gardens, pulling the weeds/grass out of the south garden and planting garlic, harvesting and prepping the leeks and carrots, mowing and whippersnipping the grass (almost a foot tall, in places), etc.







This morning's sparkly marigolds



Goodbye, parsley...





Tomatoes ripening in the kitchen





The last of the large tomatoes were picked yesterday...





...as were the cherry tomatoes...called "Chocolate" and "Snow White", despite the fact that most look lime green at the moment.




At the very inside of one of the Chocolate cherry plants, near the stem and covered by layers of branches, there was a small bunch that actually ripened on the plant.  A few of them had fallen to the ground, as well. These are what the Chocolate cherries are supposed to look like!




Top row, L-R - Cherokee Purple, Bonnie Best, Early Crookneck squash
Bottom row, L-R - Snow White cherry tomatoes, Gelber Englischer Custard squash




The tomato is a Mazarini (pink/paste/heart-shaped).  The carrot is a volunteer that we spotted growing in one of the bean patches. 




I have Meteor zinnias drying on the long cookie sheet.  Meteor zinnias are red, but the ones pictured are at different stages of drying, so some appear purple.  On the small tray below it, there are a few Cupcake and Lilliput zinnias and marigolds.  The box to the right contains "Heritage Mix" dry beans (Small White Navy, Green Hutterite, Swedish Brown, Purple Gnuttle Amish, and Mitla Black).






Ta-daa!  My Galeux D'Eysines squash are comfy in the plant room.  If sunny, warm weather returns later this month, I'll put them on the front step during the day to cure.  The three largest ones are nicely covered in "warts", one of the small ones has a few warts, and two of the small ones are almost completely smooth.  I have read that the higher the sugar content of the squash, the more warts it develops.  As I understand it, the more mature the squash, the higher the sugar content.






Tomatoes ready to be cooked down for sauce. We score the bottoms of whole, fresh tomatoes, freeze them, and then remove the skins by plunging them into hot water.  The skins usually pop right off. We find this method is faster, cleaner, and results in less water to boil off than the blanching method.




Carrots and Early Crookneck squash in the dehydrator.




Lou having a snooze in the window box outside the plant room.  She loves the warm soil on her belly.  :)






Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Frost's A-Comin'


I woke up this morning to find the temperature outside hovering between 1 and 2 degrees.  The next few nights are forecast to dip to 0 - 3 degrees, depending on which report you read.  To be on the safe side, I decided to cover the winter squash and tomatoes.  These pictures were taken around 6:00pm, as the sun was starting to go down, so they are a little grainy.


 South side tomatoes, all tucked in...




...as well as the sprawling cherry tomatoes in the potato patch.




Within five minutes of finishing, Bea showed up to see what all these clean sheets were doing in the garden.




A minute after that, so did Lou.




I walked back toward the house, confident that they would follow.  They did, but just as we were about to go into the house, they spotted more sheets and...


Hello, what's this!  Will it hold me...?











Opps. Almost dropped into the tomato cage...
























Their frost-cover-fort exploration complete, kitties are now inside snoozing, one on the computer chair, and one on the bed.  :)



Monday, September 11, 2017

The Crookneck Surprise


This black and orange (and very fast-moving) butterfly graced my marigolds with it's presence yesterday, first stopping at the ones in the north garden...




...and then settling for a moment on the ones growing along the south side of the house.




South side beds




Tomatoes, jalapenos, a bit of mint, and a sunflower beneath the plant room widow.




This is the first time in years that more than just a handful of tomatoes are ripening on the plants.
















Our kitty, Lou, coming out for a visit!  She is the more timid of our cats and usually prefers to stay indoors. 




This is our biggest sunflower this summer.  Not that tall (~5 feet) but the head is huge!




Some jalapeno peppers I picked the other day.




I planted some Early Crookneck squash in late May/early June as an afterthought/space-filler.  I don't know what possessed me, but I planted four of them in a (~3' x 3') square raised bed.  By mid-summer, the plants looked healthy but they were only producing male flowers. For weeks.  I finally pulled three of the plants out, thinking it was probably too late in the season for the remaining plant to produce any squash.  I was wrong!  Here is one side of the plant...




...and here is the other.  There are six squash growing on this side (one is hidden by a leaf).  Every description I have ever read about this variety mentions how prolific it is.  Now, I see why!  If I had planted the original four in a larger bed, with more space between them, I think I would have been able to supply half the town with squash, at this point.




Dahlias




The winter squash bed (Galeux D'Eysines).




This one's a keeper.  There is another growing at the end of the bed that is just as large and warty.   *Wondering how much it would cost to FedEx one of these babies from northern BC to Halifax...  Hee hee!*




Love the sunflowers.  Loathe the gnatty black flies. (Click for a closer look.  Those things are stuck to everything in the garden. Arhg.)




The last dahlia plant to bloom.  Pale cream with hints of pink and yellow.  Very pretty.




Little Lou




Leaning in for whisker tickles.




The kale and parsley bed (tub) is still producing well.




Bea joined us.




Tracking bugs under the apple tree.




Watching her sister...




Back in the house, ready for a snooze, Lou seems okay with her cat tree temporarily doubling as Dry Bean Central.