Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Wrapping it up....
The growing season, I mean. Not Christmas presents (haven't got a thing), not the blog (Love this too much). Yesterday I picked a couple of gallons of green beans again. In weather so cold I had to wear gloves. And looking across the yard, I saw the forsythia blooming. It was 75 degrees for 2 weeks! In October ! Everything is so crazy... I have garlic and onions that are 6 inches high. And now we have been having to put covers over everything this past week so they don't freeze. (The temps dropped 30 degrees in one night) Sigh....But, I picked half a 5 gallon bucket of mostly green and some ripe tomatoes yesterday too, and so now those plants can die back. The squash is gone too. The snow peas are radiant, on the other hand, and my 2 lettuces are jubilant. lol The kale loves this weather and the chard is doing okay too. We'll see what happens. So today I'll be canning this last batch of green beans and drying the few tomatoes. The green ones I'll set out on newspapers to hopefully ripen slowly. I was going to try pickling some of the tiny ones, and I still might, but I'm not sure just how many of those are in there. My friend Cathy does that, and I thought I'd give it a try. (Maybe I should taste some first and make sure I even like them. lol)
It's been a very good year, harvest-wise, in spite of the drought and the outrageous heat. We broke records all over the midwest. Not in a good way. lol Weeks and weeks of killer heat and nary a drop of rain. I credit all the success I had this year to my organic raised beds. And massive amounts of mulch to hold what little water they got in. I am a devotee of this method of gardening and will never do it any other way. So, this time of year, I spend a lot of time out there, returning things back to the Mother earth. The vertical composting of dead plants, the applying of more compost, more dead leaves (a major FREE component of our fertilization process). And topping it off with the old used mulching straw. Then settling it down for a long winters nap. In about March, we will put heavy black plastic on all the beds to warm the soil and speed up the decomp process. In late March, we will start it all again,. putting potatoes in the ground and uncovering the bed where the onions and garlic are planted. Assuming it's starting to look like spring, and we're not buried under 3 feet of snow.. lol And if we are--then a few more weeks of vacation for us. We play by Mother Nature's rules. There is no getting around that. I don't know if I will try to start seedlings inside or not. I never have very good luck with that. It disturbs me...I have a very green thumb. But for the life of me I cannot seem to raise any seedlings except squash. Go figure.
I have saved some seed this year...not as much as I should. But edamame and squash and bee balm and fennel and anise hyssop and tomatoes. I will have my own seed potatoes and sweet potato slips too (I hope). And I can hopefully keep the lemon grass alive through the winter so I can replant. Same for the parsley. The chives will reseed themselves, but I have collected some seed from the garlic chives, just in case. They have come back 3 years running now. I also have a Survival Seed vault that I bought...it contains all the basics. And some seed left that didn't get used this past year. So, all in all, I shouldn't have to buy much. I need to get better about saving seed and starting my own indoor seedlings.
Any minute now, I will start rearranging the pantries and seeing just how much of what I have. And rotate..old to the front and get things used up. I just finished my last jar of 2011's green beans the other day. I finished up the tomatoes a long time ago, except for the dried ones and the marinara (2 jars left). I am already 3 jars into this years salsa. I may be in trouble there...but I can't remember offhand how much I canned this year. And somehow, that particular days bounty never made it into the garden journal. lol I did put lots of things in there, but I probably missed a lot too. Looking over it, I feel pretty proud of myself. I have 13 jars of green beans sitting on my counter that need putting away so I can have room to can the ones from today...when it's all said and done, I should have about 45 jars of beans. That's about right--a few more wouldn't have hurt, but we ate a lot of fresh beans too, and gave some to neighbors. The tomatoes got canned into marinara, salsa, tomato sauce and tomato preserves. And dried. I dried a buttload of those babies. And I'll dry a few more. Maybe.
All in all...a good year of putting food by. Got peaches, apples, pears and blackberries and cherries in the way of fruit. Some frozen, some made into jellies, some canned and some dried. I wanted to dry some pears, but didn't get to that. Maybe next year--or I might give my friend Kay a call and see if she has more she wants to get rid of. Might be way too late though, I don't know. I dried button mushrooms, red and white onions, okra, tomatoes, carrots, lemon grass, chives, walking onions, parsley, basil, fennel, hyssop and bergamot. I dried squash, lima beans, broccoli, cauliflower and peaches. I canned 21 pints of pinto beans so they would be ready to use on a moments notice. I froze edamame (a lot!) about 15 quarts. I have some frozen ear corn that I am going to dig out of my big freezer and cut off the cob and dry. It is SO good thrown into a pot of soup! The corn crop this year was a catastrophe because of the drought, so I didn't get any extra to do. We don't eat that much corn anyway...and the older stuff is taking up room in the freezer. I made only 1 or 2 batches of peach jam and just froze the rest. Some of that I will make jam with later when I don't have anything better to do (as if) and there are some older blackberries in there somewhere too, and they need to be made into jelly.
I hope that your year was good. We work really hard in our gardens and it's so disappointing when we lose the battle to Mother nature, like the year the big tree came down in the storm and smashed my bean trellises and killed my beans and smashed all the tomatoes into oblivion. Or it rained too much too long and killed lots of things., Or it didn't rain enough...and on and on, ad infinitum. But--we roll with the punches and we tell ourselves it will be better next year. And we push up our sleeves and we do it all over again...having faith that the seeds we plant will sprout, that the soil we've nurtured will bring forth healthy nutritious food, and that we'll manage to get it all done...just in time.
Have a restful season.....