Garden Daybook 10/10/12

Have you noticed a change in the air? Cool evening air, shorter days, summer-worn plants, and unbelievably huge spiders in their unbelievably huge webs all tell us that Mother Nature is gearing up (or is it down?) for another northern cold spell. By now the garden is either pooped out from bearing its harvest or in sprint mode trying to mature what is left. Cooler temperatures and frequent moisture from rain (finally!) have pushed the garden into it’s final gasp of growth. As I stand back and take in this summer’s garden (see above for a northwest view of the garden) it is undeniable that summer is at an end. The garden senses that winter is packing her bags and has paid for her ticket to Ohio. The train hasn’t left the station but the whistle is blowing.

Here are a few things that are either still sprinting toward the finish line or have already been harvested and processed for winter use.

Just before frost (maybe tonight!) I will pick every last green tomato and wrap each one in a personal cocoon of newspaper. I store them lined up on a basement shelf, check them often, and use them up as they ripen or turn them into fried green tomatoes when I get the urge. Beware: use only solid, perfect green tomatoes for this trick or you will soon find yourself scraping moldy green tomatoes off of that very same shelf. Ask me how I know that! This picture is of a pair of Amish Paste tomatoes. Aren’t they beautiful?

 

Celeriac is a bit of a mystery to me. I chose it as my “new” vegie this summer and it has grown beautifully. It was certainly easy to grow from seed. I transplanted it, mulched it, and it grew. Easy. I did pull off the stalks that grew near the bottom and on the sides of the bulb but that was all it needed. Now – – what do I do with it? Anyone out there have ideas for using celeriac?

 

 

The Yaya carrots, planted well into July, are still small. They will continue to grow and I can dig them as needed all winter. I will lay straw bales over the row to keep the ground from freezing and make digging in the cold soil easier. Yaya carrots are the best tasting carrots I have ever grown. These baby Yaya’s, about the size of your index finger, are best eaten right in the garden. Real gardeners brush off the dirt and feast on freshness. This is called “eating food where it is born.” I find this to be a lovely idea and practice it as often as I can.

 

 

 

 

This year’s fabulous Tango celery, with its huge, sweet stalks, has been harvested and dehydrated for winter meals. The celery in the picture measured three feet tall and had stalks twice as big round as my thumb. Ooooh Wee! The garden seems to be saying “Look at me I am gorgeous”.

The storage onions – Copra, Red Wing, and Cipollinos (pictured) – were pulled in late July and are cured and ready for storage. This was a great year for onions.They were started in late January 2012 from seed and transplanted in March. I mulched them with all the grass clippings I could get my hands on and they LOVED the extra nitrogen. I do believe this might be my best year ever for onions. Of course, the true test will be how they store over the winter.

Garlic has always been a staple in my garden. This picture is part of this summers harvest of Ichelium Red – cured and ready for storage. I plant my garlic in October and harvest it at the end of July. I can never grow enough. This week I am planting next summers garlic. I have managed to find heads of: ‘Ichelium Red’ (a softneck), ‘California Softneck’, ‘Rosewood’ (a porcelain hardneck), ‘German White’ (a porcelain hardneck), ‘Estonian Red’ (a hardneck), ‘German Red’ (a rocombole hardneck), and ‘Khabar’ (a purple striped garlic). Maybe we’ll have a garlic tasting next fall. What do you think Mary Ann?

As late winter approaches, stored garlic may begin to deteriorate. I check my garlic often and bring up heads that show green sprouts. I separate and clean the cloves and chop them in a small, electric chopper (is that the correct word for that little electric ‘chopper’ thingy?) I spread the pieces on my dehydrator trays and dry it until they are crispy. The small pieces can be used as they are or put through a coffee grinder for garlic powder. Have you priced garlic powder lately? Mine is cheap, organic, fresh, and ooowee good.

This summer’s garden, despite the heat and drought, has been successful. It has provided us with so many meals and has added greatly to our winter store.

All of a sudden the wind whooshed around the corner of this old farmhouse and right now it sounds cold outside. Winter is on the way. The train has left the station. Can you hear the whistle? I know I just did!

Hey from the farm,

Fran The Country Cousin

Sorry guys, if you are looking for info about my “organization on wheels” two wheeled cart named “Mitchell” (see our Facebook page). I changed my mind at the last minute and decided that I wanted to write an entire post about that little cart and not make it a small part of today’s Daybook. Also, there is so much going on in the garden and I wanted to share as much of it as I could before winter weather brings me inside.

Parts of this article were originally published in The Wellington Enterprise and are reprinted with their permission.

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