Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Garden Continues

Thriving Brussels Sprouts
Ring of Orange Around the Pumpkin Blossom
White & Red Beets, Oompah-Loompah Zucchini
Scarlet Runner with Long Beans
Nearly-Ripe Russian Tomatoes
Aw...Last of the Blackberries
Time for More Wood
Last of the Summer Peaches
Saved for Winter
Turtle and Merganser
New Horse with No Name
Bootsy Sighting
Looking South from Elmira Pond
The idea that a garden is perpetual, appeals to me. It's a family-like relationship with the soil, weather, food and kitchen. Like a family, it's not always in sync. Sometimes the soil and weather are at odds. Sometimes the food is ready to harvest but the kitchen unprepared.

You can't garden wrong. Sure, you make mistakes, but they're the kind you learn from like knowing that basil doesn't produce broad leaves and peas are sulky when planted late in May or June. So you adjust--sow basil indoors and see if you can over-winter peas. If the squash didn't all get cooked, don't fret, just freeze it. It's open-ended learning, and there is no pass or fail.

It's mid-September and my garden is yet strong. Five Brussels sprout plants continue to unfurl rich green leaves, lined in purple. They are a cool-weather crop so I'm hoping that they will start producing fruit after it cools off for fall. My cauliflower plants haven't been as good growers, but we'll see how they do when the air gets crisper. I may yet plant carrots (winter carrots are super sweet) and try some over-wintering seeds.

Grow little pie pumpkin, grow! That vine is enormous and fickle. It craves more water than I've showered it with, yet one pumpkin has emerged from three rambling, and at times wilted, vines. A ring of orange is emerging around the dying blossom--a hopeful sign for future maturity. If it ripens, it will be the honored pie pumpkin of Thanksgiving 2013.

Zucchini, crook-necked squash and patty pans seem endless in production like oompah-loompahs are working a squash factory beneath giant leaves. If only zucchini were chocolate. But I have a recipe to make zucchini chutney; now to find the time. Writing and the outdoors sap my willingness to be puttering in the kitchen. Today's harvest is going to be dinner, though--white and red beets with greens (steamed and buttered, zucchini patties and Italian Ice tomatoes that I already ate).

Carefully, I am watching my tomatoes for ripening. The Russians are turning red, the Japanese are just now getting a twinge. They are destined for tomato sauce so the riper the better. The scarlet runner beans are forming enormous pods; bigger than any I ever grew in Minnesota, yet only one seed germinated this summer. I'm drying the beans and peas that are left on the vine for seeds next season.

Alas, the blackberries are winding down. I picked enough for one large batch of Blackberry Chicken, so into the freezer they went. When the blackberries go, the woodpile needs to grow bigger. Todd dreams of a chainsaw and I of a rototiller, but we'll make do with ax and hoe. We are scouting for salvage wood on our trips into the mountains. Feeding a woodstove all winter is demanding work, but the low electrical bill is worth it.

The last of the peaches from the Peach Man are now awaiting winter in the freezer as peach pie filling. There's nothing better on a snowy day than a blazing fire in the woodstove, stew in the crockpot and a summer peach pie fresh out of the oven. We ate so many peaches that we only had enough for three pies. Precious pies they will be. I had expected to get another case before the Peach Man left, but now I know not to wait next year!

The pond is not empty, yet. Blue Heron has remained elusive, but turtles are sunning daily on his log. Today a Lady Merganser joined a turtle in the sunshine. I was happy to see she's still hanging out, too.  The horses are still mowing away at the pastures, but we have a different horse to replace Pistol, another sorrel mare. We don't know her name and Snapper was not thrilled with the swap. Bootsy appeared on the fence outside my kitchen window as I washed the day's harvest. I guess we've all been busy.

The sun is setting, casting pink. It is the same view from Peace, only Elmira Pond is at the valley floor and Peace up in the mountains behind our house to the west. Pink is a good color to end the day with.

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