Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Season of Frost

The Season of Frost is that period of late fall where the frost is killing, but the days are warm and the air is clear and you can use the back porch as a cooler. (Of course, I just made this up b/c it sounds good to me for it to have a name) The season of frost will end with the first snow or the days that don't get above 45. The season that follows is called the Season of Smartwool. Anywhoo, I knew the season of frost had begun by the first hard-ish frost and the very recognizable "ping" that heralds the cracking of my teacup when it is filled with hot water. Despite the fact that this pretty much happens every year, I still don't learn. We are down to exactly two coffee cups.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Debriefing

As you know, I am enthralled with vegetable varieties. Why have 3 varieties of tomatoes when 12 will be better? Just one type of beet? Why bother?

I actually let my guard down this spring. I planted (at least) two varieties of tomatillos. Once called Verde that I had last year, and one called Everona Large. I got these because they grow well at Everona Dairy, and that is so near by. And I love their cheese. Turns out, I got so excited about the sturdy Everona tomatillo plants that I didn't have room for the Verdes. Now, over the past few years, regardless of weather, I have had tomatillos leaping out of the garden from June to frost. My freezer is full of tomatillo sauce. This year? Large sturdy plants with many blooms and almost no fruit. It was actually, worse than nothing. Several fruits at a time, with weeks between, so they basically all went to waste as there were never enough to do anything with.... I would have preferred a swift death by wilt as then I would have ripped the plants out and replaced them. Had I been my usual self, I would be able to compare the Verde and the Everona and I would know if it was the new variety or some oddity of the climate, soil, garden action, etc. I fertilized this year, and "they" say tomatillos like poor soil. It was unspeakably dry and hot. But one would think they would prefer such conditions as the tomatoes and peppers were fantastic.

This is EXACTLY the reason for multiple varieties.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One of Many

I have about 10 posts swirling around in my brain right now. Most of them revolving around debriefing after the summer garden. On a normal day, I would do a list (for SHG) but today, no. I will have one ode to the forgotten garden item. The one I am sorely missing now that the weather has turned cool an it is time for soups. And that item...


The past several years I have started the leeks early. Ridiculously, absurdly, unreasonably early. I put the seeds in the dirt in January. They are ready to plant out early in March. Then they are still small as the weather warms. You can eat them, certainly, but they are quite onion-y. None of the subtle sweetness. And small. Hardly-worth-it-for-heavens-sake-just-buy-a-scallion. So I would leave them in the garden, growing along until fall, when they would look fat and lovely and be mild and delicious. Especially after the frosts. I would have leeks through Thanksgiving. I mulched them heavily to try to prevent the splitting from the outsides freezing, but then they would get a little slimey. None the worse though if you pulled off the outer leaves.

This year, THIS year I thought I would get clever and put off the planting of leeks until mid summer. They take 120 days, and since you want the growth to all happen before the last frost, you have to count back 4 months from October 15, which would, right June 15. Which is precisely when the rest of the garden is packed with other goods. So this year, not only did I forget to start the little beggers in May/June, I wouldn't have had any space if I had. Poor planning indeed. And the price is no lovely leeks for soup or smashed potatoes. Dag. I miss those critters.

Frankly, I have never done the onion thing well, but I have muddled through with the leeks. I'll have to not think too much about it for next year. Thinking seems to be where I really get myself in trouble.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I made a batch of Farm Girl Susan's No Sugar Green Tomato Relish last night. It was simple. No peeling, only rough chopping, and long simmering. She hits it with an immersion blender at the end, but I just used a potato masher for a chunkier sauce. I think I will add more heat though, even with the 4 jalapenos called for, the heat factor is only about at 3 of 10, though I should probably taste it again after an overnight sit before I make my final determination.

I put it in bags to freeze since I was too disorganized to get the canning together last night. Heading down to make another batch now. It will be a good stand in for tomatillo salsa. And with more pepper and cilantro added would be chimichuri-ish and fabulous with grilled meats. This is such a boon with all the green tomatoes!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This morning is spectacularly gorgeous. Bright and clear with a definite bite of cold. There are birds everywhere out there. I don't just mean the ducks who are splashing happily in the creek and exploring the property next door. Song birds are everywhere. They are flying around with purpose, but somehow also seem excitable. I am speculating that they are all doing errands for the imminent trip south for winter.

I am sure we had frost in the swale last night where the garden is. Good thing I harvested the peppers and what was left of the basil. Everything else out there can stand a nip of frost. I also brought in the green tomatoes. It was a remarkable harvest. Mostly for being so completely unexpected. It must be close to 2 gallons of peppers and at least that of tomatoes mostly green but some ripe-ish and some that will probably turn red with some stern words and warm sunlight. I am planning at least one and likely two batches of Farm Girl Susan's No Sugar Green Tomato Relish. I'll let you know how it goes. I may even end up canning some of it as the freezer is absurdly full.

This week I made my chicken tomatillo crock pot thing, and a big batch of beef stew. I have been craving warm sloppy stew-ish type things these days. Soon, it will be chicken soup. One of my favorite things on earth. When the real cold hits, I put the chicken on in the morning with all the stock bits that I have put in the freezer during the week, onion ends, parsley stems, etc. and cook the chicken until just done. I pull that out and let it cool. Then the I pick the chicken an throw the bones, skin, etc back in the stock and continue to add veggie bits as I go about whatever other cooking I am doing during the day. Then the stock gets strained and I throw in some fresh veggies (onion/carrot/celery) depending on the stock flavors, and maybe a few potato bits. Toss the dark meat back in, season with salt and pepper and ladle over wide egg noodles. The SB prefers the tiny thin noodles but he is often out voted on this.

I may even start some bread this weekend. Having the oven on would take the chill off. Too early for heat.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Wow, I have totally been slacking off in the blog department. So, let's catch up with a list shall we?

1. Went to Reedville for a long weekend with some girlfriends and their small children at the end of September. It was lovely. The children were lovely. We had much fun with small children in the water, which is one of my favorite things. Children are exhausting, how does anyone have them 24/7?
2. It went from summer (90+ the weekend we were in Reedville) to in the span of about 14 days.
3. It went straight from socks required in the AM, to really-I-should-be-wearing-my-woolie- slippers-if-I-only-knew-where-to-find-them.
4. I have a wedding to go to today and nothing to wear. Shocking.
5. I am back to making cornbread every week and still searching for the perfect recipe. Feel free to hook me up if you have one that is not too dry and not too sweet.
6. We went to the urban goat keeping workshop. Wow. Those goats got some cute goin' on. We didn't get to stay for a lot of the hands on stuff b/c things started late and the SB and I both had evening obligations. Maybe spring on the goats.
7. The SB has taken on putting up the ducks at night most times. He volunteers as he is up much later than I and the ducks like to be out as much as possible. And we like that too as it makes for a less messy duck house.
8. The ducks are molting, and the production seems to be 1 or 3 eggs a day. Interestingly, rarely 2.
9. Work is busy.
10. Dark evenings mean that before long, we won't be working outside much in the evenings and I can start sewing again. Woot!
11. We have tons of spinach, chard, carrots, Chinese cabbage and very spicy arugula in the garden.
12. We will be planting the garlic soon.
13. An interesting article about Colony Collapse Disorder in bee populations.
14. A couple weeks ago something knocked my hive over. The SB called at work to give me the heads up. The bees were actually pretty cool about me coming to pick things up. It didn't look like anything had been rummaging around in the hive. I suspect it was a deer that crashed into it in the middle of the night. Those things are clumsy and their startle response is way over developed. I am just hoping the queen didn't get killed in the jostling and repositioning. I didn't look through the hive for her, I am not that good at finding queens as they pretty much look like every other freakin' bee in the place. Though my bee mentor (who rocks) would totally disagree.
15. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I am well on my way to being "that crazy lady down the street". I just came in from letting the ducks out and I realize that I went outside (that would be appearing IN PUBLIC) in capri length yoga pants (grey), blue socks, black clogs, a maroon shirt and a purple and green anorak. Right. I would much prefer to be the crazy lady down the street in vintage patched Chanel jacket and 19th century granny boots with blue jeans. Maybe that is what I can aspire to for my golden years. So if anyone finds some old totally too far gone Chanel, send it my way, K?