Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Favorite Time of Year

I love Fall. I revel in its colors and smells.  It is always a rush to try to get the outside work done before the ground freezes, but work in brisk cool air is welcome, especially after this summer's heat and humidity.

We had our first frost the other day so I was busy in the field garden.  I dug up my Red Cloud potatoes and picked all the tomatoes.   Most of the tomatoes were green so when I got back to the house, I put them in brown paper bags that I then stashed beneath the buffet in my kitchen. I check them every few days and sort out the ripe ones for processing or fresh eating. Tom doesn't understand why I plant heirloom tomatoes because I always wind up picking them green.  I suppose I just like heirloom flavor and don't mind waiting for them to turn red.

While in the field I also checked for winter squash and found nary a one.  I planted a new variety this year called Winter Keeper, and started the plants in the greenhouse so they were a good size when I put them in the field. I expected at least some fruits, but there were hardly any flowers on the vines.  Was it the weather?  I don't know.  Everything grew so late this year.  Well, I like my winter squash so you know I won't be planting Winter Keeper again! 

Out of the melons I planted this Spring, I found a solitary itty-bitty Moon and Stars watermelon, but a deer ate it. And there were only four tiny New England Pie Pumpkins that I picked before the deer could find them.  What a disappointment! The white Patty Pan summer squash, however, was a nice surprise.  I never grew it before and had to look up how to eat it, but I really like it.  I slice it into pieces and dip them in a little homemade salad dressing; a great lunch when teamed with a nice ripe tomato and raw greens. 

Closer to the house, I picked all of the Old Homestead Brown pole beans and Scarlet Runner beans.  Some of them I strung on a string, like I would if I wanted to make leather breeches with green beans, and I hung them up to dry for planting next year.  I canned the rest.  My late planted Provider green beans have managed to stay alive under row cover, but I don't think I'm going to get any beans off them as they are just starting to get flowers. 

The late planted beets are looking good so I might get some beets this year after all. If no beets, surely we'll get some beet greens.

This Spring I planted 75 heirloom variety Jupiter and California Wonder sweet green pepper plants.  I harvested about 10 small peppers.  The plants looked great and were loaded with flowers; there was just not enough time for them to fully mature. Same with the okra. 

I canned all day today -- tomato sauce, chickens, and chicken broth.  The house smelled so good!  And I had to laugh thinking how the chickens make out so well getting all the canning scraps to eat. 

I didn't make it down to Wisconsin Rapids to take the General Class ham license exam and will try for the December session.  In the meantime I keep studying.  It's hard to stay focused when there is so much other work to get done.  I keep telling myself that I can't become an Amateur Extra until I obtain the General Class license.  That sort of helps. 

Well, that's the latest here at Swamp Creek Farm.  Take care and Happy Harvest!

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