Sunday, December 30, 2012

Marshmallow World

We are in the midst of what I think of as "the tunnel", meaning the short, cold and often snowy days of winter. I didn't invent the expression, but got it from author James Michener after reading one of his books back in my teenage days. It stuck with me! I am not fond of these winter days, but try to keep an upbeat attitude as much as I can. Here are some views from my doors that I woke up to this morning:

Fresh fallen snow is beautiful to look at and I am enjoying if for the moment but will soon be outside with my spouse shovelling our very long driveway so we can get out when we need to. I suspect it will be a bit less pretty to me then. At least it might work off some of those holiday calories I've been packing in all week long! We got about ten inches of it last night, thankfully the light fluffy kind.
Snow makes a good blanket for the garden and of course it is called the poor man's fertilizer. On the down side, two years ago the garden stayed snow-covered almost all winter and it provided a nice protected area for voles to live and breed. They were terrible in the garden that year! By contrast, last winter we saw almost no snow. I believe that allowed the voles to come out foraging more and be caught by predators so they weren't much of a problem at all this year. But gardeners have to work with what nature sends us, so I'll try to focus on the snow's protective and fertilizing work!
Yesterday I received something that really cheered me up:

The first seeds of the season! I ordered these only two days ago! It is the smallest of my orders by far; I always go a little crazy with seeds but there are worse habits I guess! Best of these is the large bag of Fresh Pick green beans. I love these beans and was dismayed to find them dropped from Johnny's catalogue this year. Thankfully they were still offered online. I think these may be remainders from last year as the germination percentage is a bit less than I'd expect but I don't care, I'm just happy to have them again! I hope  this isn't the last year I can get them. It's about a month til the first seeds are started around here and I am itching to get to it! I have a new toy to try out. I bought a small heating mat for seed starting and can't wait to see if it really shortens some of the germination times. Meanwhile the arrival of those small packages of goodies plus reading and re-reading the catalogues and garden books will have to carry me through!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Harvest Monday!

I actually had a Christmas Eve harvest! One of the dishes I make for Christmas day calls for leeks, so I took a walk down to the frozen garden and dug out some of the last of the leeks.
Not many, but enough to add flavor to the seafood gratin I make. I don't think I've ever harvested a fresh vegetable on December 24, so this is quite exciting!
My day today is chock full of cooking and baking for my little family. Both sons and my daughter-in-law will be here tonight and tomorrow we will be hosting my younger son's in-laws as well. Tonight there is an evening service at church where I will be singing in the choir as well as doing a solo, so I need to have food and house ready by then. Looking forward to the blessings of the day! Merry Christmas to all and happy harvesting! Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions; take a look at what others have harvested this week!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Heard the Bells...

This has been a hard week for the country and especially here in Connecticut. It is difficult to be excited about the coming Christmas holiday when you think about how much suffering is going on just a few miles away on the other side of our very small state. I live near the eastern end of Connecticut, but I grew up very close to Newtown. It is a beautiful area, right out of a Norman Rockwell painting and my heart is aching for the terrible losses that town has endured.
Yesterday in church, our young pastor could hardly speak. He has two beautiful little children, so I'm sure it all hit very close to home for him. He chose to have us sing "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" with Longfellow's poignant lyrics, written during our bloody civil war, that first question where this promised peace on earth is but end triumphantly with the Hope we all hold on to through good times and bad. I am so looking forward to the spring. Meanwhile, I made some jars of Friendship Soup to give as gifts to some very dear women. The recipe can be found all over the internet and it seemed like a good alternative to the sweets overload we all have around this time of year. What holds me up at times like these, when it is tempting to despair of everything, is the love of those I am surrounded by, be it family or friends and of course, the Lord. Joy comes in the morning and spring will come again!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mid December Harvesting and Reflections

I've been scarce here on the blog lately due to a combination of writer's block, holiday season busy-ness and not much garden related going on at the moment. But today I took a walk down to the garden and harvested the last of my brussels sprouts along with a few leaves of kale, arugula, parsley and scallions.
It came to about a pound and a quarter of produce and the cool thing about that is it brought my harvest total for 2012 to 577 and a quarter pounds. This is just over 100 pounds more than we got last year! Which makes me very very happy.
As I've harvested kale lately I've noticed some kind of bug eggs on the leaves. First saw them in the early fall, but even after a number of freezes they are still present and on close inspection seem to either be sprouting into some little mite of some kind or else the eggs attract a mite. I've also seen one or two green worms and recently heard a report of a moth called a winter moth that's arriving in our area from the north, from Canada. So I thought it might be their eggs. Not sure, but they are not nice to my kale leaves. Here is a picture of the eggs:
OK, not the best of pictures, but I am not yet good at those close-up photos. They are in thick clusters and an ash gray in color. Any ideas as to what they might be?
Anyway, that's all the gardening going on around here for now. I have been perusing my seed catalogues and will soon inventory my old seeds and begin the ordering process for next year. To my dismay, the green bean variety I've loved and waxed eloquently about for the past four years is not being offered by Johnny's this year. I have to find a new variety to use since I've only located that variety with one other seed company and I couldn't tell if the website was current or not.
I hope once the holidays are over to attend to this blog just a bit more. I spent an unfruitful afternoon last week trying to redesign the look and made a real hash job of it, only succeeding in eliminating one element I actually liked. I'd like to move away from the sterile template and make it more personalized. But it will have to wait for a quiet time when my spouse or son is available to help me tackle the job. It's the kind of thing D actually enjoys and I don't.
For now I'm off to the kitchen to prep some things for dinner and then to finally get to work on getting our Christmas tree up. Working up some Christmas spirit!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gardening By The Book

My husband and I are two extremely bookish people and much of what we have learned to do in life we first learned out of books, vegetable gardening being no exception. I never saw a vegetable garden close up and personal until I was a teenager and that was my grandfather's huge garden in Germany. And while I did help him in the weeding and harvesting, I never asked him much about how he went about the actual planting part! A few years later, when my parents moved to the state of Illinois, my mother decided to grow veggies since it was what all the neighbors did. Her garden produced beautifully with almost no effort it seemed to me, except to plant and weed. The soil was that perfect midwestern topsoil that needs practically no amendment at all and I don't remember a lot of pests. Of course, as a teen I'm sure I had blinders on much of the time!
When D and I married we wanted to be self-sufficient and grow our own food, so we bought our first gardening books and started what has become a pretty large collection.
There are some really good and helpful books there and there are some clunkers, some are somewhat outdated and some are newly naive but on the whole, most have yielded at least a nugget or two of very good information and I have learned so much from them!
Here is my favorite go-to book of all:
No matter how many garden books I read I always find Ed Smith's book to be the best. He writes with enthusiasm and knowledge, the photos that illustrate the book are terrific and it doesn't hurt for me that his experience is in the northeast where I also garden. His is a great reference work! I also tend to go to Burpee's The Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener for reference. One of my favorite things about that book is the historical background given for each vegetable. I love learning about the provenance of what I grow and eat! It is really fun to see how the years have changed our perceptions about certain plants.

The oldies but goodies:
My very first garden book was Thalassa Cruso's book based on her old public television show. It came out in the 1970s and at the time I just loved it, but it was soon eclipsed by my very favorite from that era, Crockett's Victory Garden. I loved watching Jim Crockett on TV and found his book to be a wonderful guide to growing. I especially liked that it followed the gardening year month by month, keeping me on track with my garden chores. Later in the decade Dick Raymond came along with his over-the-top enthusiasm (and salesmanship for rototillers!) I didn't read his books back then, but I ordered some old copies last year. All of these authors had solid advice on gardening, but they were popular before organic gardening really went mainstream, so not all the info works for me today. Still, it is fun to read through them from time to time to get that basic knowledge.

Enter the Rodale era! Shortly after we began gardening we discovered Organic Gardening and Farming magazine and soon began to order Rodale press's books about growing the organic way. This changed everything! Gone were the chemical fertilizers and in came the compost! Those old Rodale books are still great resources for today's garden. They are not glamorous, but there is much to be learned in them.

Three years ago I discovered Eliot Coleman and his fall/winter gardening techniques. His ideas were the newest to change my thinking about the gardening season and although I have not yet tried many of his methods, I have certainly learned to extend my season beyond what I ever would have back in the 70s. The Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Nikki Jabour is also a very nice book that gives insight into extending the season for those who live in the north.
Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way by Wesley Greene is a gorgeous book that has nice simple ideas from an era when "organic" was the only way to garden and one used what nature made available to you. Like my Burpee book it also gives a lot of history of the vegetables used in Williamsburg in the colonial era. John Jeavons' classic book How to Grow More Vegetables is an update from the 70's, and unfortunately I found it as dry as bones and difficult to read. The Idiot's Guide is pretty basic as one might imagine, but not bad at all for the price. And Small Plot, High Yield Gardening by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan is very useful to me because they garden in my own state and so address many of the conditions and sowing dates that I deal with.
Not included in this post are the clunkers, and believe me, I have a few of them in the collection. Some are expensive clunkers at that, like one book which looked good on the Amazon write up that ended up being little more than a collection of info you can find on the back of any decent seed packet.
These are the books I'll be leafing through along with the seed catalogues in the coming cold months as I dream of and start the seeds of next season's garden. I have to give them credit for forging me into a gardener. I also have to give credit to the many garden bloggers out there who have added to my store of knowledge and shared their tips, successes and failures. Gardeners are a generous group! Do you have any favorite garden books that you refer to again and again?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Harvest Monday

This may well be my last Harvest Monday contribution until the first spring harvest comes along. I don't have a cold frame set-up at this point and the nights have been freezing pretty regularly now. Even my kale is about at the end of the road for the year. Today I managed to harvest about a pound of marble sized brussels sprouts and a handful of wilted kale, plus three baby carrots.
The last batch of sprouts I picked ended up coated in olive oil, salt and peppered and roasted for Thanksgiving dinner. They were very tasty prepared simply that way and I will probably do the same with these. There are still a good number of tiny ones out in the garden and whether they get large enough to be of use remains to be seen.
We are now entering into the dreaming time of year. Too early to start any plants for the next garden, but not too early to dream about future plans. I still haven't dug that last 3 foot by 3 foot bit of growing bed! Last week was perfect weather for it but after Thanksgiving I just got bitten by the lazy bug and had about as much ambition as a slug...wait, that may be a poor simile, since the slugs in my garden are ambitious enough to be quite any case, nothing got done at all. I did however order an early Christmas present for myself, a heating mat to start seeds on. I've always managed well enough without one, but it does seem like something that will speed some of my slow-sprouting seeds along.
Tomorrow we may get snow, so bring on those garden dreams!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harvest Monday

After being gone all weekend, I got out to the garden today and managed to get in a little harvest, a pound each of carrots and brussels sprouts as well as a small amount of leeks. I also found a little bit of arugula, radish and komatsuna out there. It wasn't enough to do much more than a garnish with it, but still felt good to find it growing out there. Daphne's Dandelions has many other great harvests posted to show the bounty of our gardens in all seasons!
 The brussels sprouts are rather small, but I will serve them up on Thanksgiving and there are more waiting to be picked.
The carrots are still on the small side too, and someday I am determined to manage to grow larger ones. The nights are dipping below freezing and they won't get any bigger. But they are sweet to munch on and it's nice to know they are free of chemicals. And hey, we're the ones who get to eat them instead of the voles that often beat us to the punch!
Alliums were such a mixed bag for me this year. I'm happy to have the leeks, although they are pencil thin (and those are the big ones!) compared to last year's.

And here are my surprise radishes, the final two from the 2012 garden.
Thanksgiving is upon us and a time to reflect on how blessed we have been over the past year. This weekend I was in Oceanside NY, a town that was hit very hard by Superstorm Sandy. I was a volunteer with Samaritan's Purse and I helped work on gutting two homes that had been badly damaged in the storm. The homeowners were crushed by the disaster. One of them was an elderly man had just lost his wife of 47 years three days before the storm destroyed his house. How do you help someone in a situation so devastating? He seemed happy to have the help, but I'm sure it was only the smallest comfort with all he has had to bear.  It was so heart-breaking, but it really served to show me how thankful I should be for every blessing I have.  I was impressed with how that man's neighbors were watching over him and each other to protect from the sharks that never fail to come around when disaster strikes. It was also gratifying to see how many volunteers were there to work and how appreciated they were. Our group even had a couple all the way from Australia helping out. They were up here helping and learning because they want to implement a similar disaster volunteer program Down Under. It was neat to talk to them.
I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the holiday with your loved ones this year!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Little Bit of This and That

There is no doubt that the cold weather is here for awhile. Yet it is quite remarkable that when I visit the garden there are still bright and cheery patches of green here and there. I am still slowly...verrrrrry slowly doing my garden clean-up and prep for next year. I got the garlic planted two weeks ago. I am in the process of digging my last raised bed and as I see it coming close to finished I am so excited to think that this coming spring I will actually get on to planting instead of digging new beds and racing with the calendar to have beds ready. But I will say this, the chill drove me out of the garden yesterday. I put on my grubbies and went down there fully planning to put in a few hours work and complete that bed, but as I stood there taking pictures and surveying all around me, the slate gray skies and the damp cold air just became too much and I let my lazy side win the battle. Back into thehouse I went and curled up with a book in front of the wood stove for the rest of the day. Oh, and I did read my first seed catalogue for 2013. It came three days ago!
Some would say it's too early, but I don't care. I love to daydream about what to grow next season! So much hope and optimism!
Here's a look at the November garden:

 The brussels sprouts bed is still green and producing sprouts. I hope to use some for the holiday dinner next week. The bed to the left of them are old broccoli plants that have yet to be pulled out.
Kale is still looking green and healthy. Some is old and was planted in the spring and some is newer. It was planted in late summer. It's a lot more tender, but doesn't have a lot to harvest. It should overwinter and give us some of our earliest spring greens
 Below are my three carrot beds and the small bed covered with hay has the spinach that I'm trying to overwinter.
 Only a few of the mache I planted came up and they sure are pretty even if there aren't many!
 Here are the brussels sprouts, looking beautiful! I should have had this picture next to the photo of the brussels sprouts bed, but I still have the hardest time getting blogger to cooperate with me. It's a steep learning curve!
 And below is the Final Bed! If you look carefully you will see that I have only a short patch about 3 feet long yet to dig and raise. Hopefully it'll be done before December.
I won't get any work done there this weekend though. I am off to the southern shore of Long Island this afternoon to volunteer my time to storm clean-up down near the Rockaways that were hit so hard by Storm Sandy. There are people there still without electricity and there are many badly damaged homes.
We have had an up and down year in our household. The up was my younger son's wedding. The down was the elephant in the room at our house for the past seven months and that is the completely unexpected collapse of our older son's marriage. We're not the only ones to go through the sadness of such a thing, but it has had its effect. Our son moved pretty far away a few weeks ago to start a new life and it has been difficult for us. I am reminded of a line from Fiddler on the Roof: "God would like us to be joyful even when our hearts lie panting on the floor" One way to do that is to focus on others and not ourselves and going to Long Island today is one way to do that. People are really hurting there in ways I can't even imagine. I volunteered to go last year to New Jersey after the floods there and went with the organization Samaritan's Purse, the same organization my group is going with this weekend. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I expect no less this time around.
Here at home my garden, even in the late fall, is my happy place. I have far more to be grateful for than to be sad about and as the coming Thanksgiving holiday looms, I will concentrate on that!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Harvest Monday

My Harvest Monday postings are going to be a lot of the same for as long as they continue, which may not be much longer, with the weather changing into colder temperatures. I have basically three crops left: kale, brussels sprouts and carrots.
 I forgot to take a photo of the carrots I pulled. Oh, and I did get a little parsley as well. That's about it, but I'm not complaining. It's wonderful to still be getting some fresh vegetables from the garden a week into November.
I planted a good sized bed of mache, but sadly only a few of the many seeds I spread sprouted and those that did are quite small. Not even worth covering the bed with any kind of protection. I have a small bed of spinach going as well, but after harvesting many of the small leaves last week I covered it with straw to overwinter. I seem to have a lot more success with overwintered spinach than I do with new spring plantings, so I'm looking forward to seeing that spinach again next year early in the spring.
That's it for the harvest here! I hope you'll head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what others in the gardening world have harvested this week!

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Bean Dish From My (Somewhat) Distant Past

Does anyone remember Prodigy? It was my introduction into the world of  online information sharing quite a few years ago, an ISP from IBM that is now obsolete. How things have changed! Any number of computers later we have the internet, facebook, twitter, youtube, blogging and images that were unheard of back in the Prodigy world. But I still have one souvenir from the days of Prodigy and that is my three bean casserole recipe. Prodigy had an online cookbook back in the day and I found this easy recipe that became a staple in our house over the years. With the onset of blustery cold weather, yesterday seemed like the right time to make it, along with some nice homemade bread.
There are three things I like about this recipe. It is healthy. It is cheap. And it tastes nicely different than some of the other baked bean type recipes I've tried. Probably because it uses different types of beans like garbanzo and lima beans as well as having celery in the sauce.
The recipe calls for canned beans, but I like to have dry beans prepped and ready in the freezer to use instead. This makes them that much cheaper and healthier. I do batches of different kinds of beans, soaking them overnight, then boiling them until they are soft. I freeze them in 2 cup portions so they are always ready to cook with. They have less sodium this way and are not exposed to the chemicals in plastic lined cans. I have found that by using the frozen beans, I like to add a little salt (about a half teaspoon) to the recipe which is otherwise not called for. Well, without any more ado, here is the recipe:
                               Three Bean Casserole
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1 Tablespoon cooking oil (I use olive)
2 cups (or one can) cooked white beans
2 cups (or one can) cooked garbanzo beans
2 cups cooked lima (butter) beans - I use frozen baby lima beans
1 and 1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon dry mustard

In a large skillet heat the oil and cook the sliced onions and celery over medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. Transfer this mixture into a 2 quart casserole. Cover and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Loving that Brown Gold!

Finally, finally I'm getting around to the garden prep before winter strikes. Well, it is striking this afternoon some with the possibility of snow, but by the weekend we should be getting mild again so I can keep on working. I spent some time the other day sifting compost from one of the many small compost piles my husband has tucked in the woods around our house.
I got about four cartloads like the one above that I spread over the garlic bed. That is just one of many beds, so I need much more compost than I have available. Raking leaves takes on a whole new meaning around here. It is purposeful! We are fortunate to have many leaves at our disposal, as is obvious here:

So why, when I had the opportunity to rake leaves for an elderly couple with my church's children's group, would I actually bring them home? I certainly got a few raised eyebrows at that! We rake leaves as a christian service assignment to teach the kids about helping others. After bagging up the leaves they were destined for the town's landfill and I would much, much rather they ended up in a compost pile! I have heard there are some cities and municipalities that collect raked leaves and make compost which is later given out to the residents for free or for a nominal fee. I wish every town that collects leaves did that! Think of all those thousands of pounds of leaves ending up in landfills when they could be helping to grow food!
So here they are, twenty bags of leaves now ready to start a new compost pile on our property. Four years ago when I started my first vegetable garden after I retired, the soil was almost completely without nutrients and the results were a very poor harvest. I've been slowly building it up and when, after that first summer, I added about two inches of sifted leaf-mold compost to each one of the beds there was a huge difference the next year. I've added some new topsoil since, but the real key ingredient is the compost. It seems to me I can never get enough!
And here it is, the new compost pile made with all those bagged leaves. Can you see it? No? Barely maybe, because it blends right into the rest of the woods. It sits in a small depression that my husband has dubbed the Compostorium. We will toss in kitchen scraps and anything else that comes up that makes good compost. I wish I had a source of manure, but we don't keep animals and gave up chickens years ago. That would make it even better. I've heard seaweed is a good additive, and we live near the sea, so I've thought of making a trip or two down there with a few buckets! We've never had an odor problem with our compost piles and we are lucky to have plenty of space to hide them. The more the merrier.  Because in this state, the soil has been used and abused for 350 years and it needs all the help it can get! After all, here is what we grow best in Connecticut:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Harvest Monday

The storm is on our doorstep, so I am putting up a quick Harvest Monday post before we inevitably lose power. So far there is steady wind out there and clouds, but not much more yet. A neighboring town has already experienced some outages.
I don't have a lot of harvest to report this week! Just some few fall carrots and French breakfast radishes. I have quite a few carrots out there in the garden, but am leaving them to get bigger while they still can. They are looking quite a bit nicer and larger than any of my spring grown carrots, which is a pretty nice surprise! Hope the voles don't discover them. And I'd just about given up on the radishes when almost overnight they formed nice crunchy bulbs. I still have lettuce growing, but it is a bit small and I'm hoping it will get a little larger before harvesting it.
 Did also harvest a bit or flat leaf parsley, which came in handy for some kale and bean soup I made.
 And, I almost forgot, I harvested another pound of broccoli shoots. It is incredible to me how that broccoli keeps on producing so well. The weather people like to use the work "unprecidented" and that's a good word for what this year's broccoli production seems to me!

As I sit here typing I heard a huge flock of starlings settle in the trees around the house, cheeping away as they rest and reconnoiter before heading to the south (and safety, I hope.) Our hill seems to be a favorite stopping place. I wish them well and am sending out prayers and well wishes for safety to all those who are going to be affected by this big storm that's going on out there. Stay safe everybody! And head on over to Daphne's Dandelions while you still have power to see how the harvests are going with gardeners the world over!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Are We Ready For the Storm?

The weathermen are carrying on about Hurricane Sandy, which is supposed to be chugging up the east coast this weekend and getting everyone all worked up about it. I suppose since we had two nasty storms last fall there is sense in preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. No matter which way the storm goes, it looks pretty certain that I won't get much done in the garden next week because it looks like at least four days of steady rain is coming. And unfortunately, this week it's taking me longer to recover from the wedding in New York than I thought and other than doing a bit of harvesting, I haven't accomplished much garden clean up  and prep at all.
 If high winds and heavy rain are coming, this may be the last weekend to really enjoy the fall colors and leaves. They are coming down in droves already and wind will take them all off! Now that I have use for them in compost I don't mind raking as much as I used to! I'll soon be settling into the "zen" of raking and shredding.
 I'd hoped to post a picture of the last growing bed that I'm digging in the garden, but I can't seem to find that photo anywhere in the picture library, drat! Well, since I haven't done much digging lately it can wait. I sincerely hope to start my planting next spring with the garden expansion a hundred percent finished at last. I only have about ten more feet of a three foot wide bed to dig. Pictured above is my husband's little herb garden.
Anyway, I suspect there will be the inspection of our small generator this weekend, so it will be working and if necessary we can keep my two freezers full of vegetables and food going. Last year we lost power for eight days, which seemed eternal. We really do like our electricity! Today's the day to stock up on bottled water and to get gas and batteries. But I hope, in the end, that it's much ado about nothing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Late October Harvest and An Extraordinary Week

It has been quite the busy week around here so that I missed Harvest Monday entirely. Last Tuesday my aged parents arrived here from Florida and on Thursday we all trekked down to New York City to attend my son's wedding which was on Friday. It was a crazy time, since we stayed in lower Manhattan but the wedding was across the river in Brooklyn. The bride and groom had family coming in from Oregon, California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, western New York and all for a very small wedding of only about 45 people. We enjoyed seeing family that is so far flung, even though it was only for about 2 days and involved a lot of taxis, subways and walking! I think it will take me a few weeks to feel normal again!
Still, I did manage to get in a little harvest this week and I fully plan to devote next week to garden clean-up and prep for next year.
 This basket holds my first harvest of brussels sprouts. They weren't the tightest little sprouts ever, but they sure tasted good. The other half of the basket has broccoli shoots, which I'm still getting. After that first killing frost we had last week, it has stayed above freezing.
 More broccoli above, and below are two of my little fall carrots with a few French Breakfast radish that managed to bulb up. I doubt I'll get many more of those.

 Here's a glimpse of our yard in autumn. My niece from Chicagoland stayed with us for a day after the wedding in NY because she wanted to see the New England fall colors. My husband and niece are far better photographers than I am and I should have had them take the picture, but I just wanted to get the flavor of autumn here. Our peak for foliage colors is probably next week, because I'm still seeing a lot of green out there. It seems a little late this year.
My best harvest of all: my younger son Matt and his bride Abby overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a misty rainy day, but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits. They are both creative and talented artists and I hope they have a wonderful life together.
Looking forward to garden time this week, oh yeah!!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Harvest Monday

This week saw the end of the "summer garden" with the first freeze on Friday night/Saturday morning. I brought in the remaining peppers, green tomatoes and green beans. The harvest this week pushed my October total above last year's, so now I can say I've had the most productive garden I've ever had. At the end of the month I'll tally the total, but I know it is over 500 pounds at this point, which makes me very happy.
 I picked a pound of broccoli shoots, probably the last I'll get, although the plants survived the frost, so you never know!
 My flat-leaf parsley didn't do too well, but I was able to get a little bit to pop in the freezer. I still have some growing in the garden.
Kale will likely be the majority of the harvest for the next month! I turned this into a really tasty stew made with pinto beans and smoked pork shoulder. I based my recipe loosely on several I found online and really liked it, so it is something I will surely make again.
 I've never done so well with peppers before! I only wish I'd gotten a few more red ones, but no complaints really. We have plenty in the freezer now for winter meals.
 Here are the very last of a phenomenal green bean harvest. As with peppers, there are plenty in the freezer to make sure we get our veggies all year round.
 Brought in a few more of my skinny leeks. About half of the leeks are still out in the garden and will stay there until I need them. Last year I had a few that overwintered, so maybe I'll have the same this year.
And lastly, I picked a colanderful of salad greens. This is a mix of chard, various baby lettuces, komatsuna, mibuna, arugula and tatsoi. I prefer a more lettuce based salad, but my husband is perfectly happy with this mix for fresh salads. After this week I think the harvests will slow way down.
Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions where she host's Harvest Monday to see what other gardeners around the world have brought in this week!