Planting a fall garden is like spring all over again! Preparing the soil, adding compost, planting seeds, and watching daily for signs of life. I love it.
The peas that were planted in March finished, and I’ve cleared them out and planted broccoli, green onions and parsley. I planted the fall peas along the fence, along with green onions, dill and cilantro.
Fall carrots have been planted, as well as a new crop of mustard, to take over when the current crop goes to seed. I’ll sow some pac choi, when the weather cools down a bit more. Radishes too.
The volunteer tomato plant that sprung up in the garden has fruits forming. Curious to see how much we get from it, and what kind of tomato it is. We had some more volunteer tomatoes spring up in a pot, which we transplanted to the garden, and some other pots, just to see what happens.
We had our first cucumber the other day - so juicy and tasty. I planted Green Dragon cucumbers, from West Coast Seeds. One of the plants has the usual Green Dragon fruits. But the other two have different fruits - smoother, shorter, and fatter. Not sure what happened there, but they’re all tasty. That’s all that really matters. Green Dragon is an F1 hybrid.
The kohlrabi is also doing okay. Very tasty, too.
I took out the last two zucchini plants. I think the blossom end rot is a calcium deficiency. Definitely not a lack of pollination - the garden is always buzzing with bees and other insects. So next year I’ll have to make sure I get some calcium into the place where I’ll be planting zucchini. I really miss having it. It’s one of my faves, and I LOVE zucchini bread. : (
I have some leeks growing, and am curious to see how they do once the weather gets cold and the garden isn’t getting much sun.
The Black Turtle Beans are LOADED with pods. I’m pretty stoked about that. Really looking forward to trying homegrown black beans. I love black beans, but have never grown them. They are in the process of drying down now. If I get a good harvest, I’ll plant more next year.
I have a couple of scarlet runner beans growing by the gate. They got majorly set back by slug damage when they were small, but they have bounced back, and are growing really well. They have reached the top of the fence, and are blooming, and even making some pods. They’re quite lovely.
The sweetpeas are gracing the garden fence with their sweet blossoms. My favorite scented garden flowers. The sweet alyssum (my second favorite scented garden flower) bloomed sweetly, and I cut it back to get a second bloom. The nasturtiums are running rampant, and bringing hummingbirds to the garden. Nice. I had to take out a couple of massive ones, to make room for more food. Marigolds and calendula are still pumping out the blossoms; but the borage is winding down - although I see that they have dropped their seeds all over, and I am ‘weeding’ them out. The bees will miss them. But there are still plenty of bloomin’ things in the garden.
This whole garden has been an experiment to see what grows well in a garden with less than optimal light. So far so good on most things. Now to see how it does in winter. Most of the garden really won’t be getting much sun at all in the winter, so hopefully things grow fast over the next couple of months, and I’ll have veg to harvest in the winter. I’m trying to be strategic in where I plant things, so they get as much sun as possible.
The parsley and arugula are still going gang busters. II’ve been making pesto with the greens in the garden. I’ll be making a bunch more to put in the freezer. Great way to preserve greens for winter tasties. So far I’ve made arugula, arugula and parsley, and turnip greens and kale pestos. Pretty dang tasty.
Pestos I’m going to try:
Parsley and dill - this would be awesome on fish, or as a salad dressing
Brassica greens and herbs - will be nice added to winter stews
Mustard - winter stews, stir fries, or as a marinade. yum
Cilantro - I’ll use this to make fresh salsa
I’m also going to try adding lemon balm to a batch and see what that’s like. Might be nice with the cilantro.
Rosemary and oregano will be dried, along with parsley, summer savory, sage, and hopefully a bit of thyme. I started the thyme from seed, so it’s still pretty small. But it will kick in next year and I’ll have lots.
Other things that I will be drying are kale, tomatoes (we had our first ripe ones the other day!), and peppers. And we’re going to pick a bunch of blackberries too, and dry them. Maybe make fruit leather out of them. That would be yummy.
The cucumbers are doing surprisingly well, considering they don’t get as much sun as they probably prefer. I’m going to try some fermented pickles with them, although they’re not the pickling type. I’ve heard that they might not be crisp once fermented. But I’ll try a jar and see how it goes.
I’d also love to try some fermented salsa. I think that would be a great way to preserve summer freshness. I read that I can ferment greens, so I tried a jar, but it went bad. But I think I like the idea of making pesto with the greens instead, and freezing them - or just blanching and freezing. I think I’ll really enjoy that ‘fresh greens’ flavor this winter. I’ve got a jar of grated turnip that should be fermenting, but it’s not bubbly at all. Smells great, and definitely has a ‘fermenty’ smell. This is my first time doing ferments, so I don’t expect to get it all right the first time. : )
Fall and Winter crops
Oh, and I’ll be planting garlic too. Better figure out where those are going to go, so I save space for them.
Herbal remedies projects
I’ve been picking and drying calendula flowers all summer, to make an infused oil to use as a base for salves and skin cream. My tiny house was festoon with hanging bunches for weeks. Very festive. I’ve got two quarts of calendula infused grapeseed oil brewing now. And I have two small jars, one of cayenne infused oil, and one of comfrey infused oil.
I’m also going to make a rosemary infused oil, and some herbal vinegars. Great to use for cooking, as well as skin and hair care! Hmmm maybe I should do Apple Cider Vinegar infused with rosemary for a hair rinse. That would be a good one. I also have 3 jars of Fire Cider brewing. All of these will sit for a month, and then I’ll strain and rebottle them.
I also have plantain (harvested from the property), and (other leaves that I don’t think I can mention the name of here) drying, to make into infused oils. And today I’ll lay out some lemon balm to dry, for the same purpose. I’m really having fun stocking up my apothecary. Can’t wait to start experimenting to see what works for our various aches, pains, and maladies. Menopause has left me a little ragged around the edges, so I’m excited about putting my new found remedies to the test. My skin and hair need some TLC. : )
The outdoor kitchen project
The outdoor kitchen is pretty much done. The structure is up and roofed. We decided to go with a clear roof, so the space will be a little brighter. The floor is cement and wood. Doesn’t it look great? There will be a table/counter in there at some point.
The rocket stove gets lots of use. We cook our dinners on it almost every night, as well as using it to make stove top granola and honied ginger on a regular basis. So tasty.
We do love playing with the rocket stove. So far we’ve cooked the normal fare - stew, stir fry, fried eggs, pasta, potatoes, etc. But we’ve also used it to make rice, oatmeal, and popcorn. And! We’ve use the cast iron Dutch oven on it to cook pizza, bread, cookies and biscuits. Works great - just have to put a few coals on top, and it’s just like a little oven. We went blackberry picking the other day, and made a blackberry crumble on the rocket stove. So delicious.
This week I’ll be digging a hole beside the rocket stove for the haybox cooker. I’m really looking forward to cooking up some big pots of beans and chickpeas to put in the freezer. I do love my black beans. : )
The in-ground cooler is working pretty well. I think we’ll add a little more insulation around the inner cooler to see if we can make that ice last a little longer. But eventually Rich is going to build a box to go inside the hole - which is lined with bricks - and make it good and insulated. I’ll keep you posted on its progress.
Things that are doing/did really well in the garden:
broccoli - still getting side shoots galore
Things that did/are doing okay
Things that didn’t do well
zucchini - blossom end rot - lack of calcium?
summer celery - pretty puny. I don’t think I’ll plant it again next year. I have lovage growing now, so that will be my celery replacement.
And that’s where we’re at with all of our projects. I’m very pleased, and look soooo forward each day to picking my food fresh from the garden, and cooking it in the outdoor kitchen. And I’m loving building up my store of herbal remedies from the garden and property. This is the life. : )
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful gardening season.