Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What gardeners are up to in October

Harvesting, canning, cleaning, planting ... did I mention canning? This time last year our garden was pretty much bare earth in the existing raised beds with lots of apples and figs and a single pear. This year, I've got a whole different animal on my hands. It looks so bucolic in this picture.

Stupendously huge black jack figs.
When the figs started ripening last month I ran out into the garden with excitement every time we arrived on Saturday mornings. Six weeks later, I groan when I see them hanging low with cracked skins. It means more work in the kitchen. I've lost count how many jars of fig jam I've made. We visited a music store over the weekend and the elderly owner ran out and begged us to take some figs from her two trees which were over fifteen feet tall. Poor lady!

Fig jam, fig tortes, fig whatever ...
I'm at least thankful that the crush didn't hit me early on or I probably would have fled and never looked back. Not really, but at least I was able to slowly build up my expertise over the past year before September and October hit fast and furious.

Two more batches of applesauce and then I'm done for the year with that! And now we enter squash and pumpkin territory ...

Two different mystery squash, pumpkins, and the lone melon this year.
Well, I thought I planted watermelon transplants from the nursery but instead I got squash. Plus, we have a volunteer squash (in front) who popped up last year. I personally love squash, especially a wonderful squash soup. My husband detests the stuff. Too bad. He can eat out that night!

Cabbages (well, there were cabbages there), beets and onion seedlings.
It's also time for cleaning up the beds and prepping for the winter planting. First project was to replace a dying bed right in front of our fig tree.

The old beet, onion, potato, pumpkin bed.
It's made it hard to access the blackberries and there was a perfectly good trellis a few feet away that wasn't being used. I think the previous owners used it to keep the blackberry thorns away from their toddler.

Peas, turnips, onions and rutabagas.
My amazing husband has been rebuilding all the beds in our yard to keep out the gophers and replace all the rotting wood. Only twelve more to go! This one is now planted with Blue podded Blauwschokkers peas (What. They sounded cool, I couldn't resist). While he was busy building, I was a few feet away clearing out the summer bean bed and nursing my parsnip seedlings (which are very persnickity). The beds look beautiful now all neat and tidy. I planted at least eighty more peas, mostly sugar snap, in the square bed with bamboo poles.

I'm about four weeks late planting the peas (eight weeks before first frost is the rule) but they wouldn't have survived the heat wave that hit last week. We'll see if they turn out as this is the first time I've grown peas from seed planted in the fall, I'm usually of the February variety. Here was the aftermath of the bean bed, shelling. Lots and lots and lots of shelling to be done.

But the end result is lovely. I'm planning on doing a trade with a friend here for some of her tiny haricot verts that taste perfect right on the vine.

Next weekend will include a little tarragon oil making and freezing, thanks to my friend, Shelly, who turned me onto the 101 Cookbooks blog. This sweet little plant will be ripped out to make way for cool season lettuces.

You have to be brutal in gardening sometimes. On the softer side, check out my quickly growing Pinterest board on enjoying and preserving the harvest.

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