September 16, 2007


It's not officially fall yet, but at our altitude, we've already had frost. But luckily it was light and didn't kill my garden veggies or flowers yet. There's a little bit of me that dies with the seeming death of the outdoor plantings. I know it's not 'death' though. In fact, I made some little felted troll people that I pull out from my 'seasonal celebration bins' around this time of year. I'm so visual, and they sit about discreetly in our great room to remind me, that behind the scenes lots of life is carrying on underground, to spring forth next Spring. But you might ask why trolls? It's just from a cute children's book...

I did see a hummingbird today. But they usually leave Labor Day weekend every year. All the 'humming' ones are definitely gone. Why these few blah green females are still here, I don't know (I visualize them traveling south alone--sad). And we've seen some unusual birds this summer--some today that we still can't identify. A flock of them descended on the bird feeding area. This time of year that happens. Just like I look for the 'firsts of spring', I also look for the fall rhythms. Bluebirds and then robins seem to be in flocks, and then they're gone. So these birds today were probably on their way south, and just stopped for a moment to feed and drink. Dawson photographed a giant flock of red-wing black birds that landed on our property. You can view this photograph on Dawson's photo site:

I've been freezing stuff from the garden. I was afraid I wasn't going to get our freezers defrosted, like I do every September, but in the process of removing everything except our freezers from our garage, which was just insulated and will soon be drywalled, it was easy to empty them. I've got enough green beans froze, so we'll just eat what comes now, as it's cooling off and they'll soon totally frost out. I froze all the broccoli heads, and now side shoots will come. Most of the cauliflower is in the freezer, though some heads I left will get bigger, and I 'tied' the leaves to keep the heads white (exposed to the sun they turn yellow). I've froze spinach and kale too. Unfortunately :) zucchini is still growing. I found a great zucchini soup that I've froze a bunch of. It's different--with lots of onion and cilantro and some potato. The cabbage doesn't seem to be balling into heads yet. And there's winter squash that in years past I've put in bags in a cool dry storage and we're still eating into the spring. I haven't looked to see how many are mature, since I planted them late.

Tomatoes? I don't know why I grow them! First off, I'm not supposed to be able to grow them! They've been in their walls-of-water (warmed by the sun, channels of water to radiate heat) all summer, but I planted them late too. We're just getting ripe tomatoes and they'll soon be killed by the frost...but oh well. I try and save them by putting blankets on them. Monte has nailed up plastic so they're kinda in a little greenhouse...but they can bake/cook! I always plant them on the south side of our house which is a greenhouse room. Eventually we'll pull them out onto a tarp and pull it into the greenhouse for the green ones to ripen. I'll plant winter salad greens in their place, which are cold frames, and the greens give us salads into winter.

There is a sense of fulfillment or something...I don't know...of harvesting from your own gathering. We're going this week to The Berry Patch, which is an organic berry farm where we can pick our own strawberries and raspberries. We pick a lot to freeze (and they let you eat all you want while you pick. Yummy!!) And we have them roast a bushel of green chilies, and see what else is in their little barn store. The vehicle smells so good with those chilies, driving home! I often cut basil too, filling a pretty basket they give me, to bring home and freeze up a bunch of pesto, minus the parmesan cheese, which I add as I'm using it.

I don't can anymore. Canning causes a loss 40% of the nutrients, whereas drying and freezing loses only 15%. And then I like buying fresh. But we do have to evaluate where that 'fresh' is coming from. Read the
Omnivore's Dilemma and you'll understand a lot more. Like, if the 'fresh' is coming from Chili...Like, asparagus in season is spring for us...fossil fuel in shipping...and the across the world timing...But there are things I prefer fresh in our winter over canned food...

In looking back over this post, I see that I mention several times that I planted late this year. We planted our son and daughter-in-love's back condo yard in May. So I did get my planting 'fix'. But too...this was a weird winter and we still got snow early June! Then our first frost date is any time September, which has been September 5 with snow in the past! So I plant seeds designed for short cool seasons figuring we have about a 90 day growing season.

It's ok for summer to wind down now. I'm readying now for the next season and what it brings.
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