Archive for September 17th, 2010

Independence Days Update: The Cusp of Autumn

admin September 17th, 2010

It won’t officially be fall for a few days,  but we had a night low of 37 degrees, the kids are wearing two layers early in the day and we shut the windows at night.  That’s fall, even if the dates are wrong.  Sometime between our departure and our return, autumn moved in to stay.  We’ll have warm days again, of course, but the change has come.

You never know when it will come these days – sometimes it is warm all fall, other times it gets cold early.  Our first frost has happened anywhere between September 19 and October 30 over the nine years we’ve been here, so you never know what to expect.  And that doesn’t count the basil frosts – you know, those light ones that just toast the basil.  We had one of those the last week in August once.

It is time to try and pull in all I can of summer, and the process keeps us busy – besides the five day diversion during which we ate all kinds of unsustainable things, increased our waste production and otherwise used resources in ways we don’t ordinarily, now we’ve got to come back and get into the groove again.  I’ve got literally piles of produce to attend to right now

I did come back with some wonderful plants that went into the ground yesterday – I took a workshop on propagating woodland medicinal plants.  While our medicinal herb production has mostly focused on wetland herbs, our 19 acres of woods already are home to a small amount of goldenseal and blue cohosh (but not enough that I’d ever harvest any for sale), but clearly can produce the conditions suitable to growing them.  The class, taught by an extension expert from North Carolina was brilliant, and she gave us all plant divisions to take home of Black Cohosh, goldenseal, bloodroot, mayapple and wild ginger. I have small amounts of black cohosh and wild ginger already, but I was excited to get some new planting stock.  It’ll be years before we attempt any serious harvest of these plants, and I’m not counting any chickens before they hatch, but it seems a good use of our land.

Before we left there was an unholy rush to get all the tomatoes processed – bazillions of them, roughly speaking.  They are ripening more slowly in the cooler temperatures now, but I’ll need to do some more.  Today I’m gathering in the pumpkins and bottle gourds as well, and clearing a bed to be made into a low hoophouse for lettuces, spinach and kale.   I’ve got zucchini to dry and cukes to pickle – the final rush.

We’ve been so comatose the last few days after the chronic sleep deprivation of the trip that things have been slow getting started – yesterday we dealt with the last of the sweet corn, and picked the raspberries that we waiting for us so patiently.  Today there’s jam to deal with, and peppers and…

This time of year is my favorite – it feels so lush and rich and the wealth of the harvest makes me happy.  At the same time, with school started up again for Eli and Eric and the busy season hitting before winter, and the wave of holidays, it feels like we go two months at a dead run – and long for the quiet of winter.  I guess it makes the transition easier!

Plant something: Black cohosh, goldenseal, mayapple, bloodroot, wild ginger, winter wheat, lettuce, arugula.

Harvest something: Pumpkins, gourds, squash, broccoli, kale, collards, dried beans, peppers, hot peppers, apples, carrots, beets, daikon, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, pea shoots, many herbs.

Preserve something: Made raspberry jam, made peach jam, dried zucchini, dried pumkin, dried apples, pickled green tomatoes, froze corn, froze lima beans.

Waste Not: We wasted a lot on our trip – there just wasn’t a good way to avoid it.  Sucked.

Want Not: Nothing special

Build community food systems: Gave a talk about why grow food in front of Thomas Jefferson’s Vegetable Garden!!!!

Eat the Food: Lots of corn chowder.

How about you?

Sharon