The first day of November and it’s probably not even really cold enough out right now to merit a bonfire. But don’t think that’s stopping me, as I’m currently writing this post from, well, here…
These last months of the year are a bittersweet time on the farm. I love fall– the change, the colors, the smell of apples and woodsmoke on the air. But it also means I have to say goodbye to some of my favorite parts of summer. No more chickens running up to greet me when I get home for work, no more strolls in the field to check on my grapevines or fruit trees.
It feels a little premature to talk about “the things I’ve done this year” when we’ve still got eight weeks left in 2016, and while I do fully intend to do more work inside the house before it’s over, that sense of closure– of finality— has started to settle in. I took a few days off last week to get the last of the big farm work done before winter, which meant starting to clean out the garden. It was an unholy mess…
Four bucket-loads of weeds later I’d barely made a dent.
(But I did make a dent, and that’s the important part… or so I keep telling myself.)
I did take some time out during The Great Garden Clean Out of 2016 to do a couple of important things though. The first was to drink some wine (obviously) and make some notations in my farm journal about where things were planted this year so that I can properly rotate everything next year…
The second was to plant a new little apple tree in the garden…
And, yes, I do have all kinds of apple trees out in the orchard, but this one is special because a few years ago my mom bought some honeycrisp apples from the grocery store, ate them, saved (and planted) the seeds, and one of them turned into an actual tree.
Any time my mom comes up to my house I find weird things after she leaves… like my cactus plant in the sink, or an aloe plant that usually resides in my laundry room all of the sudden soaking up sun on a kitchen windowsill. And I won’t lie and tell you that I don’t occasionally roll my eyes at someone “babying” my houseplants, but I can tell you that I’m done with the eyerolling now because it turns out my mom is the woman who turned an apple seed from a random apple she once ate into a fricking tree. So there.
That little tree is now planted in my garden because we thought it deserved a place of honor on the farm, and also my current orchard is all squared off so if we plant one tree we’d have to plant at least two more to get it square again and I’m just not up for that right now. I also don’t have any great spots for shade plants like lettuces in the garden currently so we thought the tree might provide that eventually. In like a decade. But still, you’ve got to plan ahead on a farm.
Anyway, I’ve still got at least one more weekend of garden work before I can officially close it up for the year.
While I got a lot of jalapenos, and a fair amount of tomatoes for fresh salads…
(But not enough to can for the winter.)
Also, some acorn squash…
Which I paired with some 2015 raspberry mead for dinner once this summer…
The truth is, I’m actually not thrilled with my garden harvest this year. My cucumber vines produced so many cucumbers, most of which I didn’t manage to pick in time to eat or pickle. There were also so many zucchini (which I love) that also got too big, too fast and were only good for chicken food. I managed to pick a bunch of brussels sprouts on time once, but then they sat in my fridge for too long before I found a chance to roast them.
Over the last three years I spent a hell of a lot of time turning the garden from this…
(Back in 2013.)
And then this mess that I attempted to tackle this year…
And finally I think I have the structure of the garden in a decent (if weedy) place…
Four of the raised beds still need fill dirt, so I should have 19 to plant next year. But, with all the work I’ve put into the garden in the last 3 years, I’ll admit I’m more than a little disappointed that even with all fresh produce growing in my very own backyard, a lot of the time my dinners still consist of cottage cheese straight out of the carton. (Although if we’re honest, not disappointed (or hungry) enough to stop eating cottage cheese for dinner.)
I’m really hoping I find enough hours in the day to cook more meals with the food on hand next year, but we’ll just have to see.
In the meantime, there’s still a fair amount of work to be done before the deep freeze hits, so I don’t have too much time to lament the things I didn’t get done this year.
And let’s be honest, I still find time for a glass of wine or a good beer under the pergola…
So it’s not all work around here.
Kit, you are far braver than I! Your jalapeno video was great entertainment.
I can be a super lazy cook when I seem to have too much going on. The one thing that helps me, and might help you (next year) is to do food prep and even major cooking on Sundays. I know fresh produce is defintely time sensitive,but if you give your self 2 or 3 hours once a week you should be able to prepare most of your food for the week. I do much better eating actual meals if its close to being ready, be it chopped or cooked. Good luck. The amopunt of work you put in on your farm is amazing and I’m always in awe of how much you get accomplished.
OMG… you crack me up. I was dying laughing. I wonder if that chicken will lay hot eggs. 😮 HA!! Your veggies look so good ~ especially that squash.
You’re adorable ~ love your hat on you.
And I agree… there is always time to sit and have a glass of wine, or a beer.
Ha. You know I learned that chickens don’t “feel” heat the way we do on peppers. Since they don’t grind up the seeds when they eat, a pepper plant wants to be eaten by a bird (it means their seeds get deposited elsewhere in a nice little pile of fertilizer 😉 )
Jalapenos burn your mouth when you eat them, and can burn again when they leave…hopefully that was not the case for you.
Just a thought, and maybe you’ve already considered it, but next summer could you make an arrangement with another farmer or even someone who sells canned/preserved goods that they can have your produce if they come and pick it and then give you X number of jars of preserved goods once they’re finished processing it? There are lots of local farmers and entrepreneurs where I live who barter that way.
You crack me up! Eating a whole jalapeno! 😛
I want to share that most (if not all) edible vines (squash, cukes, pumpkins) also have edible leaves. More greens to love! I discovered the prolific pumpkin plant this year – one plant took over my tiny lot and provided an abundance of greens, pumpkins, and baby pumpkins for stir fry or steamed additions to meals. Next year I will plant the pumpkin next to a fence and train it upright for easier, slug free harvesting.
Also sharing that growing apple trees from seed will not produce a (clone)tree true to the parent. Honeycrisp seeds will not make Honeycrisp apples. The neat thing about growing an apple tree from seed is that one never knows what type of fruit it will produce. It could even produce something totally new and be the “next big thing” in the apple world.
Go Mom! 🙂
It will be fun to see what the “honeycrisp” tree turns out for apples. I wonder if it needs a nearby pollenizer tree, like honeycrisp itself?
that video made my day! so funny! loved that you cheated and gave the end to the nug. your farm is so beautiful, i’m glad you get some time to sit back and enjoy your pergola, fire pit, garden, etc.
I grow a small garden with just cucumbers, peppers , tomatoes, basil, and eggplant. It produces beautifully and I am always sad about how much I waste. I’m always excited about the prepping and planting but by the time the vegetables are ready I’ve moved on to another project and don’t harvest them in time.
Your farm is very beautiful. Your video is very funny. All tips are very helpful for produce all vegetables or fruits. Thank you so much for giving all tips.