by Mrs. Cog
I blinked and it was September. Is this a sign of aging or simply how busy we were here on the mountain?
Living in the new Bizarro-Weather World, the progression of growing season wasn’t exactly linear as I had been taught. In theory, Spring comes bringing greenery and then brilliant blossoms while accompanied by nurturing showers. Our Spring was parched so many things did not bloom. Then Summer arrived with warmer temperatures and conditions for optimal growth. We got rain for more than three weeks, bringing sogginess and mostly cool temps at night. So much for learning to garden ‘by the book’.
It has indeed been the summer for surprises from Nature. The roses that never bloomed this summer decided to gift us a few in September. The apples were early, but the kiwi are late. The tomatoes, which usually grow profusely all summer, gave up in August. Meanwhile the bell peppers, which have always attracted diseases in the past, are in perfect health and still producing 50 or more per week. It certainly has kept me busy with alternative recipes and preservation ideas for them.
My magic herb garden thrived early in the summer, then fizzled out, only to make a robust comeback. I have yet more batches of all our favorite herbs cut and prepared for drying. Meanwhile, rather than trimming and mulching the herb garden for colder weather, I am encouraging one last burst of growth.
One of the handiest “re-purposing” projects for me thus far has been to refinish an old beat up rack of shelving to put in my sun room. It was sitting covered in cobwebs in the corner of the garage/workshop with oil splotches and tool stains everywhere. Made of heavy metal and mounted on wheels it was a golden find.
Now, in the late winter and early spring, I can stack many layers of garden seedlings after germinating on these shelves. Over the summer months I can dry herbs and beans there as the sliding glass door with the eastern morning sunshine is a wonderful solar dehydrator. In the fall, I can gradually bring in plants, such as my dwarf lemon trees, to sit snug inside for the wintertime where the sun shines. Those old once beat-up shelves are the next best thing to a small greenhouse.
After canning about six gallons of amazing applesauce (yes, I exercised some restraint this year lol) there were still many apples left over. Since our six little apple trees can produce thousands of apples each year, I have the luxury of choosing the very best. But the rest must be cleared so we can mow in our small orchard. After gathering most of these excess apples from the ground where they fell, I used the tractor and carted them to the other side of the property near our wood pile where I could easily dump them. There is where the young deer come each day now to feast upon the sweet apple pile.
I think it is the same deer who visits there each day. I see her there about 50% of the time when I go out the front door. Yesterday, I stepped out onto the front porch and could not identify the sound I was hearing. It was as if a donkey from the nearby farmer’s pasture had escaped and was in the woods bellowing. Tramp, my large cat who points like a Labrador retriever when something is up outside, indicated the noise was coming from the apple pile next to the firewood stacks. Sure enough, that deer was hee-hawing at me for once again disturbing his meal. Seriously?
With the ground around the apple trees finally cleared a bit, I set to pruning the orchard back before winter, As you can see below, I have managed to cut back the bottom half of the trees with a large ladder and some loppers with a long reach. The top half may require a very tall man… oh, wait. I know one. :-)
The peppers, more herbs and the hardy kiwi are all that is left to harvest this season and soon we will set about tilling and mulching the garden for the winter months. Our firewood is cut and stacked, seasoning to feed the Beast, our over-sized water wood stove which will keep us warm and cozy through the coming winter