The Backyard

The Backyard

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Backyard is Taking a Back Seat

Fall is here... and the gardens are slowly going to sleep except for the fall greens. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a mountain biker. This summer saw more garden activity at the sacrifice of me riding for hours on end. But I really miss riding bike, so the gardens are going to take a break for the next month or so as I head out on the bike for some long, endurance riding. I plan to enter a 62-mile race on October 11 called the Ironcross in Michaux State Forest, Pennsylvania. It'll take me about 6-7 hours to finish, and I'll be getting ready for it with long 3-4 hour rides over the next few weeks. So the garden is taking a back seat for while! See you later this fall.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harvest Time and Fall Crops

Dried cutting celery ready for storing in jars. The fall and winter greens and broccoli are loving the cooler temps we've been having. I'll likely have broccoli heads the size of basketballs. This is the Arcadia variety I grew in the spring that got huge. The fall crops are usually better.

Another new crop for us -- Chinese Cabbage.

Oh the sweet potatoes -- beautiful! This was my first attempt at sweet tates and they are now part of my annual crops. Very easy to grow from slips - disease free, maintenance free, and easy to harvest and store. Just dig up on a sunny day, let dry for a couple hours, then set in warm, dark location for about a week. They store in a 50-65 degree basement.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What's Going on In The BackYard

It's early September and the plants are thinking its mid or late September with the cold evenings (50s) we've been having. The raspberries stopped production, the peppers are starting to get that "I'm cold" look, and the winter crops are taking over and growing like I've never seen greens grow. It seems a little early for all this to be happening, but to be honest, I'm glad to see things changing. I'm tired! The prep has begun for the first frost which means a LOT of harvesting and preserving. Here's what's been going on the past month (and why you haven't seen much of me!):
  • Canned 29 jars of tomatoes - will do about 8 or 9 jars of salsa this weekend.
  • Started digging up the sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, and red potatoes (there's a LOT).
  • Started shelling dry beans and decided its WAY too time consuming so I'll just pick the whole shells and put them on the top of my garage (warm) and shell them this winter.
  • Have been drying red raspberries -- got about 4 quarts so far. I used to freeze them but discovered at 135 degrees for 24 hours in the dehydrator, they turn into these absolutely wonderful raspberries crunchies. The flavor is enhanced incredibly. This is probably my thrill of the summer.
  • Greens, greens, and more greens and been growing like weeks the past 3 weeks. I have collards, spinach, swiss chard (golden - beautiful!), chicory, endive, Chinese cabbage, mustard, Thai lettuce, radicchio, kale and red beets. I have to get straw bales around them to prepare for the winter protection and try to save these beauties into January. Supposedly, it works! This is something new I've wanting to try.
  • Starting harvesting the butternut squash. Disappointed with the production this year -- the plants got the wilt towards the end and didn't produce as much. But with the sweet potato harvest, its probably a good thing I don't have as many squash.
  • Froze several bags of cut up peppers.
  • Canned some fennel and hot peppers at a pressure canning class (and decided pressure canning isn't for me -- too time consuming to "watch" the pot).
  • Have been drying leaf lettuce like crazy.
  • And of course cooking up lots of dishes from the backyard harvest with all the fresh vege's -- eggplant, maters, onions, peppers, herbs, greens, etc. You can't imagine how joyful it is grow, pick, and cook your own food from your own backyard. It's truly a delight and if you can, start a garden! You'll never regret it.