I feel a lot like a squirrel in the fall, save the furry tail. I’m skittering around, doing a million things and chattering away. And like any good squirrel, putting away some goodies for the winter. I can’t even describe how pleasing it is to store something away for later, by drying, canning, or freezing. Whatever the method, it’s doing something kind for your future self, it’s being intentional and planning ahead, and when you put those local blueberries into a smoothie in January or pop open a jar of dill pickles in March, it’s really, really satisfying. Really. I did most of these things in October, but there are still a few little tasks left to be done - the weather this fall has been exceptionally mild and things hung on for much longer than usual. I posted about our little garden earlier in the season, here.
The garden is pretty much wrapped up. I collected the dried peas to plant next year. I grow organic Green Arrow peas; I’ve always had really good success with them, they keep on producing for ages, and and they’re delicious. This is the first year that I’ve saved the seeds; I’m going to dry them really well, and hopefully have good success next year too. Saving seeds is so… sustainable. It’s like trying to hold Mother Nature a little bit and feels like accomplishing a minor miracle.
The tomatoes! Holy smokes, did we have tomatoes! I have no idea what variety they were; Adam started them and they were nice plump cherry tomatoes. Not a tonne of flavour, but passable. Staking them up just didn’t happen, so they flopped over and went wild, and I thought that we would be lucky to get any. We got SO MANY! I’ve frozen some, we’ve eaten lots fresh, I’ve used them in soups and I have another basket full in the freezer. It was especially delightful to have so many this year because we lost all of last year's crop to blight.
This year was also the first time that I grew pumpkins or garlic. I had a pile of chicken litter from the coop composted down by the barn, and that’s where we planted the pumpkins. Again, I don’t know what variety they were, but the one plant that survived a late frost in the spring did so well. We have eleven large, gorgeous pumpkins at the front step for the last several weeks. The garlic did incredibly well, too – huge, gorgeous bulbs. We’ll use them in our regular cooking, as well as my crazy concoctions I come up with when we’re feeling colds coming on. T, the five year old, will even eat a freshly crushed clove in honey! He’s a trooper, that one. (And then he smells like garlic for days.)
I’ve now collected the last of the herbs to dehydrate; I’ve got mint, parsley, sage, and tarragon dried and tucked into the pantry. We were given a beautiful bag of local pears which I'll do something delicious with this week (any suggestions?) and we have a couple of spaghetti squash from my Dad's garden to eat up soon.
Just writing this post makes my heart happy. It just feels so good in every possible way to grow and eat food. Speaking of food, a few things I've been enjoying lately:
I saw this recipe, and made it the next day. It is AMAZING. I have been eating it every meal since, and sneaking bites of cold leftovers for breakfast. It's incredible. I used some tiny, super-flavourful apples from one of the old trees at the edge of the field and apple cider vinegar that I made from apples from another tree.
My new favourite snack is whole toasted almonds pressed into dates. SO good.
Pomegranates! Clementines! Juicy grapefruit! It's my favourite fruit season again at last.