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Monday, October 01, 2012

October surprise

So here it is October first, and the garden is like it would be on September first, most years. For a change, we are getting time to do things when the crops want them done, instead of rushing out in a driving rain to salvage immature stuff. We revel in it, but in the back of our minds we suspect that this is the leading edge of the westward expansion of the Great American Drought. It's very dry out, a fact brought home to us daily by the lingering smoke from the Pole Creek Fire, now over 25,000 acres in size. We have been watering the perennials and fruit trees, and much of the water is simply running away across the hard surface to flush itself down the nearest gopher hole.

In the above photo, taken this morning (yes, I climb onto the roof to take these) we have picked the corn and beans and pumpkins and taken down the trellises and the corn patch. Yesterday I started lifting potatoes. The kale is pretty but tough and bitter still, and some has aphids, which goes over the fence to the chickens at lower right.

We've taken down the sunflowers, though they could use a little more maturation, having been planted late. I've laid the heads on the veg-washing table in hopes of curing them for a winter treat for the poultry. Most years, they'd be moldy by now if left out like this.

Some tomato vines are giving up due to sheer old age, and I'm hanging them over the fence to get a few more of them to turn red before gathering. It took them forever to bring on a crop and I'd love to get one more batch for the canner, though I know the flavor has peaked. The Cherokee Black heirlooms turned out exceptionally well for us, better than Brandywine does here. They don't seem to need such warm nights, which we don't get here even during heat waves.

It is supposed to reach 81F today. It has surpassed that a number of times in the past week, often more than five degrees hotter than predicted, and I have continued to seek shade while working, just as I did in August.

These apples will go to juice, syrup, cider, and vinegar. In hotter weather I dried them, along with tomatoes, but there is not really enough energy left in the sunlight for that, in spite of the warm days. the pumpkins are being cured and will go somewhere in the house, to be cooked up one by one over the winter, some for us but mostly for the poultry.

It's still warm and bright enough out to dry some things. Here, we are adding kale to our stash of "veggie crumble" -- like Italian seasoning, but with the nutrients from kale, collards, broccoli leaves, spinach, bok choi and turnip greens added.

The dehydrator, when full, will be closed and tipped up to face the sun. The glass will start steaming in under five minutes.

What's in the one over on the right, behind the cherry tree?

Sunflower stems. Fastest way to dry them for kindling.

According to the weather people, there will be at least one more week of this. Time to ring the gratitude bell again.


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