A poet once said perfect days come in June, but I beg to differ! So far, October has been a string of perfect days here in central Indiana, and during this period, there is time to actually enjoy them. June is normally too hectic with planting and pea and strawberry picking, plus weddings, anniversary parties, graduations, birthdays and entertaining. Of course, there were none of those events this year, but even so, I’m finding October is much more relaxing.
This is a time when warm days are tempered with cooler nights, which puts me more in the mood for cooking those comfort foods we love, and baking apples in various forms, pies, crisps, cobblers, cakes and dumplings. The hectic food preservation that has been happening for months has slowed. Most of the things harvested now are being used fresh, or simply stored as is for use over the winter. Here’s part of the bounty picked the day before our first frost!
I didn’t try to deal with it all at once, as I normally do. Instead, I picked one thing that seemed to need doing most. So, all the “French Horticultural” beans were shelled during football watching, and put into the freezer. The purple “Velour” beans were snapped and eaten with grilled salmon one evening when it was perfect to sit and watch the sun set as we grilled. Tomatoes? Well, some of the green tomatoes went into green tomato chili, enjoyed with freshly baked cornbread.
Most of the rest of the green tomatoes were given to friends or family who love fried green tomatoes. There’s still plenty for us to use coming on. Since there’s still jars of green tomato mincemeat and chutney left from last year, none of these green tomatoes will be preserved. Instead, I will be trying a luscious looking green tomato salad posted on Plot and Lane blog and making fried green tomato BLT’s because the lettuce is perfect right now. The “Juliet” red grape tomatoes will be D’s snack for days to come, and the “Sun Sugar” have already been devoured. They don’t last long at all here because they are just so tasty. That only leaves the three baskets of peppers, which aren’t even in the photo, and two large shallow boxes of nice big slicing tomatoes that showed signs of ripening, now on newspaper in the garage.
I’ve been leisurely planting the five varieties of garlic over the past few days, and the planned number of rows (15, down from 22 last year because we need more onions, less garlic) are all safely in the ground. All the rest of the garlic has been cleaned and put into mesh bags to hang on the allium rack to use over the winter months. This year, I decided that braiding hardneck garlic was a waste of time and twine, even though I love the look of them hanging in the Lady Cottage until they were moved to the allium rack. I hope they store well this way, because it’s certainly lots less work. The first planting of “French Horticultural” beans is finished, so the plants were clipped and removed from the pea fencing so it could be stored. I clip the beans off at soil level so those nitrogen-collecting roots stay in the soil to nourish crops next spring. The plants were added to the compost pile, which is growing steadily. The second crop is not quite mature, but they are far enough along that if frost threatens again, I’ll just pick them rather than cover them with blankets.
A few turnips and mustard greens have been added to the menu recently, and we’re enjoying a handful of mild, crisp radishes most evenings before dinner, or in salads because the lettuces are so abundant again. Carrots are being dug as needed, and the next cool day some beets will be harvested and roasted. The first of the red cabbage was cooked to accompany a pork roast, and it was delicious. And, the “Wando” peas will be ready to pick this week, so we’ll be having our favorite pasta dish with bacon, peas, and cream.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m glad I finally published the post on Covid Fatigue, because all the encouragement from you, gentle readers, helped lift me up and get back into the garden. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the urge to just throw up my hands and call it “done!” but I might have without you. There are still lots of wonderful things growing out there, young plants to watch grow and tend, seeds to gather, and plans to make for next year. I’m sure next spring (especially since this old body will be yet another year older) I’ll be happy that I put in some effort into clean-up this fall, even at a much more leisurely pace than usual, so that the spring planting will be a bit easier, and fewer weeds will have dropped their seeds.
I suggest that if you, too, are struggling to keep your interest in the garden alive, just make a cup of tea or an evening cocktail, and go sit near your garden and let it help calm you. Maybe push yourself to do just one little thing; pull an annoying weed before it drops its seed, or do a bit of needed watering. Harvest a few leaves of mint or sage, or pick a bunch of parsley or lemon balm to dry. Just the aromatherapy from picking herbs can lift your spirits! Just one little thing will make you feel better, and soon you may find yourself doing two, or three, or four little things. May you find peace and joy in the garden, and security in Mother Nature’s goodness. And, thanks again for reading, for your encouraging words and suggestions, and for caring!