Friday, October 28, 2022

Bottle Caps, Cokes and Potatoes

Approximately ten days ago, we dug our potatoes from the garden, rubbing off as much dirt as we easily could, spread them out on racks, covered everything with burlap bags and let they dry out and cure.
Two days ago we sorted them, putting ones with gouges, dings and an insect hole or two in a container to be used first.
The rest were put into crates and stored in our root cellar.  The temperature down there isn't quite cold enough for ideal storage yet, but we're hoping it soon will be.

We knew we had a larger than normal crop and were curious to know how many pounds we harvested so we weighed each pail full on our old bathroom scale subtracting the pound for the metal bucket. 

We ended up with 15-3/4 buckets full which translated into 235 pounds of spuds!  Quite a bit more than we will eat this winter, so we'll have plenty to share.

Both varieties, Red Norland (reds) and Carolas (whites), produced very large potatoes.  We couldn't be more pleased.  We are rich in potatoes!

I'll end with a quote which tickled my funny bone and is attributed to Hank Green when speaking about gardening, planting and harvesting his potatoes.

"It was like putting a bottle cap
in the ground and pulling out a coke."

If you've ever planted potatoes, I think you'll understand the analogy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Fun Just Keeps Comin'

Our two wood stoves in the house are identical, both Jotul #4 Combifires.  One is in the kitchen and one's in the living room.
They're a unique, cast iron, airtight stove we really like for several reasons, one being the fact that the door can slide under the stove turning it into an "open fireplace" while using a screen that fits completely over the opening. 
Or at least the door is supposed to work that way.
Although we rarely operate the one in the kitchen showing the open fire, almost every evening in the winter, Papa Pea and I spend a cozy hour or two in the living room before the open fire of the Jotul in there.
Problem?  The door on that stove has been sliding only about halfway underneath the way it's supposed to.  So last week, father and daughter spent some quality time together trying to solve the problem.

First they took a good look underneath the kitchen stove to ascertain what the mechanism that allows the door to slide under the stove looks like.

"Hellooo!  I see you, do you see me?"

Then to the living room stove to see what the problem might be.
Result?  It's a work in progress.  The situation hasn't been totally resolved, but we're working on it.  More fun to come. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Garden Keeps on Giving

 Yesterday I cleaned and sorted garlic and onions for storage and Papa Pea spread out our recent potato harvest on racks to cure.

This year the onions were very nice in size but a disappointment in that many of the red ones had soft, rotting bottoms.  (Gee willikers, not a good state for anything!)  Although I planted the same amount of both the yellow and red ones, after careful sorting you can see I ended up with a rather paltry amount of the red ones.

My garlic, on the other hand, couldn't have turned out better.  

I've never had such large bulbs with huge cloves inside.

While I was working with the onions and garlic, my daughter harvested the colored gourds.

 (Above photo by my daughter on snow-covered deck.)
I always plant some of these to use for fall decorations.  Like so much else in the garden this past season, they were slow to grow and never really had the chance to mature on the vines properly before our night time temperatures dropped into the 20s.  Our recent freezing nights made it necessary to bring all of them in before they were turned soft and mooshy by the hard frosts.
Over the past weekend we harvested our potato crop.  And it looks as though we were blessed with a truly abundant crop.  I planted 40 feet of Norland Reds and 28 feet of a new variety I tried this year, Carolas which are white potatoes.  In both varieties, the individual potatoes were all HUGE.  Before we store them for winter, we'll weigh the total haul after they are cured and sort out any ones that were damaged in harvesting or have any blemishes on them.  I think the amount we got this year is going to be more than we've had in many years.  Mashed potatoes, anyone?  Or do you prefer yours fried, scalloped or baked?  Looks as though our household will have ample potatoes for any way we choose to use them all winter long.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Is the Garden Done for the Year Yet?

Not quite.  
Potatoes are patiently waiting under the soil to be harvested.
Horseradish and mint will be cut down after a couple of hard freezes.
Scarlet Runner Bean pods are on the vines and when they're dry, beans will be harvested for future plantings.
The vines of the colored gourds are still green so I'm waiting for the gourds to naturally dry a bit more.
Strawberries will receive their winter blankets of mulch after two or three hard frosts.
We have had frost warnings several times in the last week or so.  But we've yet to experience more than one night when we saw an early morning coating of light frost on one roof.  No damage to any plants or perennials yet although it's evident all are reaching the end of their growing season.

This past Wednesday we planted out eight new blueberry bushes we had nurtured in big pots over the past year.  They've grown really well and we've high hopes for them to give us lots of berries in another year or so.

Considering we were close to getting a frost last Thursday night, I picked the last of the green peppers late that day.  Our good neighbor came over the next morning and took a big bowlful of them to use in making their tomato juice and spaghetti sauce.  As you can see, I wasn't any too careful in picking the last of them knowing the plants were destined for composting. 

I've also harvested the last of the slicing cucumbers.  Seven were of picking size which we'll eat and enjoy.  There were many half-sized ones still on the vines but I knew they wouldn't do much growing now that the temps are so low.  I pulled the vines day before yesterday and relegated them to the compost heap.

I have the raised beds (all 26 of them) planned out (no, no not planted but just planned for next season.  Most often I find myself making some last minute changes as spring planting progresses.  One bed is marked for garlic which will get planted most likely this coming week.  Planting garlic in the fall definitely works best for us up here in the north part of the country.

My onions . . .

. . . and garlic have about one more week of curing and then I'll clean and store them for the coming winter months.  As mentioned above, some of the biggest cloves of garlic from the biggest bulbs will be planted for next year's harvest. 
We've been out and about a couple of times to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors in our neck o' the woods which have now just about reached their peak and won't be with us for much longer now.  The end of the very short couple of months of perfectly lovely weather has come and will be gone too soon.  But that signals the start of another great season up here in the north . . . beautiful winter! 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Such A Great Time Of Year

Up before the sun this morning, an hour or so of cross-stitching on the couch, then breakfast and out to make progress on the garden clean-up.

Much still green and growin' in the raised beds but it's time to call it quits for anything but the perennials.  Same with what is left in the field garden.  We'll wait to dig the potatoes that are there for a while yet though.

I took a peek at the apples ripening and sizing up on the trees secure in their enclosure to discourage the Blue Jays that have been trying to get at them.  Sorry, beautiful birds, we're not into sharing with you.  (No enhanced color added to this picture . . . wow!)

Papa Pea came to find me in the garden to entice me with the invitation to go help him stack some more of the wood we had delivered recently.  How could I refuse an offer like that?

Then he thought it would be fun to work with the wood splitter making some more kindling for the coming winter months.  (Actually, I think I've finally convinced him that task goes a lot faster with two working at it.)

Now I've been sitting at the kitchen table squeezing in a little more cross-stitching time while sipping a warm beverage.  If I procrastinate just a while longer, it will be time for our dish of probiotics for our mid-day meal and I won't have to go back to the garden clean-up until after then.  Garden clean-up may not be as exciting as planting in the spring but the beautiful turning colors, crisp, clean air and very comfortable working temperature (54° right now . . . sweatshirt weather, I love it) make it all enjoyable.
It really is an invigorating time of year for me.  Here's hoping you all have a wonderful start to this new month of October.