October 29, 2019
Whoa summers really fly by these days, don't they?!? Somehow, everything happened and our freezers are full. October began with a misty morning, but the sun has broken through and its golden light is dazzling on the gardens. We haven't had a frost yet, and the zinnias and sunflowers are still glorious and the monarchs and other butterflies are dancing through the blossoms.
Strawberries started the season with a bang and we're especially grateful for their abundance because their yields had been short for the last couple of years. Red currants followed and were also abundant and so much fun to pick.
Winter was hard in the black currants though, and the crop was nearly non-existent- we picked about 10 pounds and expect to be nearly out of Black Currant Preserve by the winter holiday season.
Winter was even harder on our beloved raspberries though, and we brought in only about 70 pounds, down considerably from our average of 300 pounds and high yielding year of 420 pounds. It did make working in July a lot easier than usual.....!
Blueberries were ok - we lost some plants to winter-kill, but those that survived bore well.
Blackberries have been amazing! We're up to 360 pounds and they're still coming! I have no idea why they survived the winter so well while the raspberries fared so poorly, but I'm happy nonetheless. Credit goes to Elisha, Lara, and Lu for diligently picking every 2 days, assuring that their quality is excellent.
Elderberries are also having a very good year - they seem to be somewhat alternate-bearing with a good year following an off year. I've already made Elderberry Syrup and it's flying out of here as folks fight the back-to-school sniffles, colds, and respiratory ailments.
Tomatoes and peppers performed beautifully and we've made plenty of Tomatoes Rustica and Pepper Preserve. We interplant the tomatoes with guardian marigolds which provide us with glorious color in the late summer gardens after the tomato foliage dies back. The marigolds also help shield the tomatoes from insect and disease pressure. We interplant the peppers with dill which confuses insect pests and gives us an abundance of golden umbels with a joyful aroma. Next year though, we'll stake the peppers so when the tall dill plants topple over, they won't take the peppers down too.
We lost a couple of peach trees to the winter too, but the remaining trees put out a bumper crop of lovely peaches for which we are grateful.
We lost Damsons too - some of them are 30 years old - but we did harvest enough that I think we'll be ok until next year.
And thankfully, the autumn crop of "Caroline" raspberries is doing really well. Picking all the beds thoroughly is the key to a successful harvest, and we've now brought in more fall berries than summer ones. I feel more confident now that we'll manage to not run out of my favorite berries before summer rolls around again.
The frost has come and the garden beds are cleaned out. The garlic is planted so the 2020 season is already in the ground. Soon we'll mulch it, and cover over the strawberries with hay for winter protection as well. The days are getting chilly and I love spending my time in the kitchen stirring the kettles of simmering fruit. We're getting tired, but the pace is beginning to slow. I've even begun reading for pleasure again, something I don't dare do during the growing season because I'm a reader who can't stop once I get started.
Wishing you all some slow days too - and time to rest and recharge and renew. The long dark nights tell us we need rest so we can grow again in the season of light. And when the winter holidays come around, I wish you comfort and joy and peace and love with your friends and families.
Oh and Abbey and Ralph just came in from a walk around the farm and report that the bunnies are all present and accounted for (they're practically tame - Abbey is a lover, not a fighter.) Oh and the bluebirds are back! Flocking with the juncos, they might just stay the whole winter again. We'll put out plenty of suet for them.
Abbey insists I take a hike up the mountain with her, so here I go!