Things are taking on a distinctly autumny feel around here. It hasn't gotten cold enough for most trees to turn color yet, but the autumn rains have set in for real, ushering in blustery bike rides to school and an increasingly cozy feeling inside the house (helped along by wool sweaters and socks, and multiple layers of clothing- we're going to hold out as long as we can to turn on the heat; that $6/month gas bill will be hard to give up!).
Now that the heat of summer is past, it's time for fall food! We've been eating lots of bean soup, roasted potatoes, and other wonderfully heavy things that don't appeal in summer. Last night Matt made this delicious molasses oat bread, delightful for breakfast on a gray morning:
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
In the garden, things are winding down a bit, but happily many things are still producing. I'm not sure how long the tomatoes will keep ripening, although there are seemingly hundreds of green ones on the vines. We're still getting a few cucumbers, and I just picked the last of the Hungarian Wax peppers and the Corni di Toro sweet peppers and pulled up those plants. We still have a pimento that is ripening, and some Golden California Wonder bell peppers on the vines. Also, in a distinctly un-autumny move, the Jalapeno has decided to start flowering again, with half a dozen blossoms all over the plant!
This plant happens to be in a big terra cotta pot, so I think I'll give it another week or so outside, then move it up to the south-facing window in the garret, and see if we can't keep harvesting jalapenos for another couple months!
I dug up the two strongest basil plants this afternoon and potted them, and they are now living on the table by the east windows in the living room, where they will get lots of sun exposure. I kept these plants producing for the last three months by regularly pinching off the end clusters of leaves, so hopefully they'll keep it up inside for awhile too.
We still have another four or five basil plants out in the garden. What we don't use fresh I'll make into pesto for freezing or just chop and freeze the fresh leaves in ice cube trays. I've been doing this with both basil and cilantro (which I also kept growing all summer by the same method), and now we have a big ziploc bag of each in the freezer.
With the basil plants up and two more cabbages harvested, the big bed at the side of the house was mostly empty, and the chickens are hard at work there today, tilling and fertilizing it for us.
Matt built this wire cage in about fifteen minutes, and it serves as a mini chicken tractor so we can put the chickens on various beds in the garden without them going venturing out of bounds.
We will have the chickens till this section today and tomorrow, and then let it sit for the next month before tilling again, adding compost, and planting garlic there. Another fall tradition- my seed garlic from Hood River Garlic arrived today!
This is the same organic Chesnok Red that I grew two years ago. I had a great harvest of it that time, but wasn't able to keep any because I harvested about a month before we left for New Zealand. I'm so excited to grow it again and actually keep some this time!
We're going to replant about half the garden with fall and winter crops like kale, spinach and fava beans. The other half, where things didn't do so well this year, we'll let the chickens till and then we'll plant cover crops. Matt bought some field pea seed this week, and we'll also till in egg shells and compost. We're planning to use the green manure method where once the cover crops have grown, we'll cut them and till them in where they grew, then let them sit and compost in until spring.
With that, I'd better get moving onto the next fall activity; all the apples are off the trees as of yesterday, and it's time to make another apple pie!