14 January 2013

A Look into Fall 2012

Summer slid quietly into Fall and we barely noticed the changes until late October. The gardens at Heart's Ease Cottage were still lush and beautiful well into November. Our "May Rose", (dubbed so since it blooms in profusion in May and then to a lesser degree again in the Fall), surprised us with a second full flush of blooms in September. It was actually still blooming in December...
This Fall was a very busy time for us. Da works in the elections process and this year was a "Presidential", so craziness began in late August and didn't end until early December. Even with the long hours of work and the endless demands of a Presidential election, we managed to get a Fall garden planted and took some day trips, (usually on Shabbat, since that was the only day Da was guaranteed not to be working).

 I spent most of the Fall preserving the harvest. This year we have been eating vegan/raw,  so "preserving the harvest" was done a little differently. Usually I can the tomatoes, beans and other summer veggies, but this year the only water bath canning I did was Bread and Butter pickles. Instead of canning, most of the produce was dehydrated at low temperatures, (105 degrees), to preserve the enzymes and keep it as close to raw as possible. Dehydrating the produce from our garden also makes it possible to package it for long term storage. In the coming days I hope to devote one day a week to blogging about Pantry Keeping. I am very excited to share the concept with you and give some tips on managing your food supplies for use today and to put-by for the future.

 Our first hard frost usually comes around November 15. This gives us a nice long season to enjoy the last of our Summer vegetables. Here in North Carolina the Summers are very hot and we get little or no rain. Tomatoes, eggplant, okra and other heat loving vegetable do fine, but peppers are another story... peppers need to be planted in April/May in order to have their roots systems well developed before the heat sets in, but they will languish in the heat and drop their bloom all summer with nary a pepper on the bush. Once the heat of Summer has passed and the rains start again, the peppers that did nothing all Summer, will be full of blooms and the bushes will be enormous! The peppers don't seem to mind the short days of Fall and will produce more than we can eat or share. Before the frost took the plants the last week of November the peppers had grown to 6 feet and were loaded with pepper of all colors and sizes...it was quite a sight! This year I actually  got the last of the peppers picked before the frost got them, so I had  peppers lining every surface in my kitchen. Since there was no room in the fridge for all them, I decided the best thing to do was dehydrate them. It is really amazing how what covered 20 linear feet of counter, could 24 hours later fit in a quart sized canning jar!

A still life of our late November peppers

The last of the tomatoes and okra and a glimpse of the Bread and Butter pickles.

Beds of Detroit beets and Cos Romaine planted in September will be ready for use in November.

The last of the Spring lettuce was allowed to go to seed so that we can save the seed for next year.

A project in the bathroom that was begun in March has steadily progressed over the Summer and into the Fall. I think we will finally be able to call it a done deed by the end of March 2013! Things always take longer than you think they will, and this year has been full of projects, so it is a good thing we can manage with one bathroom out of service!

One of the day trips that we squeezed in this Fall was to Hanging Rock Park. There are actually several falls, not just one. This one was my favorite, I loved the way the rocks frame area around the falls.

We spent a Sabbath afternoon at Hanging Rock, hiking from one falls to the next, stopping for a picnic and to spend some time reading aloud from a book we were reading together.

Oh and  just one more photo... Tagg says "It's late Mom and I need to go to bed", so I guess I should take a hint and say goodnight. Until next time!

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