Fresh Salsa and the clean up

It's been a quiet week here after the freeze - most of the veggies that remained in the garden were frozen and destroyed. So we've been cleaning things up, removed all tomato cages, little flags that marked the spots and tags of different varieties. They'll be all reused next year. Now just need to add some sulfa to the soil to raise the acidity - my soil tests showed that Ph is 7.5 and that's way too high for vegetables in the main garden so I need to bring it down to 5.5-6.5 range. And add some gypsum to the beds that will have tomatoes next year to make sure I have enough calcium and won't get Blosom End Rot (BER) that will spoil my harvest. Need to add bone/blood meal to the areas where I plant onions and other stuff. In other words, just your average upkeep. And since it's now getting dark early, I get to cook more at home - and stocking up on lots of salsa for winter. These are pint-sized jars and I've also cooked up over two dozen half-pints as well - my hubby loves to just open one small jar and eat it all in one sitting, so it made sense to make them in smaller size for him.
And of course took a walk looking for Maitake - Grifola Frondoza aka Hen of the Woods mushroom .

It's one of my favorite in taste and I try to pick some as soon as the season starts. I did share my haul with someone else who I know, and she loves them. It's always better to share the experience :)

Pumpkin Pie

... or in reality it's a winter squash pie since I used one of the smaller squashes for it, cut up and roasted first in the oven, and then pureed with heavy cream, honey and brown sugar and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
 The squash I picked was Golden Nugget, and it's a very sweet tasting, dry flesh and not stringy like some others so I really prefer its taste and texture to many other varieties that we have on the farm. 
And the pie came out very good, though I think next time I won't use cookie crust and will make a regular pie dough instead. This way I can cut down on sweetness a little bit. Not that my hubby complains about sweet taste - he took this one to his office.

Last harvest of the year

I can honestly say "brrr, it's cold outside" this morning. We got "balmy" 23 degrees at 6 am. Obviously with the freeze on the way this weekend, we had to harvest as much as we could so I took Friday off and just picked and picked and picked. Many green peppers and some baby eggplants. Remaining squash and few green tomatoes - thankfully not many as we got hit with late blight and most plants succumbed within a week and even green fruit showed brown splotches. 
And of course I've been using peppers in most of my cooking on daily basis. Thankfully my hubby loves cooked peppers so he's not complaining.. or at least not too much..
Most of the green peppers were crated and delivered to the CSA folks so they'll enjoy it. I did keep few large bell peppers so I can chop them up for winter. And I did make a batch of hot and sweet pepper jelly - not too much though as we don't use it all that often. I'll keep couple of jars but the rest will be shipped to CA to a friend.
And since it's been so chilly, I thought it was a good time to start baking and since I had plenty of picked apples I thought having an apple pie is a good thing. Hubby didn't complain :)
 So how are you doing with your harvest this week? Come and see it at Dave's page how others are doing.

Huge Yellow Pumpkin

Mother Nature has been very good to me this year with the harvests, but she likes to throw a curve-ball once in a while.  This year it happened to be with regards to my winter squashes and pumpkins. It was very dry in May and the plants didn't grow well at first, then once they started to set fruit the groundhog and deer have demolished most of my winter squash varieties. I did harvest several Blue Banana, but it looks like my pumpkin year was a bust. My first large carving pumpkin became a nice meal for the groundhog in August.
Then the same vine re-bloomed and created second small pumpkin. I thought that being proactive was necessary so I wrapped it in the nylon netting to keep it growing. And grow it did. The only issue, it appears to have cross pollinated with the Yellow Squash that I had nearby. So instead of a very nice orange round ball, I got a huge yellow pumpkin. I asked my hubby to hold it for me so I could take a good picture of it. And it was heavy!
Now I have no idea if this one will be the eating type since it pollinated with edible squash or just an interesting visual carving type. Either way, the Halloween week will be interesting.

Natural Harvest and Fall Colors

This weekend was a perfect "fall" day with chilly nights and crisp and sunny day, so instead of boring everyone with loads of peppers and winter squash, I thought that I'll share my "harvest" from walking around the lake.
Leaves are changing colors and starting to fall down so when you walk all you hear is rustling under your feet and a bubbling brook on the side.
We were lucky to spot few mushrooms that were edible and I picked them for winter. Maitake or Grifola Frodoza as official name, and Scaber Stalk aka Leccinum aurantiacum are my favorites for fall harvest.
Normally I cut them cleanly just above the ground, but will try to do something different this time around - save the roots and spread them in the back yard and hope they'll grow next year. Would be great if I had home grown instead of hunting in forest.

For now it satisfied my "nature" whimsy, but will have to find time next weekend to venture out once again.

Harvest first weekend of October

You'd think now that it's cold outside and we're officially in "fall" mode that the farm would really slow down, but I think my plants are on strike and refuse to accept colder temperature. Or maybe it's just my perception and it just seems like veggies are everywhere and on every surface of my home. Car is loaded once again, and all counters are full of canning supplies and finished jars are waiting for their labels - I usually wait 3-4 weeks before labeling and storing everything just to make sure that none of them blow their caps. And fresh kale has been sitting in jars waiting to be crisped or juiced.
But in reality, the veggies are slowing down. At least not as much tomatoes as we used to have and the crate that I picked has a lot of green tomatoes because someone in my area asked if I had any - their restaurant has "fried green tomato" on the menu so they'll use some of my beefsteaks that have little chance of ripening up. There are few remaining sauce tomatoes that I'll use for salsa this week.
Squash is finally slowed down, and I've picked couple of more winter Blue Banana and left to cure on the floor in the addition - there are a LOT of veggies on that floor that must be cleared out this week.  They will be chopped and frozen for winter.  The new batch of peppers in the crate will be dropped off tomorrow at the harvest house.
Of course my nemesis Mr Groundhog is having grand time at the field destroying veggies at a fast clip and not showing any signs of slowing down. Both winter squash and peppers have a lot of damage to them. Oh well, have to share with nature.
On the home front I'm still planting more things around new patio - this was one of the batches bought for the left side of the patio wall. I just hope it's not too late in season and that they'll actually grow and make it through winter. They are all perennial of course.
Also this is the season for fruit, so I've obtained some PawPaw fruit and have been enjoying it during the evening hours as my sweet treat. Not many people know about it, even if it does grow in many areas of east coast and inland.

So what are you doing in your garden this week? Come and share your stories.