Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fall Clean Up

Tree Frogs ~ summer residents in the portable greenhouse
The forecast predicts we have a few more warm, sunny days before the rain appears. Some of my least favorite garden jobs are rolling up muddy garden hoses in the rain and cleaning out the big plants. When the squash plants are slippery, slimy and wet, it's a dirty, unpleasant job wrestling them to the compost. 

I'm thrilled to say all my garden hoses were drained, dry, rolled up and in the shed through the beautiful warm sunshine this week. The portable greenhouse was dry, dismantled, neatly folded and tucked in the shed in a very orderly fashion. The greenhouse resident five tree frogs were relocated in the surrounding area to the sweet potato plants that I have yet to harvest. 

Butternut and Buttercup Squash
I pulled the roots of the winter squash last week so the plants could die down. In cooler climates, the frost does this, but uprooting them is my experiment this fall. If anyone else has tried this I'd be happy to hear your experience. I cut off the Sunshine, Buttercup, Butternut and Red Kuri squash yesterday and let them have a bit of sun to dry off the skins that sat on the ground. They are now undercover on an outside deck, until the cooler weather kicks in. Some of the summer squash has already been pulled out but I left 3 plants for the fresh,
mini zucchini and patty pans that I adore. I may regret this decision and I can get them from Sam and Emily at the Denman Saturday Market, so we'll see how long they last.

Single jar fermentation of vegetables
I have also delayed pulling up the six Corentine Cucumber plants. They were amazing this summer, producing about one and a half pounds every 6 days. I had a very busy time with the Perfect Pickler and at one point had 4 jars fermenting at the same time! More on that topic later, that will include my new lids with air locks used for single jar fermentation of assorted vegetables; cucumbers, daikon radish, cauliflower, kohlrabi and carrots. I have allowed the last three pickings of the cukes to grow larger, for sliced sweet pickles. Each picking gave me one recipe of my 'Aunt Stella's Pickles-in-a-Pail' from page 227 of my cookbook, 'For the Love of Food'. All these pickles require storage under refrigeration ... my fridge capacity is near its limit! 

If you have followed my strawberry obsession, I always complain about the June crop. Small berries, small yield and fighting the bugs and birds. I had an idea this week to prune off all the flowers and small green berries. Yes, they were covered in flowers and I noticed several days after pruning there are more flowers opening that I missed! My reasoning is 'why have them put all that energy into flowers and berries that will never ripen?' Hoping if I prune the plants early that their energy will produce a better June crop. I will have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, this warm sunny weather has produced several heavy pickings of huge, sweet, juicy strawberries. I am in heaven!!
September Seascape Strawberries ... amazing!!
Hope this inspires the gardeners out there to get your fall clean up done while the weather is beautiful .... the fall storm season is lurking just around the corner!

Till next time ... Happy Gardening and Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae