The weather has been beautiful, but Fall is definitely in the air. The hummingbirds left us this week, on their way to Mexico. I read they cross the Gulf of Mexico nonstop--a fact that never ceases to amaze me. I know, where are they going to stop? So long, Little Jewels, see you again around May 10.
Another sign of the season, the last pick of beans and a pile of plants bound for the compost. In past years I let them go until frost; this year we have sufficient, and the production was getting very slow. I pulled all our zucchini plants; with that and the beans gone the beds are starting to looking empty. But what a year so far!
On Monday, Labor Day, 27 more pounds (~12 kg.) of sauce tomatoes. A few dozen were not quite ripe; either they were drops or picking fake-outs--ripe on one side, not on the other. These were left on a kitchen counter to ripen. The rest went into another 10 pints of pasta sauce, bringing our yearly total to 34 pints. Still many more on the vines. Rumor has it The Kitchen Goddess is secretly doing an early-frost dance. But what is she complaining about? I have a colleague, the son of Italian immigrants, who remembers the whole family processing 30 bushels of tomatoes in one long day. But then, they ate pasta with red sauce 6 nights a week, and on Saturday, pasta with white sauce!
On Wednesday morning, another 11+ lbs. (~5 kg.) of tomatoes. On Thursday, another 8+ lbs (3.6 kg.). Sauce total now 42 pints.
Last year was a poor one for our apples. We had a very warm spell in early Spring, tricking the trees into flowering early, which was followed by a freeze, killing the buds. This year, the planets aligned:
The green ones might be Granny Smith, hard and tart, but I don't really know what they are. Just one tree. The red ones are from a McIntosh tree--my favorite, but not as productive as the greenies. I really pruned the trees hard in late winter, to bring down the canopies. They had been neglected for years. I sprayed them with dormant oil just before leaf break, but no spraying of any kind since then.
They certainly aren't supermarket-quality, but they will serve our purpose. And what is that, you ask? Hard apple cider, of course!
The "Chucky" thing is kind of an inside joke--illustrating my solution to our occasional woodchuck problem. Unlucky Chucky. Yes, I know there is a commercial brand named "Woodchuck Draft Cider." We have a few bottles left from last fall, sadly made with farmstand cider (unpasteurized at least), but absolutely delicious, sparkling, and potent!
In past years we would pick, wash, chop, grind, and press the apples, then heat, cool, pour in the primary fermentation buckets and pitch the yeast, all in a very tiring weekend. This year we are trying something new--freezing first. Would you believe 5 bushels (sorry, don't know the metric equivalent) fit in an upright freezer that already had vegetables in it?
Freezing is said to soften the apples, making for easier pressing. I experimented with 2 apples last weekend. When they thawed they were so soft you could almost squish them with your fist. So this may work out well. Now we can press when it fits our schedules. Still a lot of garden work to do right now, and football to watch.
And still at least a bushel of apples left on the tree. At this point, we have no plans for them, though it kills me to leave them unpicked.
What is this?
A New Hampshire lei! Sunflower heads drying on fishing line. Last year I unwisely put them in paper bags to dry, and they got moldy.
The very last of the Spring carrots. Twenty-two more cups for the bulging freezers.
And on Sunday, another 19 pounds (8.6 kg.) of tomatoes. That makes 65 lbs. (29+ kg.) for the week. The diligent Kitchen Goddess now has amassed 54 jars of yummy sauce. I don't think I'm growing so many next year, or so The Kitchen Goddess commands.
Okay, I promise, no more tomato pictures, even though there are more to pick. No more sunflower pictures either, so here's a last glimpse of Summer's glory: