Summer’s End/Be Careful What You Wish For!

Well… there are bins of fruit piled everywhere- peaches, plums, pears, apples, grapes, and blackberries. The house smells sweet. It’s difficult to keep up. We’ve been harvesting, canning, and juicing. We’ve been making pies, cobblers, sauces and cider with our cider press.

We are trying to keep up with the 15 different kinds of tomatoes we’re growing. They go well with all of the pesto we’ve been making and freezing. It’s been great putting all of that homegrown garlic to good use. We’ve been blanching the tomatoes in boiling water for two minutes, slipping their skins off and freezing them in nice manageable portions. The freezer is full of tomatoes for sauces and soups, grated zucchini for bread, sliced apples and peaches for pies. It’s going to be a tasty winter!

We have a pumpkin the size of a Mack truck growing out into the street. We came home the other day to find a young man sitting in a beach chair next to it. He said when he saw the pumpkin “It just looked like a nice place to sit and hang out”. That made us smile.

While we’re on the subject of Mack trucks we are growing Hubbard and Musque de Provence squash for the first time. Let’s just say it has inspired us to have people over for dinner (often). They are huge and delicious! We’ll do a whole blog on squash next time. They’ve completely taken over the yard. The bees love the blossoms and ducks enjoy foraging for slugs and sow-bugs under them. I pruned off all of the leaves with mildew last week and to look out there now you’d never know.

The kids had fun harvesting carrots and potatoes. They’ve loved eating sweet corn right in the garden. They stand out there under the tall stalks munching on a cob and giggling. The giant sunflowers have charmed and amazed them. They have been sharing the seeds with the Scrub Jays who are busy planting next year’s crop as we speak.

The chickens and ducks are laying eggs now and the kids have enjoyed gathering the eggs. Two blues (Aracauna), one brown (Barred Rock) and two white duck eggs a day. Ping is still working on her egg-laying technique. She’s only laid soft-shelled eggs so far. We’re giving all of the birds oyster shell to supplement their calcium intake. They also make good use of the lucerne (alfalfa) that we grow in small patches around the yard. The chickens get it in hay form and the ducks graze on the fresh plants. It is also a good source of calcium.

The honeybees are busy filling the hive boxes with honey for the coming winter. The Mullein has been blooming for them for a good six months and there are still sunflowers full of pollen. We watched them drinking out of the birdbath today. This summer has been tough on them. They have fought yellow-jackets, ants and now wax moth larva. We’ll be opening the hive soon to assess the situation. Cross your fingers.

It’s time to get out there and start planning the winter garden.

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