Autumn Bounty

Last night marked the beginning of a new day at the Fagan abode.  We harvested our first batch of arugula from our fall garden.  In honor of this great day, I made a dinner filled with garden fresh produce, and I must say it earned rave reviews from the entire family.

Our meal consisted of a bed of organic pasta (not homemade I’m afraid to say 😦 ), topped with local sausage, the last of our tomato harvest, regional feta cheese, and finished with a large handful of the peppery arugula from our brand-new garden beds.  I dressed the entire dish with a drizzle of organic olive oil, a splash of aged balsamic, and a bit of sea salt.  Yummy.

Fall Preparations

With frost now hitting our area in the evenings, this little family of mine has been rushing about, making final preparations for late fall.  I really do love this time of year because at this point, I am ready to nestle in and do a bit of indoor work (reading, crocheting, sewing) instead of the manual labor that is involved with a large garden during the warm months of the year.  I am so thankful that we live in an area that experiences all four seasons.  It gives us a chance to let our bodies and souls rest and rejuvenate before starting the growing season again the next year.

Our first order of business was to bring in all of our herbs.  These seem to be the first of our plants to get hit with frost, so they topped our priority list.  The girls and I picked our basil, oregano, sage and thyme and then dried it in our food dehydrator.  Once the herbs were dried I ran them through a quick whirl in the spice grinder and put them in Mason jars. We store our dried spices in our spare refrigerator for the winter.  The herbs keep very well storing them this way, and we have found it saves us a great deal of money in the winter months to have all of these herbs on stand by.

Next came the tomatoes.  Oh those tomato plants…All 36 of them.  I must admit, I was dreading this activity this fall.  Good thing I had a little helper by my side to keep me company and do some of the manual labor 🙂  We first picked all of the remaining ripened tomatoes.  Then we harvested all of those lovely green tomatoes (a recipe to come tomorrow), and took down all of the cages and composted the vines.

I received some garlic seed from my mother-in-law, so that went into some of the empty beds that had been cleared a few weeks ago.  Hopefully the seed makes it because a certain little kitty cat keeps wanting to dig it up.  We shall see if this little garlic venture is fruitful come next year.

We are trying something new this year for weed control.  Gardening is quite the effort in trail and error and each year we seem to fail in this department.  Last year, we planted annual rye grass in each of our beds.  The rye grass was suppose to act as a ground cover to help deter weeds, die off in the winter months, and leave the soil enriched with nitrogen and provide excellent compost to till in come spring.  Well, we didn’t get much of a hard frost last winter, so the rye did not die off.  Instead, we were left with garden beds filled with two foot high, green rye grass.

This year we are just aiming for weed control and plan to add compost to our beds in the early spring.  We stopped by our favorite local coffee roasters that I mentioned in this post, and got a bunch of burlap coffee bags.  I cut these and used them to cover each of our beds that will remain dormant for the winter.

And now we venture into the unknown with our fall/winter garden we added this year.  For now, it seems to be surviving the frosty evenings just fine and we should be able to start harvesting in the very near future.  A new adventure waits in the valance.  I can’t wait!

Fall Planting and Harvest

Upon our return from Disney, it was to the garden we went for some fall harvesting and some more planting.  We came home to our second round of beans, ready and waiting for us on the vine.  They were a very welcomed surprise after eating a bit too much non-homegrown food on our trip.

There were also about 80 tomatoes begging to be picked, and a whole lot of raspberries ripe and ready for a little princess to pick for her afternoon snack.

We then set to planting our new beds with some cold-hardy greens.  We are hoping to add a hoop house or some type of low tunnel over these beds once the frost sets in. (Even though that seems very far off at the moment, as I listen to my air conditioner humming at this precise moment, when it is a whopping 90 degrees again today.)