Aaah, the smell of burning leaves, the crisp air, riotous leaves, and the beginnings of the unstoppable nosedive into winter…
October, I’ve missed you (but also, still over here wondering where on Earth this year has gone… how is it already October?).
October is a bit of a crazy-ish month for us every year. Deer hunting has started both here and in Minnesota, we try to get another visit in down to my parents before the weather becomes too unpredictable, both Rich’s birthday and our anniversary, and poof! The month is gone, leaving most of my fall clean up to happen in the less polite weather of November.
But I try to get while the getting is good… the fading daylight, however, makes this more and more difficult to do after work hours.
The Veg garden is a disaster. It is messy and unkempt and I’m straddling the line between eeking out the last bits of veg before a hard frost and ripping it all out because I just can’t anymore. I go back and forth but ultimately we’ve been ignoring the task in favor of lounging around on the patio in the remaining nice weather.
The butternut squash have had a stellar year so I need to get them off the vine, dipped in bleach solution, and set out in the greenhouse to harden up a bit before it gets too cold. The cabbage too needs to come out and get processed. The greens (kale, chard, whatever lettuces are hanging on), save the amaranth and agretti, will stay until either the snow flies or spring. Mother Nature is in charge of the timeline now, I’m just trying to set realistic goals! Everything else needs to get ripped out and head into the chipper- we just need a weekend at home to get it done.
The late season blooms here have been a real delight. Many (most?) ares of the garden aren’t particularly beautiful right now, so whatever is blooming really has room to shine. I’m more in love with these clematis now than I ever was this summer… they look even more stunning with the lightly turning foliage too.
The bees have been loving (as usual) the New England asters and sedums scattered around the garden. Every fall I see how covered in bees these plants are and vow to plant/transplant more around the garden. Every spring I do, and I’m always thrilled to have done it. I’m sure I’ll find more places to put them next spring… perhaps in the revamped Cee garden?
For now, I plan to get whatever done I can and enjoy the heck out of the good weather (and beautiful blooms) while they are still around.
One of my favorite fall recipes is this simple (no browning) stew from Jamie Oliver. It can easily be adapted to any sort of meat with any sort of booze in place of the beef and ale. It’ll happily take on any veggies you want to throw into the mix. Mushroom particularly!
Make anything with all those amazing fresh apples. I’m set to make this Apple Tarte Tatin as soon as I have time.
For now, I’ve got to focus on the Sticky Toffee Pudding for Rich’s actual birthday (if you’ve not ever had this, it is a firm family favorite here and so indulgent!) and this Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake for his birthday party. I’m going to make these Braised Short Ribs for his birthday dinner, but shh! Don’t tell him!
I’ve been loving the podcast Brought To You By. It was created by some folks at Business Insider and while it sounds a bit droll, its actually quite delightful. It takes deep dives into the back stories of the brands and products we all know. I’d recommend starting with the episodes “The Widow Cliquot” which spurred me into buying not one, but two books on the subject, “A Tale of Two Spams” and “Drinking Buddies: Jack Daniels and Nearest Green”. All fascinating dives into the social, historical, gastronomical, and economical impacts that these brands have had on America and vice versa.
At Atlas Obscura:
Centuries After Their Loss and Theft, Native American Seeds Are Reuniting With Their Tribes – I can’t recommend this one enough, its a wonderful and informative story of how the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, museums, and Seed Savers Exchange working together to bring historical and rare seeds back to their communities- sometimes after 100 years apart.
Inside the Arctic Greenhouses Where the Summer Sun Never Sets
The new season of the Great British Bake Off is back on Netflix and The Great Pottery Throwdown is now available on HBOMax. I recommend both for soothing non-political, non-COVID uplifting television- which I’m sure all of us could do with!
Honestly? Get done whatever you can before it gets too cold!
Plant bulbs. If you haven’t already ordered some, head to your local nursery to see what they’ve got on hand. Shy away from big box stores if you can, but if you must, check that the bulbs are firm and plump. If they feel mushy or withered, leave them on the shelf. We favor daffodils because a) they are cheerful as heck come spring and b) the burrowing critters seem to leave them alone.
Do a light tidy. I’m not a big fan of the huge fall clean up and we are lucky enough that most of the leaves we have fall into the woods and stay at the edges of the yard. So I try to stick to cleaning up the Veg garden and trimming back the things that don’t overwinter well. If I do clean up any grasses or perennials I leave about 12-18″ of stem rather than chopping them clear to the ground. This leaves enough remnants for overwintering bugs that may have already started to take shelter.
Prep the pond. If you have one, that is! I’ve already brought in the tender/tropicals, so now its just a matter of pruning back what will stay in the water, giving it a good clean with the net, and making sure those plants that are set to overwinter are at the proper water depth. We don’t have any fish in the pond, so we aren’t going to de-ice it or keep it open this winter, but it will still pay dividends to get it clean and keep the leaves out of it before it freezes.
Protect young trees and shrubs. With the bucks getting frisky and looming snow making food scarce for rodents of all size, now is a good time to get some trunk protection and/or fencing up around new, young, or vulnerable plants. It is so sad to finally get that snow melted only to find a fine specimen girded and left for dead by hungry critters or awake to find new tree mangled by a rogue deer. An ounce of prevention…
Alright, this has rolled on long enough! I hope you all are getting particularly fantastic autumnal weather and that your leaf-color-extravaganza is hitting its stride. Stay safe and enjoy an extra cup of warm apple cider (plus or minus the brandy)!