Sunday, October 26, 2008

*Falling* Down on the Job

I have been so busy with Fall chores around my home, garden and business that I truly have been "falling" down on the job of keeping my blog up to date. My apologies to my loyal readers. I'll try not to let that happen again. (yeah, right.)

Fall seems to be the time to gather, clean, organize and plan. Plan for winter. Plan for the upcoming holidays. Clean and organize everything. An awesome task around my cluttered and busy home. And I must say that I don't seem to have much energy for any of that lately. But I plod on, however slowly.

In the above photo you see a close-up in my produce scale of these beautiful Jonagold apples:

Jonagold Apple Harvest ~ almost 9 lbs!

My triple graft apple tree (has 3 kinds of apples on one tree) gave me the best Jonagold harvest ever this year! I picked more Jonagolds this year than I have in the past 9 years from that little tree. Mother Nature really outdid herself there. These apples are sweet, juicy and crisp. Great eating apples. Nature's perfect snacks.

Also on that same triple graft apple tree are my Mutsu apples seen here after harvesting:

Mutsu Apple Harvest ~ 4 1/2 lbs

Big beautiful green apples with a yellow-pink blush. This year the Mutsu apples were bigger than normal, but the overall harvest was about the same as usual. Maybe a bit heavier. These are not quite as sweet as the Jonagolds, but are still very tasty.

Also from that same tree I harvested about 8 pounds of Gala apples in September
Those apples are getting soft now and are not as good eaten out of hand as the rest, but will still be fine for baking or making applesauce and jelly.

That tree had so many Galas this year that the Gala trunk of the tree broke in half from the weight of the apples. I had to pick about 4 pounds of apples prematurely in order to unweight the branches and hopefully save the tree. I tied and taped up the broken trunk and pray that the tree will heal itself. The Gala trunk of this tree is vital to the apple production on the rest of the tree, since the Gala apple blossoms are the pollinators for the Jonagold and the Mutsu blossoms. I guess I really should thin out my apples the next time the harvest looks heavy. Before the tree breaks.

Shown below is the very last zucchini summer squash from my summer 2008 garden. I found him hiding at the edge of my garden underneath a big squash leaf. Surprised and pleased me!
Big Clarimore Zuke ~ soon to be soup!

Hardware Bob had made enough basil pesto for the season so he allowed me to harvest the rest of his basil plants before the cold nights froze the beautiful green leaves. I made one last batch of pesto and then bunched the rest for drying. We will use the dried basil in our winter cooking. Winter comfort foods such as soups and stews need lots of herbs and spices.

Basil drying for winter storage and use ~ thank you Bob!

Below is a gratuitious photo of my pretty red petunias that have survived through 2 summers and one winter so far, even with me forgetting to water and prune them. Also growing in the pot are a few yellow marigolds that started from some seed casually scattered in there.

Pretty Red Petunias ~ will you make it through another Winter?

Well, it's late October. Fall is well established, however, we are still having very warm days with cooler nights. The upcoming cold weather is going to be a shock to our systems no doubt. I have cleaned and readied my woodstove that I use for winter heating, but have not yet made a fire in it this season. The cold weather will come soon enough. I am just going to enjoy the sun as long as I can.

Happy Fall everyone!

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket


CaliforniaGrammy said...

Beautiful perfect apples. And three varieties in one tree, how cool that is! I drool over all your basil. I could never get too much basil for pesto.

It was sure a warm day today, but you're right—we need to enjoy it while it's here, because I've been told that we're in for a very cold winter.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Oh, your apples are very, very pretty...I've harvested almost all of mine and, though pretty too, they're a bit "blemished" bird pecks, an occasional worm, etc. Yours look perfect!
Tell me about your basil drying process. It looks like you uprooted the entire plant and hung it upside down from your clothesline. I totally would have done that with mine had I known that was the way to do it!

We've already had a number of fires in our's getting pretty chilly in the evenings around here. But tomorrow, we'll delight in 70 degree weather again. :-)

Hardware Bob said...

Wonderful posting, your apples do look plump and healthy, the photos are terrific. Gardening and harvest time is obviously a lot of work, but very rewarding when you get results like this.

The triple graft apple tree is really interesting, producing three kinds of apples, how very cool.

I am constantly amazed that the hardy red petunias have survived all these seasons and the occasional visit from a hungry deer. They look very contented and happy on your porch table.

You're welcome for the basil plants. My basil always seems to do well, good soil I guess and lots of sun. But then there's daily removal of the prolific seed pods and blossoms, and careful manicuring. Several batches of pesto were produced from only two plants this year. I especially liked the tarragon and basil combination.

Winter is soon arriving here in the mountains, received a load of firewood myself yesterday, so I am ready.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi CA Grammy,
Thank you for your compliments on my apples and basil. We make enough pesto from our basil to last the 3 of us through winter most years. Very warm weather lately. Will get cooler soon.

Hi Danni,
Thanks for the apple praise. Mine have a few blemishes too, some bird pecks or deer teeth marks. I just arrange them nicely so they don't show in my photos! Not much trouble with apple worms here. Maybe because our climate is drier than yours.

You asked about my basil/herb drying process:

Throughout the growing season I prune/harvest basil and other leafy herbs by cutting 8-18 inch lengths of stems with leaves. Then I either use them fresh or make little bundles of them tied with twine and hang them upside down from my "high tech herb drying line" that you've seen before. It's just a piece of stronger twine/sisal tied between two posts on my front porch. I leave them to air dry for several days or until they are crispy. Then I take them down and gently crumble them onto some newspaper or into a brown paper bag. I don't crush them into very small pieces, not yet anyway. The larger the dried herb pieces are the longer their volatile oils (the flavor you want) will be retained. I store them in plastic bags or preferably glass jars with lids, only crushing them completely when I use them for seasoning as I cook.

The basil in the photo that I got from Bob, was from the end of the season, so yes, I did uproot his basil plants, and then cut them into lengths to bundle and hang upside down. It killed me to yank out those healthy basil plants, but the nights were getting too cold for them and the leaves were starting to get brown spots. Better to yank and dry them than to waste them, I say.

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the apple and photo praise. Yes, it is a lot of work to keep up with around here. I love gardening though. Makes me feel closer to the earth, nature, and my Mom. I also love to eat what I grow.

Your basil is great, and so is the pesto we make from it. Keep up the good work!

frugalmom said...

Those apples look wonderful. The Mutsu variety I have had from Michigan when we would go to visit my grandma.

Drying basil is the best. Then you can have it all winter long. And it is so easy!

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Frugalmom,
Thank you for the apple praise. I never had a Mutsu apple until I planted this triple variety apple tree. They are very good. And yes, I love to dry the homegrown basil. I use it all year.