Common Sense Home Good News Letter 10/8/23

“The morning dawned with a chill in the air and a layer of frost on the south garden. The northern beds escaped damage, as they sat a little higher in the yard, but it was only a matter of time. The light frost sweetened the leeks, kale, and late apples. This growing season was winding down, but already plans were in the works for next year.”

It’s so weird for me to drive around the area in late September and see most of the gardens tilled and empty. Sure, the heat loving plants don’t like the shorter days and cooler temps, but fall brings out some of the best flavors of cool weather crops.

Once there’s frost, bug pressure decreases, too, so you’re less likely to get pest damage. I rarely get time to do a planting specifically for fall (working on that), so I opt for varieties that put out side shoots or otherwise keep producing as long as you keep picking.

For instance, cauliflower usually only makes one head, but many broccoli varieties produce abundant side shoots. Red Russian kale stalks keep shooting up and up, putting out fresh leaves. Some cabbages will set additional baby heads of cabbage after the main head is cut.

We’re working to juggle bins of curing nuts, potatoes, and onions; dozens of pumpkins and squash; flats of heat loving crops brought in before the frost; and boxes of apples. The harvest shifted this year, with different crops coming in, so we’re still figuring out our new canning and preserving routine.

We got our first butternut harvest this year, which was a pleasant surprise. Now that the tree is finally maturing, we look forward to many years of nuts. Once the chestnuts and walnuts mature, we may end up getting some pigs to help use the harvest. This year the neighbor’s pigs got some apples and hazelnuts.

If your gardening season is wrapping up, too, it’s always a good idea to take a few notes about what worked and what didn’t to help with planning for next year. Sometimes we remember, and sometimes things get missed or blend together as the years pass.

For us, most of the pests and diseases we used to have aren’t much of a problem now, but squash vine borers and late season powdery mildew are still a nuisance, so those are on my list to troubleshoot more for next year. The duck patrol does their best to keep the bugs out of the garden, but they can’t get at those pesky borers hiding inside the plants.

Think about plant spacing and care, too, and which varieties you liked, and ones that weren’t so great.

We tried some ​Tiara cabbage from High Mowing Seeds ​this year, and I really liked them. They matured quickly, held well without splitting, and were the perfect size for a meal.

I’m running out of weekend for the weekend newsletter, so I’d best wrap up.

All our best to you and yours,

Laurie (and August IV, August V, and Duncan)

This week’s featured articles…

We have a new author joining us at Common Sense Home. My friend, Sylvia, is sharing her herbal knowledge in a series about building your home apothecary. Here’s ​the first article in the series.​

What fruit has 17 times more lycopene than tomatoes, and has been used to treat everything from from irritable bowel disease to athlete’s foot to cancer? I’m talking about autumn olive. It’s become a crazy weedy shrub in some areas, but at least it’s a useful weed with tasty berries.

​Learn more here.​

I’m going to be giving this recipe some updating this week with new photos, because it is perfect weather for us to be simmering some baked beans. I may even fire up the wood stove for some smoky goodness. (So far we’ve only been heating with the passive solar.)

Please forgive the somewhat ugly photos and enjoy ​the baked bean recipe​.

Popular on Instagram this week – ​cold weather tomato tip​ and ​our apple tree dreams​.

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