Fall at 5R Farm
At the end of summer, I always look forward to fall, thinking that it will be nice when things slow down and it’s not so busy at the farm. Then fall arrives, and I realize that I’m still just as busy as ever! Getting the garden cleaned up for winter is always quite a chore, but luckily we had some sunny days that I took advantage of to pull out and compost all of the warm season veggie plants that are done for the season. I chopped up and piled them in our jumbo sized compost area in the garden, mixed with layers of the pine shavings and poop from the big chicken coop clean out. The squash plants that always have powdery mildew by the end of the season go into the “B” compost area which is really just a hidden pile of things too big to chop up or diseased stuff that gets tossed behind the cover of a blackberry thicket. We had a large harvest of spaghetti squash this year, which for some reason is the squash I’m most successful at growing. The butternut and acorn squash got off to a slow start, and they never caught up enough to produce anything. Most of the pumpkin and gourd seeds that I saved from last year grew into odd-looking hybrids this year, elongated two-toned fruits that don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before. But I grew them mostly for fall decoration and chicken treats, both of which they still accomplish nicely. I planted garlic for next summer, and I spread compost in the raised beds, so most of what I wanted to do to get the garden ready for next year is done. The pickles are finally made. I made a little bit of everything this year – garlic dill pickles made with lemon cucumbers, regular cucumbers, green beans, and rhubarb. We even managed to find an afternoon to go mushroom hunting and came home with enough to sauté the extra and put them in the freezer.
We finally joined the ranks of people who have two refrigerators and added a second refrigerator in the garage. In the summer, the refrigerator is crammed full of eggs and vegetables, and by the end of the summer freezer space is in short supply. We now have the luxury of an extra refrigerator to make harvest season a bit easier next year and also give us some extra space for a turkey or two that will in all likelihood be going into the freezer this fall. After putting so much effort into growing and putting away food in the summer, fall is the time we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor and eat delicious home grown and preserved things all winter long – roasted tomatoes, marinara sauce, tomato soup, roasted anaheim chilis, kale and chard, potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, squash, pesto, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, jam, pear butter, applesauce, zucchini bread, honey, and let’s not forget the home-canned tuna. It’s almost time to wind down for the season, and I am sure looking forward to a bit of winter relaxation!