With temperatures around 40 at night and barely 60 during the day, you can definitely tell it’s autumn around here.
Which is fine with me because autumn is my favorite season.
Awhile back I was discussing the various edible wild plants I had found growing on our property, and I was wishing for a sassafras tree; they were so common when I was a child but I hardly ever see them now. Well, I never could find one around here until a few days ago when Philip and I were cutting back some scrub that was growing into the turn-around half way down our driveway. After cutting back a huge, thorny shrub, I found this:
I recognized the distinctive sassafras leaves immediately. I was thrilled! There will be hot sassafras tea this winter after all. Philip marked it with some blue tape so that it wouldn’t get cut down by accident. I want to give it plenty of room to spread under those big oaks behind it.
We’ve been very, very busy working around here after both of us putting in long hours at work. First: I’ve been tree-planting. I wait all year for the trees and fruit bushes to go on sale at Lowe’s and such places; they are always clearanced out at the end of September, usually at least 50% off, and I always spend several hundred dollars on new trees.
I’m filling in any bare spots in our woods that I can find. The reason I’m trying to have our property as natural and tree-covered as possible (except for the big garden and a small front lawn for the children to play on) is because it encourages wild animals to live here. I like knowing there are deer, rabbits, squirrel, wild turkeys, and other birds living just outside my door. Hunting season will simply involve walking down the driveway a bit to the hunting blind we now have set up. For an interesting post about tree-planting to encourage wildlife, see It Only Took 20 Years by Mr. Pioneer Preppy.
This year I had green beans, yellow beans, and sugar snap peas growing up old pallets I’d set up haphazardly in the garden, but what I really wanted was a bean-and-pea teepee. My husband salvaged some old skis from his mother’s garage, bolted them together at the top, and made this:
Next year I’ll string twine around this, leaving one side open, and plant my beans and peas around it. The kids can then have it as an edible hideout.
He also salvaged some tires because I wanted them for turning into potato towers:
What you do is stack up two tires, fill it with dirt and compost, and plant your seed potatoes. As the plants grow, you add tires one at a time, filling in with dirt and compost. The finished product looks like this:
Harvesting potatoes out of the tires is much easier than digging them out of ice-cold dirt in late fall, which is what I spent many hours doing as a resentful teenager. 🙂
I’m also beginning to lay out my logs for the hugelkultur beds I’ve discussed:
I have GOT to find time to harvest and set herbs to drying. I cannot believe this is only one year’s growth on these herbs. They really, really liked the location I used for my new herb bed. Here you can see cilantro, lemongrass, sage, some basil still hanging on, some rosemary, and a few raspberry plants:
Remember all the weird zucchini recipes I canned this summer? Well, I finally cut down the vines, except I missed one, and the zucchini are STILL growing on it! Look at the size of this one next to my foot:
I’m just going to chuck these into one of the composters. Some nice red hot peppers are ready to pick and dry:
And I’m still getting good watermelons, believe it or not. We picked and ate one just a couple of days ago, but it just doesn’t taste quite right to eat watermelon in the fall. I’ll probably compost the rest of these, too, or bring them in to work and put them in the staff lounge for anyone who wants them.
I ran out of time for canning, but I’ve been picking, baking, mashing, and freezing butternut squash every chance I get. We love butternut squash, so I want to preserve as much of it as possible.
Do you ever have something that you swear you didn’t plant sprout up in your garden? I don’t even know exactly what this is…some kind of pumpkin or gourd thing. I have no memory of planting this:
I’ll probably pick it and set it out on the front porch with some pumpkins and straw bales for a fall decoration.
The blueberry bushes should be thriving along the edge of the pond, but they’re only doing so-so – I’m not sure why:
There is so much work to do and never enough time to do it around here. This past Friday was homecoming, but instead of getting to go to the parade and football game, I was home sick in bed, no doubt the result of trying to burn the candle at both ends. I’m still kind of low energy even today and had to drag myself out of bed to drive to church by promising myself a trip to the Dexter Cider Mill afterward:
Behind the mill is an area where you can sit at picnic tables and look down at the Huron River while you drink your cider and eat your doughnuts:
One of our daughters climbed down the steep bank to drink her apple cider slushy by the side of the river:
Hope you’re enjoying this Autumn wherever you are!