And so another growing season has past. Autumn Equinox has come and gone, leaving behind chilly evenings, longer nights, and mist-filled mornings. Autumn has long been my favourite season. Come along with me on a little photo tour around the homestead, and I think you'll see why...
The garden continues to feed us, as well as keep our canner fired up. I have to admit that I feel somewhat relieved to see the growing season wane, as I have canned what feels like innumerable batches of tomatoes, and learned in the process that we probably don't need 28 tomato plants next year. Still, all those jars of tomatoes will be put to good use in chillies, soups, and stews this winter.
One sunny afternoon, I harvested the onions and laid them out to dry. It was our best crop of onions yet!
Our potatoes were also some of the biggest and best we've ever grown.
Thanks to the greenhouse, we were treated to a few Moon & Stars watermelons.
I've also been harvesting the winter squash, and bringing them inside our tiny home to cure before they're set in cold storage.
On October 1st, we had our first fire in the woodstove. And we sipped hard apple cider pressed from our own orchard in a little celebration of all we have accomplished since last Autumn - when we first arrived on this land.
It's beginning to look and feel a lot like Hallowe'en! We even have our own jack-o'-lantern pumpkins from the garden to carve this year.
Happy October to you, from all of us here.
The start of harvest season and other homestead happenings...
And so the wheel turns to August, and the beginning of Harvest Season on the old calendar. The bees hurry from flower to flower, harvesting nectar and pollen all the more fervently as the waning hours of sunlight signal the return of winter. I too move from garden bed to garden bed, and fruit tree to fruit tree, harvesting food and carrying it back to the kitchen.
My copious pea planting this spring paid off, and I was able to vacuum seal and freeze 10 pounds of shelled peas to use this winter. I also got a little carried away with planting beets, and the resulting bumper crop has made many quarts of borscht and pickled beets for the larder.
I've also been canning pounds of tomatoes, salsa and dill pickles. There's nothing so satisfying as opening the cupboard long after summer has gone to see all our jars of food shining like jewels.
Nathan's dad spent a few weeks with us in July, and his mom and sister joined for a few days at the tail end of the visit. Nathan and his dad set out to cross off as many items on our homestead to-do list as possible. They built gates, dug trenches, pulled out old fence posts, made beer, tore out the blackberry bushes that were overtaking our garage, and numerous other projects.
And, as Barry was very fond of driving our tractor, they tackled several tractor jobs as well. When Nathan's mom and sister arrived, they helped pull the ever returning weeds from our vegetable gardens, move our rabbit hutch, and pick and press apples for cider. Nathan's mom even assisted me with a hive check! We were so grateful to have their help.
Well, I've got to get back to the kitchen. Today we're canning tomatoes, bottling rose petal mead, and making blackberry wine! Amongst other things. This is indeed the busiest time of year, and my favorite.
Happy Harvest Season!
A stroll around the gardens and orchard with musings about bees, St. John's Wort, organic gardening woes, and more.
And happy full Rose Moon! May your gardens grow wildly.
Peas and Love,
Rebbeckah & Nathan
p.s. - here's a photo of me spinning in the garden under the rising full Rose Moon on Solstice night ❤
It's been a little while since I've taken you on a photo tour. With June now in full swing, everything around here is exploding in color and growth, and I can't help but try to capture some of the beauty and bounty of it all with my camera. So come with me down the garden path, and have a look!
There are armfuls of lush rainbow chard.
There are pounds of peas to be shelled and frozen, and eaten fresh by the mouthful.
There are juicy beets to eat, and crisp kale.
There are blueberries ripening, and eggs to collect.
There are baskets full of the most fragrant tea roses...
... which beg to be made into rose petal jam...
... and rose petal infused honey.
Speaking of honey, there is spring honey to harvest; perfumed with the nectar of hawthorn and apple blossoms.
And once the honey has been squeezed from the comb, the bottling materials are set outside for the 'clean up crew' (below), who will glean every last bit of honey left.
In the greenhouse, the tomato and pepper plants are bursting with fruit. Almost time to make salsa!
And of course, there are always plenty of weeds to pull and work to do! But at the end of the day, there are bonfires to sit by, and homemade beer or cider to sip, and a rising moon to watch.
It's all truly a joy. Gus thinks so, too.
Thanks for stopping by! Until next time - peace, love, and leek blossoms.
People often ask me about simple ways that they can help bees. In addition to supporting organic farming and planting untreated bee-feeding flowers, one of the easiest, most rewarding, and practically free things you can do is to create a bee waterer out of an old bird bath, pie pan, or any other shallow basin.
Fill it with stones, shells, pieces of wood or other natural materials so that the bees can land in your waterer without drowning (this is super important!), then keep it topped up with water. This provides bees of all kinds with much needed hydration on hot summer days, and they'll also carry water back home for cooling their hives.
Once they discover your DIY watering hole, the bees will return all season long if you keep it filled. And no need to clean it - the muckier the water, the more they seem to like it. So make yourself a bee waterer, and put it in a shady spot where you can watch the winged beauties taking long sips. It really is an amazing sight to behold, and the bees will certainly thank you.
Garlic scapes are the long, graceful flower buds that emerge on twisted stems from garlic plants in late spring. If left to do so, they'll bloom. But to encourage thicker, larger bulbs of garlic, the scapes are usually removed.
Tasting like a cross between garlic and green onions, they make a delicious addition to any savory dish. When we find ourselves drowning in them every June, we add them to our eggs, stir fries, and potatoes, make 'em into pesto, and send them home with friends by the armful.
This year, I thought I'd try pickling them. Because crunchy, garlic-y, dilly, onion-y pickles sounds good, doesn't it? Nathan certainly thought so. Out I went to the garden to gather the first crop of scapes, and a few heads of dill.
Turns out that pickling garlic scapes is easy-peasy, and they do look oh so pretty in jars. Here's how:
Black pepper corns and/or other seasonings
Vinegar (white or apple cider)
Canning jars, lids & rings
Water bath canner
Wash and sterilize jars.
Wash and trim the garlic scapes into lengths to fit your jars, and trim the long bit from the end of the flower.
In a sauce pan, mix together enough water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio to fill each of the jars. If you have 3 pint jars worth of scapes to pickle, you'll need approximately 3 pints of water/vinegar liquid to cover them. Bring the liquid to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of pickling salt for each pint of scapes.
Put a head of dill and a teaspoon of pepper corns or other spices into each jar, then pack your scapes in tightly.
Ladle the hot vinegar/water/salt liquid over the scapes, leaving half an inch of headspace.
Secure lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Wait at least a month before enjoying!
We celebrated the first fruits of the garden!
And the first peas.
Gus and I went into the woods to gather fallen branches for making bean tipis, stopping along the way to pick and chew on the tasty new growth of douglas fir needles.
And to drink in the forest-rose scent of tiny baldhip roses.
Then the fallen sticks and branches I'd found were drug back over the forest trail, through the shoulder-height grass of the pasture to the garden, where they were bound into tipis to support our soon-to-be-vining beans.
The seedlings were watered, the beets thinned, and the tomatoes trellised and tended to.
When it was time to make dinner, back out to the garden I went to pick the biggest of our beautiful butterhead lettuce, some dill, and a handful of chives.
After dinner, snuggled in with a hot cup of tea, I'm not so enthusiastic about the thought of strapping on a headlamp and venturing out into the dark for a surprise counter attack on the cut worms and sow bugs that have been eating our cucumbers and kale. Alas, such is the way of organic gardening, and so out we go to see what we can do!
Thank you for stopping in. Come back again soon.
The roses are bursting into bloom, and the bees are making honey, so yesterday I made a batch of rose petal mead with raw honey from our hives, and fragrant tea rose petals and buds.
Talk about a love potion! It looks and smells divine. It's scenting our tiny home with the sweetest perfume, and I keep sticking my head into the mead crock to inhale deeply.
No yeast added; just wild fermentation. The way our forebears did it.
I added a handful of raisins for tannins, a few chopped strawberries for the extra yeast on their skins, and the zest of a lemon to balance out sweetness. Once the airborne yeasts and the yeasts present on the rose petals, raisins and strawberries begin to ferment the honey, I'll continue stirring the mead for a few days. Then I'll separate the must (the liquid) from the lees (the solids/sediment), and rack the mead into a carboy for its secondary ferment.
The mead will need to age for 9 - 12 months before bottling, but I have no doubt that it will be well worth the wait. ~