Pumpkin. Plus Pumpkin.

IMG_5324Thanksgiving is on the horizon so today I did a little prep for it. I baked up and then pureed the two pie pumpkins that have been waiting on the counter for just this holiday. My plan is to bake a pumpkin pie (natch) as well as a pumpkin cheesecake. The pie will be light and delicate. I like it like that, different than the denser pumpkin pies I admit to also readily enjoying. The cheesecake will be heavier, a thick creamy cylinder of deliciousness.

Once the pumpkins were out of the oven and cooled and pureed, I tossed the pumpkin seeds with a little oil and a little salt and roasted them up in the hot oven for a pre-dinner snack. They made a fine pre-dinner snack. While I turned those seeds in the oven, and while I whipped up dinner itself, I sipped my latest beer–a pumpkin ale, light on the spice.

I like a decent pumpkin ale but most of the ones I have tried are pumpkin spice ales, heavy on the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and hardly tasting of pumpkin. I created this beer to have an ale worthy of the squash moniker. It has a zip to it that makes me say Hmm as well as Mmm. Good stuff.

On another note, I finally (finally) planted the dang garlic. The last week has been crazy cold and things have begun to freeze up. Today, however, offered a warm enough window. I dug up one garden bed and popped in some bulbs saved from this year’s harvest. Hopefully they will appear as green shoots in the spring.

While I will have to wait many months for the garlic, next week I will get to enjoy a pumpkin pie, a pumpkin cheesecake and a fine pumpkin ale, all in one day. In the meantime, there are these toasted pumpkin seeds to polish off. You know, before they get stale.

Snow on the Ground

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A couple of days ago we got our first snow. It covered the ground and the snowplow even passed to spread sand. It stuck around for a day. We still have some snow remnants in the shadows. We have been getting snow showers on and off these past few days.

I still haven’t planted garlic. I just looked at the weather and it looks to stay close to or below freezing all week. I think I might have blown it. Once the ground really freezes up it will be too late. I might get a chance, but the pace I have been working on getting things done these days might mean that task stays undone.

Winter has made itself known. Bring in an armload of wood and stoke the fire. It’s cold out. And it isn’t heating up any time soon.

 

Garlic Pulled

Garlic Drying in the Sun

Yesterday I pulled the garlic. I should have pulled it sooner but we were away and it just didn’t happen. I planted two varieties in the fall and one of them was way ready to yank from the dirt. It was so ready that a few of them broke at the stem. This was the Purple Bogatyr, a purple tinged, smaller variety. The other is much larger and, because I let it go so long, the bulbs are huge. I have 25 bulbs drying in the sun right now and I pulled a couple earlier as well. For the first time a couple died in the spring–not sure why.

I plan to crank out some pesto in the next couple of days, along with some pico de gallo. Hopefully this garlic will last a while–not all year I am sure but a perhaps through the fall. We do eat a lot of garlic. Next up: onions. They are looking good and the tops are starting to fall over. Pretty soon I will pull them as well.

Garden Chores

I got out to the garden today (too rainy to paint, although I did bust out the pressure washer to clean the porch deck) and took care of some business. First check out this bounty I picked, including tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and onions:

Basket o' Tastiness

The popcorn is growing well, with tendrils melon plants creeping up the stalks:

Happy Corn Plants

And speaking of melons, I just may be successful this year. I don’t want to speak before I actually pick and eat a ripe melon, but we are close. I saved seeds from a chanterais we got from our farm share last summer. They started off well, they blossomed and a couple of fruits started growing. Now, a couple of them are close to ripe, good sized, and healthy. Seeking carefully under the corn plants, I found ten of them in various stages of growth. There are still more blossoms but those late bloomers will likely not make it at this point. If we eat one or two tasty melons I will be a happy camper gardener.

Check Out That Melon, if You Know What I'm Saying

And I did finally pull the garlic. I could have yanked it all sooner, but today was the day I got around to it. I harvested 19 remaining bulbs. I already used one of them to make some pesto–OK, a lot of pesto–and I will need to save maybe five of them to plant this fall for next year, but that leaves 13. Not bad, considering how much I already used.

More Than Ready for Harvest

Drying in the Sun

So it was a good day for fresh food. We ate pesto pasta for dinner with tomatoes, cucumbers on the side. I need to dig up potatoes next. They are ready to make it to the table now as well. Right now I plan to have another slice of zucchini blueberry bread. It is still warm.

Garlic and Onions

This past fall I planted two varieties of garlic. One was ready before the other and that I started using, then pulled and braided so I can use it over time. The other variety has been ready to go for a couple weeks but I have not taken the time to yank it from the dirt and cure it to store it. Every day I think about it and tell myself I will get to it, but so far no dice. Tomorrow I hope to dig it up and start drying it. Seriously. Tomorrow.

I picked my first onions a couple days ago. I planted Cippolini onions–flat and sweet. They are tasty but hoo-ra! Those puppies do a number on the old tear ducts. When I chopped half an onion for my first salsa yesterday, I had to set down my knife. Dicing with eyes closed is hazardous. Luckily it was windy. I opened the window and it was enough to clear the air. I have gotten used to mild onions so I was surprised by this once typical occurrence. I will be ready next time. Seriously.

I need to pull more of those onions. They don’t keep well so I will have to use them fairly soon, but I might have some into the fall. Unless I use a lot of onions, which I tend to do in the fall especially. The bummer is how few onions I will get. I planted 48 small pots in late winter. Most of them sprouted, but I transplanted them too late–so goes my theory. I will have maybe 20 onions if I am lucky. The leeks also didn’t fair as well as I would have liked. Again, I think I planted them too late in the spring. They just wanted to get outdoors earlier. I can’t blame them. Last year I had a forest of leeks and only three onions, so I guess it all balances out.

Tomorrow I need to muck about in the dirt. I made some serious progress on painting the house today so the garden chores got delayed. Tomorrow, however, rain showers are forecast for the whole day. That means other projects might get some attention. I need to sort through our tax returns for the last 15 years. We don’t need to keep all of them, do we?  That task, however, will take a back seat to pulling garlic and maybe to making a batch of pesto. I guess I prefer food over finances.

Garlic Out of the Ground

Made a garlic braid tonight for the first time. It came out pretty fair. I have another batch still in the ground, but I dug up the rest of this variety since, A: it has been ripe for the plucking, and B: I needed some anyway to make pesto. I whipped up two batches and popped them in the freezer–that ought to hit the spot come January. Can I say that it is amazing that I planted single cloves and they grow into plants with whole bulbs? That is my theme of the summer–amazement at how plants grow from seed to food.

So here is my garlic, now hanging over the sink to keep the vampires away.

Before Braiding

Braided, Ready to Dry

Garden On the Way

So far so good with our vegetable garden. Most of the beds are planted, with a few empty spots left over for second plantings of lettuce, carrots and cilantro. A few weeks ago I added beneficial nematodes to help alleviate our cucumber beetle problem. I have my fingers crossed with that one. I also put up three new birdhouses this year in hopes that they might snack on the beetles once they hatch. Right now I am waiting to see if the seedlings get munched by the larvae. Like I said, I have my fingers crossed. After a couple of days, my melon seedlings still look OK:

Future Melons?

Last fall I planted garlic–two varieties–and those plants are the stars of the garden right now. They are just starting to form scapes.

Reaching for the Sun

The peas are a little behind. At least, they are smaller than I would like. Last year the pea plants got munched by rabbits. Just as I was thinking we may be free of those rascals, there were three of them at once yesterday. They have not munched the peas yet, but they will find them, I am sure.

Still Not Tall Enough

Also, peppers are growing well. I transplanted these several days ago and they are still alive. I will thin them soon.

Still Youngsters, but Showing Promise

So things are looking good so far. Potatoes are up as well, and arugula and carrots are poking out of the dirt. I hope this will be a good season. Something will grow at least. I mean, carrots are hard to kill. Unless those damn bunnies come back.

Damn bunnies.