First freeze

The forecast warned me and I took heed. Late yesterday afternoon, a few tomatoes, radishes, and all of the mature Jalapenos and red Seranos were harvested when I went to gather hens to their pen and bring in their eggs.

While there, I also picked some komatsuna (mustard spinach) and isn’t it gorgeous. The spinach, komatsuna, kohlrabi greens, and remaining radishes would fare fine over night in the deep wooden box. The peppers were given a cover for the night in hopes of a few more in our future.

Upon waking, the world was glittering with frost, the cover on the peppers frozen in spots. It is now hanging to dry and I am going to look for some heavy plastic today to make a tunnel over them and to cover the tunnel ribs over the greens. Tonight and tomorrow night are supposed to be even colder. According to the weather blogger in our local newpaper, this is the third latest first freeze on record.

In the cold this morning, the hens coop was refreshed, a very cold, very dirty egg found under their night perches and a warm fresh egg in a nesting box. Fresh warm eggs are great handwarmers, but I needed two. I will have to start wearing work gloves and the barn coat in the mornings for a while.

Later today, when it warms up a bit, the tomato vines will be pulled and added to the compost pile, the hedge clippers used to snip them and the tomatillo plants into bits small enough to break down, perhaps turning the pile to put them in a deeper layer. The garden will rest for the winter, the solar charger turned off. The asparagus tops cut back soon. It is time for rest for the winter ahead.

Some of the produce from last night was used to make me a bowl of soup. Son 1 recently introduced me to doenjang, a fermented soybean paste. A broth was made with crushed Szechuan pepper corns, garlic, and onion sauteed in sesame oil with chicken broth added and simmered. Diced yams were cooked until nearly tender, then chives, parsley, komatsuna, and a couple teaspoons of doenjang added until the greens wilted and the paste dissolved and blended in. The soup was poured over a sliced raw radish and a sliced serano pepper. It was delicious, warming, and headclearing. There was only enough left over chili for one bowl that was served to hubby and I enjoyed the soup. Once the weather chills, I could live on soup twice a day, good thick potato, Mexican soups, beef stew, chili, and the various Asian creations based on what is on hand. The Asian creations can be made a bowl at a time in 15 minutes and can have noodles, rice, or quinoa with the veggies, sometimes a boiled egg added. Hearty, warm, and filling.

Autumn left, winter arrived

For a few days anyway. Yesterday we got our walk in right after lunch, just in time for the front to roar in with wind, falling temperatures, and rain, much rain. We missed the tornado threats, thunder, and lightening that happened a couple counties to the east. Fortunately, we recently got the garage cleaned up and organized enough to put both cars in, so we didn’t worry about blowing branches or the threatened hail that never occurred. Today is 22 degrees (F) colder than yesterday, the wind is howling, it has alternately been thick and gray with light rain and partly sunny, but not long enough to plan anything outdoors. To go out for a few minutes, a jacket and wool hat were added to the wool tshirt and wool sweater I already had on. It is going to stay very cool and mostly wet for the rest of the week. We have seen our high today, 49 f (9.4c) and we may see our first frost before next week ends. It is well past the average for here and the garden is done except for a few winter greens that can be covered easily.

The cooler weather has me knitting and spinning. A new very soft cabled Merino hat was added to the shop, an ear warmer cabled headband is being knit from the remainder of the skein. Most of a braid of Ruby Red soft BFL wool has been spun and it will probably become a scarf.

Another 4 ounces of an alpaca/ coopworth blend is also being spun, but I don’t know what it will become.

I did update the photos of the fingerless mitts and the “sideways” gray hat in the shop photos, see the link at the top of the blog. I still haven’t warped the loom to weave the wide scarf/shawl with the Calypso colorway skein I spun on the wheel to figure out how long it takes to spin 4 ounces.

It should weave into a gorgeous garment with the navy flax warp.

There are more squares to add to the breed blanket, but I think I want to do one more before I add another row. That will leave only one row of 6 squares to get done in November and December. I wish it was easier to crochet them on the blanket as it would be nice to have it in my lap with the chill of the current weather.

We are seeing some color change in the leaves, but the wind is ripping them down like rainfall. Another two or three weeks and the trees will be bare until spring. Such is the progression of the year.

The End is Nigh

The past few days of early summer like weather is in the process of ending as we speak. A strong cold front is moving through with rain, some wind, and much lower temperatures. Last night’s low is today’s high and by next weekend, we will begin to see night time temperatures in the 30’s. We have passed our average first frost date, but it is rare to see frost yet.

The garden still hasn’t been fully cleared, some tomatillos and tomatoes are still out there, some dry standing corn stalks and a single Hubbard squash still on the vine, the rest have been brought in. The winter greens bed has nice rows of seedlings of radish, spinach mustard, spinach, and lettuce. They will be covered with row cover by the end of the week and later by heavy plastic as real freezes are forecast.

I decided to bring the spider plants in after all. There are two hooks in the utility/panty room with north and south facing windows, though heated only by leaving the door open to the main house. There is a wall installed space heater, but it is noisy and expensive to run. All of the baby shoots were removed from the plants and a flat of Jiffy Peat blocks started with a dozen tiny spider plants. They will be planted in the hanging pots to fill them in once they have roots. I figure they won’t all take. If they do, some will be potted in one of the various empty pots around the house and they can adorn a step or table next spring.

I couldn’t resist bringing in the begonia that has sat on the front porch table since the porch was restained and decorated last summer. It was just too pretty with it’s sunny yellow blooms to not enjoy for a while longer.

The jungle of succulents joined the pothos and Thanksgiving cactus that spent the summer on the shelf at the end of the kitchen counter, with the second shelf they had spent the summer sitting upon on the front porch.

The large Dracena that also summers on the porch is in a less sunny part of the living room.

The hydroponics are already producing salads and herbs, though the spinach and the rosemary are not germinating. The rosemary in the herb bed outdoors generally survives the winter tucked up against the southwest facing stone wall and I can cut from it as needed.

The season is ending, always a relief and a disappointment. The garden is in good shape to start next year. The paths that I so carefully covered with cardboard and mulch are mostly grown over with grass again, but the paths are wide enough now to use the line trimmer to keep it short. The coop needs another clean out once the rain ends and that spoiled straw will be added to another bed to hold down weeds and feed the bed during the winter. That will be an ongoing project all winter as they spend more time in the coop. The shortened day length is beginning to show in egg production. Last night there were only 8, the least I have gotten from the hens since they all began laying in early summer. They may stop altogether for a while, or maybe there will be enough to keep me in eggs through the winter, we will see.