Friday, September 8, 2017


We are relieved to be back at the homestead. Mike said he was glad to have rest from his firewood project, and I’m glad to step into peace and quiet once again. As far as the smoke is concerned (rated unhealthy to hazardous), I’m not sure it’s better here than in town. They say it should begin to clear out today (Friday), but as wildfires continue to burn and the air remains still, I wonder what will make that happen.  

Smoke to the north
I recently read an article about fall gardening. Yes, it can be done, they assure me, and yet, I’ve tried before and failed. As summer comes to a close, signaled by obviously shorter days if not cooler temps, I find myself a bit weary of the water-carrying drill. But – I have a few spinach seeds and a few carrot seeds and maybe I’ll plant them if I can find the space.

A stray beet in the midst of cherry tomatoes
And lack of garden space can be the issue if your summer garden is still producing. That’s my dilemma, especially since I’m allowing the two small pumpkins to rest and mature in my big tire. On the other hand, the cherry tomatoes are still setting on and the zucchini I planted early in August is just beginning to bear, so maybe I actually have a fall garden in spite of myself.

And speaking of zucchini, last month I bought three from Albertsons because I was hungry for my zucchini mélange. Boy! That was the bitterest stuff! This happened once before and I blamed it on the green pepper, but this time I researched to find that yes indeed, zucchini can be bitter, just as cucumbers can be bitter. How disappointing! I wonder if that bitterness comes through in zucchini bread.

Smoke to the south
As I’ve said before, I’m not a good gardener. To me, gardening is a little about skill and a whole lot about luck, especially in this dry place with deer. And in the fall, there are a lot of variables that affect luck. Will the season be long and hot? Or, will there be a sudden freeze that brings it to a halt? The growing season at Gilbert is longer than in Grandma’s day, when freezes could occur in May and again in August. But she had more summer rain.

Oh! And the pears. Every August I would buy a box of pears for drying at our local produce market, but they closed last year. I suppose I could buy a box at a grocery store – or maybe Costco? -- but we have an old pear tree in the back yard, which Mike encourages me to pick. The challenge is to ripen them successfully. I picked a washtub full on Monday (Labor Day) and left them in the fridge. Again, I’m not a pro, and the ripening process seems to be affected by variables, such as when you pick and the temperature and length of storage. Sister Harriet said she tried only once and was forever through with picking pears.

Bess awaits the next adventure
Last Friday (Sept. 1), I took down the hummingbird feeders and put them away. It appeared that we were serving just two hummers, and the storm on Wednesday (Aug. 30) convinced them to move on. KW


Becky said...

I think the best way to ripen pears is to put them in a paper bag and leave them on the counter. Don't put them in the refrigerator. Might be worth trying.

Kathy said...

As I understand it, the commercial pears we buy have already been through cold storage, so we just ripen them on the counter in a bag. But -- anything is worth a try. I'll pick a few and see what happens if I skip cold storage.

Another sister, Joni, told me that she didn't bother with cold storage. I should ask her about that . . .

Another problem -- I'm not sure my pears are Bartletts, and it's frustrating to try to identify them -- just as with the apples.

Chris said...

Our zucchini and yellow crookneck at running over our garden! I have a huge basket of them on the counter and I think Dan brings up more twice a day. And one yellow hill has mysteriously begun a runner of patty pans! The green beans on the other hand...

As for fruit, I've given up buying any. I seem to be a lousy fruit picker.

Kathy said...

Hi Chris!

Are you saying that you can't select good fruit at the market? That's not your fault, you know. We are not supplied with good produce to begin with. Mike loves watermelon, but I only buy it if I can see the flesh and then it's expensive. I bought two pears the other day. One was good, the other not. The apples on sale were mealy and beginning to spoil, probably left over from last year. Those who say we should eat more fruits and vegetables don't live in the Inland Northwest.

Are you going to freeze your summer squash?