If I shut my eyes – I could so easily fool myself.

Today is so lovely.  It is hot, not height of summer hot, but warm enough to say “gosh, it’s hot out there.”  The sky is blue but is dotted with clouds.  However not enough to cling to the thought that the long sunny days are still with us.

This is definitely an autumnal morning scene
This is definitely an autumnal morning scene

Feeling the warmth on my face with my eyes closed isn’t enough to create the false allusion of a lingering summer.  At some point I have to open my eyes.  Looking about tells me we are in a different season.  This is definitely autumn.  The crops have a tired look about them. Brown and crispy is the new green.

I think I planted too many tomato plants!
I think I planted too many tomato plants!

I have got to the point where I still have tomatoes hanging from the plants that really should have been harvested several days ago, or to be completely honest a couple of weeks ago.  It’s not pretty.  But we have already processed so many, and besides we currently don’t appear to have a kitchen.  Preserving the harvest and renovating the house don’t work all that well together.

This is a bit of a problem as my chillies have only really just begun ripening up and I need to make my fabulous hot sweet chilli sauce.  I figure back in the pioneer days, they didn’t have the great luxuries of a modern kitchen that we do now so where there is a will there is a way.  Either that or I’ll lob them in the freezer and deal with them later.

I have so many apples this year, although some have coddling moth because I put out the traps but forgot to add the pheromone.  But no worries, we'll just eat round it.
I have so many apples this year, although some have coddling moth because I put out the traps but forgot to add the pheromone. But no worries, we’ll just eat round it.

Then there is the orchard.  This has been a great season for apples.  There are so many to deal with.  Although I need to examine the varieties I chose to plant back when I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I just planted apple trees for the sake of having apple trees.  I know there is a cooking apple, which is great, because you can’t find them readily in stores and the tree is laden.  It is a heavy cropper and always has been.  Then I know there is a golden delicious, a granny smith and I have a box full of tree tags somewhere.  But what I am beginning to learn is there is more to growing things than for the sake of it.  I need to know the best way to use these apples and the best way to store them, because not all apples are the same.

Being in the midst of renovations does have its advantages though, as I have decided to upcycle the carpet and use it around the base of my trees as a kind of mulch, because at the moment the poor orchard has been dreadfully neglected.  The trees are hiding amongst some pretty serious long grass.  However there is an upside to this as the tropical cyclone that was all set to swing through here a couple of weekends ago wreaking havoc as it went, turned out to be a storm in a teacup and the most serious damage it did in my garden was to dislodge a few apples and quince into the long grass, where I was able to pick them up undamaged.

Windfall quince nestled in a bed of long grass
Windfall quince nestled in a bed of long grass

So I have a bag of windfall fruit which are calling out for me to turn them into something wonderful, so I scoured the internet for bright ideas.  I came across a great line describing quince from Nigel Slater:   “It’s a soft perfume, rose-like, a little sickly but reminiscent of honey, too. A scent that marks the start of winter cooking like a tomcat marks his territory.”

Toast the Cat has created a day bed in the asparagus bed.  She can be found there most days.
Toast the Cat has created a day bed in the asparagus bed. She can be found there most days.

However I am not ready to concede to the start of autumn, let alone winter, I shall take my quince as an unseasonably early surprize as a result of being brutally ripped from the branches prematurely by a storm.

First project:  the chicken fence!
First project: the chicken fence!

Some again soon – I shall embrace the season in all its autumnal magnificence and tackle a few projects.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

22 thoughts on “If I shut my eyes – I could so easily fool myself.

  1. Hi Sarah!
    I just had to write to caution you about using the carpet as a mulch! I strongly suggest against it. I’m definitely no expert, but anything that can’t ‘breathe’ will definitely kill the weeds and grass but it will also kill the soil and any of the goodies in it, like the worms. Soil, plants roots and worms also need oxygen to breathe. Not only that it would probably get quite smelly and moldy and rodents love it.

    1. HI Jess. Thank you so much for your concern. I was only considering using it for it’s weed killing properties, and was only going to leave it long enough to clear away the grass immediately around each tree. As it isn’t 100% natural material, if I left it there then I would have the problem of little nylon strands becoming embedded in my soil forever! I am going to get in some proper mulch and give my poor orchard some well deserved love. But I do need to start somewhere and I like to make the most of the resources around me. I may even be able to capture some overwintering bugs hiding in the carpet pile!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. Available fruit and the sun still lingers? No kitchen? I have just the solution for you. The easy way would be a small electric dehydrator. Mmmmm, dried apples. Dried tomatoes are incredible, scissor snip in little pieces about 20 minutes before the dinner is ready and fill you house with the fragrance of summer. If you’re up to a bigger project (and the sun is still with you), you can build a solar dehydrator. Check the net for a whole range of plans. Let the sun preserve your harvest. All you need to add is a little lemon juice to the slices. (Except the tomatoes are fine as they are.)

    1. Hi there. I’m on to it! I had peppers in my dehydrator as the kitchen was being ripped out! I should do the same with some of the apples, thanks for the suggestion.
      I dried some tomatoes in my glasshouse in the summer and it turned out lovely, but I think in our waning sun, the temperatures may not be hot enough anymore to do it quickly,
      There aren’t that many tomatoes left and the plants are really looking tired. I’ll probably only get one more picking from them before I have to concede to the end of the season.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Buffy. How about on warm toast, dripping with melted butter and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper? I’ll have it for lunch and think of you – on condition you do it for me in three months!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. Wow, you are ambitious: writing a book, renovating the house, and growing a magnificent garden.

    I’m happy to hear that the cyclone downgraded to a soft storm. That is good news.

    In Silicon Valley, our food bank has a program called ‘plant a row’ encouraging gardeners to plant and donate fresh produce to the food bank. I wonder if you have too many apples, if that is an option where you live. Just a thought.

    Your kitty is a beauty and so is that hen. What a fun place to live.

    1. Hi Alys. I think crazy is a more accurate description than ambitious! Writing a book comes with periods of complete focus – hence the lack of posts this month, but also long periods of waiting around for the next stage. It is quite exciting. The renovations are also exciting. We are doing pretty much all the living spaces in the house except the bedrooms so it will be amazing when it is done, although we are either cooking on the BBQ or accepting invitations for dinner. And the garden is in wind down mode so that’s not too much effort.
      We often give our excess away – the apples are a bit manky with the coddling moth so they may have to be given to friends who understand that 97.5% of the apple is still ok!
      Toast is a lovely old thing. She is 12 years old and moved to the country with us from the city. I think she loves rural living.
      Peaches – the chicken, is a survivor. We don’t name all our chickens, but she was so badly hen pecked I thought she would die, but I nursed her back to health. Now she is a cheeky chicken and back in the flock with no problems at all. If you zoom in on the photo you can see the scar on her head!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. Hi Sarah, have you tried over wintering your chillies – I bring mine indoors if I particularly want the plant and its chillies, I’ve found the chillies will ripen, and the plants will gradually stop growing, don’t water much at all and then when spring comes round put them back outside. Just a thought, hope you have a super weekend!

    1. Hi Claire. I have done that in the past and dug them up and kept them in the greenhouse. I found out (the hard way – poor Hubby the Un-Gardener) that peppers with a mild heat in the summer in the garden have a much more intense heat in the winter, due to it growing slower.
      But I really like starting new ones each year – as they are the first seeds of the season and it is such an exciting time to watch them grow when nothing else is going on.
      I have also stumbled across a chilli that is supposed to be a lot more cold tolerant than ordinarily ones and a friend has it in her garden all year long! It has black seeds and is called Rocoto Chilli so I am giving it a try. Although it is very hot – up there with habaneros.
      I hope you have great weather so you can get loads done on your allotment this weekend.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  5. Hi Sarah .. I smiled reading your post. You have so much happening! Good for you, As for the cyclone ..phew , I was so pleased that it didn’t cause havoc in my garden either. Love your pics .. Ahh, for the first time I have had codlin moth! Horrid little suckers. Thanks so much for sharing your garden! 🙂

    1. Hi Julie.
      It looks like we are in for another nice weekend, aside from the storm that wasn’t, this has been a lovely autumn. Maybe gathering apples and possibly even making some cider.
      Enjoy your Garden.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  6. I never get over how far ahead of us you guys are in NZ. I have green tomatoes and pumpkin flowers still going nuts on my vines. I am hoping beyond hope for more warm weather as otherwise I am going to have to step over into the unknown territory of “Green Tomato” recipes. Glad that big storm was just a little storm with attitude and you just reminded me to head around to my friends place and remind her that I really would like some of her quinces this year 😉

    1. Hi Fran. From experience I can tell you that pickled green cherry tomatoes have an interesting flavour. They go well with a soft brie and a sharp cracker. Although I’d sure you won’t want to eat too many at a time. I think I have a jar of them lingering about from a few years ago!
      I found a great brandy quince recipe so I shall whip up a batch to see what it’s like.
      I hope you get to see loads of red tomatoes before it gets too cold.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. Forecast to be 26C on Monday so I am keeping my fingers crossed. I recently found a recipe for making marrow rum. Looked interesting. Pity mine all turned to slush with blossom end rot but there are plenty being given away still bet I can’t find one as I am looking for one 😉

    1. HI there. I think the harvest may have been a little down this year on previous years, but only because the garden was a little neglected from time to time as I was a bit preoccupied.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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