On Thursday, I spent the whole lovely afternoon in the garden. I had tests I could have graded and a very messy house I could have cleaned, but the warmth of the late October day, the backdrop of golden woods, and the incredibly weedy garden in need of harvest and clean-up beckoned. It appears that Jane Brocket felt the same way the next morning and abandoned indoor pursuits for all there is to see and do in the autumn garden.
My golden backdrop
First to be harvested...my one Meyer Lemon. This is the same tree that bore about 15 lovely big lemons last summer. This year - 1! I think it is time to repot and fertilize. The tree will come inside very soon and overwinter in my sunny dining area. Come next spring, we hope to be graced with sweet lemon flowers and hopefully, more than 1 lemon next summer!
Though there is only one lemon, it is huge. I am contemplating what to do with it - lemon curd, lemon tart, lemon sauce for gingerbread....this article offers more possibilities and makes me wish I had a lot more Meyer lemons. I like #'s 13, 16, 25, 50, 61, 73, 89, 96. and 99. Meyer lemon marmalade - wouldn't that be something. Mmmmm. The fragrance of this lemon really is something special.
So, I picked my lemon and went on to the garden.
The basil bed was first. It has been so prolific but we are sure to get a frost before long so I pulled out all the basil plants. This afternoon, Joel helped me take all the leaves off the plants and I made a huge batch of pesto. When the parmesan cheese ran out, I just went ahead and processed the basil with olive oil and garlic. This puree will be ready to be made into pesto and will go in the freezer when I get more parmesan. I also made a couple of ice trays of basil cubes. Just basil pureed with a bit of water, spooned into the ice trays, and frozen. These will go into a ziploc in the freezer to flavor soups and sauces this winter. (Thanks to Julie Todd for this idea!)
Next, I transplanted the cilantro plants that I had started from seed a little while back. I've been told this is the best time to grow cilantro. This is an experiment for me so we'll see. Parsley always does so well through the winter here, so I have high hopes for a top terrace bed full of cilantro this year. I may rig up a row cover for that top bed to protect it on the days it does get really cold here.
Then on to the peppers. Also quite prolific this year. These two, basil and peppers, are always my best "crops." I picked a huge bowlful of peppers, the last ones on the bushes and then pulled out all the bushes and dug the bed. Tonight peppers are roasting - they'll go on pesto pizza tomorrow after church. Another six or seven will get stuffed with polenta sometime later this week. The rest - maybe roasted (my new favorite way to cook and eat peppers) or chopped and frozen for later.
After giving the terrace beds a forking over with the spading fork, I planted some romaine lettuce, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.
Aren't brussel sprouts cute? That's one pictured below...
I've never grown them because I'm not really sure I like them. I'm willing to give them a chance, though, and will be looking for the best way to prepare them.
I still have collards and broccoli to go in the ground, but the soil in the retaining wall garden is quite "heavy" and doesn't drain particularly well. I'm hoping to add some compost in a day or so to lighten it a bit and then get those other fall veggies in.
The spinach bed from the summer is still going strong. This "perpetual" spinach has also been incredibly prolific this summer. I am curious to see how it will fare through the winter and hope that the kind plant man that talked me into buying the seedlings will be back at the Farmer's Market next spring.
A good bit of weeding, trimming back, and tidying up finished off the afternoon. It is almost November and I still have flowers. Joy!