September in the Upper Valley

In any normal year we’d have gone to Maine for the annual lobster cookout and chipboat race in Cundy’s Harbor, but Alexis is on Surgery and I’ve been busy as well, so we stayed close to home. The weather was beautiful this weekend – clear and 70s with a fresh northwesterly breeze.

Our tiny garden is only about 400 square feet, but it continues to deliver nicely; despite my best efforts the zucchini plants keep hiding baseball bats under the leaves – too bad we haven’t any chickens or pigs to take care of them. The one batch of corn did well but came and went in a week or so; I hope to plant more next year with staggered harvest times. Yesterday I harvested about 3 gallons of broccoli heads, cut them up, and froze about 6 plump quarts – the freezer compartment of our fridge is stuffed to the gills. I planted just one small patch of basil but it just won’t quit; today I picked about 2 gallons of leaves and made three batches of pesto, also frozen. The tomatoes are producing but they took their time about it despite rank growth; I’m wondering if perhaps the 2~3″ of horse manure I tilled in was too much for them. It was great for the eggplants and peppers, zukes, and pattypan squash. There are still a few beets left in the ground; they’ve passed baseball on the way to watermelon, and I’ll probably end up pickling them or something. Yesterday I harvested four nice little pie pumpkins from the one hill I planted; next year I should do half as much summer squash and three times as many pumpkins.

I’m still hoping to get a chance to plow in the oats and vetch on the new orchard this month, spread some lime, and seed it down with winter rye; gotta move quickly or it will be cider season already. I’m planning to call Fedco this week to see if they can deliver some lime and rock phosphate to my grandparents in Maine.

As for cider, I stopped by Poverty Lane on September 1st, which was their opening day, to see how things are shaping up. They only had Gingergold and Paulared apples and Clapp’s pears, but I bought a bag of the pears, which I liked last year, and one of the Gingergold, which tasted pretty good. The Paulareds were tart without much sweetness or flavor to set them off. But, it won’t be long before we’re picking heirloom cider apples there, and pressing out cider year 3.  We’re hoping to make some hardware improvements as well; I’d like to finish the pedal-powered grinder we started tinkering with last year, and widen the grates on the press a bit to reduce their tendency to flop around during pressing.


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