More Juggling (But Not With Fish)

September is shaping up to be a crazy month!  (Lucky I’m crazy enough to deal with it.)  I’m still picking piles of fruit and veggies from the garden, and we’re busily socking it away to enjoy throughout the winter.  The considerable overflow goes to our friends and neighbours as well as the Food Bank.

We might have been just a teeny bit over-enthusiastic when we were planting the garden, but… look at all this glorious food!

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

A single picking of tomatoes. (I pick a couple of times a week.)

 

Ten gallons of chopped carrots all ready for the freezer.

 

50 pints of pickles, 22 pints of jam, 7 pints of salsa, 28 pints of beans (another 20 pounds frozen), 24 pints of tomatoes and lots to go, and still a bit of space left for the rest of the beets and tomatoes and pickled hot peppers. YUM!

 

But our autumn isn’t only about food.  The flowers are still gorgeous, too, and the bees and other wildlife are hard at work stocking their own pantries:

This little black bear has been feasting on the wild cherries only a few hundred feet from our house. Don’t be fooled by his casual pose — he’s actually about 30 feet up a tree. (He’s a little blurry because Hubby took this shot using a LONG zoom — we have a healthy respect even for small bears!)

 

This little guy has been hard at work snipping off pine cones and stashing them away.

 

I’m not sure whether it was my camera or the tiny white spider (near the centre of the flower) that chased this bee off the zinnia. Either way, he’s buzzing off.

 

The snapdragons are still putting on a show.

 

One of our newest rhododendrons, Medusa, is a bit confused as to whether it’s spring or fall, but she’s beautiful anyway!

 

We’ll have a couple more rounds of houseguests this month, so maintaining my writing schedule for Book 15 will be a juggling act.  (Fortunately not with fish.)  To salvage some time I’ll dial back my blogging schedule to every second week for the month of September, so my next post will be September 18.

How’s your September shaping up?  Are you harvesting any goodies from your garden?

Book 15 update:  I’m bombing along on Chapter 4!  Hellhound would normally be voted “Most Likely To Get Arrested While On Vacation”, but Aydan’s the one who’s ended up in handcuffs…

35 Comments

Filed under Life, Writing

35 responses to “More Juggling (But Not With Fish)

  1. What an abundance of goodies! Yum! I’m thinking if you ever switched careers, you should become a vegetable vendor. 🙂

    No garden in our van, but on our sailboat we used to grow spinach, mint, and basil. In small amounts; never enough to hand out!! Enjoy your company.

    Like

    • Thanks, we’re having fun! And I picked another two giant shopping bags full of cucumbers yesterday. That’s another kind of fun — there’s something so satisfying about finding these big beautiful pieces of yumminess hiding among the leaves!

      Spinach and herbs sound like perfect companions on a sailboat, though I’m surprised you found space for them! That must have been an exercise in finding the most efficient use for every nook and cranny. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great pics and I don’t think you over planted your garden with the way you distribute the food….awesome!! My recovery finds me all the way up to just starting book 13 as of this morning. Can’t put them down….great writing style it just keeps you on the edge of your seat!!

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  3. Your garden has done you proud. Your photos are so lovely.
    The bear won’t hurt you as long as you are respectful of it. Unless it is a brown bear. My friend Ed when he is visiting home in northern Sask, has what he calls “three bear runs” which is how many he sees. His sister will pick berries in the same patch as a bear.
    Our freezers are filling up and our root cellar where we keep the canned stuff. Mostly jam, dill pickles, and pickled tomatoes. Everything else goes in the freezer. Come winter we’ll have little need to buy any veggies other than fresh.

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    • Our freezer is brimming, too. I generally only can tomatoes, beets, and pickles, but I thought I’d try some beans this year, too. We have at least 30 pounds in the freezer but the canned ones will provide a bit of a break, since beans are our ‘go-to’ vegetable. I like being mostly self-sufficient for veggies. At least I know how and where they were grown, and the flavour is always better than the grocery store.

      I guess you get used to living near bears. There are a lot in our area and we’re considerably less freaked out about them now than when we first moved in two years ago. I don’t think I’d ever share a berry patch with one, though! Wild animals are never predictable, even though they might seem benign. A woman was killed by a black bear in Ontario last week — first recorded instance of a black bear intentionally killing a person. I suspect it will happen more and more often as humans continue to move into what used to be bear territory.

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  4. jenny_o

    I’m blown away by your garden results and your pickling/canning prowess – that is an amazing amount of food you have processed! I made pickles and jam a couple of times and thought, man, it’s too hot to be doing this, I’ll buy anything we want at church teas or craft shows in the fall, and that’s exactly what I’ve done ever since. Lazy slug, aren’t I 🙂

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    • LOL! Actually, I think it just means that you have a better grasp of time management than I do. For some reason I think that I can carry all my regular full-time workload and then do all the garden stuff in my “spare” time. Problem is, my only “spare” time is between 9:30 PM and 6:00 AM… 😉

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      • jenny_o

        Haha – I can give up sleep time to read, but not to work, which is what I call anything in the kitchen – lol You must get tired!

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        • I love summer and all the heavy-duty gardening, but I do breathe a sigh of relief when the veggie deluge starts to slow down. I like it that way, though — if I’m good and tired of gardening in the fall, the winter months feel like a nice vacation instead of a long dreary slog. (That’s my story now; but I might change my tune by January/February.) 😉

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  5. Wow to that harvest from the garden! Not only a green thumb but two green hands obviously! Did you can cut all of those carrots? My hands hurt at the thought. Fantastic photos of the goings on outside, especially the black bear. Here’s hoping he is going for a long nap soon.

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  6. Brenda Scialdone

    Hi.

    This is great. I am envious of all of her vegetables from her garden and even more so if her stockpiles.

    🍅🍒🥕

    B

    >

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  7. What an awesome lot of crops!
    We don’t have quite so many tomatoes but we do have a fair few – we don’t know what to do with them all! Best way to use them up is to use them to make the tomato base for a spag bol – tastes so much nicer!!
    Currently, the butternut squash has taken over our veg patch, somehow is now covering all three patches and is having a battle with the very overgrown rhubarb. Our courgettes really need picking and we have a fair amount of raspberries that I am going to pick tomorrow morning.
    Pulled up one (1) carrot today, and it was so big that just the one will be enough for me and my brother for a meal! The purple carrot, however, hasn’t grown much and is barely a mouthful.
    Turns out we have fresh garlic too! Who knew!
    Good luck with the book and the houseguests! I held a dinner party last week for 8 friends and boy it was a lot of work because I never go half measures on the menu: table laden with tapas followed by a trio of desserts (turns out making a vegetarian mousse is harder than you would think)
    September is looking to be crazy for me too – hope yours turns out a very good kind of crazy!

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    • Oh, yum! Fresh garlic! And your dinner menu sounds delicious. Vegan cooking is always an interesting challenge – I have friends who are intolerant to gluten, soy, eggs, and dairy protein (not only lactose intolerant — they can’t have ANYTHING dairy), so I spend lots of time inventing “everything-free” recipes. We have a product called Nutriwhip that’s vegan and makes a fairly tasty cream-like whip. That along with some flavourings and a bit of plain gelatine makes a not-half-bad mousse. I wouldn’t want it regularly because I’m instinctively suspicious of any product that’s entirely composed of chemicals I can’t pronounce; but it’s okay occasionally.

      Do you like the flavour of the purple carrots? I’ve had them in restaurants and wasn’t crazy about them so I’ve never bothered growing them. Maybe the homegrown versions taste better?

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      • At one point I had a dinner party with a vegan and someone who was allergic to peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine and chilis (in any form, so even in curry paste or as a powder). It was very hard to find a meal everyone could eat!!
        Its the lack of gelatine to make it veggie that I struggle with – veggie gel requires you to boil the mix to get it to set, but if making a mousse that would cook the eggs so you see my issue?
        I’ve not had homegrown ones before – and we lost the baby one in the fridge oops! I’ll pull up some more soon so will let you know. (tbh any homegrown veg tastes better)

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        • Oh, that’s right, I forgot gelatine is animal-based. What a challenge! I’ve heard of people using xanthan gum to thicken their veggie-based goodies — might be worth a try…?

          And wow, I feel sorry for that poor person who was allergic to everything in the nightshade family. I’m so lucky to be able to eat anything and everything!

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  8. It appears that you are unlikely to starve this winter. Damn, that’s a nice harvest!

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    • Isn’t it? There’s something about vast quantities of fresh delicious veggies that just makes my heart sing! (And makes my mouth water in eager anticipation.) Our friends joke that they’re not bothering to prepare for the apocalypse — they’ll just come out to our place when it hits because they know we’ll have tons of food. At least, I think they’re joking …

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  9. You have been busy. And productive.
    Our winter harvest is mostly limited to herbs. Which are a welcome addition.
    Carrots need to be raw in my opinion. I love tomatoes though, any way they come, through fresh from the vine is best.

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    • Yes, there’s nothing like a fresh tomato! And we love raw carrots, too. We only processed about half our harvest — the rest will be dug up when frost threatens, and go to the fridge and/or cold cellar for fresh eating through the winter. Yum!

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  10. Your canning pantry would make my mother and grandmother (both canning enthusiasts) envious. When the conditions are right (and ripe), it is astonishing the number of tomatoes produced by one plant. Many years ago, we planted four tomato plants. They produced so many tomatoes that, even after eating, preserving and giving them away to friends and neighbors, we had so many that I thought about throwing the excess at passing cars.

    Your neighborhood bear reminds me of the way that you can tell a black bear from a grizzly bear. If you see a bear and run up a tree and the bear follows you up the tree – then it’s a black bear. If you run up a tree and the bear pushes the tree over – it’s a grizzly.

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    • Ha! The one I heard was, “You can identify bears by their scat: Black bear scat contains fur, twigs, and cherry pits. Grizzly bear scat contains brass bear-bells and smells like pepper spray.”

      We also have a bigger black bear around here who doesn’t hesitate to push trees over. We’ll be sitting outside in the quiet of the evening, and suddenly there will be a rending crash from the woods. That’s about the time we retire indoors…

      Throwing tomatoes at cars is only permissible if the tomatoes are rotten: a) It’s more sporting because it’s hard to throw a rotten tomato without getting any on you; and b) Wasting home-grown tomatoes is a mortal sin. (I might have made up ‘b’.)

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  11. Rudy™

    Tomatoes! I’m envious!! Unlike zucchini, I would gladly give them a good home! I miss being able to grow them here. We did grab some from a farmer’s market to the north of us back on Monday, but whichever variety they are, I’m not too impressed. Let’s hope the grape tomatoes I bought are better. I miss the numerous heirloom tomatoes I used to grow. And they were just as cool to look at when they had a yellow/red/orange pattern throughout. I also used to grow Roma tomatoes just for canning–that made for a wonderful pasta sauce. My favorite lunch used to be a large beefsteak fresh off the vine, with Italian dressing and a dusting of grated parmesan.

    My better half loves the local peaches, so we grabbed some of those also. Apples are coming along very soon also, so that will mean cider and donuts.

    Aydan in handcuffs? Let’s hope it was the police, or we’re going to be wondering exactly what kind of book it is that you’re writing for #15! 😁

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    • LOL! Hmmm, I wasn’t planning on that kind of book; but maybe it could be the next Shades of Grey (although ‘Shades of Hellhound’ might not be quite such a big seller). 😉

      We love our tomatoes, too! Our heirloom Brandywines are gigantic and absolutely delicious — I made an entire sandwich yesterday with just one slice. We also grow an heirloom Polish Memorial as well as some of the newer blight-resistant varieties like Defiant. And no garden would be complete without a few Sweet Million cherry tomatoes. They’re little sugar bombs! What we can’t eat fresh we throw into the canned tomatoes to bump up the sweet-tomato flavour.

      Mmmm, peaches and apples! I got six sweet juicy peaches off my tiny peach twig this year, and I’m looking forward to bigger harvests as the tree matures. I used to make hard cider from the apples from our tree in Calgary, but I only have apple twigs here so far. Maybe in a few years… Meanwhile I’ll be buying Strongbow. 😉

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  12. Diane and Hubby (your alias in all the blog posts), the two of you are “extra-everything” in all your endevours and it seems like you just can’t help yourself! So refreshing and, inspiring!

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    • Aw, thanks! You’re right, we can’t help ourselves. We love our gardens, both edibles and ornamentals. I’m just glad that the Food Bank will happily take all our excess veggies. I can’t bear to see food go to waste!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ellie

    I have Pantry Envy. Any tricks to speeding up the carrot cutting, I think I’d go mad if I had to do all of that in one sitting!

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    • It was a marathon session! After the carrots were washed and trimmed and peeled, we got out our french-fry cutter and set up an assembly line. Hubby pushed the carrots through the cutter and I caught them on the way out and cross-cut them to make cubes. That part went fairly quickly (if by ‘quickly’ you mean an hour and a half), but the steam-blanching took me about three hours. One pound every four minutes, with a minute or two turnaround time in between. That was a LOT of carrots!

      The french-fry cutter was just a cheap thing I picked up at the dollar store and I fully expected it to fall apart, but it held up okay. (Though we had to quarter the larger carrots — some of them were two inches in diameter). I don’t know if we’ll get another year out of the cutter, but I’ll buy another if it dies. It saved a huge amount of time and work!

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  14. Wow, that’s a lot of veggies. Our garden didn’t do that well this year.

    Next week we’re off to England for a couple of weeks. Hanging out at the seaside, seeing family, hoping Brexit doesn’t close the country before we can leave.

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  15. That’s a lot of veg, it looks good. I’d be tempted by the carrot but the tomato you can keep.

    Have fun with you guests.

    I’m off to Holland on Monday will be nice to have a birthday on holiday this year.

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