Fall is Finally Here

I’m sitting at a table with an open window at my back and the breeze is glorious! The first three days of October were around 90 degrees which is crazy. Today is beautiful and we are even expecting some much needed rain on Monday so keeping my fingers crossed.

Dave usually walks Darcy in the morning and we both go in the evening. Dave’s requirement to report to work in northern Virgina two days every other week means it is hard to get his hours in so I’ve been walking Darcy in the morning when I can. She plops herself down when she looks back and sees people coming up behind us which is pretty much always since it is a well loved park we walk in. I literally have to drag her to get her going again. Then the people say “oh, she’s tired” and I let them know she just wants to see them. She runs around the dog park for an hour so I know walking with me isn’t causing her to be tired. I enjoy walking again and can feel it is good for my body.

Letting her have her little break.

The red chokeberry bush

 in my nature journal

The paw paw tree leaves start turning color quite early. I harvested quite a few this year. They are best when I just pick them off the ground before they start to rot too much. I gave some away this year. Some people had them before and were happy to have them again. One had never had a paw paw and was surprised she like it.

Our one little pepper plant has given us quite a few large peppers. I expect this is the last of it. I made some sweet red pepper relish with these. The guys ate it on their chicken salad sandwiches last night.

 

Been Too Long

Having issues with getting photos in a post and have now figured it out.

A photo from July – Dave and a harvest of green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. The green beans did well for about a month and that was it. We’ve gotten a tomato here and there. The two plants just didn’t do well. Not sure why. We got so many cucumbers I canned bread and butter pickles and dill pickles. Without fail we have to make tomato sauce so we ended up buying seconds at the farmers market to do so.

Our big news around here since last post is that we adopted a five month old puppy. She is a labrador/hound mix. We were smitten at first sight even though I didn’t really want a big dog.

Her first visit to the vet.

She loves Dave best.

white wood aster

woodland goldenrod

Darcy and the cats have made peace.

Darcy has been with us for six weeks now. I can’t imagine a home without a dog.

Onion Harvest

I harvested the onions this week. It would have been nice to let them cure a little longer outside, but we are still getting a lot of rain and I was afraid they’d start to rot.

a few had started to flower

We got about 70 lbs. We store them in the basement – keeping space and good airflow around them.

Where Have I Been?!?!

Well, it’s been a busy summer with four sets of visitors over a five week period. I have been taking photos so I’ll finally share them here. These first several are from mid July.

We stopped mowing a wet section of the field (on the left) last summer. The section on the right we stopped mowing this summer. It is interesting to see the difference.

By the front porch. The lone daylily looks pretty with the beebalm.

In front of the sun room.

We noticed a volunteer sassafras tree under the mahonia last year. The japanese beetles have been hard on it but it’s hanging in there.

Zinnias from the garden. I love this little vase our daughter made for us last year. I told her I wanted it to mimic tree bark and she delivered.

The orange coneflowers in our native garden started blooming in mid July and the flowers still look beautiful six weeks later. These photos are from July.

Dave bringing in the onion harvest on July 21.

These bitter melon are ridiculous. We could pick this many each week. I still have some in the freezer from last year. I gave some of these away. Dave took another large basket full to a coworker last week. I’ve frozen some and might freeze more. We learned from our daughter that you can take some of the bitter taste out by blanching them in water with a tablespoon of salt and baking soda.

These photos are from July 27.

I went to Polyface Farm on July 28 to purchase some meat and took the above and below photos on my way home. Polyface is in Swoope – just west of us..

Poor Len. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I hope we are keeping him comfortable with meds.

The only photo we got of our visitors. I’m on the right with my sister Melissa and my niece Mary.

Such a pleasant surprise to find these volunteers on August 11 at the base of the spruce tree between the house and the shed – an impatiens and a coleus.

I harvested these peppers on August 14.

I think it was back in July when I took some bricks and defined the beds around the plants in front of the shed. I think it turned out pretty nice.

Joe Pye Weed in the native garden on the morning of August 15.

Making our yummy tomato sauce on August 19.

I’m so sad that we have to take down this beautiful ash tree (on the right). The emerald ash borer has gotten to it so it can’t be saved.

$3000 poorer and down one beautiful shade tree. I will probably spend most of the day they take it down elsewhere.

Don’t like ending on a sad note, but here we are. I hope I keep up my posts with my photos as we enter the fall. It has been a very wet spring and summer. A little on the cool side, too. I’m hoping the valley will have some spectacular color this fall. Hard to believe it is almost September!

The Summer of Fruit

Another sweet watermelon

Zinnias in the kitchen garden

purple hulled cowpeas

The pollinators love this Sedum in the front bed.

Little Tansy flowers.

Dried cowpeas

We even harvested a ripe fig this afternoon. We need to move this bush. It doesn’t get enough sun. Just have to figure out where to put it. It will be interesting to see if we get more than just these two figs. The others are still very small and green.

I think fruit has done so well this year because we did not have a late freeze in the spring. They’ve had a long stretch of warm weather. That is coming to an end. The last two nights have been in the 40’s. Very cool for this time of year.

A Cool August

Catching up with the photos on my phone. We’ve had unseasonably cool weather. I’ve been wearing flannel!

We were excited to harvest our first watermelon a couple of weeks ago.

It wasn’t quite ripe. It was okay and will ask our neighbor about how to determine ripeness. We got the seeds for these Crimson Sweets from him a couple of years ago.

I bought this geranium from Elk Run Farm – a vendor at our Saturday Farmers Market. I think it is called apple blossom.

This is our first cantaloupe. We thought we were late harvesting it since the bugs had already gotten to it. We’ve found that the bugs are a good determination of ripeness. We’ve harvested others that have a strong scent but when we cut into them they aren’t quite ripe.

A Melon Petit Gris de Rennes – a sugar-sweet French favorite! We just have to be diligent and get them at peak ripeness before the bugs do!

Saving seeds – the cantaloupes (actually I think they are technically muskmelons though I’m not sure of the difference) and the large brown seeds are from bitter melons.

I love this African Violet. I was admiring the way the sun hit it a few mornings ago.

Our rain garden during a heavy rain.

Our harvest from yesterday. Lots of bitter melon. No one but me seems to go for it. More muskmelons, Doe Hill peppers (a small, yellow, sweet variety), green beans and apples. I made an apple pie and apples sauce earlier in the week and these went to Doris, our neighbor. She says she peels, slices and freezes them to use in the winter time.

Bitter melon on the vine.

The Staunton Historical Foundation holds noontime walking tours the first Friday of the month. Usually we are in the historical section of our downtown but today we went to Montgomery Hall Park which is about 4 minutes from our house. We took a hike in the woods during the rain. This is a wall from a bank barn. The barn burned down in a blaze many decades ago. The hike was led by an archaeologist. It was very interesting and fun to go tramping in the damp woods.

Just a pretty view.

 

Pear Harvest

Last nights harvest. Those are 13 bitter melons in the background.

We picked a pear a few days ago and let it ripen on the kitchen counter. Juiciest and tastiest pear I’ve ever eaten.

We went out and harvested what Dave could reach.

A Little Harvesting

Yesterday morning was absolutely gorgeous. We did some much needed harvesting.

We grew purple pole beans thinking the purple beans would be easier to see. Not the case since the vine is also purple. Though aren’t they beautiful!

Our July felt more like August and now August is feeling more like September. The temperature was in the 50’s Saturday night. Lovely sleeping weather but the tomatoes don’t like it. We are seeing a lot of die back in one of our plants so we harvested the tomatoes to send up to my mom. Hopefully, they will finish ripening for her. So she doesn’t have to wait, we also bought some ripe tomatoes from the Farmers Market on Saturday. Dave took up quite the load of tomatoes for her this morning (on his way to work) which might last her the two weeks until next time.

We have a lot of bitter melon on our vines. It too has slowed down in ripening. I was hoping to let these get a little fatter but we are expecting cool weather this week – 70’s mostly – so I just went ahead and picked them.

Frieda came over to investigate

and pose.

Oregano, thyme and rosemary

I stuffed the bitter melon with ground lamb seasoned with the fresh herbs, sea salt and onion. I then baked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. I thought it was very good. Damian thought it was too bitter and Dave wouldn’t try it.

We’ve had so little rain this summer that this was a very welcome sight this morning. We had at least 3 hours of steady rain. Hallelujah!

First Half of July

Southern Magnolia

I’m reading Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo and photography by Robert Llewellyn. Enjoyable reading and the photos are spectacular. Click on the arrow in the above photo for a neat video clip.

July 9th was the full moon. I think this was the day before or after.

Some of our harvest.

Pine bark harvested from one of our trees wraps around the sunflower stems in a mason jar. I got the sunflowers from the farmers market.

Emmylou and her chicks. They are on the wrong side of the fence!