Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August 31

So much portends the end of our summer in northcentral Pennsylvania - the calendar to be switched to September tomorrow, the daily transit of the school bus which I often hear climbing the hill on its way up Dingman Run before spotting it from the bedroom window, goldenrod waving in the field and the red apples at the tops of the old Northern Spy trees behind the house. A few colored leaves scatter across the lawn and leaves are turning on the trees that line the road to town. Mornings are foggy this time of year and the sun's rising later each day.

We had a vacation at my beloved Chautauqua Institution last week and returned home to tomato vines laden with fruit, overstuffed green beans clinging to their tired vines and a pepper patch taking on the beautiful red tones that signify that special sweetness.

A Selection of Hot & Sweet Peppers
Poblanos, Czech Black, Jalapenos, Jalora,
Bangles,Sarit Gat, Osmarko Kambe

Canning after a week away - sauce and jarred tomatoes

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Sunflower Stories


Anyone who drives past the farm will notice a proud stand of sunflowers in the Mama Wanda garden patch this year, keeping guard over our winter squash patch.

Many of those sunflowers started life as volunteers in our high tunnel. At one point in time, several years ago, someone (me) thought it was a good idea to plant a few sunflowers in the high tunnel just to add some late-season color. I carefully selected the seeds, reeled in by names such as Lemon Queen, Autumn Sunset. Santa Fe Sunrise, Velvet Queen and the exotic Soraya.

They grew well, some reaching well above the tomato lines. They were beautiful and colorful, full of bees and a treat for the birds who came inn through the open sides and ends of the tunnel.

And in the spring of the next year, hundreds of little sunflower plants sprouted all through the tunnel. And thus began the annual sunflower transplanting. They go at the end of the corn rows and in the squash patch and at the ends of the potato rows. They go in the flower beds and sometimes next to the kitchen door.

The thing is - they don't seed themselves outdoors, likely because it's just too cold to keep the seeds viable. But in the protected high tunnel environment, it's like a sunflower nursery.

I vowed this year to remove nearly all the sunflower plants that volunteered - thus the squash patch sunnies! Some went to my mother's garden downtown. But I wasn't nearly ruthless enough for the high tunnel is once again a sunflower seed nursery!

front porch bouquet of sunflowers
catching the August sunrise


Monday, August 8, 2022

The Joy of Shell Beans


We've planted a variety of shell beans this year and here's a sampling of yesterday's harvest. We shelled them this evening, remembering the always-wise advice of Mama/Grandma Wanda who always waited a day after picking before shelling. "It's so much easier!" she opined.

Pictured are Cannellini, Vermont Cranberry, True Cranberry, Painted Pony and the family heirloom Bird Egg Beans. (Click on the link to read the history of our family bean from a blog post in 2011 - my most-read blog post ever!)

Still filling their pods on the trellis are the Tolosa black beans which have a longer growing season.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

August Bounty

 The old graniteware canner has been pulled off the pantry shelf and put to work this week.

first of the 2022 tomato crop

pickled beets

Though we no longer grow vegetables for the Farmers' Market, it seems we have planted copious quantities of peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers, beans, cabbage, broccoli and the ubiquitous zucchini. I am hoping we were more restrained in the corn, potato and garlic departments.

Grandchildren Matteson, Juniper & Sadie Metzger

While I tended growing things of a different sort in Alaska, Arthur and my mother prepared the peas and the bulk of the beans  for the freezer - though later bean plantings are yet to yield their goodness.

The old pressure canner will be coming down from the attic to be put to work this week because of its efficiency in processing the tomatoes that are straining the vines in the high tunnel. Less water and less time - both good reasons to use it!

The apple crop is modest this year, likely due to the dry conditions we've experienced for much of the summer but watch for more information about cider and apples here.

Joe and Jen's garden spot on a former
Matanuska Colony Farm in the Mat-Su Valley