Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Transition Time

Time to clean up some of the summer plants, harvest before the cold, and move into a fall mode.

Here is the driveway plot where the tomatoes used to be. I brought them all inside to finish ripening in anticipation of precipitation and cooler temperatures. I planted Austrian Field Peas here as a cover crop. You can see an earlier planting of the same peas on the left side of this picture.

And here's the genius part, Naomi at Concentrates reminded me that cover crops can also be used for grazing. Grazing for animals and for people too. Pea shoots are tender, sweet, and delicious. I've been snipping the tender tops of these peas and putting them in salads and sandwiches.

And when I brought the hens to the front yard for a little field trip they headed straight for the peas.

Below are just a few of the Manzano pepper, related to the Rocotto, a cold tolerant pepper from Peru. I grew 3 plants this year and 2 of them did really well. Super prolific. I've gotten at least 25-30 peppers so far, all the size of a golf ball. They are wonderfully sweet, like a bell pepper, but have some heat. And they dry really well. I'm going to try to keep the plants alive outside for the winter. We'll see how cold tolerant they are.

Another fall project that has kept me from writing; it's time to make pesto, and lots of it. This bundle is from one location in the yard where I had basil growing. Although this year was not great for tomatoes and squash, it was terrific for basil.

My homage to Thomas Kinkaid. A late afternoon shot in the front yard. Who says you can't shoot into the sun. Sometimes being a mediocre photographer really pays off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Making Room For Flowers

In past seasons I haven't made much room for flowers, I was much more interested in growing things to eat. But this year I made sure to include flowers in the mix and I'm so glad I did. Not only have they provided added interest and visual pleasure, they have attracted loads of bees and hummingbirds.

Artificial looking zinnia.

Texas Hummingbird Sage. This is a lovely plant and really does attract hummingbirds. It reseeds itself pretty aggressively, so once you plant it you will most likely enjoy it in subsequent years.

Fall blooming crocus. I remember planting these, but they appeared last fall and have returned this year. Delicate and beautiful.

More zinnias. I love the punch of bold color, and they last forever.

This is the path through our front yard, lined with cosmos on the left and zinnias on the right.

Cosmos provide gorgeous color and movement in the garden. They sway in the breeze as if dancing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thank Goodness For Farmers

Since we can't grow EVERYTHING on our Backyard Farm we are lucky to have a terrific farmers market really close by, 2 blocks away. It occupies a large parking lot, generously donated each week during the summer by the Wilhelm's Portland Memorial Mortuary. Lots of great growers and food vendors brave the cool days of early spring and the scorching days of mid-summer to bring us their offerings.

Musicians serenade the shoppers each week. This bluegrass band was especially good, so good I should have made a note of their name.

Here are a few things I leave to the experts. The corn this year was sweet and tender and crunchy, everything you'd want in an ear. And cheap at 3 for a dollar.

The peaches were superb as well. These are Fancy Lady peaches from just over the river in Washington. I don't think I've ever enjoyed peaches more than I enjoyed these.

A little color from my garden. These Fairytale Eggplant didn't get much bigger than 3-4 inches long, but they're still terribly photogenic, with their spicy pepper friends.