Post #671 End of the Harvest

September 15, 2019 at 3:36 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So middle of September.  In my family that always meant my little brother’s birthday was just a few days away.  But for agrarian type folks, it means the end of the harvest.  Around here, because the planting started late, and the summer was so fine, it means no one really knows exactly when the last harvest will be except soon.  The nights have gotten pretty chill, and we’ve stopped using a/c during the day.  One day last week, we considered putting the furnace on because we were both cold.  We didn’t, and when we got up the next day, the warmth had returned.  That’s the odd thing about weather; you just can’t predict it, or rely on it.  Even the harvest fairs are slowing down.  For a while, there were three or four every weekend and you either tried to go to all of them see very little of each, or you picked one and saw the whole thing in a day.  But now, if there’s one on a weekend, you’re surprised.

You recall all the plants and herbs and veggies we had growing in containers on the porch and around the porch?  Well, it’s time to start deciding their fate.  Last weekend, I got rid of the tomatillos.  Partly because they were only doing okay, not thriving; and partly because our inexperience did not tell us if what we were able to get off the plant was actually a usable product.  Ours did not look like what we got in the markets.  This weekend, I got rid of everything else.  I cut back my peppermint completely about mid-week, and by this weekend it was starting to grow back!  The cherry tomatoes started to die back despite the watering and sunshine, and the tomatoes themselves were small and split.  So those went away today.  The plum tomatoes gave up a ton of green tomatoes, but none of them ever ripened properly.  They turned orange, but never turned red.  So they went away today.  However, that took nearly a half hour!  The way I had planted that one, I put in a corner near the yellow/red rose bush.  That rose bush also had Morning Glories in the pot to grow up the porch railing.  The rose did well, the Morning Glories did okay although they never blossomed (they went away today, too), but the plum tomatoes never really thrived.  At first.  Then, suddenly out of nowhere, they turned into the vine-like plant they are touted to be and took over that entire corner of the porch.  The guy who cuts our grass only ever touched that area sparingly because he didn’t want to hurt anything growing there despite us telling him not to worry about it, so the grass and weeds were tall and rangy too.  Those tomatoes were everywhere!  There had to be four dozen on that one plant alone, and the tendrils of the vine were seven to eight feet long.  And still not a ripe tomato anywhere, even though the plant itself was going into hibernation mode.  Maybe if I’d left it alone for another couple of weeks it would have exploded with ripe fruit the same way the cherry tomatoes did, but by the time I thought that might be an option, it was too late since the clippers had already done their work.

If I was a farmer, all these plants would have been plowed under to provide nourishment for the soil.  Mine just went into the trash bin.  Soon we’re going to have to start composting.  State Law.  But that’s for another day.

We had also talked about which plants we wanted to winter over in the house.  We have a jasmine plant that’s started doing well so that’s being wintered inside.  We also have a gardenia that someone in Rhode Island gave us that’s been doing so well we want to keep it going so inside for that one.  Partner/Spouse bought a plumeria which started liking what was going on so we’re keeping that one going inside.  But I got rid of all the bachelor buttons, and sweet pea.  The buttons did great, but it was end of their life span.  They’ll be back on their own, but I can always get more seeds if I want.  The sweet pea is going to the back yard next year.  I’ve got plans for a veggie garden back there.  I also got rid of the unidentified plants next to the steps.  The herbs also went to the trash bin.  We had plans at the beginning of summer to harvest the herbs as they matured, but the bees kept feeding from the blossoms and since they needed it more than we did, we left the herbs to them.  But the bees are going to sleep, so the herbs went to the trash.

All this left the porch looking naked.  So we got some Autumn plants.  We got mums.

Fall colors and everything!  They were just replanted this afternoon, so they’ll start thriving and looking good soon.  And I salvaged one other plant that we’ve liked for a long time.  This is one that we were introduced to by my sister in Tucson.  It’s called Strawberry Fields.  It’s like a red thistle.  When there are a lot of them, they can be breathtaking.  The blossoms look a little like strawberries, so there’s the name.

We’ve got just the one pot of them, but neighbors walking by keep commenting on how pretty they are.  They like sun and water and are self-seeding.  So next year, I’m going to mix them with the bachelor buttons and see what happens.

Before I got into the farmer zone, though, we both got into the harvest mode.  Partner/Spouse has been dabbling with canning and preserves.  He made some amazing cold-packed pickles about a month ago and has been itching to try something else.  Apples are in season right now and that gave him the idea to make his grandmother’s apple butter.  So we went to one of the local orchards and bought apple stuff.

We got apple cider.  We got apple donuts.  We got four varieties of apples.  We got a bagful of apples to make apple butter.  We got two pears!  We got a two quart jar of cherry pie filling (which I’m going to eat not in a pie!)  We even talked to an old gent for a couple of minutes who was the farm’s very first customer ever (11 years ago).  There were little kids trying to pick apples from a tree.  There were bigger kids getting “lost” in a corn maze.  There was a middle-aged woman running from a large house across the road (dirt, of course) with bags of freshly made apple donuts.  It was quite a scene, and just what we expected.  It was a bit of a drive from our place, but completely enjoyable throughout.  Then we stopped at a hardware store to get an apple peeler/corer.  He couldn’t get it to work right, so he did it by hand.

I also got an apple cookbook because, well, I’m me and we had apples!

We each ate an apple as we were driving away from the farm.  If you’ve never had an apple picked right off the tree and still chilled from the overnight air, you’re missing one of life’s pleasures.  It was delicious.

The cookbook reminded me of one flavor combination that I’d forgotten about – apples and onions.  Pork and apples is a match made in culinary paradise.  Who hasn’t liked pork chops and apple sauce?  But I used to make pork loin with fried apples and onions.  It’s so easy.

Bake a pork loin in your favorite manner but in an open pan.  When the pork is done and still juicy, set it aside covered, and put the pan on the stove top on medium-low heat.  Add a little water or stock to the pan to loosen the brown bits  in the pan.  While that is heating, core an apple and slice into wedges and set aside.  Next, peel and slice an onion thinly.  When the pan is ready and all brown bits are loosened, add the onion and stir.  Cook the onion until softened and brown.  Do not add any more liquid to the pan, but add the apples.  Toss and coat the apples with the onions and cook until the apples just start to get soft.  Do not allow them to get mushy.  Take off the heat, but do not cover (that will make the apples mushy.)  Slice the pork onto a serving plate and spoon the onion and apple mixture over the pork.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I’ll let you know how the apple butter turns out and what we do with the rest of the apples.  I’m thinking of drying some of them into apple chips.

What would you do with a bunch of apples sitting around?  Feel free to share the post far and wide.

As always,


1 Comment

  1. Sounds like you had a busy weekend. I am working on cleaning up my garden and pots this week. The rosemary is the only thing I am repotting to take inside. It is still in the 90’s here where I am. I am ready for cooler weather. I am planting some lettuce this week that should do well before the first frost. I can’t believe another summer has ended. Enjoy your apples.

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