Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Change in the Weather

When I got up this morning, the barometer had dropped, big-time. By mid-morning the wind had come up so badly I could hardly see across the valley for all the blowing dust. Yesterday, knowing this was in the forecast, I picked tomatoes and peppers, then drafted Aries to help me get the grapes and pears. So this is what my kitchen counter looked like this morning.

And it still looks like that tonight. I had a dentist appointment this morning, and then Pilates. The chair of our fundraising golf tournament committee brought over all the money from the day of the tournament plus all the sponsors' checks she'd been holding in case we had to cancel the tournament. So this afternoon it took me more than an hour to get a deposit slip made out, everything totaled up, and the books brought up to date.

We also have to be out of the building donated to us for the Rummage Sale by the end of the month. Other members have taken care of cleaning out everything that didn't sell, but the sign guy that said he'd take my sign off the windows never did. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot colder, so if I'm gonna be slopping around with a bucket and sponge, this afternoon was going to be the best time to do it. So after getting the deposit to the bank, I swung by the storefront and washed the paint off the windows.

I'd already gotten the last of the Burbank Red Ace plums picked a couple of days ago. That's a wonderful plum - if I only had one plum tree, it would be that one (but it needs a pollinator - Starking Delicious is almost as good, and although that tree was almost killed by rabbits walking on deep snowpack one year, girdling it two feet above the ground, it spouted back from lower on the trunk and blooms enough to keep me in plenty of plums about every third year or so). The Burbank has a weeping form, so needs more space than an upright tree, but sets lovely big red firm juicy plums that ripen incrementally over almost a month's time.

I eat them right from the tree whenever I'm out in the yard starting in late August, and then dry whatever the birds leave me by late September. Cut in half around the equator (easier to tip and twist the pit out) they're better than any prunes you'd buy in the store. I packed away two gallon bags full of dried plums, leaving a little bowl of those not-quite-dry enough out to snack on now. Next into the dehydrator will be the grapes in that big grey tub. The tomatoes I'll can as whole tomatoes, and most of the bell peppers I'll freeze cut into 1" pieces - that's on my schedule for tomorrow.

Junior was still setting her nest out in front, but she was right under the eave of the shed, and if the rain comes it would be dripping right on her. So after getting all the grapes off the grapevine that grows on the side of the dog run/brood pen, I got the pen all set up with food, water, and a nice little protected nest. Last night, in the dark, we scooped up Junior and all her eggs and put her on the nest I'd made up. She settled in ok, and this morning was still there. We'll give her a few more days setting time - at least now she's a bit more out of the weather, just in case anybody hatches.

Temperatures are dropping, but it's not supposed to freeze tonight. But I decided to cover the tomatoes and some of the pepper plants, just in case. So just before dark I got out my bin of old draperies. If I can protect the plants during the September cold snaps, we'll often get a spate of Indian Summer weather in October - long enough to ripen a few more vegetables before everything has to be inside or perish. The really cold weather is supposed to be Wednesday and Thursday nights, so I'll see what it does tonight before deciding to cover everything tomorrow, or just pick it all.

As long as I'm blathering on about my harvest, I have something really bizarre out there this year. In June, when I was thinning the apples, I cut back one of my apple trees that had long whippy branches, hoping to shape it into more fruiting spurs and a stronger branch structure in the future. Some of those headed-back branches are blossoming now, in September. Of course, those blossoms will get frozen any day now, but I think it's so strange that even though this tree set a nice crop of apples that we just picked a few weeks ago, it's trying to make another crop without having gone through any chilling period or dormancy. The only thing I can think is that the daylight hours are now the same as they'd be during the Spring Equinox, normal blooming time. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?

10 comments:

Annette said...

Never heard of that on a fruiting tree. My strawberries, though, are still blooming. . . until tonite when we get our first freeze.

Nancy M. said...

Wow! You still have so much coming in! What a blessing!

tymxgrl said...

How DO you get such beautiful vegetables? My tomatoes had issues this year. I'm on a drip... how often do you water?

Sadge said...

Thanks, Tymxgrl. I use 50' soaker hoses, one down the middle of each 2-3' wide bed, and leave it on overnight every third night, on average. The water system for the garden is gravity-fed from an old hot water tank, so it doesn't have much pressure. And here, I'm thinking this year hasn't been a very good one for most things. I'll have to post some photos of my failures to give you a better picture of the ups and downs of gardening around here.

Thomas said...

That's so strange! Apple Blossoms in in late September? I love when plants surprise you with their oddity.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

We had two ancient Gravensteins do that several years ago after a terrible spring, so wet that there was a blight on most fruit trees in Western Oregon. Lots of leaf drop and no pollination - then the September bloom.

They were fine the next season and back on track. I have no idea what exactly caused it, but it was a strange sight.

Annodear said...

Great pics and an awesome harvest!!!

Francesca said...

What a wonderful blog you have here! I think I'm going to learn a lot from you! I'm more surprised by the plums than the apple blossom, actually: I have two different plum trees (couldn't tell you the variety, they were here when we moved) and we pick our round-golden and oval-purple plums in mid summer. In fact, I've never seen plums in our stores in the fall: in my country it's a summer fruit!
PS thank you for the useful tips on how to repurpose rake heads.

Aussiemade said...

What an amazing bounty, I would be delighted if my garden will give me half of what your has given your right there. May I ask how long you have been vegie gardening?

Sadge said...

Hey Aussie! I've been growing my own vegetables for about 30 years now. I had a short-season cool-weather garden when I lived in Leadville Colorado, starting in the late 1970's. I moved to Nevada in 1986, and was thrilled to finally be where I could grow tomatoes, squash, and corn.