Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week 28: It’s a wrap!

Dear Dee and Carol,

OK, so I still have two good months I can spend in the gardens of Ranch du Bois. But a lot of plants are winding down, exhausted and fried. They gave it their all and in some cases, that wasn’t enough.

The only tomato plants producing round the clock are the Sungold cherry tomatos and the Pink Thai small tomato plants. There is one good large one, but of course, I lost the tag. Sungella did alright, but not really productive. I have some of the long green eggplants, and ate some figs this week, too. Lots of basil. Last week, I seeded some more of the baby bok choi and I see it is up today. I also planted another big pot of mixed spicy salad greens. Just a few apples on the espalier. When I pruned it last week, I noticed some of the bottom branches were extremely chlorotic. It was poor soil to begin with, and I realize its been about 8 yrs since we planted the trees. A soil test is in order this week.

Of all the plants in my garden, I have to say my favorites this year were the raspberries, the apples and the apricot tree (in a jumbo pot) .I highly recommend Fall Gold for a raspberry. I can’t recall when the berries started ripening this year, but we have been picking for a long time and going strong again this week. I am enjoying every minute of it. I see where High Country Gardens has another “improved” cultivar of the gold raspberry, but at $16.99 I think I’ll take a pass. I’ll wait until I can get my hands on it at a local nursery. I am hopeful my grapes will produce next year, as well as my new pear espaliers. I would love to find a couple of dwarf cherry trees for the garden.

I don’t want to devote all the necessary space for growing enough cucumbers for pickling so I continue to patronize my dear truck garden friends, Jerry and Joanne, west of town. I picked up 27 pounds of fresh picked small pickling cucumbers on Friday. Scrubbed them yesterday and put up more than half in bread and butters and dills. As I write this, I have 6 pounds in ice water for dills and another 6 brining for bread and butters.

Then there was the canning of the peaches. Well, a little jamming and a lot of freezing. I bought a half bushel of #2 IdaGolds. They were number 2’s since they were almost too ripe. Perfect for my project. I blanched them a few at a time, peeled them, then sliced them into a cling wrap lined deep pie dish.

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I had made up a cup of sugar, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and some tapioca (as a thickening agent). I did a layer of peaches, a sprinkle of the sugar mix, and repeated it till I had a HUGE pie filling.

IMG_0639I covered that with another layer of clear wrap, and popped the whole shebang into the freezer. When it was frozen solid, I moved the pie filling into a large Ziploc freezer bag. When the time comes, I can pull that out, pop it in the prepared crust, top it with another crust, and off we go to the oven. I did some nice rectangle shaped freezer containers of the peaches w/cinnamon sugar mix so they can be pulled out, put into a baking dish and topped for cobbler, buckle or crisp. Clever, eh? I also cooked down a pot of peaches into peach butter. It made 6 cups. I gave one away and have had the most delish peach butter jam on my toast the last couple of days.

I know Dee had a horrid vegetable growing year. And Indy, although you had a lot of produce, it has rained and rained in your neck of the woods. A friend of mine said it was a cabbage year, not a tomato year.

Twenty eight weeks. March through September. Wow! 7 months. Our correspondence made me a more mindful if not better gardener. Checking in each week has also given me a nice history of the garden for the 2009 growing season.

Time to get ready for next year! I have been ordering bulbs and shopping for them all over town. Never a dull moment for the gardener at Ranch du Bois,

See you in a couple weeks,
Mary Ann