Late fall in the garden

IMG_8111This update is a little late but if you are wondering how the garden is coming along, here it is!  When we finally had our hard frost a few weeks ago, I went out and spent the day cleaning and harvesting what I could.

IMG_8112In my effort to add visual interest, I have added a bottle tree and the white metal baskets are a project in the works.

IMG_8118Our hens have really helped us improve the soil and control insects.  These are two of our young hens; a Black Australorp and an Americauna, who is also our only green egg layer.

IMG_8121She really is a sweet bird but she is also a bit shy and the other hens tend to bully her a bit.

IMG_8122These are a couple of the old girls.  We brought our Golden Laced Wyandottes with us when we moved here from Virginia.  They aren’t laying much anymore now that they are over 2 years old but they still help out by providing us with manure and by eating insects.

IMG_8120The iridescent feathers on the Australorps are beautiful when the sun hits them.  The hens wander the outside of the garden in their tunnels and they are safe from hawks and our plants are safe from the hens!

IMG_8132This pretty lady, an argiope aurantia or yellow garden spider, was hanging out in the carport until we moved her to the garden.  She quickly settled in and stayed out there until the hard frost.

IMG_8137Because I was curious, I looked up information about her and discovered that this little brown ball is actually an egg sac.  Each one can contain about a thousand live babies who will over winter in the sac.  As I cleaned up the bed of flowers where she was living, I discovered three of these egg sacs!  In the hope of having another spider or two next year, I carefully moved the sacs and placed them in the beds with our fig trees.

IMG_8127Early in the spring, I planted a number of perennial flowers and herbs around the garden.  At that time, I also planted an artichoke.  It has gotten large and if it survives the winter, I am hoping for chokes!

IMG_8125Cabbage heads are looking good.

IMG_8126We harvested most of the broccoli for Thanksgiving dinner and froze what we did not cook.  Because we only cut the top heads off, we left the plants in the ground so that they would produce side shoots of smaller heads.  If all goes according to the plan, we will be picking broccoli through the winter.

IMG_8124When we were in Virginia, I planted Tokyo market turnips for the first time.  They are smaller than the typical turnips found in grocery stores.  At last check, they were nearing maturity and I am looking forward to roasting a few!

IMG_8141Cardoon looks a lot like an artichoke.  The difference, chokes or the flower, are the only edible part of an artichoke while both the flower and the stalk are edible on a cardoon.  Actually, the stalk is more commonly consumed and it requires a long simmer to soften the extremely tough fibers.

IMG_8143The stalks look like celery on steroids and they are just as tough as you would imagine.  And then there are the spines; they are every bit as sharp as they look!

IMG_8147Handle the stalks with care and be sure to cut them off before you try to cut and cook the stalks.

IMG_8117All around the garden are little pops of color in the form of violas, one of my favorite plants.

IMG_8131Love this color combination.

IMG_8129Part of the clean up meant gathering tomatoes, both ripe and green.  If you are considering planting tomatoes, give these little yellow gems a try.  They are called Barry’s Crazy Cherry and they can be found in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog.

IMG_8149Late in spring, we put a watermelon plant into the garden.  Hoping for a few melons to share with the hens, we were disappointed by how slowly the plants grew.  This was the largest of three melons.  The first one that we cut into was white inside, it became some really nice pickles.  The other two are still waiting to be cut and we are hoping for better luck!

 

blue ribbon ah-fair

IMG_8072Entering a competition at the State Fair is as American as an apple pie, much like the one in the photo above.  And while I realize that the 2017 Tennessee Fair is old news, I really wanted to share these photos.  Actually, I have been missing in action (blame it on the job) and thought I should get my act together and start posting some of the photos that I have taken.

IMG_8036Dusk is the best time to visit the fair.  It is not as busy and the lighting is perfect, even when you are taking photos of lights.

IMG_8039As members of the Master Gardeners, we always find ourselves at the fair and working in the MG booth but we make time to walk around and see as much as we can.  This year, we did not work the booth but we spent some time there with friends who were visiting from Germany.

IMG_8040As adventurous as I am, and I am-I love a good roller coaster, this ride terrifies me.  The thought of dropping like a rock, straight down to the ground…If you need me, I will be out here with a camera, watching you drop like a rock.

IMG_8049IMG_8050IMG_8053This type of ride doesn’t thrill me either-too intense and too much round and round and round…

IMG_8059Ferris wheels can be fun, guarantees a great view of the fair.

IMG_8064This one made me dizzy just watching it.

IMG_8089And then there is the real reason I was at the fair.  On a whim, I decided to enter several competitions.  This was the first time I entered a canning competition and I entered a jar of my homegrown pickle relish.  When I learned the results, I was stunned!

IMG_8096Another competition I entered was the chess pie contest, this one, a honey chess pie, came in at a respectable third place.  If you were paying attention, the very first photo of this post was of a pie, specifically, an apple pie that I entered into the big money competition.

IMG_8091Here are the judges tasting my apple pie.  Long story short, I didn’t win, place or show.  At the end of the day, I have a pretty good idea of what is expected and I will be better prepared for next year.

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