Archive for October, 2009

The End of Summer

October 12, 2009

It’s mid-October and un-officially the end of Summer. This weekend I cleaned out the summer garden. The tomatoes and eggplant all came out and were shredded by the lawnmower and put into the compost. None of the tomatoes were worth saving. All of the ones that I had brough into the house in the past week rotted instead of ripening … the pernicious effects of late blight finally hitting my tomatoes. Even the hybrid cherries (Sweet Millions) were gone. I pulled up my Thai Hot peppers and hung the whole plants up in the garage to dry. I have a huge crop of them this year. I did leave in my sweet peppers since they have a lot of fruit still on them and I can cover them with row cover to provide enough protection from frosts. If it looks like a freeze, I’ll pick them.

I also pulled out the brassicas that were either gone (cabbages starting to split, early broccoli that have no sizable side-shoots anymore) or were too under-developed to make it successfully to maturity. My garden size (too small) makes it really hard to double crop. I need to find a way to start my fall broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts earlier. I have some sprouts but they are small. Maybe if we have a good Indian Summer they will fill out.

The Kale and Collards are terrific. So are the Napas. The red radicchio are heading up. Fennel was a relative bust. My careful planting that I detailed in an earlier post was wiped out by sluggs and when I replanted it was too late. I’ll miss the big fennel bulbs I had last year. I have a planting of green beans that have very small beans on them now. I may get a crop. I have great endive, escarole and romaine lettuces. My arugula is still going strong. Two plantings of beets are yet to be harvested. Finally, I have great fall spinach, asian mustard and methi (fenugreek). We will still eat well for a long while.

In my other (new) garden, I am harvesting terrific, huge late carrots; I have very nice leeks and my Belgian Endives have nice tops … we’ll see if they produced nice roots for forcing Belgian Endive heads. I have cover cropped the new beds with buckwheat, oats and left-over bean seeds. I’ll turn over one bed soon for a fall planting of garlic.

Our biggest disappointment was that our fig has about a hundred figs on it and they probably will not ripen … the product of a damaging winter and too cool of a summer.

So … it is an average year with some successes (green things) and some failures (hot weather things).


Wild Mushrooms

October 8, 2009

We had a perfect start to the Fall relative to wild mushrooms. The second half of September was quite dry and then we had a very heavy few days of rain, just what it takes to get a good bloom on some fine mushrooms. I harvested two varieties from the surrounding woods.

Most common in the Fall are armillaria mellea, the Honey Mushroom. Here is picture from Wikipedia:


These are easy to dry, have a good strong mushroom flavor but can be a tad on the tough side. I got several pickings of these and I now have some in the freezer.

I also was fortunate enough to find a lot of Grifola frondosa, aka, Mitake, aka, Hen of the Woods. These are one of the fine mushrooms that have been “domesticated” and the spawn sold in wooden plugs. Here is a picture from


I found several of these (one is good, several is very lucky). My first was about 3 pounds and the second (discovered originally by my wife and dog on a walk) was about 5 pounds. On the oak where the second one was located there were three others of a similar size. We now have six bags in the freezer.

These will be great flavorings all through the winter.