Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Putting the Garden to Bed

Today I took a break from canning and went out to the vegetable garden to begin to put it to bed for the winter.  My little neighbor Luke came out to help me.  He loved putting on Tim's work gloves and pushing the wheel barrel.

First we picked all the remaining zucchini and yellow squash.  To be honest we have had enough squash for the season.  I have made zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread, zucchini brownies, baked, fried, steamed, stir-fried, boiled zucchini, zucchini and eggs, zucchini quiche, zucchini lasagna, ratatouille and spaghetti sauce with zucchini. I have canned zucchini plain in the past and it came out to squishy for me.  Ok live and learn.  I have dehydrated it and it came out really good and was a great addition to winter soups.

We pulled up all the remaining plants and carried them to the compost pile and raked out the garden bed.  The next step I will take will be to put down a layer of composted manuer and cover it with a thick layer of black and white newspaper.  Finally the box will be covered with a layer of black plastic for the winter.  The manuer will continue to compost.  The newspaper will ensure light does not get to the garden so weeds will not grow over the winter and the plastic will hold it all together.  I put rocks around the edge of the garden boxes to hold the plastic down. It is such a comforting sight to see the garden all tucked in for the winter and ready to dream the dream of a new beginning in the spring.

We checked the carrots, beets and potatoes and they are coming along fine.  As soon as the fruit is all canned up we will  attack them next.  For now they are safe in the ground. 

The pumpkins did not do so well this year.  I only have 4 pumpkins.  Usually I get more than that.  Am not sure why the harvest is so small this year but I will try another variety next year.  I will also grow the pumkins on trellises.  I will cook up the pumkins and make curreid pumpkin soup and roast the seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds make a great, nutritious snack, rich in magnesium, iron and zinc. Here are the directions on how to roast pumpkin seeds:

Rinse pumpkin seeds in water to remove pulp, then spread out in a roasting pan to dry overnight.

• Toss the seeds with a bit of olive oil (or melted butter) and salt. Or, experiment with different seasonings such as cumin, garlic salt, curry powder, or cinnamon and nutmeg.

• Spread seeds out in a single layer and roast in a 300-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

• Add roasted pumpkin seeds to salads, sprinkle over pureed soups, or enjoy "as is."

The hubbard squash did exceptionally well.  The largest one weighs 15 lbs!  It is hard to believe the vine was able to hold a hanging squash weighing so much.

The mammouth sunflowers grew to almost 12 feet.  We cut the heads off and are drying them so they can be feed to the birds this winter.  In the September/October 2009 issue of Gardening How-To, Michelle Leise wrote about growing sunflowers. If you grow sunflowers, you may want to harvest the seeds. Here are some simple instructions for preparing them.

Let the seeds dry. First, leave the seeds on the flower to dry. You may have to add a lightweight cover, like cheesecloth, to keep nature from beating you to the goodies.

How to roast sunflower kernels

To create your own roasted seeds, remove the hulls, and place kernels in a shallow pan. A jellyroll pan works well. Roast in a 300°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until brown. You’ll need to stir occasionally as the nuts roast. After you’ve removed them from the oven, you may wish to stir in some melted margarine. Use about 1 teaspoon per cup of seeds. Salt seeds, if desired, and place on absorbent paper to cool. Store in a tightly covered container.

How to boil seeds in the hull

Here’s how to create the mouth-numbing salty treat from your childhood. Place the unhulled seeds in a pan and cover with salt water. For the salt water, use ¼ to ½ cup of salt for 2 quarts of water. Soak seeds overnight or bring them to a boil and simmer for two hours. Let them dry on absorbent paper. Use the seed-roasting instructions to finish the batch.

If you need an excuse to add sunflower seeds to virtually everything you eat, here it is. Sunflower seeds are a rich source of three vitamins and minerals most Americans don’t eat enough of: Vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium. As an added bonus, they contain a big load of the phytosterols that help lower cholesterol.

Another day out there and the work will be done.  We have really enjoyed the garden this year.  It was beautiful, abundant and fun to work on.  During the winter we plan on enlarging the garden in the backyard and taking out more of the grass. Utimately the plan is to have very little grass and all edible garden area supplemented with flowering plants. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your readers with late season herb and vegetable gardens may well find that they will grow more than they can use, preserve or give to friends.

They may want to visit - a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their crops with neighborhood food pantries.

The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

More than 970 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

It includes preferred delivery times, driving instructions to the pantry as well as (in many cases) information about store bought items also needed by the pantry (for after the growing season). enables people to help their community by reaching into their back yard instead of their back pocket.

Lastly, if your reader's community has a food pantry, they should make sure the pantry registers on Its free.