Hyacinth Beans

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Aside from the bumper crop of peppers, the most successful plants in this year's garden were my three tee-pees of hyacinth beans.

I initially only planted a few, mixed in with some regular green beans.  Just the other day I found a solitary, scraggly green bean--the only one I've seen--but in their full glory the hyacinth beans were taller than Sweet Husband and would have grown taller still had I built their supports higher.

Unfortunately, they're not really edible.  At least, whether or not you can eat them is questionable, and I've decided to err on the side of caution.  But the little psychedelic purple pods were so pretty that I decided to save a few seeds to plant next year.

One morning a few weeks ago, the Kid and I were out in the yard and I stuffed my coat pockets full of as many dried pods as I could get my hands on quickly.  It was only a few hours later, while husking them inside, that I realized the beans themselves were all inky-black and beautiful.

I generally have little interest in messing with plants that I can't eat, but for these mysterious pretties I think I will be making an exception for year to come. If nothing else, I noticed that our neighborhood bees enjoyed snacking on them, which is a worthwhile cause even if they can't be used to feed humans.

The Garden Clean-Up (And What's Left)

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Sunday morning, the fellas took the Kid's tricycle for a spin around the block, while the ladies and I started the garden clean-up.

I know that I write a blog about it and all, but really I'm not the world's greatest gardener.  I have much more enthusiasm than skill, and as such, I believe this is the first year we've still been harvesting veggies into the fall.  It's just a little arugula and some broccoli rabb--"It's a leaf!" giggled the Kid, as I presented the broccoli on his dinner plate this evening--but it feels like a small accomplishment to have made it through scorching August with a few things still thriving.  (I also left a few tee-pees of hyacinth beans, just because they're still so pretty.)

And, of course, there was one last, last harvest of peppers.  I half wanted to leave the plants, just to see if I couldn't keep them going until Christmas.  But my desire to plant garlic in that particular bed ended up winning out, and the uprooted pepper plants are now rotting away in the compost pile.

The garlic will be planted next weekend, barring bad weather.  I was going to stick it straight into the ground, as I uprooted the peppers and tomatoes, but decided to be lazy and give the ladies a week to work over the garden beds first.

Speaking of the ladies, goodness are they happier now that we're back to a rooster-less state.  Little Adele (bottom chicken picture) is getting almost friendly now that she doesn't have to constantly watch her back.  

Lastly, my little mason bee house fell apart, but I saved the pieces with bee eggs in them.  My plan is to keep them safely in our shed for the winter and put them outside again in th spring time.

The Last Peppers?

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The first summer that we lived in this house I didn't pick a single pepper until the first day of fall.  If I remember correctly, that was an unusually cold and wet summer--just the opposite of this year, which would explain the difference in pepper crops.

This year, if you will recall, I picked the first peppers on the second day of summer.  And I haven't stopped picking them since.  Once a week or so, I've been going out and picking my three little plants clean.  We're reaching the limit of what I want to dry--we really aren't huge spicy pepper eaters--so this week and last week I decided to roast them and freeze them instead.

To roast them, I've been tossing them with oil and putting them under the broiler until they're mostly blackened.  Directions I've read said to slip off the skins before freezing them, but I've just been pulling off the stems.  Then I put them into our food processor, give them a whiz, and freeze the resulting puree into ice cube trays.  Once they're frozen, the pepper cubes can be transferred to zip-top bags or jars for storage in the freezer.

I think this last batch might be the pepper plants final salvo...but who knows?  At this rate I could still be picking them on the first day of winter.

Peppers and Purple Beans

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The peppers not only started early this year, they're still growing like crazy.  Once I put in a good supply of pickled peppers, I started drying them.  About once a week or so, I pick my three bushes clean and fill up our dehydrator.  Thankfully, when processed that way, they don't take up any space.  Otherwise we wouldn't have room for much else, I'm afraid!

Now that the weather has cooled a bit, our beans are finally starting to set some pods too.  Well, these purple hyacinth beans are, anyway.  Sources vary on whether or not they're edible, but I planted them more for their beautiful pods than anything.  I've also been just cutting the blossoms and bringing them inside.  They look like something out of a fairytale.  In fact, I think Jack's magic beans had to have been hyacinth beans!

[And the winner of the Monaluna giveaway is Amorette!]

A Fall Garden

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Holy-blessed-break-in-the-weather, Batman!

No really.  The highs have been in the 90s, with lows getting down into the 50s.  Compared to the round the clock triple digits we were experiencing a few weeks ago, it's definitely a welcome shift.  And suddenly I'm daydreaming of pumpkins and risotto and knitting.

But first, a fall garden.  Between a hole left from garlic that I harvested earlier this summer, and our decimated squash and sunflowers, I had three garden beds that needed planting.  The weather was so nice and cool Sunday morning that I was inspired to dig through my little seed box for some suitable late season veggies.

I planted some broccolini, kale, chard, radishes and a ton of beets.  I also put in a second sowing of arugula and cilantro, both things we use a lot when we have them.  Lastly, I planted some carrots, but this year I decided to do it in pots (they're little carrots), to avoid having to dig the soil as carefully.  In years past, our rocky soil has led to some severely misshapen carrots.  I'm not sure if they'll do better in the pots--particularly given the Kid's very vigorous watering--but I figured I'd give it a go.

In the spring, we typically keep the ladies enclosed for a few weeks in order to let the veggie seedlings get a head start.  As I didn't want to do that at this time of year, I opted to protect the vegetables with chicken fencing instead.  It's pretty ghetto, but it does the job.

As you can see, the break in the weather has also induced the girls to start laying again.  We had a nice frittata for dinner the other night to celebrate!

I'm also hoping the cooler weather will encourage my pole beans to finally set some pods.  They're tall and gorgeous, but so far we haven't gotten a single bean.  I'm loving my choice to inter-plant the "food" beans with hyacinth beans though--even if we don't ever get beans, the blossoms are lovely.