Good Night Garden
Once the beds are covered and tucked in for the winter there is still more to do. While it is easy to call it a season and forget about the garden until spring, you will have much more success if you take time for a garden review. What worked well in the garden this year? What wasn’t successful? Why? A garden journal is a great way to keep track of this information for next season.
Gather your seed catalogs. Look for varieties that might suit your needs better. Review what seeds you have and what you’ll need before planting time arrives. Organize and package up seeds that you have saved and then store them in a cool, dark, dry place.
Review or make a map of the 2020 garden and plan for 2021 crop placement and rotation with a new map. And if you‘ve decided it is time to expand, don't forget now is a great time to start new beds the No-Dig way! Find our video instructions in Modern Homesteading under the LIBRARY FROM HOME at www.ssldl.info.
The evening is coming earlier and temperatures are falling. It's a good time to pull out crafting supplies to prepare gifts for the holiday season. Need an idea? Knit or crochet dishcloths are always a favorite. Size 8 needles and 100% cotton worsted weight yarn are all you need to make this simple and always welcomed gift. They can be paired in a small basket with a nice dish towel, wooden spoon, pot holders, or tasty snack or simply tied with a ribbon or raffia tie.
Did the frost hit your summer flowers?
Tender annuals such as zinnias, marigold, cosmos, bachelor buttons, and many more just cannot stand up to our cold Michigan winters. So now is the time to prepare for next year! You can save seed from your heirloom annuals to start new flowers next spring. Start by gathering dried flower heads then pull out the petals. At the base of each petal is a seed. Collect these, allow them to thoroughly dry on a plate, screen, or paper towel. Once they are dried, store them in envelopes, paper bags, or in a glass container in a cool dry place.
To learn more about the fun of saving seeds: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/experience_the_many_benefits_of_seed_saving
Fall is such a wonderful time of year in Michigan! Immerse yourself in the smells and tastes of Autumn by making applesauce. Making applesauce is fun and simple enough to do as a family activity. Start in the afternoon and you’ll have warm applesauce ready for your dinner. A large batch can be canned or frozen to enjoy all year. If your homestead lacks an apple tree no worries. Michigan ranks third in the nation for apple production. Apples are available in stores, at farm markets, and u-pick orchards.
Where to find apples:
Applesauce recipe: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/applesauce.html
How to freeze apples: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/apple.html
It’s a great time to dry herbs!
Head out early in the day to harvest the herbs. It is best to harvest before they blossom. Unless you are needing to harvest blossoms such as the chamomile above! Discard imperfect or very dirty leaves. Rinse the herbs under cool running water. Pat excess water with a paper towel. Tie them into small bundles and hang them to dry. Or place them on a screen to dry. I have even used paper plates. Allow 7 - 10 days to dry in a dry, darkened room. Once dry and crispy place the whole leaves into clean, dry containers. Store in a dark cupboard away from heat. Herbs can also be dried in a slow oven, microwave, or food dehydrator. For detailed instructions on all methods of drying herbs, the National Center for Home Food Preservation provides this nice instruction page: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/herbs.html
It’s Basil Time!
Now’s the time to harvest basil before it blossoms. Eat it fresh in a Caprese salad, sauteed with zucchini and onions and garlic, or make pesto. You could also freeze or dry basil to be able to savor this wonderful taste of summer all year!
https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/ultimate-caprese-salad (Caprese salad recipe)
https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/herbs.html (drying herb instructions)
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/tips_for_using_and_preserving_fresh_herbs (drying and freezing instructions)
https://www.kitchentreaty.com/7-minute-sauteed-zucchini-with-garlic-basil/ (sauteed zucchini with garlic and basil)
Modern Homesteading: Kitchen Scraps update!
The potatoes are thriving. The russet potatoes were planted about 3 weeks ago and have really taken off in this humidity.
The sweet potatoes that were sitting in water for about 6-8 weeks each grew a single slip (a new plant with its own leaves & roots). Sadly, one of them did not survive the move to the garden, but after a slow start the 2nd slip is taking off.
Both varieties pictured here are planted in a mound comprised of layered straw & compost. Then the mound is covered in grass clippings to hold in moisture & keep weeds down.