August 26, 2012

Hints of Fall - Asian Pears, Turkeys and Winter Squash

'KOREAN LARGE' ASIAN PEARS, READY TO PICK.
NOW, IF ONLY I HAD THE LITTLE STYROFOAM NETTING

IT'S AMAZING HOW FAST TURKEYS GROW. THESE HEIRLOOM NARRAGANSET TOMS ARE ALREADY BEGINNING TO GOBBLE, BUT IN THE WORLD OF TURKEYS, THEY ARE STILL SMALL. THEY WILL DOUBLE OR TRIPLE IN SIZE BY....UM....THANKSGIVING.


It's odd to wake up early and the morning, and to no longer hear the chorus of birds. In fact, no even one bird was singing this morning, even though it was cool, bright and sunny. At night, however, the garden is virtually buzzing with energy with late summer crickets, grasshoppers and other insects carrying on where the birds left off. This is a sure sign that autumn is near. Not that I need any signs, for night are suddenly noticeably cooler ( at least the mornings are - requiring me to haul out the sweatshirts that had been put away for the winter), and many plants are showing new growth, especially the the fall bulbs and late-season tropical bloomers, This is the season for dahlia's, colocasia, canna, amaranthus, caladium, tuberose, gladiolus and most of the summer-growing tender bulbs from the southern hemisphere, many of which require a full summer of folial growth before finally maturing enough to flower.


Mother Nature knows so much more than we do, that sometimes I wonder if we have any role in the ecosystem at all, for the changes in the forest and garden are so nuanced and precises each year, that I fear that my pathetic act of dragging out a black plastic bag of winter sweaters fulfills any purpose at all other than reminding me that I don't have enough body hair to merit bear status...



A BABY HEIRLOOM BLUE HUBBARD SQUASH - MY FAVORITE FOR PIES


...but my stomach does. This is the season of mushrooms - edible delights that one must only pick if one is 150% certain of their species. That said, I was raised to be a mushroom picker, and my sister and I still take woodland hikes after late summer thunderstorms to look for mushrooms. We only pick the ones we are certain of, the way our mother showed us. We are excited about any rains that may arrive next week from tropical storm Isaac if it finds its way to the north eastern US.

YOUNGER BUTTERNUT SQUASH ARE JUST AT THEIR INFANTILE STAGE, THERE STILL MAY BE ENOUGH TIME FOR THIS ONE TO REACH MATURITY AS LONG AS THE FROST STAYS AWAY
MANY OF THE SQUASH VINES HAVE RUN ONTO THE LAWN WHICH MEANS THE THE LAWN HAS TURNED INTO A MEADOW. NO CUTTING UNTIL THE SQUASH IS HARVESTED. THIS ONE, IS NEARLY FULL SIZE, BUT IT IS STILL GREEN. ALL SQUASH MUST BE PICKED AFTER THE VINES DIE, IN OCTOBER. THEN, THEY ARE PLACED IN DRY, WARM  STORAGE TO AGE, AND TO DEVELOP THEIR SUGARS.


Even through the summer squashes are arriving faster than we can use them, ( Panayoti - I need the Greek recipe!), the winter squashes are beginning to form fruit and some are even maturing. It wont be long before our first frost (sometimes as early as September 28, but sometimes as late as Oct. 28, like last year), but all winter squash wait until these last four to six weeks for their final growth spurt resulting in large squashes and pumpkins that will be ready to pick one light frost kills the lush foliage. I need to walk carefully around the vines in our squash bed out back, so that I don't step on any baby squash, or on the vines, for that matter, even more disastrous - one does not want to hear that celery-like crunch as they crush a lifeline. Although it is tempting to peak, I just try to stay out of the squash, pumpkins and gourds with those size 14 boots until October. Some gardens are just not designed for me.




Out in the garden, we have been gifted with a huge crop of Asian pears. These four trees were planted ten years ago, and each year, they have produced only a pear or two, with the rest falling off. I convinced Joe that this year we will cut them down, as they are planted in a part of the back yard where I want to extend the perennial bed. We both agreed that we cut them in March. Then, we agreed to wait until they bloomed, since the flowers are so pretty, and then the bees can enjoy them. Of course, as things go, we waited in June since there seemed to be a large crop. Joe said "don't worry, they will all drop soon during their annual 'June Drop'. That never happened. Apparently, once any fruit tree is threatened with termination, they adjust their fruitfulness.

Now we are drowning in so many crispy, juicy Asian pears that I don't know what to do with them all. What I love about growing Asian pears is that due to their russeted skin, we don't have to spray them. The only care they get is a late winter pruning, the honey bees, and lots of natural rainwater. We grow four varieties since Asian pears need either Bartlett's or other Asian pears for proper pollination. All four trees matured early this year, starting with 'Chojuro' - an extra juicy crispy Japanese variety that matured three weeks ago when I was in Colorado. Joe saved me one!  I am looking for recipes if anyone has any. Canning might be an option, but although I have canned many a pear in my day, I cant' imagine that this crispy, crunchy pear will be worth processing, I fear they will become too soft. The later russeted varieties like the Large Korean Asian Pear will last for up to 5 months if refrigerated, so with only a peck or so left, I doubt that I will be canning any.

THE POTS OF CYCLAMEN SPECIES IN THE GREENHOUSE, WHERE THEY HAVE SPENT THE SUMMER DRY IN THE SAND PLUNGE-BED, ARE BEGINNING TO SHOW GROWTH. TINY BUDS ARE EMERGING ON THE EARLIEST BLOOMING SPECIES - THIS ONE IS A WHITE FORM OF C. HEDERIFOLIUM.





2 comments :

  1. hopflower8:13 PM

    Good for you mushroom-hunting (wisely)Matt, with your sister. I can see the scene already; how wonderful! And those darling cyclamen are too much for words. I am getting ready for them myself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How about water kimchi?

    http://aeriskitchen.com/2010/12/korean-radish-water-kimchi/

    ReplyDelete

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