well don't just stand there looking decorative
Temperatures have been plummeting lately (it's almost October, after all) but today I'm wearing my purple t-shirt, capri pants and flip flops, trying to pretend it's still summer. Brrr! I wonder how long I'll hold out.
The leaves are starting to drop from the trees and there are bursts of colour everywhere, including my garden where I've been busy organizing a few autumnal displays.
A few weekends ago Mr. M brought home some little ornamental cabbages from his secret source at the flea market. I had forgotten how much I love these pretty plants. Just look at the colours.
I stuck a couple in a pot with (clockwise from the back) coral bells, chrysanthemum and variegated sage. I think they make a pleasing arrangement.
And this is my wee owl-y friend nestled between his very own ornamental cabbages, heather and variegated ivy. I love variegation.
In the spring the kids planted a bunch of ornamental gourd seeds. But boys will be boys and after carefully tending to their seedlings for a week or two, both young men wandered off to do more important things and the plants were left to their own devices. One plant did actually survive, so I stuck it into our flower bed where it promptly went crazy and took over the joint.
There were tons of flowers on the vines at first, but only two developed into anything interesting. Are they not weird and wonderful? Eyeless, legless kiwi birds come to mind.
Here they are hanging out with a group of good lookin' friends from the farmers market. Those fine specimens in the back row are in for a BIG suprise come Thanksgiving and Halloween.
Although edible, ornamental cabbages and gourds are not all that tasty so now we'll move on to the more palatable part of fall's harvest.
Last year we took a cutting from our neighbour's thornless blackberry bush and were rewarded with a total of about twenty (count 'em!) blackberries this year. Whee. There is much room for improvement but we are optimistic. If you know blackberries, you'll know that blackberry season is long over, however in our garden they take ages to ripen so we enjoyed the last of them just this past weekend.
The tomatoes are still going strong
As are the miniature green peppers which will probably need to be brought inside soon.
I didn't grow the plant from seed and when got it there were several small yellow peppers on it. At the moment it's covered with green ones which show no sign of turning colour so I'll probably use them now rather than waiting for a miracle.
The secret flea market source also provided these two perky pepper plants.
Sold as ornamentals, these are edible in that they are not poisonous, but I did some reading and found that these decorative plants are often sprayed with a systemic insecticide and should probably not be consumed. BUT, and this is good news, one can save the seeds from the peppers and start a new, entirely edible crop next year.
Last but not least we have pretty, pretty apples from our old apple tree.
We're not actually sure of the tree's age. It was here when we moved into the house in 1995 and judging from its size we also assume it may already have been growing on the lot when the house was built in 1969.
For a long time we also had no idea what kind of apples these were until that fateful day when I presented a few to a neighbour. She told me they were Ingrid Marie apples, her favourite kind. We don't spray the tree at all and usually get a fair crop every two years.
Ingrid Marie apples were apparently first cultivated "by accident" in 1910 in Denmark. One of the parent trees is assumed to be the Cox Orange.
The apples have a really intense sweet and sour flavour that I find to be a bit overbearing when eaten out of hand. I've also made both apple cake and apple sauce with them and wasn't entirely satisfied with the results, but a several years ago we came across a good way to enjoy them: they make the most excellent dried apple rings.
Here you see our high-tech apple-drying facilities.
The apple slices on the top row had been on there for a few days before I filled the rest of the rack with fresh slices. Dipping them in a bowl of water with a bit of vitamin C powder dissolved in it helps to keep the apples from oxidizing and turning brown.
These slices have a ways to go before they're totally dry, but we've been sampling already.
These are a nice snack for kids. Even Boy11, a notorious fruit and vegetable hater will eat them. Sure, too many will make you fat and you'll still need to brush your teeth well when you're finished, for they are quite sticky and do of course contain fruit sugar. What they don't have are artificial flavours or colours and they're made without sulphur dioxide, a chemical often used in the production of dried fruit.
So this fall our garden offers something for the eye and something for the belly. And isn't that what gardening's all about?