winter garden

Monday, August 27:

I weighed the big copra onions today; seven or eight braids total about seventy pounds.  If they keep, and they are supposed to keep but theory is one thing and reality may be another, they will go a long way toward providing our year’s onions.  There are another forty pounds or so of smaller onions, which will be used up quickly in our canning projects, as they are more likely to spoil than the pretty ones.

The grapes ripen piecemeal, and we hold them in the refrigerator until we have a gallon or so to make jam with.  Two batches so far add a rich dark purple to the gold of peach preserves and ruddy brown of apple butter on the jam shelf.  Strawberries will not add their brilliant red to the palette until late fall, when other jobs are done and we can take time to make jam of the quarts and quarts of strawberries we froze in May and June.

Right now is time to set out the cabbages that we planted a month ago in small boxes of starting mix (equal parts sifted peat moss, vermiculite, and builders sand), then pricked into flats filled with earth and compost.  Our potting soil isn’t sterilized – you don’t know what a bad smell is until you have tried sterilizing potting soil in the oven – so weeds spring up with the cabbages, also tomato seeds invading from somewhere or other.  When we set out the young plants, sturdy and well-grown, we nip off the weeds with our fingernails.  The new cabbage beds have been heavily composted, and now we water the plants generously and send bad karma to all grasshoppers and garden-invading chickens.  Not too confident that our metaphysical assault covers the issue, we also spread rolls of old chicken wire over the beds to deter the barn fowl.

Winter carrots will go in as fast as we can prepare the beds, but spinach must wait until September.

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