As we near the first frost the garden has gradually shrunk. Slowly but surely we ate through all of our crops. After several cool nights in a row the tomato vines were the first to be pulled from the ground. Ripe tomatoes were sun dried and preserved in oil and large green tomatoes were made into Governor Sauce. This is an old family recipe of salted green tomatoes and onions preserved with apple cider vinegar, and is served alongside roast beef or pork. Under our next door nona Franka's advice I hung the rest of our green tomatoes in the closet were they will continue to ripen.
Shortly after the peppers followed. The ultra hot red cayenne's were hung in Ristra's to dry over several weeks. The still significantly hot green cayenne's, which this cool September has left us with many, were preserved in a simple vinegar brine.
Beets and carrots were pulled last. The carrots came out beautifully, ranging in colour and size. My favourite are a deep red with a light orange centre. Last year I pickled my carrots, which I felt destroyed all the nice sweet flavours of a carrot. This year, with access to a nice cool garage, I decided to experiment with some burial preservation. This involves removing the green shoots of the carrot and laying them in sand without the roots touching. The carrots are then covered in sand and the process is repeated. I tried a carrot today and they are just as good as they were when they were buried.
Most of the beets were eaten directly from the garden and cooked into salads, risottos and soups amongst other delicious meals served in Chris's Room. Though a portion of the beets were saved to be pickled with cinnamon, allspice and apple cider vinegar.
Onions, sunchokes and watermelons were planted more as an experiment than anything else. The onions and watermelon, which turned out surprisingly well, were eaten with haste and shared with neighbours. The sunchokes, which just began to flower within the last week, will stay in the ground until the first frost at which point they will be dug up and possibly cellared, if the harvest is as big as I hope it to be.
With the harvesting of all the vegetables the fences keeping the hens out has been removed allowing them free range of the entire backyard. They are happy to finally be allowed to dig for all the worms in our rich garden bed.