Winter garden work

Tom and I spent the bulk of the day Saturday getting the rest of the garden ready for winter. I planted the North Garden, Tom made hoop house frames for the newer beds, and together we started work on the floating row covers. I had to order more, as we ran out, but at least we got the project started.

I'm still waiting on seed potatoes, but other than that, everything is safely in the dirt. I hope I've planted enough garlic and shallots to last us all of next year. I only have one jar left of shallots-in-olive-oil in the freezer, and likewise one of garlic. I also have one small jar of pickled garlic left.
I like planting garlic and shallots - probably because the seeds are so big and easy to shove into the soil!

Now's the time to get your poppies, lupines, and tidy tips in the ground. They'll get a toehold with the winter rains, and bloom first thing in the spring. I like to order a mix from Larner Seeds. Judith grows everything in her demonstration garden and collects the seed herself. I broadcast about a pound, divided in my two pollinator beds.

Speaking of flowers, I have some surprise sunflowers starting to open just now, in the garlic bed!

Collecting and composting of leaves is an every-weekend chore for everyone right now, and I also made progress on our newest sheet-mulching project. The last bit of grass is soon to be eradicated. I'm just waiting, now, on a nice load of free wood chips.

Sunday was spent mostly in the kitchen. I decided to roast up the rest of the butternut and delicata squash, along with the sweet potatoes. I like taking this as a snack to work.

Tom helped me decant my mead in to the gallon carboy with the airlock on top. It should be ready by Christmas.

Adam and I made the most ambitious dessert I have ever attempted: a Charlotte Royale. We saw it  on 'The Great British Baking Show" on PBS and Adam immediately decided he wanted to make it. It involves a sponge roll filled with homemade jam, which is then sliced and layered in a bowl, and you then make a custard, into which gets folded more fruit puree, which then gets poured into the sponge roll-layered bowl, which then gets refrigerated for quite some time, and then you make whipped cream to go on top. We'll eat it tonight while watching the finale of the baking show. We've enjoyed making a fancy dessert each week, using the show as an inspiration.

I watched a very interesting sight today, and I didn't have my camera to record it. A scrub jay was eviscerating a small bird. Maybe a finch, or a sparrow - the jay held it in its talons and was pulling out the downy breast feathers with its beak. It flew to a nearby bush for cover before I could see it actually tear into flesh. Interesting. I did not know that jays would eat smaller birds. I knew they ate eggs out of nests, and terrorized small birds, but do they hunt them? Or was he just being an opportunist and found this one dead on the ground?

I put the bird feeders out today - one homemade suet cake (I have a bunch in the freezer from last year) for the chickadees and nuthatches, and some 2-to-1 sugar syrup for the hummingbirds. Our neighbor puts out nyjer seed all year long for the finches. All the birds also like to eat the berries off our Toyon.

A note of support for the outdoor company REI: They've decided to close their stores on Black Friday and actually pay their employees to take a day off to go outside. Sure, this could be a marketing ploy (I imagine the website will be open for shopping!), but who cares? It's still making a statement. I've never shopped myself during Black Friday, and I'm literally disgusted by what it's become. How about we celebrate Thanksgiving for a change? How about we concentrate on a holiday that has zero commercial viability and instead helps us focus on being grateful for what we already have? It bothers me that we hop from two consumer-driven events (Halloween and Christmas) without even pausing for Thanksgiving. How about enjoying some time in the kitchen, cooking for the folks we love? How about sitting down and enjoying a feast together? How about taking a walk outside and enjoying Autumn? I love having a four-day weekend to enjoy my family. I love Thanksgiving decorations, the squashes and leaves, the bountiful cornucopias, the bright fireplaces and rainy (hopefully) skies.

Speaking of rain, we're hoping for some tonight, crossed fingers. I noticed that my neighbor's Meyer lemon tree is loaded with fruit (and quite early in the season, actually). Hoping to get my hands on some (she's very generous!) as soon as they ripen. Temperatures are supposed to dip, which should help that happen!

Oh I forgot to say we opened up our first bottle of Ginger Beer! Not very fizzy, but totally refreshing. Try some yourself!