Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Early Frost

squash patch as far as the eye can see

It is tempting soemtimes in the garden to pretend that I'm on the PBS reality show Frontier House. On the show, two families and a young couple build their log cabins and spend the rest of the time chopping wood and storing up food in the hopes of living through the winter.

Oh, and fighting amongst themselves (it is a reality show) operating their still, selling baked goods to people in the 20th century, etc. It's really great. In the end, it is determined that only the young couple would have had enough food and wood to last the winter. (The kids are not much help and require food and warmth.)

Steve and I would not make it through the first snowstorm, of course (and not just because we don't have a fireplace). Still, when one is out picking cartloads of heavy squash, it is fun to imagine that one is actually providing all the food necessary. This winter, I do believe, we could live on pumpkin alone. It wouldn't be tasty or fun and might cause other digestive issues, but we might live to see the first greens of spring.

Yesterday I lugged these six mammoth pumpkins from the squash patch. I could not even pull the cart until I'd unloaded the butternut and spaghetti squash into a wheelbarrow and taken them down separately. What is more extraordinary is that, from three plants, there are another 13(!) large, green pumpkins out there still. Unfortunately, tonight they're predicting a frost/freeze, and though I am up for covering up the basil in the beds, I don't have enough blankets or even tarps to cover up the rangy pumpkins and other squash. Which is good. Because even if I give away three of these, I'll have more pumpkin than I can manage (though my friend Deb has a great recipe for pumpkin cookies). In fact, I'm a little sad that they're SO huge, because I was hoping to make the soup from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle where she cooks the pumpkin in the oven and scrapes down the sides and adds cream to make soup. But none of these suckers will fit in my oven.

I'm planning on putting the new machete we bought at Wal-Mart to good use cutting them open, however!

Because of the frost, I'll be out picking as many cherry tomatoes as I can, and trying to identify a few more ripe squash. The frost is three weeks early, but I will only lose the tomato plants, zucchini and struggling beans. (I will be sad if I lose the large ancho pepper plants.) I'm ready to bid the summer plants farewell, as they have all been good to us this season.

Enjoy this day of fall-- not the last, as after the freeze it should go back to normal for some time. I'm ready to turn to the root vegetables and fall greens.

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