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Well hello, friends!
I look forward to this time when we can catch up and chat. I imagine it as though we’re sitting together on a chilly morning, each holding something warm.
Every year, I’m reminded that I love fall. I know; it seems everyone loves fall. But as a gardener, I often feel guilty about looking forward to autumn. Some gardeners view the shift in the season as a time to yearn for perpetual summer days. I don’t. I love cool weather. The garden and yard become green again in the fall, and for some reason, the maintenance list seems shorter and more leisurely.
“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” I read this quote by an unknown author every year, and the more I think about it, the more I wholeheartedly agree.
Seasons remind me (and all of us) that time is moving, whether we want it to or not. But let’s think about the positive of the upcoming fall season: more time indoors, warm drinks, and earlier evenings. That said, the garden has not slowed up, and I still have work to do.
I hope you’re cozy and have your coffee (or tea) ready. Let’s chat!
Let’s talk about the garden.
In Southeast Iowa, we tend to have late fall seasons. When August came around, my tomatoes were large and overgrown, with so many green tomatoes hidden amongst the vines that they would not ripen.
To ensure they ripened, I trimmed over half of the tomatoes’ green growth in early September. This trimming allowed more light into the interior of each tomato plant, and, in what seemed like overnight, the fruit started ripening. And now that September is done, I’ve finished harvesting a plethora of tomatoes.
Just last week, I completed the harvesting of the eggplant and cucumbers. The eggplant was starting to be ravaged by insects, and instead of fighting it, I decided to pull them. With the recent rain (thank goodness!), powdery mildew overtook the cucumbers, and I decided it was time to let them go as well. That said, the cucumbers did well this year, and I made two batches of Grandma’s mustard pickles. I think she’d be proud!
Now that the garden is in decline, it’s time to think about the first frost date, which happens to be mid-October for me. With that in mind, I start planning for it now. All my outdoor tropical and agave plants must be tucked away indoors before the cold. I’ve been cleaning up my plant room and am slowly preparing for a mass of plants in every square inch. At first, the job seems endless, but soon enough, all the plants will be stored.
Even as I type this, I’m trying to understand where this year has gone. Next month (in October), I’ll pull out all the plants remaining in the vegetable garden, compost most of them, and make sure I plant my garlic. It seems like just yesterday I was braving the slightly chilly spring weather to get seeds in the raised beds.
If you’re unsure about your first frost date, you can easily find it online at The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Let’s talk about some fall-time food.
When cooler weather hits, even on an occasional cool day in September, I make all of my favorite recipes:
- Slow cooker chili. For my family, chili is a nostalgic recipe and one that my mom often made during the fall. It works in the slow cooker and on the stovetop, making it super versatile.
- Roasted squash galette. A galette is a terrific way to become more comfortable with pie dough. Galettes can be intentionally rustic; in fact, it even adds to the appeal if the dough cracks. This one is topped with goat cheese, squash, onions, and Parmesan cheese, making it a savory meal.
- Fig and walnut salad. I always look forward to the time when figs arrive in grocery stores, and I can prepare my favorite fall salad. This salad uses everything I love about fall: squash, figs, and spiced nuts for crunch. Sometimes I add salmon or chicken, but often I eat the salad without any additional protein.
- Skillet pear crisp. Earlier this month, I posted my recipe for skillet pear crisp. A crisp is always quick to prepare and makes me happy. This one uses a hint of cardamom with cinnamon. I always grab the cinnamon but push myself to use other spices for an even greater depth of flavor.
I also posted a few additional recipes, in case you missed them:
Let’s talk about Kip.
I only have good things to say about Kip! Since battling colitis in July, Kip has continued to improve and has incredible energy. He’s running the best he has since becoming paralyzed last year. He’s spending hours outdoors with me in the gardens.
Monthly, we’ve been going to the University of Illinois for cytosar treatments. The hope has always been that if we can stabilize Kip, we can look for someone close to home who can administer the cytosar. Since cytosar has some regulations on its administration, it can require special facilities, which not all veterinarians are able to provide. The team of doctors feels that Kip has been stable, and we hope to have a doctor nearby soon.
Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to forgo the monthly four-hour drive each way. But more so, I’m ecstatic that Kip is in such a good place. On the last visit, the doctor said, “Kip is just a strange case! He has seemed to defy the odds and keeps getting better.”
I often think to myself that never did I imagine I would become so attached to Kip, and never did I think I would go through a journey like this with a pet. Now that I have Kip, I wouldn’t ask or hope for anything different. Kip has been my joy and unwavering support. What more could I ask for?
Well, this newsletter came one day after the end of the month, but I hope you won’t hold that against me The upside of this is that you’ll hear from me again in a little less than a month when we wrap up October. Like is often the case, I’ll soon be saying “how did another month go by?”
In the meantime, I hope you have a great month, full of all things fall!
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