Our average first frost date here in our area of NC, USA is October 28th. This year has been quite warm and we have already passed that date with no frost as of yet. From looking at the weeks predictions it looks like we still have at least another week before we get down into low 30's F., Of course, this all can change as it often does. We are starting preparations for winter weather.
Today we harvested some of our sweet peppers. They didn't get red on the plant but they are still absolutely juicy, sweet, and delicious. These pepper plants have put out so many peppers for us this year so we are blessed to have even green ones. In a few days, we will harvest the rest, to include the hot peppers. We also harvested spinach, some herbs, more luffa, onions, and a few other things. We love to dehydrate the green onions, tops and bottoms, then grind them to a powder and put it in a shaker for topping soups, potatoes, sandwiches, omelets, and anything else you would use green onions on or in. Be warned, the house will smell a bit like a farmers market when you do it though. I don't mind the smell though. haha.
We harvested just a little of our Hawaiian Gold turmeric and divided the plants for potting up. Hawaiian Gold type produces smaller tubers but IMO they are more flavorful and juicy. These will be sold locally to those wanting them. We have some smaller plants that will be offered in our Etsy shop as well. Turmeric is very important to us here in this house. We use it in our cooking, teas, and other remedies and recipes. We even give it to our elder dog to help with his joints. It is a herb/spice we are never without in this house. Next year we will have easily twice as much as this year.
We potted up a few pots of Gotu Kola to bring inside over winter since they don't overwinter well here. I'm going to try but just in case I wanted to bring some inside so I have a backup in the event they don't survive the winter. This is an amazing herb we do not want to be without so as much as I don't like growing plants in the house, or I should say, as much as I STINK at growing plants in the house, these guys will come in and hopefully survive my lack of houseplant skills. Hahaha!
After harvesting, I walked the garden to see what is left out there, check out all the new seedlings coming up, and make my mental list of what else needed to be done by the frost. I've already taken clippings to root of the plants that won't survive winter here. The clippings will be rooted and grown inside until spring when they will be transitioned out.
Here are a few pics of some more goodies around the homestead.
We still have quite a few pumpkins to harvest but I'm waiting until the very last minute so they have every bit of every day to ripen and cure. My favorite of all pumpkins, the Thai Kang Kob, and some Long Island Cheese Pumpkins which I do like but they are not in the running for top pumpkins simply because they are very prone to mildew and other issues.
This Long Island Cheese Pumpkin got pecked out by our chickens but it scarred over and continued to grow. It is in the ripening stage. Hopefully, it will still be good for eating. If not, it will at least become chicken food.
Our Luna Hibiscus is still blooming and as beautiful as ever. These will drop off once we hit a frost and the plant will go dormant but will come back in spring. It's such a big and beautiful flower!
Our Gandules (pigeon pea) tree finally started blooming a few weeks ago but still no pods in site. It might not have enough time. I took some clippings to root and will get a better head start next year. They have such pretty flowers and really are a gorgeous tree with zero disease or pest issues. This is an important plant for our family since it represents our culture. It is a tree that grows in Puerto Rico, where my father and family are from. This was my first time trying to grow this here in the states. I learned that it does do well but will need to be started much earlier then I anticipated. I had hoped to get a harvest in time before the frost because I knew it would bring a huge smile to my fathers face to make Christmas dinner using homegrown gandules, as is tradition in Puerto Rico. Next year I'll be better prepared.
Our horseradish that was gifted to us in trade for some Roselle is doing great! I'm excited to see it flourish next year.
Our okra has done great this year....unfortunately I didn't harvest them as much as I could have. We will have plenty of seed this year for saving. Next year I'll do better at harvesting because Kaliah actually really likes it. I want to like it as much as she does but I'm not running to harvest it as you can see. I do know it is very good for you so I do eat it when I can remember to get around to harvesting them. We do have a couple of dinners worth cut up and frozen in the freezer and we did get to slice, salt, and dehydrate some for snacking. Here is a picture of just a few of our okra plants. There are others scattered throughout the food forest.
The malibar spinach did really well. I'm not a huge fan of the texture but it's growing on me. I grew it mostly for the chickens since they love it, and for the pretty vines and berries. I might just go ahead and harvest it and find a way to use it that isn't so....well....slimy. lol. Any suggestions are welcomed!
Now that we started cleaning up and clearing out the back area, the lemongrass patch looks so lonely. lol. It will be harvested in the next day or two since it likely won't survive the winter here. We will divide it up, pot some for next year, sell some, and use some for cooking and for incense making. We have three patches this size. They all did very nicely.
Chinese Long Beans and Moringa will also be harvested in the next day or two.
I'm happy to say the Rattlesnake Pole Beans are STILL kicking butt! I've raved about this bean for years. It is my absolute favorite. They got a bit tough for a while since I missed a few harvesting opportunities so I cut the plants back quite a bit and they put out so much more. They have been in the ground since mid April and here we are late October and they are still going very strong. We harvested a few gallons worth just a few days ago, and today, we got a few handfuls of super juicy and sweet beans....so good that they didn't even make it into the house. ;) It's one of those items that are a MUST HAVE here at Kindred Acres. It is also one of our favorite snack foods when we are out working the gardens.
We got a good bit of spinach harvested, washed, and into the freezer today. We still have a LOT out there. This is Longevity Spinach (Gynura Procumbens) which is a heat-loving variety. It will not tolerate a frost so we clipped so we started pots of more for inside and for our Etsy shop. This spinach did so well here in our area and it's sooo tasty in smoothies with banana and other mixed greens. It does have a strong almost floral flavor so balancing it with something sweet really helps. It is very high in nutritional value which is a huge bonus. It has been used medicinally for centuries in Asian countries and is said to have anti-aging properties, giving you a long life, hence the common name of Longevity Spinach. It is claimed to ward off viruses, inflammations, fever, skin conditions, kidney problems, migraines, constipation and even cancer! In USA zones 8b and up it will grow as a perennial. Here at our homestead, we are at the border of 7b/8a so it won't overwinter for us here without some help.
Cardoons are beginning to flower. The stalks will be harvested one last time before the freeze. I see a Creamy Cardoon Caserole in our near future. ;) Yum.
The garden looks a bit naked but there is so much coming up and it won't be long before it is full again. We are doing a winter garden this year. Here are a few pics of what is left and the new stuff coming up.
I absolutely love kale and since it does well for us in the winter here we planted quite a few more that are just now coming up. We should have plenty of kale this winter. It's so nutritious, versatile, and easy to grow.
The strawberry patch spread a lot this year. We will be taking some of the runners out to move to another area of the food forest and some will be potted up to sell. These did great for us and are very juicy and sweet. It is an everbearing variety. We have a few other smaller patches throughout the food forest and another patch of a Rainbow variety that has very pretty pink flowers.
There is always more to show...I can go on and on. I love to take photos and walk through the food forest. It's like each day is a new adventure.
I hope you enjoyed the walk as much as I did.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates
With lots of love
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