The abundance of basil growing both in my garden and on my windowsill will go towards a large batch of home made pesto, to be enjoyed over the fall and winter months. (Corey Bullock file)

Farm life: Planning and preserving, a time of transition

Over the coming weeks many plants will be pulled from my garden and replaced with cool weather crops

When I woke this morning there was a chill in the air. I checked my outdoor thermometer and it was eight degrees. Certainly a nice reprieve from the heatwave we’ve been experiencing.

I took my coffee out to the garden as I do most mornings and checked on all of my plants. I made a list of things that need to be picked this week including zucchini, beans, lettuce and some tomatoes. My cabbage is also nearly ready.

I’ll be using up the last of my lettuce, romaine and kale this week. Soon I will have many an empty space between plants that will need to be filled. Planting more crops at this time of year can be dicey, but there are several things that will be happy to grow as the weather cools.

Kale, spinach, arugula, radish, carrots, cilantro and mustards are some of the first things that come to mind. These crops actually do better with cooler temperatures. Spinach bolts in the heat and kale tends to wilt.

My broccoli bolted as well this year, I never got any real heads but rather all of the plant’s energy went to growing leaves and stocks. I pulled the plants, composted them and decided to experiment by simply planting more seeds. I may as well, I still have dozens of half-full seed packages.

We’ve got a few weeks yet before the first expected frost, but with the recent evening temperatures we may see it sooner than later.

We truly have a short growing season here in the Kootenays. It has been such a learning experience this year. First, there was a lot of rain. Then, too much heat. Now, we enter the risky zone of potential frost.

Luckily my hoop houses are still in tact, and we can easily cover our crops at night if need be. Not only that, but I’m about to have more carrots, beets, tomatoes, onions and potatoes than I will know what to do with.

The next few weeks will be a transitional period in the garden, a whole new planning process begins. Over the coming weeks many plants will be pulled from my garden and replaced with cool weather crops. It really is a lot of work to successfully plan and grow such a wide variety of crops but it is so rewarding.

I’ve begun the planning process for canning and pickling. Pickled beets and beans are on the list, as is home made sauerkraut. We will likely also freeze some tomatoes to make sauces with over the fall and winter months. If we have even close to as many tomatoes as we did last year (which is likely), I plan to make some sweet and spicy zucchini salsa.

The abundance of basil I have been blessed with will also go into home made pesto. Making pesto can be really expensive if you use the traditional pine nuts that most recipes call for, but I’ve discovered that pistachios can also be used, which may lend a delicious twist and also be a lot less hard on the wallet.

Other things on my to-do list include moving some of the herbs in the garden to smaller pots that will end up inside on our kitchen windowsill for the winter, and planting some garlic and tulips in the fall for next spring.

I’m curious to know, what kind of preserves and canning recipes do you plan on making over the coming weeks?

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