It is always a sad day for me when I see geese migrating. I know what that means...winter is on its way.
While I am happy to be slowing down on the food preservation (and will be happier still when I get rid of the last of the gnats that are plaguing our kitchen right now), it's sad to see the garden lose its foliage and color. In fact, that's one of the things I dislike so much about fall and winter; once the leaves are done turning, the sky and land turn gray and seem to stay sunless and gray until mid-March.
I put up 5 1/2 pints of tomato sauce tonight, the last batch of tomato anything I'll be freezing for the season. I did cut the heads off the sunflowers and will try hanging them in the garage to dry, but it may have been a bit too early to cut them. I didn't have much of a choice, since we have had dire frost warnings lately.
The only item left in the garden that's producing at this point are my pepper plants. I covered five of them with kitty litter buckets to protect them from the frost and left two exposed. I was so tired by the time I got the five buckets out and cut off the sunflower heads (it was 41 degrees and I had a raging head cold), that I gave up on the other two plants. I feel bad about that, but a person can only do so much. I peeked under one bucket yesterday, and the little peppers seem to still be growing. We'll see, I suppose. One pepper: that's all I ask. Give me one pepper from my plants this year!
Yesterday, hubby and I did a bit of garden work. He mowed the yard and bagged it, dumping the mowed grass and leaves into the garden for winter mulch. He also took down the garden fence and pulled up the fence stakes.
My work took place in the garden itself. I pulled up all the tomato plant stakes and separated out the good stakes from the bad stakes. Bad stakes went into the burn pile; good stakes went into the garage for next year. Bamboo stakes I will never use again--I nearly put my eye out on one of them when I was harvesting tomatoes about a month ago. Plus they don't bear weight very well: they bend. The green bread ties (well, they aren't really bread ties; they're much longer. But they look like bread ties) are NOT going to be used next year--they cut into the tomato plants as the tomato plants grow and have to be pulled off the stakes at the end of the year. I'll have to try something softer, more pliable, that can simply be allowed to stay in the garden to become compost at the end of the year.
I used the compost from the compost bin and the still-rotting fruits and veggies in the bin to layer over part of the garden. Then, newspaper shred over that, and the grass and leaf clippings on top of that. Some of the garden still isn't covered, but I have more time to do that before winter sets in. If, that is, we get one more good mowing day in at least. I still have to take down the okra stalks, too.
I definitely need to pay a lot more attention to my compost bin this year. I basically ignored it this year and didn't get the amount of compost out of it that I should have and could have. I'll make a checklist over the winter based on my blog entries of things I want to do differently for next year's garden.