Another long, hot, dry summer has finally come to pass, though a few warm autumn days still lie ahead. However, cooler evenings have already arrived and seasonal changes at McFadden Ranch are moving forward. The last sweet corn has been picked, cut, and stored. Pumpkins are maturing as well as wonderful sweet persimmons which will become delicious persimmon jam, bread (http://www.food.com/recipe/mcfadden-ranch-persimmon-bread-195069?layout=desktop) and cookies. Guavas will soon turn color announcing the arrival of their pink tropical flavor. An abundance of chilies and peppers remain to be picked for salsas and hot jellies.
It is now time to start the long process of preparing the garden for planting next spring’s vegetables. This includes mapping out the garden and alternating rows and vegetable locations for highest nutrition and productivity. It also means digging up each row to be planted and mixing in aged fertilizer from the goat pen in order to allow several months for decomposition. But time is short because roses must be pruned in January and stone fruit trees must be pruned in February. Then new seeds will be planted at the end of March or the beginning of April depending on soil temperatures. Mouth-watering boysenberries and peaches will follow in short order.
New products are in development and will be introduced soon. These artisan-style delicacies include rose petal jelly and rosemary mint jelly. Like the Kilcher family (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/alaska-the-last-frontier), we feel like we are always in preparation and looking ahead. Each season offers its own rewards and its own challenges. Just when we feel the crisp visit of fall breezes, we long to sit, relax, and enjoy the change. It is then, as we look out at the garden and orchard, that we realize it is time to get back to work.