Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's Halloween again. We don't trick or treat here on the island but there is always a big party. This year I was recruited to be a witch on a haunted trail. Before I left for the party I carved two Jack O Lanterns
and put them out at the end of the driveway for people driving by. It is dark here, no streetlights and few houses close to the road. The pumpkins looked great.
And after bewitching a bunch of children I came home to my favorite Halloween treat, roasted pumpkin seeds. I extract them from the pumpkin "guts", salt lightly, toast in the oven until they are crispy and eat them hulls and all. Yumm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grow Your Own

In all the years we have been growing vegetables for sale we have seen a lot of our favorite seeds disappear from the marketplace. They are replaced often by something that doesn't grow as well for us. The solution is to grow our own seed of varieties that are particularly valuable to us. Or, we find an unusual chard or kale or bean and want to see if we can develop that characteristic in a new strain. Above Joel is removing the seedpods from some overwintering purple sprouting broccoli. This seed is hard to find in this country as it grows best in Britain and in climates like ours which is similar.
Large seed operations need a lot of fancy equipment to clean and process seed but for a small bunch for our own use the old fashioned way of winnowing by pouring the seed and trash from one container to another in a stiff wind works just fine. The lighter bits of seedpods and stems blow away and the heavier seeds fall into the lower bucket.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back to the Loom

It is so nice to be able to get back to weaving. I enjoy the rainy, grey days because I can stay inside with a clear conscience and weave. All summer I am too busy with the garden, with running back and forth to San Juan Island selling things, with summer guests to get much weaving done.

I have been having fun making up mug rugs, or potholders/coasters for Christmas sales. I sold out of most of the ones I made last spring so I needed to make more.

I just finished this roll of 30. They are woven from cotton flannel material, mostly leftover pieces from rugs. Now I need to cut them apart and hem them and put on labels and then we're ready to go.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winter Squash

Yesterday Joel and I brought in about 500 lbs. of winter squash. Winter squash are a bit magical to me. You plant these little seeds or small plants in rows 6 feet apart in late spring. By the middle of summer they have spread out so that you can't see or walk between them and the vining sorts are trying to escape the garden or are wandering into the beds next to them. And you can't see whether or not they are setting any fruits. Until a frost comes in the fall and kills the plants. Then suddenly there they are all over the place. We really had no idea what a great crop we had this year. Above is one wheelbarrow full of maxima types squashes, Sweet Mamas, Sunshine, Nutty Delica. We had another one full of delicata types and pie pumpkins and one of acorn types. They'll be stored upstairs in Siri's old room and feed us and our customers all winter.
The long ones in the foreground are Long Pie pumpkins. Reputed to have come originally from the Azores in 1832, and grown for years in Maine, they are one of the best tasting pie pumpkins. Ready to harvest when there is an orange spot on the bottom, they turn a lovely pumpkin orange color in storage.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Summer Vacation

This is a little video that our daughter, Siri, made this summer using a Super 8 camera. Wanted to share it with you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

End of the Summer Garden

Well, a heavy frost last night did in the dahlias, and the zinnias and the zuchini, and the basil and marigolds and anything else that isn't doggone hardy.
We had row covers over the peppers and winter squash and their top leaves were frosted but the rest of the plants appear to be okay. Well that leaves us with the winter brassicas, carrots, beets, leeks, onions, celery, lettuce. I guess we'll be okay. But I will miss the flowers and so will our customers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Fall foliage, ripe grapes,
apples on the trees,
ripe rosehips. It is definitely fall.

For the last several days we have seen and heard flocks of geese flying overhead to the south. They're so high it's hard to tell whether they are Canadian geese or snow geese, but that sound and sight is so beautiful. Last night I heard a flock go over in the middle of the night in the moonlight.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Freezer

For the last several years we have been trying to figure out how to get a freezer that would run on our off the grid system where we don't have a lot of electricity to spare. Today we got a brand new Steca freezer reputed to be the most efficient 12 volt DC freezer available today. We hauled it over on the boat and tomorrow we'll get it set up and running.
And, as we are expecting a serious frost this evening, we picked the last of the basil to make pesto and put it in the freezer. We also picked over 100 lbs. of outdoor tomatoes to save them from the frost. Tomorrow we'll start making tomato sauce. We're running out of pantry space and sauce will concentrate them into fewer jars.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Harvest Flowers

The flowers are nearly gone. This picture is from last week and I'm not sure what I'll find out there this morning. We had our first frost, a light one, on Monday morning and it has rained all week. The rain and clouds have kept frost away but have definitely battered the flowers. But then, it IS October. I can't complain. In spite of the lack of rain all summer we have had the best tomato crop ever.

This weekend is Artstock, San Juan Island's falls studio tour. I will be a guest artist at Kristy Gjesme's studio in Friday Harbor. Details are in the Artstock link at the right. I've been knitting and fulling a bunch more hats all week. This has been about my best year for hat sales, too. Go figure. It's a hot dry summer and I'm selling felted wool hats like hotcakes.