Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why I Love Fall

There is something about fall that I just love. Maybe it's because I live in the beautiful state of Michigan and this may be the most gorgeous season in this state.  I'm in the minority most of the time with this feeling, but I feel as though fall is a time to start anew. Maybe it's because I've always associated it with a new semester after a long, hot summer and a time to get back on track.

Here are a few of my favorite fall things:

  • Colorful, vibrant leaves (the warm hues are so beautiful)
  • Apple cider (with or without rum ;) and definitely with cinnamon added in )
  • Hay rides
  • Haunted houses
  • Spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove)
  • Halloween!
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Spiced lattes
  • Fall fashion (cozy sweaters, boots, scarves & hats)
  • The smell of fall (earthy smell)
  • Huge pumpkins
  • Fireplaces
  • Crunchy leaves
  • Fresh apples
  • Harvest time
  • Candles (especially ginger & sugar cookie ones)
  • Season of transition (fresh start)
  • Orchards
  • Warm, feel good meals
  • Hot tea (chai and milk is a favorite)
  • Less sweat (cooler weather is so much more better to run in)
  • Football (I love a good game)
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Costumes 
  • Changing hairstyles
  • Fall inspired decorations
  • Hot chocolate
  • Less skin
  • Extra blankets
  • Open windows in the house
  • Soups & Stew
  • Wine tasting & hard cider

What's your favorite fall thing? Any activities or traditions?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The more one sows, the greater the harvest. Our garden adventure!

This past year we finally hunkered down and took the time and effort to build a raised garden.  We had talked about it years before but never really had the time to do it. One Saturday we woke up and set out to begin building our garden before it got too late in the season (it was already the first weekend in June). We ran to Home Depot, bought more posts (8 foot) than we needed and somehow managed to squeeze them into the G6 and ventured home. We decided on the raised garden because our area is super low and is always wet (you can dig 6 inches down and hit water). We figured that the garden would like do much better if it was able to drain excess water away.

Several hours later, a few screws, curse words and 30 bags of soil...and we had a garden. Another trip to Meijer completed it with the purchase of a flat of plants.

Our "little", 8x8 foot garden that was about to grow into a beast.

Roma's like crazy. This plant had over 30 alone.
Love the little pickles. Too cute.
1st harvest!
Continuation of 1st harvest
Our final harvest. Lots of green tomatoes, but a frost was looming and we were heading out of town.

My attempts to storing extras and hoping that they ripen.  The rest are in paper bags with apples in hopes that they'll ripen sometime soon.
View from above.
Needless to say we got more than our money's worth and it was worth the time and effort. To be honest, it was much less work than expected and there is a certain pride and feeling of accomplishment at the end of the season seeing all that you produced. 

Few words of advice:
  • You're going to need a lot more soil than planned (we started with 20 bags...ended with upwards of 35).
  • Don't be hard on yourself. It's a learning experience and you'll catch on along the way.
  • Enjoy the little things. There's nothing like walking into your own backyard and snagging a snack that YOU grew.
  • Be ready for new "visitors". We had some animals (chipmunks maybe?) that loved our tomatoes and would take eat them daily. 
  • Have a easily accessible water source (we had to walk out there with a watering can for the 1st month or so...that's a workout in itself).
  • Water regularly. Our inconsistent watering led to our tomatoes cracking after heavy rains.
  • A flat of vegetables go a LONG way. We used only half of them and gave the rest to neighbors.
  • Be ready to be inundated with crazy amounts of veggies! 
  • Share with neighbors/co-workers.
  • ENJOY! I don't know if I'm biased, but I swear everything tasted 10 times better than any we buy in the stores (especially tomatoes). 
Do you garden? Any words of advice? What's your favorite thing to grow? 

While we're at it..any great green tomato recipes? Or how to ripen the? I've heard of placing them in a paper bag with apples (release of ethanol triggers ripening supposedly), but does it really work?