It's raining. Again. We're expecting a bit more than a 1/2 inch of rain. And it's going to rain on and off for much of the week. It's not that I mind rain, I'm a fan. It's just that we've had something like 15 inches of rain over the last month, and I prefer not to live in a perpetual bog.
But hey, at least the lawn isn't brown.
It's also been really warm. With the exception of 1 cold snap a couple weeks ago, the weather has hovered around 80 most days. Today is cooler, and that's good - I'm ready for a frost. It will protect the garlic I just planted - garlic is planted in fall, then harvested in summer - and kill all the bugs. I'm really sick of mosquitos, so a frost would be nice.
We lost all the remaining tomatoes in the garden....to mold. The rain, coupled with lack of sun (the two seem to go together, oddly enough) and the inability to dry out has molded every single tomato on the vine. While it's normal to be done with tomatoes now, typically I lose them to cold. The mold thing was a little disturbing. We pulled a few green ones out last week that have been left to ripen in a paper bag, but even then - anything not in the fridge is molding in the kitchen. Even the hubbard squash, which should have lasted well into the winter, being an, um, winter keeper squash, developed a soft spot, and had to be hacked up, baked, and frozen.
In addition, my lawn is growing mushrooms. Lots of them. That's how wet it's been.
On the upside, it's been a good year for mushrooms. There's this sweet old italian guy that occasionally drives by and harvests mushrooms at the edge of our property, and as thanks brought us back a jar of them preserved with onions and zucchini. I don't know enough to know what mushrooms are safe to forage for and which ones are poisonous, but I'm baking him some cookies, and maybe he'll show me.
I should be grateful though - at least there's been no flooding. Last weekend's trip out to my sister's farm included a drive through of the nearby town of Schoharie, which was under 9 feet of water following Hurricane Irene last month. It looked like a third world country, with boards covering stores and windows, and heaps of furniture and trash out on the street. Some areas had leaks of oil and sewage, so the cleanup will be huge. And they had a couple hours warning -another town nearby, also in the Schoharie Valley had about 8 minutes warning to run for their lives.
Makes complaining about rain and mushrooms sound a tad whiney, eh? It definitely shook me to see.
Despite that, some of the farms on higher ground survived, so we still came home with red peppers (1/2 bushel) a bushel of onions, another 1/2 bushel of butternut squash, and 1/2 bushel of potatoes, all of which are keeping cool in the basement. We'll need to check on them daily to make sure they aren't impacted by the damp, but if all goes well we should be able to make them last until December or January.
Even though the peppers seem to be withstanding the rot, and the 1 pumpkin we harvested is hanging in, garden season is effectively over. We're still expecting 2 more cold-hardy cherry trees to be planted this month, and I need to order some flower bulbs to plant in the newly-redesigned back yard, but until the seed catalogs show up in December, we're done.
As for chickens, in 2 weeks there's a livestock auction, following the fair in our town. We haven't decided if we'll get chicks then or wait until spring, but we're at least going to go check it out.
Despite everything, this was our most successful and productive garden year yet. The containers of homemade sauce in the freezer, plus all the produce we ate are a testament to our increasing success on the home front. Next year it will be even better.
That's the thing about gardening - there's always next year.