The long sunny Indian Summer this year has thrown me off. Every day, I came home, looked around the garden smugly, and thought “Not much to do here” before heading off for a walk or a book. It was true—the beds were orderly, still producing, and needed little work. I had, however, forgotten about the flip side of Autumn preparations—the cleaning and ordering of interior spaces, the snugging in for the rains.
Last weekend, the realization hit. Mark brought home our traditional 70 pounds of onions from Denison Farms that needed to be stored in the larder—which was still home to a pile of recycling and several huge spiders. One afternoon went to vacuuming up webs and clearing the shelves, while the recycling went into the Ark to be hauled away on Saturday. After the onions were in, I gathered the squashes from the yard and tucked them away as well, before the rains began.
After the larder was cleaned out, I moved onto the basement shelves. This was the week to bring home fifty pounds of hard wheat berries and thirty pounds of oatmeal from Greenwillow Grains. That all needed to be poured into large storage tins (we use old Christmas popcorn tins from Goodwill), labeled, and tucked on shelves. However, the shelves needed to be ordered and swept before anything new was stored there which led to some re-arranging of canned goods and storage jars and preserving equipment. Where the drying racks clean? No. They needed to be washed and dried. Cleaning up the winter storage areas took several hours. While I worked, I found some more recycling for the Ark…
Meanwhile, we still had some Autumn yard projects. The new greenhouse needed a layer of plastic over the thin parts of the walls and some insulation. Pots needed to be moved in to increase thermal mass. The temporary shelves needed to be rearranged…and I still needed to find plugs for the clawfoot tub so that water did not slosh out of the old plumbing holes. That took a couple of days after work. Now all we need to do is arrange a floor, either using more large flat stones or our reclaimed bricks. That will be a winter project.
Finally, there was the general yard tidy. Hoses brought in from garden beds and out of the yard, coiled, and hung from the rafters in the shed. Tools put away. Tomato cages stacked and tucked behind the old chicken coop. Leaves hauled from the street and layered onto the beds, snugged in around the still growing kale and collards. The coop shifted to a new bed. Even more recycling appeared when we cleared out around the trash cans.
We are, I am pleased to observe, almost done with the autumn clean-up. I have to plant the garlic (I was waiting for a bit of rain), wash and hang the storm windows, and clear up the front garden beds. The firewood storage area in the basement is still a disaster. And there is a hand-knit sweater that I was hoping to wear at school conferences, which are this week. I am half way down the body right now and have not started on the sleeves. This may be a winter project.
Bean and Barley Soup, originally from The Savory Way, altered to be totally local ingredients.
In the crock pot, place about two cups of Indian Woman beans, a chopped medium large onion, and several cloves of garlic. Cover with water. Cook for hours, until soft and friendly. Add about one and a half cups of cooked barley, a bag of frozen corn, salt, pepper, and parsley. Allow to mellow together. This is a very simple soup that really grows on you over time.