Weekly Homestead Report 7: September 26, 2016

This was a very full week, with little time or energy for the garden or woods; however, as there was some chance of a frost Sunday night, Charley and I harvested all the ripe squash, tomatoes, and a lot of other veggies this weekend. We picked 19 butternut squash, about a dozen acorn squash, seven pie pumpkins, six spaghetti squash, and about 25 pounds of tomatoes, as well as a large quantity of ground cherries and a few pounds of tomatillos. We harvested all of the dry lima beans, and enough green ones for a meal. I also picked a bunch of herbs to dry or freeze. We’re still getting a few strawberries, as well as red and yellow raspberries.

 

Earlier in the week, we picked 13 pounds of grapes (a mix of our cultivated Concord grapes and wild fox grapes). We simmered, smashed, and strained them, but the juice is waiting in the refrigerator for me to have a couple of hours to make it into jelly!

I have been featuring a different aster each week. Over the weekend, I noticed that the New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, had begun to bloom. This particular plant is glorious, over five feet tall, has dark purple flowers with orange centers, and is loaded with buds. According to the excellent website GoBotany, New England asters are distinctive because they have “more ray flowers than other American-asters (45-100 per flower head).” They are also the deepest purple of the asters in our yard.

The monarch caterpillars we’ve been watching disappeared from the plants they’ve been feeding on early last week. However, we found three previously unnoticed caterpillars on a patch of milkweed on the other side of the garden this past weekend. They seem to be at a similar stage of development, almost two inches long, so we’ll follow these guys now. Mysteriously, the smallest of the three was resting on an ash leaf as if it were about to pupate.

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