Coastal Gardening: September

Welcome to my new and improved Beloved Farms blog on Wix! I realize it's been quiet in blog-land - externally, that is - but moving this blog over, which includes 12 years of history that needed some significant editing to clean it up, better categorize content, transfer some things out (i.e., the career-focused ones to my revamped work website), archive some of the old Wordpress content (there were some old blog posts with some really meaningful comment threads, which don't transfer over unfortunately when importing from WP to Wix), has been exhausting. I'm still figuring out some bits as far as improving formatting, figuring out comment moderation, making it more mobile-friendly, and more, but let me tell you just writing this on Wix is SO much easier than the forced-block-editor format of WP that drove me away from their platform after a decade (not to mention the fact that at least 2/3 of supposed 'followers' were bots, and WP doesn't allow bloggers to block them, which was irksome to put it mildly as I want to ensure authenticity not just in my writing but in who interacts with my site as much as possible. we are on Wix, thank you for stopping by, please subscribe if you like what you're reading, comment as well so I know you're ingesting some of this stuff (and let me know if there's anything you'd like to see more of!), and let me know if you see any weird things that need tweaking technically :) Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Tomatillos! These volunteer buggers took over where my tomatoes were, knocking down plants in their charming yellow-flowered beauty and eventually had to come out. My husband's job at the co-op gave us access to great organic compost from the produce department which is how it all started, but my own romance with the tomatillo plant is what ended it, haha. So I picked them all, made a load of salsa verde AND also canned a bunch of them whole for recipes to be figured out later, the latter thanks to the blog at Practical Self Reliance. Woo hoo!

Speaking of canning, one of the bigger projects this month has been with pears. Our trees are still young, so my fella ordered 50 lbs of organic Oregon pears (yay for the employee discount!) so I could make my favorites - pear chai butter (riffed off an old apple chai butter recipe that I love, simply substituting the fruits) and pear ginger preserves. (We are also trying out pear wine for the first time - will report back later on that one!) Lo and behold, when I realized I needed more lids, I panicked when I got to the store and saw that they were sold out of EVERYTHING was the internet. Then I remembered reading somewhere about reusable canning jar lids and started my search, happily finding Harvest Guard lids to use. They are AWESOME! I ordered a zillion as next year we'll be transitioning to them exclusively. The only difference in canning technique is that when you screw the ring on the lid, you slightly unscrew about 1/4 turn so that there's room for it to seal. It feels counterintuitive, but works like a charm. Exhale!

And of course it's tomato season big time! With the wildfires ashing up the garden and darkening the skies, and on and off summer weather as a whole, they have been taking their own sweet time to ripen, let me tell you! I've made about 12 quarts of marinara so far which is nothing of course, but have a counter full of tomatoes at various stages of ripeness and a bazillion on the vine still doing their thing. This year one of my new favorites is the yellow Taxi, which is a short-season tomato (perfect for out here on the Oregon Coast!) which has been performing like a champion, as my husband says. Unlike what the websites say about canning only certain types of tomatoes (i.e., paste), I can *everything* except cherry/grape varieties. And I don't skin them either! The only thing I do, in the interest of time (since the sauce is on the stove for several hours as it is, is use a pinkie finger to scrape out the juices/seeds before doing a basic chop. Then I can just use an immersion blender if I want it less chunky. Love love love. We have two 4'x12' beds right now and next year we've already agreed to increase that to three, as there's never enough it seems, and I'd like to do a boatload of sun-dried tomatoes as well (which anyone who's dehydrated foods knows how much it takes to just fill a small jar of dried goods!).

We also made our very first venture out of town at the start of the month (pre-wildfires, thankfully), heading into Portland for a doctor's appointment and get our annual salmon share, using frequent flyer miles to pay for our hotel (since who knows when our miles will take us on an actual plane internationally, might as well do this for free!). While I did a quick solo trip in April to pick up two nucs of honeybees, we as a couple hadn't gone anywhere since pre-pandemic and it was nice to get the dog into the car and head into the city, even if it was very, very weird. More street art has appeared which is awesome, mask-wearing is much more standard than out here on the coast where we have a certain population of MAGA rednecks (we have filed a formal complaint with Oregon OSHA about Home Depot whose management team openly said they don't enforce the legally required statewide mask ordinance and we watched numbers of both customers and employees walking around with masks), matched with an abundance of tourists who think "I'm at the beach so the rules no longer apply!", as confirmed by my husband who's talked about a number of out-of-towners who've been kicked out of his store when having hissy fits about being required to wear masks. Going to Portland required some pretty advance planning, but our hotel had converted their turnaround into a massive outdoor dining experience with tons of space (at least 20') between tables, and the breakfast spot we love was nearly empty since it was a Monday morning. We were quickly and sadly reminded however about how terrible the service is at most places in town, as well as the irony of how restaurants will give you real silverware with paper plates, adding to the disastrous amount of take-out waste being created in the pandemic. Two shining spots of happiness however:

  • My favorite dessert spot, Pix Patisserie, and their Pix-O-Matic refrigerated vending machine they created to sell not only their phenomenal desserts but other local businesses' deliciousness.

  • Portland Nursery has creatively worked out ways to let folks shop and check out in an airy, socially distanced way, which beats how my smaller favorites are handling it in a bougey "by appointment only / one customer at a time" way, allowing us to quickly get in to grab the garden supplies we just can't find out here on the coast.

And finally, we relocated our smaller rain barrel from the front yard to our herb garden of the back door (due to the wind out here, we have to strap it to the hothouse)...and our sweet old girl decided the cool ground next to it would be a great place to nap :)


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