Raccoons’ Revenge, part 2

Well, for those of you following the critter count, I’ve added another raccoon. That’s 15.

grasshopper

John and I are sure that about a week ago our basement was invaded once again by one of the raccoons left homeless when their condo across the street was torn down. We set up traps and caught a possum. We tried again and got a raccoon. We’ll keep trapping and see what we get.

A couple weeks ago, I cleared most of my garden for the winter. The tomatoes had pretty well given up, so it was a great opportunity to take everything out, spread some of our compost, and add a little extra garden soil. Then I planted garlic. It’ll start growing over the winter and be ready to harvest by June or July.

fall garden ready

I’ve been meaning to harvest my basil for pesto. The bees have continued to frequent my basil plants, so I was sorry to cut down their food supply.

bumble bee

So I let my basil grow as long as I dared before risk of losing it to the cold. I’ve decided it’s like the Christmas trees we get from the reclaimed strip mines–it looks like it’s a perfectly reasonable size until I bring it inside. I spent hours and hours clipping leaves off the stems and now have a respectable amount of pesto frozen for winter. My dad was visiting, so I had a wonderful kitchen buddy to keep me company while I worked.

Josh

I used two giant piles of basil and a bunch of garlic from my garden. I’ve had pretty good success growing garlic for the past several years. Both the garlic I harvested this summer and the batch I just planted are from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They sell a nice garlic sampler pack for small gardens. The amount I received was just a little too much for my tiny plot, which was better than past years when I had way too much. It’s a random array of varieties and they’re fun to try.

Here’s what I harvested this summer:

2013 garlic

Left to right they are:

S&H Silverskin Softneck — Hot, pleasant flavor that I liked best raw but I didn’t like as much when it was cooked and the flavor turned milder.

Duganski — A hardneck. It didn’t work well for me at all. The bulbs were small and didn’t keep. Raw I didn’t like it so much, but it was nice and nutty cooked.

Chopatka Mountain — Artichoke-style softneck. This one grew the best for me and had large, consistent bulbs. These weren’t incredibly flavorable, but weren’t bad.

Turkish Red Hardneck — These grew well, producing a bunch of nicely-sized bulbs. The flavor was consistently good, both raw and cooked–better than the Chopatka Mountain.

Another big project around my garden has been another round of refurbishing my birdbath mosaic. I redid the center last summer but then the edges started falling off. Now they’re fixed. It seems to be a never ending project because the water that the birds appreciate all winter freezes into destructive ice.

Before:

before

After: after

Meanwhile, I’ve had more fall color appear in my garden. The cardinal creeper slowly climbing up the side of my shed finally bloomed:

cardinal creeper in the rain

A couple coral bells have taken on some nice, subtle fall color:

P1050065

P1040929

And the toad lilies are blooming like there’s no tomorrow–and with a frost coming, maybe there isn’t. One of the later varieties has blooms cascading all the way down the length of the plant. Pretty cool.

P1040967

P1040959

Also cool? One of my garden photos placed third in a local photography competition. And my sculptural ode to this summer’s cacophony of cicadas won the “Tri County Recycling Award” at an exhibit of art made from recycled objects. Yay! Here’s the photo:

Honeybee

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