September Garden Pictures

The dahlias are blooming! I’m not sure exactly what this variety is – it’s one of the many perennials that were were planted by the lady who started these gardens in the 1950s. The plant itself gets to about 6 feet tall, and the biggest blooms are about 8-10 inches across. They’re just beautiful! The blooms haven’t been as heavy this season as in past years, but it’s still the centerpiece of the late summer/early fall garden.

Here’s the back garden. You can see how big the dahlia gets. It’s always a challenge to stake it up so the blossoms don’t fall over – they’re really heavy. The two flowers in the foreground are some beautiful mums that I got from the Co-op a few years ago – they were half dead, so I got them for free! They’ve done really well, and they put on a great show for us every fall.

We’ve also been preparing the lawn for over-wintering. We do this by using a mulching lawn mower to sort of shred the cuttings and return to the lawn as a fertilizer.

I think this is some kind of anemone. They grow all around the house, probably planted here at one time, but they’ve spread themselves around and are somewhat wild now.

The apples are almost ready!

We’ll be picking them in just a few weeks and I’ve bought some tree loppers to reach the high ones.

This beautiful hydrangea has been completely massacred by the deer this year. It was overgrown with blackberries when we moved in. Last year we cleaned out around it, and the bush grew really well – healthier than I’d ever seen it. I guess it looked good to the deer too – good enough to eat that is. These are the only two blossoms they left, and they even ate most of them. Bummer.

This climbing rose in the back garden has a bumper crop of rose hips. I’d like to dry some for tea, but I’m not sure if I’ll find time this autumn to do it. It’s rare to have dry enough weather here to dry things in the sun, and unfortunately I don’t have a dehydrator. They’re just gorgeous on the rose bush though….

This is a weird phenomenon on the same rose bush that I haven’t been able to figure out. These “puffballs” grow around some of the rose hips. It’s definitely plant material, but if you split it open, there are little worms that live in the center. Even my Dad, a plant expert, had never seen anything quite like it.

The Catnip has done really well this year! I planted a few cuttings this spring, and they’ve grown into this gigantic bush. Our cat, Leo just loves the stuff, and we’ve caught more than one neighborhood cat sneaking into the garden to partake….

I cut this spring mix back a few weeks ago, and it’s grown back nicely. This will make a great salad for tonight’s dinner!

This is the Lumina Pumpkin that I planted from the seeds of an old pumpkin that sat on the porch for over a year….

It’s been blooming for a while, and finally developed this little pumpkin. There are lots more blossoms that look like they may develop into pumpkins….

I’m not sure that there’s still time in the season for them to ripen, but who knows?

This is my only successful pepper. The garden center was having a “save a pepper” sale a month or so ago, so I bought three little sickly plants for $.50 each. This is a Bulgarian Carrot Pepper, that’s done pretty well. They should turn orange in the next month. The other two plants have a pepper or two on them, but they don’t look nearly as good as this one. Growing peppers and tomatoes here on the coast is never a very successful endeavor. It just doesn’t get hot enough.

These Sugar Snap Peas are doing really well! I planted them from seed a month or so ago. There aren’t any blossoms yet, but the plants are growing inches every day. I think it should stay mild enough in the next month or so that the peas will be able to form. It all goes well, we’ll have Sugar Snaps for Halloween!

Butter and Cod

This was a quick mostly local Friday night dinner that turned out surprisingly well. The trick? Lots of the homemade butter I made last weekend.

Here’s the butter ball that I made. The butter that supposedly comes from the local creamery is not actually made here from local cream. They buy butter from Fresno and package it under the Humboldt Creamery label. Pretty sad when you realize that Humboldt County was once known for producing the best butter in the state! I decided that since I’m doing this local challenge, I had to make some real local butter!

I used Humboldt Creamery heavy cream -actually produced locally from local cows. I won’t go into the whole process now, I’ll leave that for another post, but basically I cultured the cream and then whipped it into butter in the food processor. I didn’t salt it or anything, but boy is it good! I’m a sucker for butter, and this is some of the best butter I’ve ever had! It’s nice and yellow, which means its got lots of vitamins and comes from cows eating good healthy grass.

This is the crust I made for the fish. Coarse cornmeal (another long forgotten item in the cupboard,) dried parsley from the garden, salt, and pepper.

This is a little less than a pound of locally caught Black Cod. A beautiful piece of fish!

I cut the fish into pieces, dried it with a paper towel, coated it with melted butter, dredged it in the cornmeal crust, and put it in this baking dish with the leftover melted butter drizzled on top. I baked it for about 20 minutes in a pretty hot (420 degrees) oven. Halfway through the cooking I decided to add some of the garlic from the garden, so I chopped some up and sprinkled it on top.

These are green beans from Ed in Blue Lake. They’re seriously some of the most flavorful beans I’ve ever had! I’m not usually a big green bean person, but I can’t seem to get enough of these. They’re from the same farm that the beans at the¬†La Trattoria¬†feast in August came from. I steamed them while the fish cooked.

Here’s the finished meal. The fish was just delicious – buttery, flaky, with a wonderfully crunchy crust. The beans were cooked perfectly, and it was all complemented well by some of the wonderful local salad mix from Bayside. I’ve been using just olive oil and vinegar to dress my salads, and really enjoying it – it lets you really taste the flavor of the greens.