I can feel Fall creeping in. It is in the biting morning air and the random rainstorms that chill instead of refresh. The one thing I wish was different about Montana is the short growing season. Today is September 7th and we have had 3 frost warning days in the last week. Luckily for my unprepared self, we didn't actually get that cold. ONLY 39 degrees.
The garden feels the seasons changing as well. The tomatoes aren't reddening as quickly. The strawberries are putting out a small second wave of berries. There won't be many days left of growth for most of the annual veggie plants I'm afraid. If we are lucky, 2 more weeks.
This is good news for the Brussels sprouts. They don't mind a little chilly weather. I had planted them next to the zucchini which is taking over the space and crowding them out at the moment. We normally just grow the more common Black Beauty and Yellow Crookneck zucchini which are very polite bush types that know how to keep to their own side of the hugel. This year I added the more highly regarded Cotatta Romanesco zucchini. It is not a polite bush. It's a vining squash that has eaten all the space for the Brussels sprouts, parsnips, swiss chard and kholrabi. I wish someone would have warned me this thing doesn't understand personal space. And it's prickly to boot! But, one good frost will show that vine who's boss.
One great thing about becoming autumn is that the temperature in the kitchen while canning isn't as hellish as it is in the middle of summer. I have a lot of that pesky zucchini to turn into pickles and it's nice to know I won't be suffering while processing cans. This season has been great for our pantry. We have tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, apricot and mixed berry jam, cherries in syrup, pickles, salsa and relish. The only thing holding me back from canning everything in the garden is a lack of a pressure canner.
I made zucchini pickles and relish since the cucumbers ripened quite late this year and we haven't really gotten that many. To make zucchini pickles, the recipe is the same as any cucumber pickle recipe, just using sliced zucchini instead. You can't really tell the difference either. They are quite a comparable substitution.
The winter squash has been quite productive as well. Thirteen pound candy roasters, 3 pound buttercups and 14 pound Australian butter squash. We still have squash soup in the freezer from last year! I'm going to be stuffing them in stockings come Christmas.