Despite a steady progression of hot days lately, the mornings have been much cooler. I am back in the morning ritual of hauling the eldest to school and then driving on to work to sit and wait for our office hours to start. It's about twenty or twenty-five minutes, enough time for me to catch up on the morning news or listen to music and basically have some me time. I enjoy that little break.
I've heard people refer to the place where I usually sit as a mezzanine. It's actually on the second floor of the building next to mine. There are three buildings all connected together — two on each end with eight or nine stories each joined in the middle by a little two-story interstitial building with a great row of windows lining an entire side on the second floor. On most weekday mornings before the workday begins, you can find me sitting near those windows enjoying the view.
Speaking of views, the road I take in the morning driving Katie to school is a nice two-lane deal, trees lining each side and arching over in several spots. This morning I noticed for the first time some of those trees were turning yellow. It seems there's a hint of fall in the air. Early, but with everything in full bloom in March, I don't guess it should be too surprising. It's going to be a strange fall I suspect.
The summer garden is coming to an end, everything is dying. I'm just going to say for the record that after doing this for ten years, this was the best gardening year I've had yet. Tomatoes like mad... and lots preserved in the freezer. Plenty of tomatillos. Beans, bell peppers, corn, mint, basil. Only one miserable yellow squash, unfortunately, but the winter squash vines are still creeping around so there's hope for them yet.
Eggplants, finally, after years of trying. They're growing in jugs on the front porch and the fruits are a little bigger than golf balls now, but still chugging along. If anything I've learned the secret to growing eggplants, one which I will implement in 2013 — start early and be very patient.
And finally... the Chinese five-color hot peppers. These things were lots of fun. They did indeed produce peppers in five different colors (a range of shades going from deep purple to cream to yellow to orange to red), and they look a lot like the big clunky old-school 1970s Christmas bulbs in both color and shape. The peppers stick straight up on the plant. Most peppers point downward, but these guys have no need to hide — come eat me you stupid foraging animals, I dare you. And yes, they are indeed hot. I pulled my food dehydrator out of mothballs and have been drying a good bit of the harvest over the last few days. Today I crushed the dried peppers up, a process which made my eyes water and my nose twitch, and now they are a nice hot spice for chili or soup or whatever this winter.
So in a week or two, since it's been such a successful year, I'm going to try something I've wanted to do for awhile: a fall garden. Just a few cool-weather crops, some lettuce and peas probably since that's what I already have. I'm pretty sure some spaces will be cleared out by then, both those crops should grow fast enough to beat the first heavy frosts, and they are definitely easy to grow. Once the frosts hit it will be time to reinforce the compost bin a little and put everything away for the year.
And I'm already looking forward to 2013, of course, hoping it's as good as this year. The best thing about this year (besides the usual joy of growing my own food) is I learned a lot, so I feel like I really know what I'm doing now. I guess we'll find out.