Friday, October 31, 2008

Harvest time and Hibernation

Halloween is here and the harvest of the apples is nearly over. Since our return to Canada things have been non-stop. I have had some spare time here and there, between bags of apples, I have be teaching myself the basics of home food preservation. So far I have been met with little success. I have managed to ruin twelve jars of yummy blackberry apple sauce because I did not process them correctly. I nearly cried when I saw the white fuzz on the inside of a jar I opened. I have learned my lesson, though and am thankful that I live in where there are no penalties for such error, only opportunities to learn.
Besides, there are heaps of apples left to experiment with and I'll be sure not to make the same mistake .....more than twice at least !! There will be time for all the indoor stuff as it cools and there is less to do outside.
West coast Canadian weather is just how I remembered it, a wacky mix of teasingly warm and sunny then incredibly wet and dreary. Just three days ago I was in a Tee shirt wondering if I should take a jump in the lake. Now, it hasn't stopped raining since yesterday afternoon and its tough to keep the chill away. I often have my nose pressed to the glass door window in amazement watching the rain fall all day long. I go to bed expecting it to have stopped, but it's still raining in morning. I thought that it would be a cleaver idea to water our indoor herb garden whenever it is raining in an effort to mimic the rain. But now I worry that I may drown our plants. I'll use a different method to remember watering them from now on. Other than my over zealous liquid sunshine our indoor pot garden, which is in the main kitchen window, is doing great. I went to the main garden a couple weeks ago and started potting up parsley, marjoram, oregano, chives, mint and purchased a rosemary plant. While I was doing that, at the markets, Jesse met a lady selling little stevia and gotu kola plants and bought one of each. So now we have the beginning of a mini jungle on the inside and it is starting to produce modestly.
It is important to us to have that fresh nutrition available when the winter comes and extend our season.
As we are drawing inwards, so to are other creatures we share space with. When we arrived here at the farm we noticed ladybugs were everywhere. In the orchard they fly everywhere often crashing into my face and ears. Now that the weather is cool they have done a little ladybug march into our house. At first we would just see them on the walls and one or two flying about. Then we realized that they were congregating by the main door. A little pile of ladybugs all squished together. Jesse reckoned they would just die there and that would be that. I was convinced something more complicated was at work.
So... I googled it!
And this is what I found out....
Ladybugs live off of their stored fat during hibernation, which is why I don't see them moving much. So, now when I get a lad bug flying on my arm I take them over to hotel hibernation and I see a few more have found their way to this spot on there own. Each female is capable of producing 10,000 eggs a year and they can live for two or more years. So in short these Ladybugs spending the winter in our house will be a big help to the gardens and orchards next year.


Anonymous said...

wow! i didn't know that about ladybugs...always assumed they went indoors to escape the cold and died over's nice to know there's some sense of generational continuity through years. reminds me of the accumulation of wisdom.

Monique said...

I too lost a batch of applesauce one year because I didn't process enough - almost cried so I know how you felt. I have now learned an alternative to water processing (because I HATE water processing - it's very messy and complicated for me). I know a woman who does it in her oven. I wonder which takes more energy - oven or hot water bath. I don't know, but I'll try the oven anyway. One book I love is Preserving Food without Canning or Freezing - I'm working on moving away from these energy-intensive food preservation techniques. This year I tried sun-baked cherries in brandy. DELICIOUS!!!!!