We love autumn! Frugal Freddie loves Fall because autumn equals football (and that sort of rhymes too) and Economia Nia loves autumn because of all the orange, the crisp air, and the opportunity to wear cozy sweaters, and the football. Autumn means Halloween and Thanksgiving and FF's birthday and not needing to have perfectly waxed legs all of the time because you won't be frolicking around in a bikini every weekend (FF would like it noted that he is not the one frolicking in a bikini). Autumn is the only season with two names. It's a time of apple picking and getting lost in corn mazes. But the one thing almost better than Fall? Getting ready for fall! That's right, around here closing up the summer season is a busy, fun and money saving event we call harvest :)
For the past 2 summers, along with our flowers, we have planted a vegetable and fruit garden in our backyard. With the help of our compost heap we have grown four varieties of tomatoes (so good they make you want to cry), cucumbers (you can't even begin to imagine how many cucumbers), two varieties of peppers, zucchini, corn (which was a success only for the squirrels that ate it all), sunflowers that produced an amazing amount of seeds (again, the squirrels were very happy and plump), carrots, broccoli and watermelon (seriously!). In addition we have a blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry bushes. And our plum tree. A tree that was planted by EN's father when we first moved into the house and were at work. We came home that day to find a small little plum tree, planted smack in the most inappropriate place of our yard. "Oh well", we said..."he meant well, and it is so small". That was 9 years ago and since then this little plum tree has pretty much taken over our backyard. It's location makes it impossible to have a clothesline and makes backyard badminton treacherous, but, it does provide shade and about 300 pounds of fruit a year. Fresh fruit frenzy! We are quite convinced that this plum tree is smarter than some people. Every year we stand beneath it and declare that this is the year we cut it down, sure that it has outlived it's fruit bearing potential. And every spring, little white flowers bloom on the tree, holding the promise of yet more plums.
So, what is a family of 4 to do with all this bounty? This year, the cucumbers were so out of control that we were practically begging people to take them off our hands. If we had once said hello, you were sure to get a cucumber. Close family and friends got bagfuls. One particular friend, with 4 cucumber loving daughters, got about 15 at a time. By our estimation we saved her about 2000$ this past summer (okay, we may be exaggerating a tiny bit). She was so impressed by our garden, and the money saving that comes along with it, that she has committed to starting her own little vegetable patch next year.
So, what did we do with the rest of our fresh produce. Well, a lot of it was eaten right away or given away to be eaten right after it was picked. Our surplus of tomatoes were either pureed and frozen (to be used in future sauces) or frozen whole (to make delicious Yemista - a greek, stuffed vegetable meal). Peppers were also frozen to be added to future meals. And the plums? Well, a whole weekend was spent with these plums. The result? Plum jam (tart, a little sweet, and super sweet) that we are able to share with friends and family. How delicious to know that you can have a taste of summer even in the blistery days of winter.
So, whether you have a huge backyard (lucky you!) or simply a balcony, you too can have your own urban garden. All you need is some basic advice (available pretty much everywhere, but your best bet is to ask someone who has been gardening for awhile), and to devote some time to tending to the fruits and veggies of your labour. Believe us, there is nothing better than picking a tomato that you have grown, off a vine and slicing into it.
Economia Nia and Frugal Freddie