A Time of Harvests, Birds, and Bears

The growing season has come and gone… almost. For the first time in many years, November is upon us and there has been no killing frost: we still have basil, bananas (yes! bananas), figs, nasturtiums, and moonflower in leaf and flower.

Our temperate bananas do not have a long enough growing season to allow them to flower: they do though, grow 12 feet high, and positioned near the west wall of our home, amongst yucca and figs, lend a tropical influence to our site.

Banana Plant Against West Wall

Besides being a lovely presence, bananas are beautiful and exotic. (I was conceived and born in Panama, so they also soothe my spirit)!

Banana leaves are part of Barefoot Permaculture’s harvest, borrowing from the highland Guatemala Mayan’s incredibly delicious tamales (wrapped in banana leaves).

We trim the leaves into roughly 10” by 8” rectangles, which is enough space to allow some grace in sizing the masa. For tying the filled and folded packets, we use strips of Yucca leaves.

Tamale Makings

The packets are steamed for 40 minutes and then are ready to devour. Yum!

Tamale Ready to Wrap

Tamale Wrapped in Banana Leaf, Yucca Fiber Tie

Tamales Upright in Steamer Pot

Tamale Ready For a Feast

Absolutely Yumptious Tamale, Ready for Fork

                                                                            Season of Apples
Last winter’s prolonged, record breaking warmth was disastrous to our regions’ large fruit. Our local commercial apple growers (as well as most home orchards) lost 80-90% of their crop to the last two late freezes, as well as humid conditions favoring fungal and bacterial diseases.

In our east Asheville microclimate, we squeaked by the late freezes, and have harvested a bounty of figs, European and Asian pears, Asian persimmons, and apples.

Varieties of Our Red Apples

Our red apples (Enterprize, Liberty, Limbertwig, King David, Yates) ripened in September. Disease took more than a fair share, yet we still picked more than 3 bushels.

Our Apples: Ready For Pressing

After eating what we could, and having prior experience with their “keeping” limits (even in cold storage), in an effort to reduce perishability, and arrive at a delightful, added value product, we attended a friend’s apple pressing party, put in our shared community labor, and turned our 3+ bushels into 11 gallons of cider.

Finishing Our Community Cider Pressing

By an addition of champagne yeast (for fermentation), we are on the way to 11 gallons of hard cider, which will be ready and available for consuming by spring 2013.

Hard Cider In The Making...

Our favorite apples, Goldrush, are still ripening on the trees.

Diseases, insects, squirrels and birds have reduced our harvest by half: still, we have been eating the “drops” out of hand, as well as baking many Apple Galettes (to the delight of us and our friends).

Apple Galette: First Assembly Stage

Apple Galette: Final Pre-Wrapping Stage

Apple Galette: Ready For The Oven

Apple Galette: Ready For Yumptious Rapture

This post-election week may witness our final apple picking of the 2012 season. We are waiting for a frost to pull up the sugars and amplify Goldrush’s taste complexity.

Our so far, super dwarfed Eureka (Asian) Persimmon’s 4 foot height is bent over, whispering to the soil, with the weight of 31 fruits, also awaiting a hard frost.

A migrating Yellow-Rumped Warbler flew into our kitchen’s sliding glass doors. I picked him up, and Chiwa and I both enveloped him with healing energy. After a few minutes, he perked up, and after a few minutes more, deposited a small packet of phosphate enriched fertilizer in my hand and flew off…

A Recovering Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Since Chiwa is trying to avoid gluten, I’ve been making 100% sourdough Rye Seeded Bread, and although each baking results in two 2&1/2 lb and one 1&1/2 lb loaves, they don’t long survive our enraptured, gustatory attention…

Rising !00% Sourdough Seeded Rye

Fresh From The Oven...

Two late afternoons ago, on my way out to give our chickens an eagerly anticipated snack, my motion was halted by the presence of a large yearling Black Bear, standing in their outer enclosure; wary hens 10 feet away, eyes on this handsome intruder. I alerted China to take down the birdfeeder, and I moved onward respectfully, since mama and a second yearling showed themselves nearby. By this time, the curious intruder moved into their inner sanctum, perhaps after their food bin.  When I kept moving closer, the cub scrambled over the wire fence, joining mama and sibling, and they moved off through our Black Walnut grove. Their coats were thick, sleek, and shiny black…

Bears In Our Black Walnut Grove

Especially with bears, all’s well that ends well…

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About goodheart

Education: Warren Wilson College (BA Environmental Studies) 1987: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (MSc. Natural Resources) 2005 Permaculture Design Certificate (The Farm, TN) 1994 Presidential Volunteer Award: 2005, 2006, 2007 Experiences: National and international Permaculture teacher and practitioner since 1995; Sustainable land use and permaculture consultant; International consultant for small plot sustainable agriultural projects; Home orchard consultant; Endangered species observer for sea-turtle and whale projects; Field biologist and naturalist; Gourmet natural food chef and teacher; Home baker (artisan breads) brewer & fermenter; Home orchardist; BeeKeeper; Ecological gardener; Broom-maker in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and general bio-philiac...
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