29 F, Cloudy
1 mph, NE wind
Autumn is swiftly fleeting past, transitioning the garden from active production to dormancy. The recent cold temperatures seem intent on keeping a strong grasp this winter-fair warning.
The autumn garden through early November continued to produce a bounty of Bull Nose peppers, China Rose and Black Spanish radishes, and Bloomsdale spinach, while the last of the flower and herb seed heads were gathered and dried. Early in November, the heirloom flowers were still blooming and most had survived the early light frosts, to delight us in their beauty. Just over a week ago when the temperatures were still reading in the 60’s, the jardin potager’s beds were cleared, soil amended, and the discarded plant materials added to the compost. Kale, spinach and a few turnips had been surviving the recent snows and freezes, but frigid temps have finally proven too much. Autumn has brought visitors with whom to share our jardin seeds, the addition of two new beds augmented the current garden layout. The garden’s status is made possible by our garden grantors, fort staff support, and the volunteer efforts and work of Jennifer Esker, my son Nick, and friends. Upon reflection, a great feeling of satisfaction is to be gained from an orderly garden well prepared for the winter months ahead. Although its beds are no longer overflowing in foliage and produce, there is now space to simply reflect and dream of another garden year yet to be.
The last enjoyment of the garden year shared with visitors seems to coincide with Fort de Chartres Winter Rendezvous, held the first weekend in November. Always considerable fun, this year’s highlights included a Halloween scare brought about by an evil rutabaga and baking in the fort’s stone bake oven. Also my friends, Antoinette, Renea, and I, were able to offer the release of the newest seasonal edition of Recettes, Receipts, Recipes by Three Ladies featuring Winter Holiday recipes of the Illinois country. Happily we have now sold well over a hundred copies of our booklets and we thank all for their support. À propos the booklets, we will have all three Recipe editions (Autumn, Spring, Winter/Holiday) available Thanksgiving weekend, for those interested in buying copies. The November fort weekend brings cherished time spent in the company of good friends, including close companions and those seen much too infrequently. However, I would be remiss to not mention the coupe de la résistance this year, friends joining in song (singing into carrots, no less) to benefit the fort garden through a carrotoke contest held by Kitchen Gardeners International, a previous jardin grantor and wonderful support organization for community kitchen gardens worldwide. Please support them and us by visiting their site, making a donation, and vote by liking our FdC garden singing efforts at the www.carrotoke.org/sing site. Voting continues until Friday evening, November 21, 8 PM EST. Support for the continued endeavors to explore the 18th century Illinois country through its agricultural and culinary traditions is always genuinely appreciated and valued.
And as the final days of November approach, beginning the fall and winter holiday seasons, our small Milice family will be preparing for our annual sojourn within the comfort and security of Fort de Chartres Thanksgiving weekend, November 29 and 30. A turkey roasting in the hearth, the stone bake oven baking meals and treats, and a few informal shooting contests, always make for special memories of family and friends sharing the experience. Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to stop by and step into our regional past. Joyeuses fêtes! Happy holidays!