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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Winter Chores and Tomatillos

 I've never read Thoreau but I'd like to think we'd be homeboys.

We started our winter prep this weekend as I get older, I find that those moments of quiet introspection sneak up on me as I take a quick breather from my chores.  Just to look around, breathe in the air and remember that I am apart of nature as much as the ladybug or spider going about it's business on this fine fall day.

All getting ready for winter!
We all know it's going to end soon sending us into the cozy house to hibernate for the next six months so for today, we give thanks for the warm Fall day as I clean out the garden.

My poor garden was sadly neglected this year as my schedule just simply didn't allow for more attention to be paid to it. Weeds took over and it took me almost two days just to break it down. I clean out the garden during the winter months for three reasons:

  1. I don't want to handle wet, limp, half rotted plant material first thing in the spring. It's so much nicer to start with a fresh palette.
  2. I don't want this year's weed seeds to drop in the garden over winter and become next year's weeds I'm battling.
  3. I also throw out our woodstove's ashes into the garden ("Bio-char") and spread them all over. I don't want to catch some half dead weed on fire.

Wow, huh? From about 8 vines.

In cleaning the garden up, I gathered the last of the year's harvest, the tomatillos. When it comes to salsa, I don't think there is anything better than Salsa Verde and if you like it too, you need to grow tomatillos next year. This was this year's haul.

Tomatoes and tomatillos are very different.
Tomatillos are not tomatoes although they look like one. Their vines appear a lot more delicate than a tomato vine but they are proficient as you can see. As they grow, they form a little yellow and purple flower that very much mimics their nightshade cousin but then they form little green pouches that look much like the "Chinese Lanterns" that you may grow in your garden. Inside each pouch forms the tomatillo. Typically I grow a purple tomatillo that as it ripens turns purple but this  year I grew one that was larger and I think that may be the way to go in the future. As they ripen, they very often pop open their husk which is an
indication they are ready. If they don't,
don't be concerned as not each one will.

Inside a tomatillos showing the "meatiness".

I couldn't find my usual recipe, so this year I used the Ball recipe found here:

I canned this up last night and it smelled delicious! I was up until 1am this morning finishing it but it'll be well worth it over the next coming months.

Additionally, it is time to clean the windows while still warm enough outside to get on a ladder and clean them. I made my cleaning solution, my homemade version of Windex, found here:


Cleaning the windows so they sparkle. Nothing more depressing on a cold winter's day then looking outside in the gloomy greyness through dirty windows!

Still ahead of us is cleaning out the garage so we can start parking our cars in this Fall. I'm not sure why, but during the summer months we part outside like we are "sunning" the cars or something.

We also have to find firewood. Brisk mornings are starting to become more commonplace and the colder it is outside the covers, the harder it is to get up. Fire starters need to be made in the worse way and the porch has to be converted to the winter porch complete with the wood holders. The feather bed has to be brought down from the attic and a trip made into town to clean it and the sleeping bags used over the summer by my son in the big washer/driers of the laundry mat. The feather bed makes you warm as toast but on work days is a misery to get out of.

The young trees have to be covered for the winter and the lawn mower converted to a snow plow with the addition of the plow and weights added to it. And somewhere along the line, a new starter has to be put into the snowblower for use when we can't see the driveway to even start plowing.

Ah, winter in the country....


  1. Good morning Stacey! Your salsa looks delicious! And up until 1 in the morning!!! You are a trooper :) I am also wondering how you make your fire starters?

    Thanks for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays last week! Please join our new link up today :)

  2. Hi Stacey,
    This will be delicious Salsa, I love tomatillos. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome post with Full Plate Thursday and have a great day.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen