Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Puca time!

Our berry patch out front usually gives us the first sign of the end of summer. For weeks straight, we're able to pick more berries than fit in the freezer. But eventually a day comes where the berries look good from a distance, but on closer inspection are all funky. Some have slug tracks, some are already rotten and dropping off, and some never really get ripe. We call this "berries gone puca". What the heck is a puca, you ask?
The Puca (also spelled Pooka, Puka, Puck) is a supernatural creature mostly associated with Ireland, West Scotland and Wales. It can take a variety of shapes, dog, rabbit, goat or goblin, but a large black horse with glowing golden eyes is the most common form. It has the power of human speech, and legends abound in Ireland of people seeking advice from a Puca, which are probably remnants of pre-christian religious rituals. Pucas are also known to abduct unwary nighttime travellers, taking them for a wild ride, then leaving them unharmed where they were found.
An ancient agricultural custom was that any crops left unharvested after Samhain (Oct. 31/Nov. 1) belonged to the Puca, and anyone gathering them would also gather the ill-will of the Puca. Parents would warn their children not to eat these crops by telling them they would make them sick. In many areas people would proactively leave a small portion of their crops in the field, called the Puca's share.
If you'd like to read more about this creature, including how one was tamed by Irish high king Brian Boru, check out these links:
Our garden is just about done for the year. We left plenty for the Puca, and still have a lot of broccoli, chard, lettuce, kohlrabi & carrots planted for winter harvesting. Sitting on the gravel pad where the greenhouse used to be is about 20lbs of carrots, and a kohlrabi the size of a bowling ball. Doug & Buddy had fun gnawing on it. After 4 years of trying to integrate the greenhouse into our food production, we decided we could do without it. Four-season gardening is a wonderful thing, but we'd really rather take winters off and eat canned, dried & frozen harvests. The back porch will be mostly enclosed soon and will be an excellent place for seed starting, which is pretty much all we used the greenhouse for. The greenhouse has gone to its new home with our Endorean friends.

Last of the peppers! We pickled all of these, using a fridge-pickle recipe. We noticed that canning them in the hot water bath makes them not keep as well, and with a 2nd fridge in the shop, we have room for them.
Some of the squash have made it inside for their pre-storage heat treatment. They keep longer if they get a week or so in warm temps. When they're done by the woodstove, they'll go on a metal shelving unit in the pantry.
A persistent visitor to the sunflower feeder. I'm not sure if this woodpecker was after seeds or bugs living in the seeds, but it spends a lot of time at Seven Trees.


2manymachines said...

Oh, gals, every time I read your blog I get green with envy. Do you take unpaid interns? I'd love to come work for a week, but don't expect me to chop chicken heads off. I swing a mean hammer though. Seriously, how many pounds of berries did you get this year? Between my puny purple and red raspberry patches we got over 35 lbs, and that's with eating fresh every day and making sauces and using them in cooking, and giving them to friends. Best year ever! I just got done today freezing chard, collards and beet greens. It just doesn't get any better than rolling in the dirt and picking your own food, does it? I love your blog and can't wait til the next Monday for updates.
Susan in Omaha

DLS said...

LOL Thanks Susan. If you are ever in the PNW, be sure to let us know... we can go out for coffee and at least provide a farm tour! Maybe when we are in the midwest someday you can do same. We had a raspberry start from friends that produced all season... in fact we just picked some this past week! When I was a kid it was always a spring only thing, but that was Montana and I digress. We probably got 60 lbs of blackberries this year though. Another friend and some great starts that at year 3 took off! 8- ) Thanks for visiting the blog, and commenting... we like to know that we are not alone in our interests! And can always use a strong arm wielding a good hammer!

nova said...

Nice big dog!

My container garden was just about worthless this year. Oh well...

Seven Trees said...

That's our Stew! He's 130lbs....

Practice makes perfect with any kind of gardening ;) I need to work on growing maters in containers.

Oldnovice said...

People say that blackberry bushes can't be killed; they're like cockroaches. This is my second year for blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Nary a berry so far. Maybe 3rd year is the charm. Do you do anything special?

nova said...


Practice makes perfect. Grrr...
Just grow you little devils!

Next year. I will be the harvest king!

Seven Trees said...

I can't wait to hear your stories of garden triumph! You should start trying a few full-moon spells just to encourage your veg-critters next season ;)

Old Novice,
In the northwest blackberries are a menace. They just grow wild here, so our main berry patch usually has to be butchered to keep it in place. Our tame berries (thornless black & everbearing raspberry) took a couple seasons to get going, but are happy now. I think it's mostly our climate, since we're kind of mean to them & forget about them sometimes. We also put half-done manure/compost around the base in the spring.


Oldnovice said...

half-done manure/compost around the base in the spring


I'm actually thinking about doing that to them this month and maybe again in the Spring. There's a whole 'nuther weather thing goin' on down here, so that might work ... maybe ... got nuthin' to lose tryin'.