Wrapping up a productive season

Sunchokes and shallots are the last of our harvest this season. Sunchokes, a.k.a Jerusalem Artichokes, are perennial tubers, something between a potato and a radish, and taste like a smoky potato. Some people say they’re very gassy. We slice them thin and saute them with onions, green peppers and whatever sauce we conjure up out of the cabinets. They also make pretty yellow flowers and lots of mulch material.


Shallots are tiny onions our neighbor Margaret gave us. They are a mystery to me. They multiplied, but they’re still tiny. Lots of green onion coming out on top but who can use that much green onion at any given time? We’ll harvest and dry those and as soon as the rain lets up.

This is our first autumn here we feel like we’ve grown and/or processed enough to enjoy through much of the winter, and it feels good. Grinnell student visitors, here on their alternative break last week, asked me what we’d grown in our gardens and permaculture orchard. Here’s the list:

  • Watermelons
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers (Donated 80 pounds to the food shelter)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn, both Cherokee and sweet
  • Potatoes (Three varieties but not a good year)
  • Peppers (Thai, sweet, habanero, jalepeno, banana)
  • Onions (Walla Walla, red, white, walking)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Carrots (Crop failure! We harvested 3!)
  • Strawberries (perennial)
  • Blackberries (perennial)
  • Blueberries (perennial)
  • Aronia berries (not very good off the bush, perennial)
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Herbs – mint, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, anise hyssop, garlic chives, (all perennial), Thai and sweet basil, dill, parsley, opal fennel, stevia, cilantro, sage
  • Spinach
  • Scarlet runner beans (a gift from WWOOFers Jesse and Jodie)
  • Peas
  • String beans
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Tatsoi
  • Shiitake mushrooms (first real harvest since we innoculated logs a year ago spring)
  • Apples, pears and a handful of peaches from our drought-stricken trees
  • Sunchokes (perennial)
  • Sunflowers

To enjoy them this winter, here’s how we stored our overage:


  • Whole tomatoes and baked tomato sauce
  • Mulberries
  • Peppers
  • Basil
  • Strawberries
  • Apple cider (wonderful apples from neighbors Margaret, Dan and Nate)


  • Apple sauce
  • Dill and sweet pickles
  • Green tomato jam
  • Autumn olive jam
  • Elderberry syrup
  • Green tomato sauce


  • Apples
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon (It’s great!)
  • Herbs
  • Peppers

We’re in the midst of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife-assisted eradication of our autumn olive infestation, so we may not have jam next year, but knowing these plants, in a few years there will be plenty if we don’t stay on top of it.

We’re looking forward to sharing our goodies with winter visitors and our daughter Ayshe, who returns New Year’s Eve from Alaska. (OK, I mailed her a CARE package and the pickle jar broke – I may never live THAT one down!)

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