WE SPENT LAST WEEK AMONG GIANTS IN KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARKS (that’s the General Grant sequoia above in Kings Canyon NP) and returned home to a few giants in the vegetable garden like a four pound head of broccoli (below).

The variety is Marathon (seed from Johnny’s); I have grown it for many years. A few years back, I grew a head that weighed nearly five pounds!

WE MARKED THE PASSING OF SUMMER and the beginning of fall in Kings Canyon NP with a hike up to Cedar Grove Overlook. Unfortunately the view at 6,000 feet was very smokey to the south, west and east. To the north we were able to see the Monarch Divide. Warm days and cool nights.

This time of the year has a certain cool thread running through even a warm day and the lower inclination of the sun intensifies the color of pink flowers. The afternoon we came home the sky was lightly clouded and the pink of the Nerine lilies and Autum Joy sedum seemed to sing.

The anticipation of returning home is like a package waiting to be unwrapped. I always wonder what awaits in the garden after an absence of a week or longer. Our return on Tuesday did not disappoint— there was plenty to harvest in the vegetable garden. All of the cool weather here has been ideal for the brassicas but also just enough warmth for the tomatoes to continue ripening. The peppers are dismal this year and the pears too.

Here is what I picked on Wednesday.

The squash vines had pretty much withered, so the Buttercup and Delicata squashes came out of the garden and some of the zucchini that I did not pick before our trip managed to stay on the small side. I have grown the Costata Romanesco variety the last few years. The plants are large and the dark green ribbed fruits are firm, sweet, and crisp. I have two plants this year and try to keep them picked at under ten inches long.

Still needed to pick are a couple of heads of Graffiti cauliflower, below. I may pickle them for the novelty of color (they will be kind of purple after cooking). Regardless, the color is joyful.

The day before we left I turned twelve pounds of Akane apples into sauce (six pints), had another go at pickled green tomatoes (they were quite soft last year, but tasted great) enough to fill five pint jars and pickled three pints of dilled green beans.

Yesterday I put up eleven half-pints of Tomatillo Salsa from tomatillos purchased in California and three pints of bread and butter style zucchini pickles. This weekend I will deal with the Spartan apples. Hmmmmm, preserves or chutney?
Part of the fun of canning for me is designing the labels. I take a photo of the fruit or vegetable that will be going into the jar so I can incorporate it into the design. I print 2 inch and 2.5 inch labels on an Epson Photo2400. Here are some of the labels designed so far this year. (A bit of showing off.) My brand is Backyard Farm and I make a notation of where the contents are grown (by me or someone/somewhere else). (None of these items are for sale of course, just personal use and to give as gifts. I will, however entertain label design commissions.)


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