One of the many fruit and veggie stands in the Niagara region of Ontario offering fresh picked produce ready to be enjoyed.
"There is a harmony in Autumn, and a lustre in its sky, which thru' the Summer is not heard."
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Just the other day my son Jeremy said to me, "Mom, I think autumn is my favourite time of the year." Although I love all the seasons, I think I have to agree with him - the hills ablaze with colour, the mellow yellow of the setting sun, the chill of autumn evenings, the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Even with the shortening daylight hours, a warm Indian summer can be just perfect for gardening and family activities. Here are ten way to celebrate the fall season:
1. Visit a cranberry marsh - I'm lucky to live in an area with not one but two cranberry marshes (Johnston's and Iroquois Growers) plus my friend Sharon who lives in Hoquiam, Washington is also a cranberry grower. These tiny tart ruby berries are full of anti-oxidants and a symbol of autumn.
2. Decorate your home inside with big bouquets of sunflowers - a truly seasonal bloom that not only brings a ray of sunshine to your interior decor (they don't call then 'sunny sunflowers' for nothing) but also for me evoke a feeling of Provence.
3. Enjoy the warm weather by finishing all the garden chores you have been putting off. Winter weather is just around the corner. Cut back your perennials and protect tender ones with some mulch.
4. A great autumn family activity is raking the fallen leaves. When my children were young we would rake the leaves into big piles, their reward to jump into the piles before we would bag them for curbside compost collection. Now I have a mulching mower and use the mulched leaves to protect my garden beds and add to my compost.
5. Spend some quality family time planting spring blooming bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and squill). Check out the variety at your local garden center or purchase your bulbs through one of the many specialty bulb suppliers (my favourites are Breck's of Holland and Vesey's) You'll be rewarded next spring when the snow melts.
6. Plan a day trip to a pick-your-own farm to purchase pumpkins and squash. My children still love searching the fields to select just the right pumpkin to carve for Halloween. I love trying all the different squash turning them into tasty treats like warm squash soup, mashed squash and even pumpkin muffins, fritters and cheesecake.
7. Spend a day making pickles or sauces. Visit a local farmer's market and load up on fresh veggies and tomatoes. A rainy autumn day is perfect for filling the house with the delicious aromas of garden produce being prepared now to be enjoyed in the depths of winter.
8. Clean out your potting shed. Clean and oil your garden tools so they will be ready to use next spring. Take all your unused fertilizer and chemical pesticides (if you have them) to your local landfill site on Hazardous Waste day. Do not dump them down the sewer as they will end up in your local water system.
9. Decorate your porch with an autumnal seasonal display. Purchase a bale of hay or straw, add a few cornstalks, a scarecrow (you can pick one up at the dollar store if you don't want to create your own), a pot of mums in an old milk can, aloong with some pumpkins and squash. Be creative, you are only limited by your imagination.
10. Finally, celebrate all the joys of the autumn season by inviting a few friends over for a seasonal dinner. It doesn't need to be lavish or elaborate. Fresh seasonal produce from farm or market stands, simply prepared, along with local cheese, breads and wines while watching the setting sun with good friends is the perfect ending to a great gardening season.