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.