Even though the temperature isn’t really saying “fall is here” in our area the garden certainly is. We’ve been harvesting pumpkins, winter squash, and popcorn and sowing fall successions of beets, lettuce, and cabbage. With this and my love of all things autumn in mind I decided it’s time to bring out the fall recipes.
These cinnamon buns are a delicious way to start enjoying the autumn harvest without breaking out the pumpkin pie. They’re delicious and fairly easy to make.
2 1/2-3 C all purpose flour
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 C water
1/4 C milk
3 TBS vegetable oil or butter
1 TBS molasses
1/4 C pumpkin puree
3 TBS butter
1 C pumpkin puree
4-5 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/4-1/2 C brown sugar
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 TBS milk
Never made your own pumpkin puree? Check out this post.
Preparing the dough.
To begin combine the milk, oil or butter, molasses, puree into a microwaveable bowl or small saucepan. Heat these ingredients until they’re quite warm but not hot.
In a separate bowl combine the sugar, spices, salt, and yeast. Once the liquid ingredients are warm pour them into the bowl as well. Stir until well mixed and then begin adding the flour a little bit at a time. As the dough gets hard to mix you can turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead it with your hands.
You’ll know you’ve added enough flour when the dough forms a nice ball and is tacky but not sticky. Now allow the dough to rest for about 5 minutes.
Next roll the dough into a rectangle. I generally roll the dough between 1/4-1/2 inch thick though you can change this to suit your preference.
Now you can spread the filling. First soften or melt the butter and mix it with the pumpkin puree and spread this in a thin layer on the dough. Then sprinkle the spices (alternatively you can use a pre-made pumpkin spice mix) evenly over the dough. Do the same with the brown sugar. I rarely measure the spices or sugar and just go by eye.
Roll the dough into a long tube and slice it into 8-12 pieces and place them into a greased, 9×13 inch baking pan. Place the pan somewhere warm and let them raise for 2-3 hours until they have doubled in size.
Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes until they’re golden brown.
To make icing combine the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir in the milk a tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired thickness. Icing should be added after the cinnamon rolls cool.
In my mind fall is this perfect time of year when we welcome the cool crisp air, autumn festivities, and the break from a busy summer season. It’s a time for crafts and reading and enjoying and celebrating the harvest with family and friends.
Unfortunately the reality is that autumn is usually just as busy as summer. There’s always more gardening projects whether it’s repairing tools for next year or putting up the last of this year’s peppers. Throw that in with visits from relatives, less sun exposure and vitamin D, tons of stress, and unhealthy food and you get the start of flu season!
One of my favorite ways to try and combat this problem, besides learning when to take a break, is to drink herbal tea. I’m not willing to give up my Halloween goodies or Thanksgiving feast but I can still make sure my body is getting some of the good stuff.
My favorite autumn tea blend includes the following herbs.
Echinacea is an excellent herb for this time of year because studies have shown that it make act as an immuno-stimulant and even increase the production of white blood cells. All parts of the plant can be dried and used for tea. If you haven’t grown it yet it’s fairly easy to cultivate and is perennial in zones 3-9.
While ginger certainly adds nice flavor to this blend it too has medicinal properties that are great for fall. Ginger is high in vitamin C, magnesium, and other important minerals. It also helps with nausea, heartburn, inflammation, and respiratory ailments.Plus it adds a nice warmth to this fall beverage.
Not just for cats, catnip is actually very beneficial for humans. It has a calming effect and contains high levels of vitamins C and E to help keep your immune system strong. Catnip is another easy herb to grow and is perennial in zones 4-10.
Licorice Root *optional*
If you’d like your tea a bit sweet without the added sugar consider adding some licorice root. Beyond its flavor licorice root also has the added benefit of soothing upset stomachs and easing coughs. I put it as optional as its flavor is not everyone’s favorite.
To make the tea blend 4 TBS of dried echinacea, with 2 tsp of dried ginger, 2 TBS of dried catnip, and 1 TBS of dried licorice root (or more to your taste) in a small jar. Then steep 1 TBS of tea mix per 8oz of boiling water for 5 minutes. You may find you like it stronger and can use more than 1 TBS.
If you wish you can use a tea ball or strain the herbs out before drinking your tea.
Enjoy your tea, your harvest, and all the important people and events in your life this autumn. Stay healthy and happy!
For many fall seems like the time when things begin to wind down. It’s time for hot meals, enjoying the harvest, and snuggling up by the fire. However seasoned gardeners know that spending more time in your garden in the fall can lead to an easier spring. There’s still plenty of projects!
Sow fall crops.
There’s actually many varieties that are great for fall planting. Plants like garlic and winter wheat do best with a start in the cool months of fall. There’s also many root vegetables like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips that can provide a late harvest along with hardy greens like arugula, pak choi, spinach, and mustards. Depending on your zone you may need to use season extenders like low tunnels and cold frames to keep your garden alive in late fall and winter.
Make sure there’s no exposed soil!
This is super important to maintaining a healthy and productive garden. Leaving soil exposed kills off beneficial fungi, bacteria, and insects. It also makes soil vulnerable to erosion and allows weeds to get an early hold in the spring.
The best way to combat this is though the use of cover crops. You can find more about planting fall cover crops and Southern Exposure’s offerings from this article, Fall Cover Crops & Their Importance. You can even use some traditional food crops (like mustard greens) as cover crops! If you cannot plant a cover crop at least consider covering the garden in mulch such as old leaves, hay, straw, or shredded newspaper. These block weeds, provide habitat for beneficial insects, and hold moisture which is necessary for good bacteria and fungi to thrive.
Plant some perennials.
There’s also many perennials you can add to your garden in fall. Perennial onions and certain flower bulbs like crocuses and daffodils are great for fall planting. Many fruit and nut trees and bushes can be fall planted as well.
Mulch existing perennials.
Placing mulch around the base of existing perennials can help prevent frost from reaching killing the roots (especially important with newly established plants). It can also help prevent weeds in the spring while you’re busy with spring planting and as it breaks down it will add nutrients to the soil. When mulching try to avoid making a thick “volcano” mulch mound around the trunk or base of the plant. Piles of mulch like this provide places for rodents to hid and chew on your plants.
Take care of your tools and equipment. Speaking of tools, you will definitely feel the need for a Cordless hedge trimmer for your garden, as this device works wonders in maintaining the aesthetics of your garden.
Fall maintenance can help keep your garden tools in tip top shape. Make sure to brush at least most of the dirt off your tools and sharpen any that need it. Some people use a bucket full of sand and old vegetable oil to plunge bladed tools (like shovels) into to get them extra clean and sharp after the big chunks of dirt have been removed. You may also want to sand down and rub linseed oil on any wooden handled tools that need it. Any equipment that uses fuel like rototillers should be drained or run out of fuel for winter. This is because leaving fuel for that long without running the equipment can plug up carburetors.
If there’s tools or equipment that need replaced or equipment which needs professional maintenance it’s best to get it over with in the fall without the pressure of spring planting looming.
Start Planning for next year.
While not everyone may be enthused about having an extensive plan for their garden having a few basics mapped out can help you create an easier to manage and more productive garden. Planning should include looking at what seeds you still have or have saved considering what seeds you’d like to purchase and reconciling that with how much your garden will actually fit (not as many as anyone wants to believe). You should also consider a crop rotation including any areas that will be in cover crops. You can find the Southern Exposure garden planner to help with that here. You may also choose to consider your seed starting set up for next year. Some garden supply stores will have sales in the fall which you can take advantage of instead of paying full price next spring.
Test and amend your soil.
People typically test their soil and add amendments in the spring but there’s no reason not to get this checked off in the fall. It’s actually preferable to add things like manure in the fall so that it decomposes as much as possible before planting.
Leave some things alone.
The rest of this article may add a bunch of projects to your to do list but here’s one thing you can skip. Don’t cut down, rake, and remove all the dead plant material from your garden unless you’re combating a specific disease or insect that overwinters in the material. While you may think your garden looks tidier barren this plant material actually helps many beneficial insects survive the winter.
Get a step ahead in your garden while the weather is cool and pleasant. By doing some basic fall tasks you can be prepared for spring planting and get crops in the ground right on time. You may also end up with a healthier more productive garden without too much effort. Happy autumn!