It's now a whole lot colder than it was during our lovely long weekend. In fact, the nights have been colder than expected – well, colder than predicted on the local news. I usually check out wunderground.com for better local information. Wunderground is short for Weather Underground, which relies on "official" weather reports as well as lots of local observers.
When I say local, I mean really local. Newburyport has about four or five local stations to choose from; for example, Plum Island, Middle Street, and the Common Pasture. I usually rely on the Common Pasture results because it, like us, is located over the High Street ridge from the river and ocean, so we get some bigger temperature fluctuations – it’s just a little bit colder in the winter and a little bit warmer in the summer.
For regular life, this is all probably more specific than necessary, but for the garden, it's super-helpful. For example, I can keep track of local rainfall amounts (so I know how much I need to water). Also, those few degrees of difference in the microclimate are really important when you're trying to keep your plants from getting frostbitten. For example, this week the Common Pasture was already down to 31 degrees by dinner time, while the rest of town was close to 40. That's a life-or-death difference for some plants, and having the most accurate information keeps us in good stead with crop protection (or a last-minute harvest).
Anyway, seeing the temperatures drop so quickly out in the Common Pasture forced me to cut the last herbs to bring in for drying. Above, you see a basket full of sweet woodruff that I later spread across some baking racks to dry. I don't think the autumn leaves of the woodruff are as potent as the new growth in spring, but it still smells nice enough, and might be enough to flavor some wine. Or maybe just to use in some sachets.
These are our last comfrey leaves, drying indoors. This tiny harvest is my own fault – I just didn't think to cut them earlier while we were so busy harvesting and protecting all things edible. By the time I got the comfrey, it had already ben a little frostbitten, and these leaves were all that remained that looked healthy enough to use. Comfrey is an ingredient in a lot of the homemade cosmetics I've been trying, so I wanted to have some on hand throughout the winter. I'm not sure if this will be enough, but I also have some comfrey oil left over as well. Next year I'll be better about harvesting the herbs throughout the summer so that we don't get caught empty-handed in the winter months.