Musings from Musette’s Garden


Autumn harvest

It’s that time of year again, when I begin to put the bulk of the garden to rest and reflect on what worked/what didn’t/what I would do again, etc.  It’s also the time where I start to reflect on my own life (gardening is such a metaphor for life as to almost be a cliche)…what worked for it this year, etc.  Autumn is a trigger for memory and reflection, with feast days such as Dia de los Muertos and All Souls which, if you let it, can be a source of joy as well.  Prepping for Winter is a comforting ritual, putting away the hoses and umbrellas reminds me to be grateful I have a warm space in which to enjoy the coming snows.  There will be Life under that snow, awaiting Spring and Lordha’mercy ain’t I waxing profound here!  LOL!  It’s just a few leaves crunching underfoot, for Floyd’s sake.  Pull yourself together, Musette!   Let me go get a cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee and try to lighten this post up before we all want to open a vein with our teeth!

Gardeners, if they want to stay sane, quickly accept that Nature doesn’t give a damn about them, any more than Death does.  You can nurture the hell out of that peach tree, watch it blossom, watch it fruit…and then watch it wither and die for no apparent reason.  The only thing left to do is wail for a minute, then rip it out, dig up the dirt and plant a bunch of something hardy there – and try another peach tree in another place.  That’s why Floyd made Stark Bros.  New peach trees coming in the Spring.

Bees?  Leave the top ajar on your hive (not me. Somebody Else) and that queen will get out and take the whole hive with her.  Lesson learned.  Anybody Else touches my hives, I will beat them senseless.

Btw – you wanna feel stupid?  Watch your entire hive leave.  What are you gonna do, holler ‘get back here!!!!’??.  I did.  And I felt stupid.  And then, later in the season, those little freaks CAME BACK!  They ran my hummingbirds off their feeders, got tangled in my hair, got in the house (via my hair)and kept the mail lady off the front porch for two days, while I tried to relocate them back to the hive.  It wasn’t a swarm so that didn’t work out at all – they just got more tangled in my hair!  Stupid bees (grumblemuttergripe) . 

What stinks:   My house.  On purpose.  I am rotting tomatoes  for the seeds (Zebras and these little pretty red ones that are pumpkin-shaped) and Scorpion peppers.  And a lemon zucchini (no, a lemon CUCUMBER) because I am perverse – I don’t eat cucumbers as a rule.  But the smell of rotting fruit is pervasive – and not that schweetish  “oh, that peach is bay-ad”  smell – tomatoes STINK!

What doesn’t stink:  puppy breath! What on earth is it about a 12-week old puppy’s breath?  One whiff and everybody is in that blasted dog’s face, trying to suck up all that youth, like Frank Barone, sniffing his twin grandson’s heads!  3 rational adults, all reduced to babbling, puppy-kissing/schnuffling morons.

What Stinks  But in a Good Way: Brussels sprouts, as you snap them off the stalk.  Tiny little balls of bitter perfection, made even more perfect by a kiss of night frost.   The smell of broccoli roots.  Wood smoke.  Where I live you can burn wood and leaves.  So folks do.  Such an Autumn smell.  Makes me want to bake

CINNAMON ROLLS!  I confess, I never think about cinnamon rolls  until October.  The leaves start to turn, it’s dark at 6p…I’m in the kitchen yeasting up some dough like there’s no tomorrow.  Perhaps that’s cinnamon’s purpose in life, to stave off the Cold Night Terrors!  Come the chilly, foggy morning, the dough will be ready and the kitchen will be redolent with the smell of yeasted, cinnamon-y bread…and …

Apples.  My friend Mary’s apple trees are laden – I give her peppers, she gives me apples.  This week my kitchen will be resplendent with the smell of slow-cooking apple butter, apple-nut muffins and pan-roasted chicken with apples in a Calvados cream sauce.  Roast pork with turnips and apples in a sage/brown butter sauce.  Chop up an apple and put it in a bean stew or spicy chili to amp the flavor.


…and …Lavender.  I’m not a fan of lavender-based perfumes but love the smell of lavender in other things (including Herbs de Provence, which I make myself from my own herbs because I just don’t have enough to do, dammit!) – I like to wait until the Last Possible Minute before harvesting my lavender because that way the frost hardens the stems and forces the oils further into the leaves and flowers.


a need to weed

And if you believe that I have a field in Provence I’d like to sell you.  In reality, I wait until the Last Possible Minute because I’m a Lazy Beast and overwhelmed with Other Garden Things, like kissing puppies! But harvested it finally is (I’m so embarrassed – it’s so weeeeedy!) and it’ll do battle against the rotting tomatoes, as it’s hung up to dry.  Later I’ll stuff it into little embroidered pillows…and if you believe THAT.….


what are YOU doing to prep for Autumn?  If you live in some tropical clime, where the shade is palm and the mangoes ripe, SHUT UP!  I’m green enough already!



  • Mrs. Honey says:

    Don’t be silly, here in sub-tropical Florida, mangoes are not in season in the fall. The fall for harvesting the citrus. And my new strawberry plants are fruiting. So is the green pepper. Nothing grows here in high summer except the grass. For us, the spring and fall the growing seasons.

  • One day I’m coming to stay. I don’t care what you say.
    Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    I roasted brussel sprouts this evening for dinner – for a potluck at church – and they were real popular. My DH doesn’t like them, so making them for a potluck is a great solution. That way I get a taste, and none go to waste. (I’m a poet, and I don’t know it!) I’m gonna have to buy some more before the season is over. Our entire backyard (townhouse sized) is being landscaped right now, so this year I don’t have to worry about garden clean up. It’s like I just hit a magical “reset” button, and these folks came in to do all the hard work. Once the pros are finished and gone, I’ll plant a couple bags of daffodil bulbs.

  • poodle says:

    I love puppy breath and poodle paws smell like popcorn to me. I love fall but the cleaning up and hunkering down can be a chore. I’ve decided to make my life easier this year and mulch my leaves instead of bagging them. That should be easier on me and hopefully better for my soil too. We still haven’t had a frost so I’m waiting for things to die off before I do much. Of course we’ll end up getting an early snowstorm and once again my fall clean up will happen in the spring.
    Send some of those cinnamon rolls my way please.

    • Musette says:

      I mulch and/or throw my leaves on the compost – or I just leave ’em where they fall. They’re gone by Spring.

      Cin rolls on their virtual way, sweetie. Give one to Mr Glasses, there! xoxoxoA

  • rosiegreen says:

    Congratulations on the new puppy. I am in the Pacific NW so this is my favorite time of the year. For the next couple weeks we are supposed to have sunny 60-70 degree days and cool nights around 50 , so I have enough time to get the garden cleaned up for the winter.I am thinking about ordering some more tulip bulbs and blackcurrants and huckleberries for next year. I am trying to make my yard/garden mostly native plants to cut down on the boring work and watering. I love apples in the fall, I have a box on order of Jazz apples that are sweet and tangy, will have to make some pies.

    • Musette says:

      Oh, gosh no! Not my puppy – a neighbor’s. Doesn’t make him any less adorable – in fact, it makes him MORE adorbs, since I don’t have to do the training/cleanup/cleanup/cleanup/training!

      Love your neck of the woods anytime – but especially in autumn.


  • Ah Musette, I’m with you on the glorious smells of Autumn–wood smoke, burning leaves, brussels sprout stems–mmm! I once had a peach tree. White peaches with a cling stone; sweetest things you ever tasted. That tree caught every pest and disease goin’. All the fancy and (some) expensive perfumes I own and what is my husband’s very favorite thing to smell? Puppy breath! He’ll get down on the ground and roll around with the puppies of complete strangers just for a sniff (and a couple of doggie-kisses). And now I want to make a pork roast with apples & turnips. How d’ya make the sage/brown butter sauce? Is it as simple as it might sound?

    • I totally forgot to add: I dislike the end-of-season cleaning up part of gardening. Last year, in early November, I planted garlic for the first time and this year’s harvest was phenomenal! I am really looking forward to doing it again, only maybe earlier, like next week. I planted two hard-neck varieties. Don’t remember their names, but one was a “German red” type and the other, Polish. Both great, and so easy.

      • Musette says:

        My garlic goes in tomorrow. I hope. It’s been a weird week. Sage/brown butter sauce is just that – brown the sage in the butter (slowly), with a touch of garlic (if you choose) and a touch (like 1/4t of brown sugar. Salt and pepper to taste and boy-howdy!

        Your husband is a champ!!!

        and I’m so thrilled to see you on here again, QC! Been awhile!


  • Caroline says:

    Homemade apple butter sounds wonderful–haven’t had it in ages. Had an overabundance of acorns this year–raked up a few bags ’cause my back yard was like walking on marbles. The guy who helps with yard maintenance says lots of acorns are indicative of impending harsh winters! Also got a squirt gun to deter the squirrels from digging up my just-planted iris bulbs. It’s effective (when I’m here). We need to see a pic of the pup!

    • Musette says:

      Not my pup, alas – I’ll have to go over and take a pic, smooch his puppy-breath self!

      I put some grating over my bulb plantings – it gives them something to think about and 99.9% of the time they go to somebody else’s yard, where there are easier pickings.


  • tammy says:

    I think this is the winter you need to start writing your book.

    And don’t argue with me about subjects and time and such…just pretend like you’re writing a Posse post, and keep going! And when you’re done with that, the cookbook with all these recipes you mention can be started.

    Autumn is hands-down my favorite time of the year. I spent most of my adult life in SoCal missing it, and am now in the Ozarks reveling in it. I love every single thing about it…except the tarantulas. I can’t say as I am any too thrilled with the tarantulas, although you only see ever them as they’re crossing the road. The first one I saw was so big I thought it was a kitten, and I slowed down to pull over to rescue it. When I realized what it was, I about had an actual fit.

    Other than that, I adore Fall!

    • Musette says:

      Holy crap! Are you KIDDING ME? OMG! I would’ve peed my skivvies right there and then! We get those wolf spiders (I think that’s what they are) – they’re big (as in ‘the size of a quarter, NOT ‘the size of a freakin’ KITTEN!”) – what freaks me out is not the spider itself – but its sudden appearance. For example, last fall I was making the bed – pristine white. Turned to put one of the pillows on and WHAM! There was a quarter-sized Wolf. Huh? Where the hell did he come from? That fast? Yikes!


  • Jackie b says:

    You guys almost make me yearn for autumn again…but wait, we are coming into spring and I love that too. Great how the seasons mark the turning of the year.
    Going to sniff my dog’s paws now!

  • FeralJasmine says:

    Portia over at APJ once referred to a perfume as containing “puppy foot accord,” and if I could remember what it was I would buy it without hesitation. I was off gardening this season for medical reasons and currently I’m healing from a total joint replacement and other orthopedic restructuring, already walking better than I have in years and eyeing my garden beds intently, muttering to them “Your fallow days are SO over.” So my joys of fall have included making red chile from the new harvest chiles at the farmers markets, sniffing the roasting chile that blankets New Mexico in the fall, smelling Piñon smoke, talking my physical therapist into having our sessions outdoors, hugging my great big warm dogs on cold evenings, and planning next year’s garden. Might be able to breed and milk my goats again, too! It is a joyous time. Oh, and did I mention that Trayee is the perfect scent for autumn? As soon as all the surgery bills are paid off, I’m getting a bottle of this stuff.

    • Musette says:

      What wonderful news!!! Congratulations!!!!!

      Did you roast Hatch peppers? Or just buy them on the roadside – according to March you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Hatch roaster during the Season!


      • FeralJasmine says:

        March is right, and the wisps of roasted-chile accord follow us everywhere throughout September. They are thinning out a bit now, but there are still plenty to be had. It’s a wonderful time of year for feeling gratitude!

  • Martha says:

    Puppy breath! I love it! A friend has a 10 week old pup and my first action upon arriving at her house was to pick him up and stick my nose in his furry little face. And, apples! There is almost nothing Bette than fresh apples. There was an old apple orchard behind the house where I grew up and the wonderful apple-y fragrance wafting through our backyard every autumn was divine. I really like visiting a cider mill just to huff the air on the property.

  • rosarita says:

    Puppy breath is the best! And I love the smells of leaf smoke, wood smoke, apples everywhere. I’m in full on cleaning and organization mode: having my right knee replaced next month after having surgery on my left ankle in August and I want my house to be as uncluttered as possible. In between, I’m taking short walks to visit my favorite fall trees around town. The smell of dry maple leaves rustling underfoot is one of my favorites. Oh, and I totally get the cinnamon appeal. I’ve been baking like a madwoman, squash and pumpkin and apple everything, all full of spice, makes everything smell so cozy and warm. And it’s soup season, too…I could go on and on, this is my favorite time of year.

    • Musette says:

      I just made a Tuscan Bean Soup (which I doubt any Tuscan would recognize 😉 ) and my neighbors are pressing cider. I confess to finding a certain appeal in Autumn, for all my crabbing. I am a hunkerer-down type, so Autumn brings a certain excitement as well as anxiety. Once the temps drop below 70 I get really crazed about battening down – one year we had a freak snowstorm and one of my hoses was still out (on the lawn!) and I nearly had a panic attack. sigh.


      and….keep us posted about the knee, okay? xoxoxo

  • masha7 says:

    OK, well, I’m one of those tropical gardeners, so our “fallow season”, the Crazy Hot Season, is ending and I have just started sowing some seeds for our growing season! It is weird to be so flip-flopped, referring to both feet, and traditional (aka Northern) gardening calendars, which are upside down here…. I’ve got some nice galangal sprouting in the yard now, from tubers I got at our local Thai Buddhist temple! And my vetiver is flowering, which is fun.

    • Musette says:

      how are those other plants doing? The ‘thingies’? 😉


      • masha7 says:

        The Lithops and Tillandsias (Thingies and Tillies, respectively) are doing just fine! The Lithops don’t do much of anything anyway, I guess that’s why they’re called “living stones”, but the Tillies are pupping and blooming like crazy!

  • dinazad says:

    Welllll…… I put Golden Celebration (my English rose) in a larger pot, since there are rumours that winter will be long and cold. Hopefully she’ll survive. And I’m hoping for a few more sunny fall days for those few tomatoes that deigned to grow this year (last winter war far too long, so everything is about a month and a half late). Magazines are full of wonderful fall pictures of colorful leaves, rose hips, pumpkins and pots of heather in beautiful arrangements on mahogany garden tables, but my garden/balcony table is – unfortunately – only dirty white, the plants look bedraggled and the balcony is a sorry, squishy (it’s raining a lot) mess – I definitely need somebody to arrange winning autumn tableaus there! But the mints, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme and evening primrose are still doing their thing, and the lavender leaves have that fine, melancholy autumn scent I love. The balcony may LOOK a mess, but the scents are wonderful!

    • Musette says:

      Hi, doll! I am so glad you’re here!

      At the end of the day, sweetie, how it looks takes second place to how it tastes and smells, at least in my book. Nothing worse than a perfect-looking tomato that tastes like cardboard.


  • Belle says:

    While we do have nice mangoes, we don’t have that nice cool weather of yours. We’re having floods and typhoons, which isn’t too much fun 🙁