A Time for Giving Thanks, Happy Fall Y’all
Whether you call it fall, autumn or harvest, the third season of the year is the favorite for many people. Landscapes are dotted with fall foliage in shades of yellow, red, orange and browns. The weather is comfortable; it is sandwiched between hot summer and freezing winter. It is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities such as nature walks, hiking, camping, hayrides and fall festivals.
Things begin to slow down a bit. Less lawn maintenance must be done on weekends as growth of grass slows. Yes, there are leaves but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is time to grab a mug of hot mulled apple cider and sit to watch colorful, crunchy leaves falling, children and pets playing in the piles, and squirrels scurrying to store acorns for the winter.
As temperatures cool, we warm the house and spend more time indoors. We make plans to gather with friends and family for holidays to pass on traditions, enjoy warm comfort foods and express our gratitude for blessings received.
The bountiful fall harvest provided by the earth is another reason fall is a special season. Texans are blessed to live in a state with one of the longest growing seasons in the country. Fall crops ripen to provide an abundance of produce such as apples, pears, and grapes, as well as spinach, broccoli, turnips, beans, potatoes, kale, squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkins – just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Festive Fall Decorations
Fall provides beautiful flowers and produce that can be used to decorate inside and outside.
- Use wild muscadine grape vines.
- Weave into a circle – wreath.
- Bundle pieces of similar size and length and tie with a ribbon.
- Create swags by weaving together long or short vines.
- Place inside on mantels or tables.
- Place outdoors. Drape over doors or porches.
- Embellish vines with seasonal flowers or strings of small lights.
Dried tree branches
- Select ones that look like small trees.
- Place bottom of branch in a pot.
- Spray paint.
- Add strings of small lights.
- Seasonal produce
- Place in a cornucopia.
- Arrange in a container.
- Use apples, pears, grapes, squash, small pumpkins, potatoes, and indian corn, etc.
Pumpkins and gourds – endless sizes, textures, colors and shapes
- Place in containers such as crates.
- Combine with other decorations.
- Create groupings of various sizes, textures shapes and colors.
- Use as a vase for flower arrangements.
- Prepare Pumpkin as for a jack-o-lantern.
- Place a dish or short vase with water – or wet floral foam inside.
- Put flowers into pumpkin with flower ends in water.
- Carve decorations on sides, put an led candle inside.
- Seasonal flowers such as sunflowers, mums, indian corn, goldenrod, and Texas sage, etc.
- Native plants such as holly, magnolia, yaupon, and oak, etc.
- Place in container with water or wet floral foam.
Fall Comfort Foods
There is nothing quite like a cup of warm apple cider or bowl of pumpkin soup to warm the body and soul and lift the spirits. Fall crops provide the produce needed to prepare cozy comfort foods for holidays and every day. When possible, purchase items from local growers as they will be fresher, more flavorful and will have retained more nutrients. Examples of traditional fall comfort foods include:
- Apple Cider (hot, cold or mulled spice)
- Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Broccoli Cheddar
- Butternut Squash
- Creamy Tomato
- Chicken and Spinach
- Sweet Potato
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Chicken Spaghetti Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Broccoli Rice
- Pumpkin and Winter Squash
- Potato Cheese
- Baked Apples
- Poached Pears
- Apple Dumplings, Apple Cobbler
- Pies – Apple, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Pecan
- Apple Goodie
- Breads – Pumpkin, Zucchini
- Cakes and Cupcakes – Pumpkin, Apple, Applesauce
- Pumpkin Roll
- Pecan Pie Bars
- Cookies – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Applesauce
- Apple Butter
- Pear Butter and Jam
Tasks for Prepping for Winter
- Remove dead annuals and trim perennials; put dead plant matter into compost.
- Mulch vegetable garden soil. Cover or mulch vulnerable plants.
- Harvest frost-sensitive vegetables before the first frost.
- Continue to weed and water-(water well before the first freeze).
- Plant cold weather plants such as carrots, lettuce, greens (cold season) and radish.
- Plant cold weather flowers and herbs.
I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
-Henry David Thoreau