It survived

After dinner last night, we got a walk in just before it got dark. It was getting quite chilly by the time we returned to the car. Instead of the nearly road wide path to the pond that we usually take, we went the opposite direction down a winding path used for bicycles and horses. Much narrower, more contour, and I feel, a nicer walk through the woods. We only encountered two mountain bikers headed back up to the parking lot until we got to the pond where there were too many unmasked people as we did a single loop and back up the wider path to the car, so a huge loop instead of in and out the same path. The pond had dozens of geese and a few ducks. The geese must be the ones that overwinter in the pond because they don’t even move off the path when you walk by them, so they are used to people. I guess we will see them regularly through the winter walks.

We ended our walk with a stop at the local village store for ice cream. There is one employee who refuses to wear a mask, an older man. His paper mask, probably the same one every day is under his chin, never, ever on. Last night he got a call requesting if they had an item and he came out from behind their plastic shower curtain shield, still unmasked, got right in my face, made a joking comment, laughed and walked on to check for the item. This morning, on our way to the Farmer’s Market pickup, we stopped there for a newspaper and the proprietor, his young employee, and the sole customer were all unmasked. This is after a week where our tiny county has had a surge of about 15 cases and 2 more hospitalizations. I know we live in a Trump dominated county, but if he would be honest about the virus and support mask wearing, I would feel safer.

When we got up this morning, the hunters were here, so the pups had to be let out on leashes, the grass was crystalline and crunchy, the indoor/outdoor thermometer showed it was cold.

As happens, the temperature dropped one more degree before it started warming up. The trip to the Farmer’s Market required window scraping.

When we returned home with our week’s supply of veggies, butter, cheese, and a bit of meat and it had warmed to comfortable in a light jacket, I checked on the garden. Everything I covered survived nicely, except the branch I apparently broke off of the big Serrano pepper. Even the uncovered bush beans don’t seem to have been badly burned and it didn’t bother the marigolds. They will remain covered until it warms tomorrow, then I will put the covers away and let nature take it’s course. It is supposed to warm back up for about 10 days, then the peppers will be done. I may continue to cover the ground cherries and peas at night when the night temps stay in the upper 30’s and see if they produce enough to harvest. After checking on it, the walled garden was in need of light weeding, there are deer tracks through out the garden and several plants have been nibbled to the ground. This garden is right up against the house and deck. I need to get a solar motion sensor light to keep them out if I plan to use it for herbs, dye garden, and flowers.

Being a gorgeous day, and living in a heavenly part of the state, we ventured a few thousand feet elevation farther up the mountain and took a walk in the woods. It was peaceful, serene, and unpopulated.

More photos from the day on my Instagram account.

Oh Fun!

As we were finishing lunch and tonight’s chili was being prepped, I spotted the hens charging across the yard from their free ranging. Once the chili was in the slow cooker, I went out to see what was going on. A Red Tailed Hawk, smaller than any of the hens was sitting in the Forsythia, 9 hens huddled under the thick foliage. The hawk flew off, the hens were too frightened to follow me back to the secure run and coop. It took lures, long poles to poke around under the shrubs, the hose on full jet being sprayed under to get them out. They were finally herded into security. Have you ever herded chickens, like herding cats, but they are secure again.

While doing that, I realized that the temperature is dropping rapidly and it is raining lightly so I hauled the plastic sheeting, the mylar sheet, and stakes out to the garden. The wind made putting plastic over the surviving plants like wrestling an octopus, very challenging. The fig was closed in, the peppers, except for the two branches I broke off one of the Serranos, the peas, and the ground cherries were all covered.

Again, planning ahead for next year would allow me to make a tunnel over a long 3 or 4 foot wide bed with the wide sheet of plastic. I think I will note this in my gardening journal and put the plants that might still be producing in October in one bed.

That basket filled and the green ones were pickled in a half gallon jar for hubby to enjoy over the winter. There are 3 half gallon jars and 1 quart jar of them in the refrigerator and that won’t get him through the winter until next season.

The sunflower heads that were dried in the garage, need to be contained. I have found two of them on the floor mostly eaten, so there must be a very fat mouse in the garage or able to get in the garage.


Garlic is a flavorful and healthy crop to grow in the garden. First, you know where and how it was grown, and no fossil fuels are required to pull it, cure it, and carry it from garden to house. Garlic is delicious sauteed, roasted, grated or minced into almost any savory food dish. Today, we use it mostly for the culinary benefits, but historically, it was mostly used medicinally. According to studies, it is high in Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium, and a source of fiber. It is touted to help combat the common cold, lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, may help prevent Alzheimers, and many other uses.

Garlic is always in my garden. It gets moved around to different locations, part of the crop rotation for soil health and to try to prevent the tiny nematodes that can sometimes get in garlic or onions and cause them to spoil. Garlic is planted in the fall to give it time to produce rootlets, then as the soil begins to warm in spring, the clove that was planted will produce the bulb that is harvested in late June. Sometimes, tiny bulblets will form atop the green leaves. They are like seeds and can be planted in fall, pulled the following summer, and the small cloves then replanted that fall and will produce bulbs the second year. Two of my softneck garlics produced bulblets and I saved them to plant with my seed garlic this year.

Yesterday morning, the box that contained most of the tomatoes this year was thoroughly cleared of weeds and large roots. This morning, a good load of compost was dug in, digging out a couple of brick sized rocks that had escaped prior preparation of that area. This was the first year that corner of the garden had been planted, it had previously been the compost pile and after seeing how the asparagus shaded that spot, it probably should still be the compost area, but the garlic will mature before the asparagus gets tall, then I will likely move the box to another area and return that spot to compost as the asparagus bed can’t be moved.

The box was planted with 16 Romanian Red cloves, a bulb that produces only 5 or 6 huge cloves, 22 German Hardy cloves each bulb had 6 to 8 cloves, 30 unknown hardneck cloves from garlic purchased at the Farmer’s Market, 20 soft neck cloves from garlic I planted and harvested, plus the 6 bulblets to see if that process actually works. With any luck, I will harvest 88 bulbs of garlic next summer and 6 mini bulbs to replant.

The fall peas weren’t trellised, they were planted around the perimeter of the box with carrots in the middle. They are full of blooms. Today is predicted to be 75 f and only about 48 f tonight. Tomorrow’s high is 52 f and the low 34 f. Tomorrow afternoon I will cover them and hope for the best.

This box had several peppers planted in it, a row of marigolds, and the cucumbers. Once the cucumbers were done, the marigolds took over. They sheltered out the two bell pepper plants. The taller pepper plants are Jalapenos and still blooming, so they too will be covered.

The Thai peppers aren’t blooming and each day more ripen red to be picked and strung to dry. Those two plants may be pulled and hung upside down in the garage where most of the remaining peppers will continue to ripen. The Serrano planted next to them is so heavy with peppers that the branches are near breaking point. It is near the box with the ground cherries, so that area may be covered. Saturday night is also in the 30’s but the day time temp will rise near 60. Those two nights are followed by about 2 weeks of 60s to mid 70s days and upper 40s to mid 50s nights, so if I can save the plants through those two nights, there will be more harvest. Then it drops back into the 30s at night again and it may be the end for the season. The area behind and to the right of the marigolds is the old mint bed that still lacks definition and the potato bed that has been weeded and weeded, but never replanted. I guess the winter and early spring will be spent clearing those areas again, supplementing it with compost and beds created to plant in for the spring garden. Next year, I want more space between my tomatoes and also between my peppers. I probably won’t try to grow corn again unless it is popcorn which I have had success with in the past. Potatoes were a fluke only because I had a few pounds sprouting, but they did so well, I might repeat them. The potato onions were a fun experiment, but the onions are so small they are only good for skewering for grilled veggies, so I will return to planting organic sets that produce decent sized onions. For years I have tried to use the Square Foot Garden method with limited success as some plants overgrow others in the same box thus reducing instead of improving the yield. I’m leaning towards 4 foot wide beds the width of the garden and planting in rows or big blocks. To do that, I will have to unstack and pull out serviceable wood salvaged from the old deck and restack what is too short or too heavy for me to work with.

Each year the garden morphs slightly into a different format, but it still provides me hours of healthy work and many pounds of produce. It is slowing being put to bed for the winter, trying to eek out as much produce as possible before the night freezes do it in entirely.

Today, we visited the local farm equipment sales and service to inquire about a new 5 foot brush hog and tractor servicing. The price on the brush hog was much higher than we expected and I’m not sure the amount of use it would get with the local farmer haying and brush hogging many areas, that the expense is justified. We may continue to wait on that purchase and see if we can find a better price elsewhere.