Tag Archives: Fall garden

The Calm Between …8/2/2018

the storms that is.  We got over two inches of rain last night and another 1 to 3 predicted for this afternoon and overnight.  Don’t get me wrong, we were approaching drought conditions and need the rain, but it makes our daily health walk, gardening, and deck destruction clean up difficult.  Playing in a rain shower occasionally is fun, working in downpours with distant thunder and sometimes visible cloud to ground lightening is not.

We ventured into town for a few groceries as there is a huge two day street festival in town this Friday and Saturday, thus rendering the Farmers’ Market nearly inaccessible and few vendors even try because of the difficultly in getting their goods in and back out, the festival surrounds the site. While there, we scored 8 cabbage and 8 broccoli starts that were locally started, and the 6th desired blueberry bush, an early producer of large sweet berries, 20% off.

When we got home, the sky looked threatening, but no rain was falling, no thunder heard, no lightening visible, so the plants were hustled over to the garden, the fat Buff Orpington hen that insists on “flying” to the top of the fence, balancing precariously, then dropping into the garden to peck any tomato that is even slightly reddening was ushered back out of the fence.  It frustrates me that she is getting in, there are so few tomatoes this year because of the blister beetles, that I am cherishing each one.  Enjoying a fresh sliced one each day and only freezing the scarce extras for sauce later.

A spade and hand trowel gathered from the garage and a few short minutes work in the wet soil and the Blueberry bed is ready for mulch.

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The 16 young starts were set in two parallel rows, spaced far enough apart to allow growth.

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That bed then covered in a tunnel that was long enough to cover half the spinach and lettuce rows planted a few days ago.  The tunnel will help deter cabbage worms that love to feast on the cole crops.  The cover will also extend the season for the lettuce and spinach hopefully.

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On my way out, it appears that the 3 lonely pie pumpkins are turning orange, probably another attractant for the hen, so some protection will be needed, but we will at least have pumpkin pies for the holidays.

 

Back in the house, there is some distant rumbling of thunder, the rain will soon begin again.  Hope the power stays on until dinner is prepared.  This is the first year of my garden that I have actively sought to extend the growing season into the fall instead of enjoying the spring harvest and quitting.  This is also the first year that the weeds haven’t totally discouraged me by now.  Though there are some in the aisles, the raised box beds have been easier to maintain and the cardboard between the boxes has made the weeds easier to deal with in the aisles.  I just need to obtain the mulch for bedding it down at the end of the season.

Back to rainy day pursuits of spinning and knitting.  I am not happy with the length of the fingerless mitt and will remove the top ribbing and add another cable repeat before the ribbing.

Rest Day/Garden Day – 7/30/18

The garden has been neglected except for harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers of late.  I did get a second planting of bush beans in a couple of weeks ago and they are sprouting nicely.  The garlic needed to be pulled and cured.  It went in so late it isn’t a good crop, but hopefully will provide enough to allow a fall planting so next year we will have a good crop and some to enjoy this winter.  So the now cured onions were trimmed, the odd double ones, ones with still green necks, and ones with soft spots were culled and moved to the kitchen to be used first.

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Then the pulled garlic was laid out on the hardware cloth shelves to cure.  Once cured, they will be trimmed and used this winter except for the ones used to plant for next year’s crop.

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After spending part of last weekend traveling home  from visiting our youngest son and his family, last Sunday on deck destruction with eldest son, part of the week on Historic Camps and destruction clean up, and Saturday on the remaining destruction, I needed a break from pulling brackets and moving heavy lumber.  Part of Sunday was spent in the fruit and vegetable garden.  Tomatoes and cucumbers picked early in the day, a few blister beetles picked and killed, and while out there, the remaining bean stems pulled and tossed to the chickens.  This was a reminder that a couple of beds needed to be worked on and some fall seed planted.  A couple of afternoon hours were spent weeding where the beans had been, pulling and hoeing the few weeds that had come up in the bed where the peas had been and half of that bed was seeded with spinach and a leaf lettuce called Drunken Woman.  I had to get that one just because I liked it’s name.

The bed that had been the tree nursery was turned and rocks removed, a good thick layer of compost and some bone meal turned and raked in and the blueberry bushes moved into it.

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Cardboard was put down beside that bed and the half barrels were moved onto it.  The cardboard will kill the weeds under it, leaf mulch will be laid down on top of it and except for an aisle wide enough to keep chicken heads from pecking berries through the fence, that will be the edge of the garden once we have a frost and the pumpkins are harvested.

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The pumpkins vines were already spreading to that area so I put them back in place after the cardboard was down.

Layered over that piece of cardboard is the other half of that huge box which may get more half barrels.  They are great for growing potatoes and herbs or flowers in the garden.  That sheet is being held down by a couple of bags of mulch that are just serving as weights and will be used in a flower bed around the house once leaf mulch or straw is obtained.

Hopefully, this week cabbage and broccoli starts will be available and they will go in the bed with the lettuce and spinach.  Perhaps a 6th blueberry shrub will be purchased to add to the blueberry bed.  They will hopefully thrive in the enriched deeply dug bed.  Once the last one is in place, a thick layer of straw or leaf mulch will placed around them to keep the weed load down.

That will leave only the 4 X 4′ bed that contained the garlic unplanted, and it will be sown with oats that will serve as a cover crop and the seed head given to the chickens, the oat straw can be used as mulch or coop bedding next spring.

I still need to tackle the raspberry bed now that the berry season is over and the Japanese beetles have moved on.  I still have a large cardboard box, but will need more to try to smother the wild geraniums and the raspberry volunteer shoots that are encroaching on the aisles and vegetable boxes.

This week between the rain, the rest of the salvageable deck wood will be moved to the barn until it is needed for another project.  Eldest son suggested adding a low dry stacked wall off from the existing tall dry stack retaining wall as a means of using some of the tons of rock that were under the old deck.

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The chalk line will mark the new wall, eliminating an area that is very difficult to mow because of the steepness and contour that really don’t show well in the photo.

The new deck will stop at the corner you see with steps coming down to where all the rock is, a path of flat stone will cross where the old deck stood over to the stoop where the old steps came down into the yard.  A small stone patio will eventually be worked into part of that area, the rest the new garden bed.

Once the new wall is build and backfilled with leaf mulch, the mints, lemon balm, thyme, and rosemary will be planted there.  The stones will help keep it warm and they will be allowed to spread and thrive as a perennial herb garden.

Today’s header is a picture we rarely see.  Though the pups are best buddies, the Mastiff owns that spot.  He used to sleep beside our bed on Jim’s side, but decided he liked the Shepherd’s bed or space.  We tried putting both beds there, but he stands over Shadow until she vacates even if he only takes one bed.  They were caught sharing the space, each on their own bed.

Oh what a Beautiful Morning, Oh what a . . .

This was a stellar fall day.  It started with a glorious sunrise as I sat at the bus stop with A.

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We had overnight frost again, but it was already above freezing when we left for the bus.  N was dressed, fed and delivered to preschool and I returned home to knit and read until after we picked her up from school.  By then, the day was a mild 70f and the sky was azure.

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Once she went down for her nap, the garden beckoned.  How could I possibly stay indoors on such a gift of a day?  The two pounds of seed garlic were separated into cloves, gloves, hoe and garden fork collected. Head hatted and off I went to do some post frost clean up and prepare the bed for the garlic, plant it, mulch it and cover it with row cover to discourage my two legged garden helpers.

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One of the young roosters, doing his part to clean up the garden and oh so curious about what I was digging up.

All of the pepper plants, tomato plants, pumpkin vines, pigweed and smart weed were pulled in the upper 2/3’s of the garden and thrown over the fence into the hen’s run, though most of them were scratching around in the garden.  The pepper bed was turned and the cloves of garlic planted.

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As soon as I left the garden to grab an arm load of spoiled hay, the hens converged on the newly planted bed to try to undo what I had just done.  The garlic was mulched and covered and then the gate from the hen’s pen to the garden was reworked to improve the angle of the fence and to remove about 5 feet of wire that was overlapped too far and in the way.  Now the run can be closed off from the garden or opened to give them free run of the 65 X 25 foot space, by pulling the white plastic stake and resetting it against the fixed fence.  This is the same arrangement I use on other side of the garden to gain entrance.

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The girls that were too leery of my efforts to be in the garden with me, scratched around in the plants that were tossed over the fence.

Another day or two of effort should allow me to remove the rest of the pigweed, the cucumber and squash vines, locate the blueberry bushes and get mulch down around them and around the raspberry bushes.  I’m not sure how I will keep the chooks from scattering the spoiled hay.

Let the canning begin

What we are lacking in eggs, we are making up for in tomatoes.  There are several bags in the freezer awaiting sauce and I just brought in this bucket full.

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There are many more buckets full that will ripen over the next few weeks.  Tomorrow will be dedicated to a large pot of pasta sauce making and canning.  Salsa will utilize the next bucketful.  The tomatillos are beginning to fill out as well and I will begin making tomatillo sauce and green salsa soon too.

My peppers are not all the varieties that I intended to grow.  There may not be jalapenos to can, but mammoth jalapenos will go into the salsas.

Last weekend was the 75th annual Newport Agricultural Fair and one of the vendors was selling heirloom seed, so I picked up a handful of varieties that I haven’t grown of peppers and tomatoes, plus a few other seed.  And I entered a raffle to win 20 packets of seed.

The last big harvest of cucumbers were made into 5 more pints of dill pickles.

Most of the squash are dying back and a few got so large while we had a houseful of guests last weekend that the chickens got a bonus.  We are still getting a few for sauteed squash and squash casseroles.

The nesting boxes are closed off for the second night, after chasing broody hen off of one of them and taking the eggs inside.  She is again sitting in front of the barrier on the floor of the coop.  I may have to take more diligent methods to break her so she will begin laying again.

It is about time to get some fall seed in the ground if we are to hope for any harvest.  I hope to build a deeper box to put some of the fall greens in with hopes of extending the harvest season by covering it with clear plastic once the first frost is threatened.

Fall Gardening

The sunny day yesterday did not really happen, but it didn’t really rain either. It was only in the mid 60’s most of the day and partly to mostly cloudy, so a perfect day to garden.

Since eggs are a premium around here still, we went out to breakfast at our local diner. I have gotten 2 pullet eggs in the past couple of days. There are 11 pullets, so we are hoping they will all get the message soon. Their eggs are so cute next to the hens eggs.

After breakfast, we ventured down to Tractor Supply for pine shavings for the brooder and to replace the solar charger that is supposed to protect my garden and the chickens, but failed right before we left for vacation. When we purchased it, we only got a 6V solar charger. The batteries on them only last about 3 years and it probably needs a new battery, but Tractor Supply had a 12V on sale  for a price I couldn’t pass up. It is mounted and charging to be connected after I return from taking our grandson home today. Our adventure yesterday also took us to our favorite local nursery for fall vegetable starts. Having grandson here, activities with him, and our vacation just got in the way of starting my own. Once home, a bit of grubbing in the soil with my awesome hoe and my hands, cleared two beds, weeded the bean patch where I realized that the gnawed off shoots were growing new leaves. Planted were 4 Rainbow Chard, 8 Broccoli, 4 Kale plants.
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Once they were safely tucked in the soil and mulched with some spoiled hay, row cover was placed over them and the beans to thwart the bunnies and the cabbage moths. Perhaps we will get some beans this season after all. We have about 60 days until our average first frost date, so I am hopeful.
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In recent years, I have been reluctant to plant radishes and turnips in our garden as they always seem to be attacked by the little white maggots. Recently I read that if you sprinkle wood ash in your furrow that they won’t be a problem. I hadn’t really saved any wood ash, but found a couple of cups worth in the bottom of the woodstove and added it to about a cup of diatomaceous earth and planted a row of red radishes, a row of white icicle radishes and a row of turnip seed as a test, sprinkling the mix in the row and on top of the covered seed. We will see if that experiment works, if so I will save more wood ash next year. This bed was also covered with a row cover to thwart the bunnies.
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My son says I should sit out there with my .22 and dispatch them and eat them. Unfortunately, I don’t like rabbit and I couldn’t clean them if I succeeded in shooting one. I will continue to deter them with row cover and maybe once I get the electric fence charged to keep the deer and dogs out, I will string plastic bunny fence around the vegetable garden.

I couldn’t get cabbage starts at our local nursery, they were all sold out, but Lowes just got theirs in yesterday afternoon and a scored a flat of 9.  This morning they were planted. , Now it’s time to thin the raspberries, harvest and preserve for the winter.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.