Sunday, September 25, 2022

Fall is Here

Now that fall is here, the weather got on board immediately.  We had a couple gorgeous cool days in a row where the temperatures were between 55 and 60 with both breeze and sun.  I reveled in the cool breeze even when it blew in short rainstorms to drive me in the house.  We lit a campfire and sat out.  We washed the tractor and cars.  We did odd jobs in the garden and prepared for this stretch of rainy days which is now upon us.



Yesterday we dumped the potato grow bags.  This is one chore that is fun if your soil is dry.  I have been robbing potatoes for months and we still got a good harvest.  This compost screen goes on top of the wheelbarrow and one person pours out the bag as the other person grabs potatoes.  Then the used soil goes into the bin and the spuds sit in the shade to dry.


You don't want to wash potatoes that you are going to store.  I just put on gloves and roll each one in my hand as I sort knocking off the worst of it.  I got a mere handful of tiny spuds that are too small even to cook.  These small potatoes will be used first.  The rest go to the basement,


It was about time that I transplanted the last three strawberry plants into a pot to get them out of the bed.  So I had to empty another carrot pot.  These are Sugarsnax.


One thing I always do before any forecasted rain is deadhead the Dahlias because any heavy blooms will bend then break with the weight, and any old blooms will make a mess with petals.  I have really been enjoying this Gitt's Crazy plant.  Hard to believe this was a single tuber with a single growth eye.  It has been pumping out multiple blooms for almost two months now.  It is right on the corner next to the walkway where I enjoy it all day.


Both coming and going....


When I know I am going to be indoors for a few days I will pick a bouquet.  I am not a patient flower arranger, but I did at least put a flower frog in this one.


Those blooms are absolute stunners in the house in different lights.  I enjoy walking past the blooms all day just as I would if I were outdoors.


Another stunner in this cooler, overcast weather is the color of the Strawberry Blonde Marigolds.  The red is very intense and much rosier in person than I was able to capture with my camera.


Today I will make some chili in the crockpot and watch football.  When the weather dries out again later this week we will start our last push to cut perennials.  When you first start it is hard to let go of summer, but as the landscape begins to take on the clean fall look the things you left behind begin to look out of place and it spurs you on to get things done.  Then we will be putting out wire cages for the evergreens and dealing with leaves.

In the garden I still have sweet potatoes, parsnips and horseradish to harvest.  All those hinge on the first frost.  Once the frost comes I will be storing Dahlias.  But today we rest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

UnGardening

 Let the petals fall where they may...


Over the years UnGardening, for me, has become less of an End of Summer Event and more of a slow ebb of the tide starting in mid-July when the spring crops begin to tire.  The garden is always on the move.


I am beginning to see more and more, after last summer having the wettest July on record, and then this year having abnormally dry June, July and August, that plants and trees are much more stressed by having too much water than not having enough.  Night time temps have still been moderate so trees are not changing because of the chill, however, last year with too much water they showed stress and began to turn early.  I can see some signs of cold damage in the aging Marigolds.  The foliage starts to darken and shrivel as if it caught a hint of frost over night.


I finally got tired of having to deadhead and clean up the Vanilla Marigolds after every rain.  This is how my UnGardening starts.  I remove the ugliest element first so I can enjoy what is left.


The other day we got out the power scythe and cut the majority of the Day Lilies along our front fence along the drive and in two of the dry creek bed systems.  The lilies will continue to try to grow until the first hard freeze, but we have to start somewhere.


The entire landscape starts to look as if it has had a fresh haircut.


It goes from wild and wooly to neat and tidy,


The last vegetable bed was the late sweet corn.  Now all there is to do in the raised bed garden is to monitor the mulching of the beds, keeping the buckwheat from growing back, and occasionally pulling weeds.  The ends of the stalks have to be twisted out by hand, breaking the roots.  It can be a hard job but then we run the stalks through the chipper and put the shredded material back down as mulch


The last garden area to remain is always the river bed with the ornamental grasses.  I will start to trim the daylilies and hosta out one by one but some of the grasses are just now starting to push forth their seed heads.  The tall grasses waving gently in the breeze make it a magical place.



Some perennials are just now reaching their prime.

Woods Purple Aster
There are a few seasonal chores to be done, like spreading Milky Spore to kill the Japanese Beetle grubs.  This is the first time I have purchased the granular product instead of the powder and it is a whole lot nicer to spread.  I spread a little over ten pounds today after the lawn being mowed and expecting rain showers to water it in.  I concentrated on the area under and around our Linden trees, which they love, and the Horse Chestnut tree where I hung my second beetle trap.  I will also hit a couple of raised beds, then the far lawn next to our neighbors because they have a big Linden tree but no longer bother to spread the Milky Spore.


Now for some pictures of Dahlias

This is Dahlietta City Lights.  It is a short plant about 18" to 24" tall.  The first year I planted it it kind of irked me because it was so different in color from any of my other dahlias.  Now I plant it on its own and enjoy the dramatic dark foliage and deeply colored blooms.  The flowers have an odd habit of popping off the stem whole as they age instead of dropping their petals.  I have no idea why or how this happens but it happens a lot.

Iceberg

Dana
I don't particularly care for the cactus flower form of Dana, but the bees love this one so I plant it in an out of the way place.

Pablo border height dahlia

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Late Sweet Corn Progress

 Just a note on the second bed of sweet corn that gave me such a hassle.  Due to invisible pesties eating the first and second planting of seeds entirely, this bed was two weeks later than I intended.  As a result, it is growing in cooler temperatures, and the ears, while sweet and tender, and quite thoroughly pollinated, are.... petite.  The first couple of early ears that we picked last week were full sized but we are now picking smaller ears.


Not a bad outcome over all.  The first bed was outstanding.  We got a full four dozen from three 11 foot rows and almost all of the ears were large and perfect.  There were half a dozen late runts towards the end which I culled out as I husked and those did not get tallied into the four dozen.  That means the ears cost about fifty cents a piece which is what they are charging at the nearest farm stand. (figuring in cost of seed and fertilizer but certainly not time watering daily from the rain tank)

My husband is always interested in the economics of gardening, so I will occasionally work out the direct costs on a particular bed.  Sweet Corn is not a cost savings per se, but you can get over $20 of cucumbers from a single 5¢ seed.  I did happen to count the number of cukes picked off of the one Burpee Salad Bush plant.  Twenty two full sized fruit from a single vine.  And of course if you are saving tomato seeds, you are spending some money on seed starting mix and electricity to start your plants.  You can get a whole batch of peppers from a four pack of plants that might cost you $5. Some things you can save money on but its really more about the satisfaction of growing it, knowing what went into it, and enjoying having something picked at the peak of freshness. 



Monday, September 12, 2022

Rainy Monday

 Our county is finally off of the Abnormally Dry list on the Drought Monitor.  Yay!  I am enjoying a peaceful rainy Monday morning knowing that the bulk of my garden work is done for now.


Of course, as I've said before, when you get rain you also get rain related cleanup.  The middle of last week we got a surprise downpour of two and a quarter inches which was more rain in a few hours than we got for the month of either July or August.  What was no surprise is what it did to the Buckwheat.  I would rather not clean it up in this condition, and a few years ago this sight would have hit me in the gut.  But experience tells me it really isn't any more work to deal with it in this condition than it is standing straight up.  You just have to get on with it.


I had Buckwheat in all stages of development.  The nice short, fresh bed was also slated for cutting before it flowered.  I just hate taking such a scrumptious meal away from the pollinators.  So it was either cut it before it flowered and they found it or wait weeks for it to go to seed.  I'd rather cut it now.  I feel much less cold hearted about it at this stage.


Below is the wild and wooly bed after about 15 minutes of cutting and tidying.


Below is a bed that was cut a couple of weeks ago and covered with compost.  You can see a few seedlings coming through because the buckwheat went to seed before I cut it.  I just rake those over before they get too big.


Last year's compost is almost used up.  I've had just enough to cover every bed with a deep layer.  


It is in beautiful condition.  I just run it through the screen....


...and throw the uncomposted pieces back into the tubes on top of green material.


Hard to believe that last year this was branches and kitchen scraps and piles of garden waste.


The beds are surprisingly weed free after the crop is removed.  There are a few to pull, but not many.


I shovel a wheelbarrow full into each bed


and screed it flat with a landscape rake.


I use a hose to wash any over fill back into the bed, clean things up, and fill in the edges.


The beds are clean and ready for winter.  The earthworms and insects will have plenty to eat.



One bed still has some marigolds in it.  I cut the Buckwheat and layed it down then moved the potato grow bags onto it to help rot down the buckwheat faster,  The potatoes will stay in the soil until frost then the soil will be dumped out into the dirt locker for reuse next year.


And now some pictures of pretty things

Gitt's Crazy Dahlia

Lady Darlene Dahlia

Peaches and Dreams Dahlia

HS Date Dahlia

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Winding Down - August on the Way Out

 It is beginning to feel a bit fall-like out there.  The nights are cool again.  The daytime skies are full of high, cumulous clouds.  The garden is winding down.  I am starting to mulch the empty beds with compost in preparation for winter.


The tomato plants are getting a good pruning.  At this point I am not looking for any new set fruit.  I just want the large tomatoes to ripen on the vine.


Things are starting to look a little tired.  


The cantaloupes continue to be outstanding.  Each one is sweeter than the last.


This is the time of year when the Marigolds really shine.
They keep me from wanting to buy Mums.

Strawberry Blonde

Disco Mix

Vanilla

At this point I have three beds completely put to bed.  Two beds half done half producing.  Four beds in Buckwheat ready to trim.  I have the pole beans that could be pulled but I am picking a meal from them now and then.  One corn bed is drying in preparation for the chipper shredder and one bed of corn is ready to start picking.