Thursday, October 11, 2012

Seed Catalogs Botanical Interests

A terrific little seed catalog came in the mail this week that contains only illustrations, no photos.  The artist is Marjorie Leggit and I just LOVE her work.  Recently I showed the picture below of the purple beans and stated that I did not remember which seed catalog it was from.  Well, I found it.

The purple beans are from the Vermont Bean Seed Catalog.  I have not been able to confirm who this artist is though. 

The Botanical Interests catalog is very through.  I will likely order at least a little something from them, and since the seed packets are also illustrated, I'll be putting them into my seed pack collection!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Mulch Bunker

Once upon a time there was a county bridge.  It was on a back road and little used, so it was built out of wood.  The deck was made from 20 foot long 2"x6" treated lumber nailed with their sides against each other forming a 6" thick deck.  The top of this was tarred and a layer of asphalt was laid on top.  It was a serviceable bridge, but there came a time for it to be replaced.  A thrifty Town highway worker asked Tim if he had any use for the material.  Tim's motto is Repurpose, Reuse, Redistribute, so he went and broke down that deck nail by twisted nail and hauled it home.  Now this took many hours and cost more than one splinter but when all was said and done there was about $1600 of useful lumber there.  These boards lived tucked away in the woods for several years until just the right purpose could be decided on.
In the mean time.  Around here, there are always piles of material.  With all our projects there is usually at least one pile of mulch, one of crushed bank run gravel, and a couple of piles of top dirt either freshly sifted or reclaimed from one of our changes in the landscaping plan.  Each time we have to figure out a place to put the pile and then give directions to our trusty excavator friend which usually go something like: "go down Mike's driveway and cut across to where you dumped the last load of _____ and try to get it there off the drive."  These spots have to be accessible to a very large truck, and quite frankly, we're running out of them.  So for a few years Tim has intended to build a series of bins or bunkers so all he will have to do is say "put it in #3" and he won't have to worry about the truck getting stuck or dumping in the wrong place or damaging some trees/road/lawn in the process.

The past few years we have been losing our ash trees.  Some of this, probably, can be attributed to the Emerald Ash Borer, but we haven't actually seen any tell tale signs of that insect.  But something is killing a lot of Ash in our area, and ours have not been immune to the die off.  So we are gaining a little extra space.  We needed an area for staging material, and a dozen dying trees that needed to go.  The process began early in July... these things take a lot of time.

The Ash Trees are Dying

Large Trees Removed

Pulling Stumps

Each Stump Leaves Quite a Hole

Driveway Outlines and Base Gravel Added

The Base Must be Compacted and Allowed to Settle

The First Posts Go In

The Dividing Wall Posts Go In

The Perimeter Walls Go Up
This is a three bay bunker.  Each area is 12'x12'.  Any horse people out there beginning to think that this guy would be really good at building a run-in shed?

The Dividing Walls Go Up

The Posts are Cut to Size and Finished
As you can see the 2x6s still have a lot of tar on them.  This has actually helped to preserve them.  And hey, its not that often you get a pile of fortysome twenty foot 2x6s for free!

A Load of Bank Run That Was in the Way Takes Up Residence

The Finished Product
There is still some finish work to be done.  There will be a threshold added along the front and the pea gravel for the drive will be added.  Then we have reclaimed concrete pavers to put down the center of each bay.  But first the snow load over the winter will help to settle and compact everything so Tim will finish that in the spring.  Then we will have a load of mulch delivered, and we will be all set to go cleaning up the landscape for another season.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beans: It's What's for Dinner

This was the cover of a seed catalog last year.
I don't recall which one, but the art is amazing.

Despite the fact that the garden has been cleared and put to bed for the winter, it is still possible to have too much of something.  I love beans.  I could eat them for every meal.  I have enough producing right now to do that.  By the time frost comes, Tim will be sick to death of them.  Truth be told, I think he already is....

And there are plenty more where that came from.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Putting the Beds to Bed

 It is October first, and the garden has been put to bed.  This is something that could be, and has been, done all in one day, but I prefer to spread it out over about two weeks.  There is a degree of mourning, a time for reflection and reminiscence, a tidying of affairs.  During this wind down I keep an eye on the weather and pick the last of crops as the temperatures and rain fall dictate.  I pull spent flowers instead of trimming them, and dump pots.  Most of the containers I used for potatoes and such are emptied into the beds to amend them with the peat moss and other additives that are leftover.  Pots, poles and tags are washed and stowed away.  Tim disappears into one shed or another and begins banging and thumping and complaining about how I have no concept of spatial relations. 

Toad Two of Three
 The toads, earthworms and bees don't see this time as a tidying of affairs.  From their viewpoint I am laying waste to their habitat and I go slowly so I don't accidentally injure anyone and to give them a head start towards relocating to higher ground.

There is always a little island leftover.  In the potato patch I have a Butterstick zucchini plant and two rows of beans still growing and producing.

It seems that the later I plant bush beans, the healthier the plants and the better the crop.  These were planted around the last week of July.  They will keep us (and probably a few other people) eating fresh garden produce until the first hard frost.  I already froze three gallons of beans so all of these can be eaten fresh or given away.

September is high season for zinnias and nasturtiums.  I regretfully pulled all the others but left this little cluster of sunshine near the gate to be enjoyed for a few more weeks.

The autumn colors are brilliant and early this year.  The meteorologists warned that the trees may drop their leaves early before they turn to full color because they have been stressed by the drought.  So far, the effect has been for early and stunning color.  The ash have mostly turned, and about half the maples are reaching peak color.  I would say we are two weeks ahead on color.


We are enjoying lush green grass, moderate temperatures, and autumn skies and views.  I have already had to clip my horse's coat to keep him cool on rides.  Any blog followers who would like to read a horse blog instead, can follow my horse's blog at The Grey Horse.

Just an update on the Poop Deck.  Instead of trying to manage the incorporation of new material into the pile on a daily basis, Tim came up with a solution for household and garden scraps.  He had this scrap of drainpipe leftover from a ditching project.  The inner walls are smooth, not corrugated like the outer wall.  He drilled air holes between each ridge at four points to provide airflow.  Let me tell you, this is a composting machine

We filled it nearly to the top every couple of days during the summer, and within a week, the level would have reduced by a couple of feet.  Periodically, we would throw a thin layer of material from the compost pile itself, and during dry periods we would use the hose to add water.  A few weeks ago we emptied it for the first time.   Tim used the tractor loader to dig a valley into the pile and we pulled the lightweight drainpipe up and off leaving the column of compost standing.  The compost at the bottom was completely broken down and ready to use.  We pushed the half cooked material over into the pile and covered it so it can continue cooking.  This drainpipe is perfect for the lazy composter! 

We used about half of this pile to amend the beds, potato patch and areas around the landscaping.  We are now off to the farm for another load that can compost through the winter.