Sunday, October 27, 2019

Autumn leaves

October is a long, slow wind-down into winter.  Even after the garden is done, there is a lot to do.  Dealing with leaves is one of them.  We have two gas powered blowers, and the neighbor has one, and we combine efforts to blow his oak leaves out of our landscaping and back to the edge of his woods.  Leaf season takes a long time.  We start the first weekend in October with the soft and easy apple, ash and poplar, and continue cleaning every weekend through the brilliant maples, and lindens until the snow flies on the tough, leathery oak leaves.  In fact, last year we had snow in November, and were back to blowing oak leaves in December during a thaw.

We are surrounded on all sides by woodlands, and the leaves lay thick on the lawns besides gathering in the corners of landscape beds.  Since we mulch most of them into the lawn, or shred them in the general direction of the east woods the lawn mower stays busy until we decide there will be no more nice days in which to scrape and wash it to store for the winter. In the spring we will have to blow one more time and then hand pick the crevices.  I've chopped, bagged and set aside a couple of large bags to use as mulch on the raised beds next spring.

In years past I have mulched heavily with chopped leaves
Besides keeping the walks and beds cleared of leaves, I've gradually removed all of the annuals as they decline.  I hate to remove fresh flowers out from under the bees, but by this time we've had four frosts, the last one being a killing frost, and there was nothing left undamaged.

I try to time things so I pull them the weekend before they are damaged by frost.
The impatiens in the front landscape came out while they were still beautiful,
but a few days later they would have looked like this
I've collected seeds from the nasturtiums, milkweed and Indian blanket flowers.

 You can scrape most of the seeds out of a milkweed pod without disturbing the fluff.  Any remaining fluff with seeds can be placed in a paper bag with some coins and shaken until the seeds detach and fall to the bottom. Then just let the fluff loose into the wind and pour out the seeds.

I've dug and stored the dahlias and geraniums.  I still have to mulch some more tender perennials to blanket them from the cold, plant some daffodils, and spread the milkyspore.

Geraniums can be stored bare-root in a cool, dark place.
We are going to get the earlier cauliflowers before winter.  There are several heads forming, about the size of a fist now.

The two largest cauliflower heads

The Dirt Locker is almost full.
That's a lot of used soil that could have been wasted
The yard waste compost pile has been turned once and is beginning to break down.
 As autumn leaves and winter settles in, there are plenty of outdoor chores to be done.  Of course, if we were to get a foot of snow that didn't melt until spring, the garden would be ready.  But I like going out and puttering around on nice weekends.  I just came back in from doing a blustery day check.  I had to pin down the lettuce cover, replace clothes pins on the cauliflower cover and fasten down the lid on the dirt locker.

The leaves may have all been tidy and mulched yesterday, but there are plenty more today

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