Saturday, November 27, 2010

The First Kiss of Winter

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I was very thankful for the preserved garden bounty that went into the Thanksgiving meal this year including carrots, celery, green beans, onions, garlic, various herbs, and potatoes.

On Friday we awoke to our first light dusting of snow for this year.

Some freezing rain followed and the day remained quite cold.

While many were shopping Black Friday sales, we lit our wood stove and enjoyed a cozy day inside shopping for holiday gifts on our laptops.

Seed catalogs are arriving in the mail and I am looking forward to enjoying their colorful photos in the months to follow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Preparing for Winter

We took advantage of the unusually warm weather last weekend to finish up most of the garden and yard cleanup. The sun was out and the temperatures were quite warm for November, high 50s on Friday and mid 60s on Saturday.

First on our list was gathering and shredding the leaves in our yard. The bulk of this was completed with the lawn mower and some strategic mowing that gathered up the shredded leaves into a pile. Then the pile was raked up and used to mulch the garlic bed:

Raspberry bed:

The rest of the shredded leaves were added to the compost bin. We definitely have to build a new compost bin next year. This one is falling apart and probably won't make it through the winter:

After most of the leaves were cleaned up, we moved to the front part of the yard to tend to the ground surrounding the apple trees. It was a great year for apples. Too bad ours are not edible and mostly ended up on the ground:

Our property came with seven overgrown apple trees. At first, they produced only a few apples among their tangled branches. Over the years, we have trimmed and fertilized them. All but one tree responded really well and began increasing the amount of fruit produced each year. This year the size of the apples also increased.

It’s almost impossible to grow apples without some sort fungicide and insecticide spray regimen to eliminate the various worms, insects, molds, mildews, and other diseases. Not only do I have a difficult time accepting the fact that I have to spray the trees, I also have difficulty sticking to a schedule. So each year as the apple production increases, we eat none. At least the deer are fed well.

I am hoping next year will be different. I have all winter to research organic or low spray methods. Then I can develop a schedule and stick to it so hopefully we can enjoy eating apples next fall. Any links, book, or advice would be greatly welcomed.

To start off right, all the old diseased apples that fell from the trees needed to be removed. First we used a leaf blower to blow the leaves leaving behind the apples. Then we used snow shovels to scoop up the hundreds of pounds of rotten apples into a cart and dumped them deep into the woods so the deer can still eat as many as they want.

Other chores accomplished last weekend included removing the solar mulch from the in ground gardens giving the soil a chance to breath. Storing the rest of the growing pots, self-watering containers, and gardening tools into the shed for the winter. We also decided to remove the wooden trellis uprights along the square foot gardens and store them in the shed hoping the wood will last a little longer out of the winter elements.

Finally, a peek under the row cover shows the Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Swiss Chard, and Scallions have mostly recovered from the slug and caterpillar damage from earlier this fall and are showing some growth. I am hoping they will continue to develop beneath the row cover: 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday: November 8, 2010

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from his or her gardens in different areas.

The Sugar Snax Carrots that were harvested on Saturday weighed in at 6 pounds.

Some were used for fresh eating and Sunday’s dinner. The rest were sliced, blanched, and frozen.

The last of the tomatoes should finish ripening in just one more week.

I have been washing and freezing these as they ripen. I will need to make another sauce next weekend to free up some freezer space.

It’s hard for me to believe that it is early November and things are still growing in the garden. Usually I just accept that our first frost is the end of the growing season, but this year I am experimenting with Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Swiss Chard, and Scallions. I am hoping they will continue to grow beneath a mini hoop house. It will be fun to see how far I can push them.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting or preparing with their garden harvests this week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Close Carrot Calamity

Something didn’t look quite right when I took a quick glance out the window yesterday morning at the garden. It was raining and had been raining off an on for the past few days. There are only a few things in the garden right now, Carrots, some Herbs, Pak Choy, Chinese Cabbage, Swiss Chard, and Scallions.

It was the Carrot bed that was looking wrong. At first I thought the foliage was matted down from all the rain. When I walked out I was stunned to see that most of the foliage was gone!

This is what the bed looked like only a few days before:

This is what I found:

The foliage had been eaten! Luckily, just the tops were gone. The carrots below were fine except for a few small ones that lay on top of the soil. I found some evidence of a few deer prints in the rain soaked garden soil, so I knew they were the culprits.

I don’t have many problems with deer in the garden. I know they are around, but the woods surrounding the property and the apple trees in a different part of the yard usually provide them with plenty of food. Now whatever apples are left are rotting on the ground and there is no more foliage on the trees. So the nice green carrot tops must have been quite a treat.

I was planning on harvesting the carrots soon, but felt the urge to do so right away even though it began to drizzle again. I pulled them all, trimmed what was left of the tops, and gave them a quick rinse with the garden hose:

Complete carrot calamity avoided.