Once More ‘Round the Garden

This week we had a final garden work day to do a little left-over clean up.  We cleared the large outside AFAC plot that the County is going to take over and maintain.  This involved moving the asparagus I planted going on two springs ago.  The small AFAC plot will now be an asparagus bed.  Elizabeth and Jonathan dug up the plants, Bonnie finished prepping the small bed, I replanted all the crowns, and Betsy came along and covered it all with a nice layer of compost.  Whew!

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Yes, I know this looks pretty much like a small bed of dirt. But it will supply lots of luscious asparagus!

Mike took some of the rabbit barriers out of the larger AFAC garden so it would look neat, and I weeded in there a bit.  It still has turnips, broccoli and cauliflower to be harvested for the Plot Against Hunger.  I’m not sure about the kale.

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Cauliflower and kale in the background, turnips foreground. All the carrots are gone!

All the help made it possible for me to get to my own garden and finish putting it to bed.

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I’ve covered the arugula hoping it can last a while…

Last week I mentioned that I had put the cold frame in the garden.  Doesn’t it look like it leads a life of its own?

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It’s snugging in between the peas and the radishes…

The lettuce is thriving in there.

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I still have peas, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, broccoli raab, parsley, arugula, and of course lettuces as well as herbs.

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My broccoli isn’t as far along as that in the AFAC garden, but it’s coming…

We’ll see how it goes as the weather changes.

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Hoses ready to be put away for winter.

I hope you have a lovely week!

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Playing Catch-Up

I can’t believe I last wrote back in September.  Well, now it’s deep fall, not just that official, astronomical fall.  My garden is nearly cleaned up, the cold frame has returned and is housing some lovely lettuces, and all but the crops that don’t mind cold are gone.  I still need to amend the soil, but the garden is very nearly put to bed!

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Yields began to go crazy–finishing up on a good note. I’ll be missing the flowers!

I used to garden much of the year, but climate change has made that less predictable.  Our largely mid-forties winters with a cold snap in January or February have become a roller coaster of snow storms, ice, the Polar Vortex, and extended cold springs.  I still haven’t got the hang of exactly what to plant, but on the other hand, I have begun to enjoy the December through February break.

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A couple other gardeners mentioned they got more yield from their eggplants in October than in the summer.

We had a hard freeze Friday night and predictions for temperatures continuing to drop into the upper twenties (F).  Friday I took off work a little early and harvested carrots, kale, and turnips from the Plot Against Hunger garden.  The turnip greens were amazing and they went with 3 pounds of turnips.  I also got nearly 8 pounds of carrots.  I divided them into 5 12 oz packages.

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Carrots! Yum! These are Scarlet Nantes, which grow well in heavy soil.

There were some courageous cucumber seeds in the new Plot garden.  They came up in late September and yielded a number of cucumbers before succumbing to frost.  I added four cucumbers to the Plot haul.  All told, I took 14 pounds of produce in!  It was a lot of stuff and I imagine could supplement quite a few families’ groceries.  There are still broccoli and cauliflower plants in the Plot, and more turnips, so we have a few more deliveries before we run out for the winter.

My own garden had a sort of renaissance of yields after we had a couple good rains.  More okra, thriving arugula, eggplants galore, peppers, chard, and some fall planted radishes.  It’s been amazing.  I still have broccoli and cauliflower as well as rapini and parsley wintering.  I may get some heads from the broccoli and cauliflower over the winter.  We’ll see.

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The peppers did well, especially after the rain…

Without so much work needing to be done, I’ll be taking more hikes, doing more crafts, and … very likely baking a lot.  I do like to snug in on dark evenings, so I’ll probably consume more scotch and maybe I’ll have more time to write and be a more frequent visitor to your blogs as well.

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I’m so glad the arugula is hardy. I’ll be pairing it with some beets soon.

Happy fall and have a good week.  (And for those of you Down Under, I hope your spring brings rains instead of drought and you love all the extra light.)

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Bittersweet vine. If it’s the horrible invasive Asian stuff and not the thing from my childhood, please don’t tell me…

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Fall, Yup, Fall

Well.  It’s fall.  And we are having a long dry spell, which means that my seeds and seedlings need a great deal of attention.  It’s not light late any more, so I can’t really get to the garden on weekdays, unless I go before dinner, which I did tonight.  That could be a strategy.

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Newly fenced Tuscan Kale in the new AFAC garden; cauliflower and broccoli behind.

Luckily, my gardening neighbor, Mike, has offered to keep things watered.  I did some work a couple weeks ago to fence the things I had under cover.  They had grown up through the openings in the chicken wire and the rabbits were eating the parts that stuck out.  Evil lagomorphs.

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This Tuscan kale appears to have a lower habit, but likely will need new fencing like its cauliflower and broccoli relations in my garden…

I have lots of arugula, which the rabbits don’t care for (heh, heh).

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And I am finally getting some eggplants!!!!  I have plans for them, the eggplants.  Plans that include tomatoes, couscous and chickpeas…

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Writing this, I realized that there were two okra pods either lurking in or being abused by my purse.  Just grabbed them out and rinsed them.  The okra is being brave and persistent, but I can tell it’s tired.  I’m saving pods as I get them at the moment.

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Sorry for the blurry picture. I know I have lots of pictures of okra, but apparently not this year…

We had a garden work day last weekend, and Betsy, whose plot was run over by the bus last month, had help rebuilding her beds.  I hope you have a great week and weekend!

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Clearing and Planting for Fall

What a weekend!  I did a flying trip to Fredericksburg to see my cousin and her husband.  They are in the midst of  illness and crisis and putting one foot in front of another.  I was able to visit and cook a couple meals for them and their son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and a friend who were there Saturday when I was. I stayed over and came home Sunday.

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Last week’s garden–I ripped out the basil and a bunch of the zinnias as they were not fit for bouquets–seedy and spotted.

Labor Day was a garden day for me.  There was weeding in the new AFAC plot.  The covers over the broccoli, cauliflower and kale needed weeding inside, so I did that. I fixed the borders for the small AFAC plot that had been taken out by the bus accident, and asked my gardening neighbor, Mike, whether he would hoe up the small garden and add compost.  He said yes!  It’s so good to have help.

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Last weekend, I built an unstable wall between the mulch pile and the new AFAC garden.

I worked in my own garden, where I had some carrots, a zucchini and an okra pod as well as some flowers.

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And some red peppers along with the zucchini and okra and carrots. Also, likely the last good bouquet of the summer!

I ripped out most of the zinnias.  It was sad, but I was merciless.  I have them for bouquets for the house and to feed the pollinators.  I felt a bit guilty pulling some out, but there are still a lot of other flowers in the garden, so I didn’t feel too bad about the bees and butterflies.

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This is the garden now, with the zinnias gone, except for the ones I trimmed, and the fall plantings under rabbit proof covers.

I planted a few things–more arugula, some rapini, some lettuces.  I hope to keep the garden going into fall.  The rabbits (one of which I chased today) are just awful, so I have created rabbit proof shelters for  much of what I planted.  I know they don’t bother the arugula; the rapini sprouts, which are not under cover, may be subject to their depredations.  We’ll see.

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Once the okra gets good sized, the rabbits don’t bother it. Looks like I’ll have more pods this week!

I’m looking forward to peas this fall.  They are planted in what I normally call the bean enclosure–safe from rabbits and voles. We’ll see how they do.  So far, so good.

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Yay for the peas! And some resurgent mint at the edges. Actually have a pasta recipe that calls for both.

The okra is happy again, with a bit of water.  I only have two pods so far this week, but it looks as though there will be more, and I’ll just add them to a zucchini saute.

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These are my kale, cauliflower, and broccoli plants, under protective custody…

If you pray, meditate, send good thoughts out to the universe–please add my cousin Allison and her husband, Bob.  She’s in a fight for her life after treatment for a brain tumor and he’s doing all he can to help day to day and advocate for her with medical personnel.  The treatments knocked out her blood system and red blood cell production.  We’re hoping for recovery from the treatment and some good time for her.

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This is the new AFAC plot, with the small plot in the background. I fixed the small plot’s border today.

I hope you have a good week!

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Excitement Nobody Needs

On Friday afternoon, I got an email from a colleague who knew where my garden was.  She gave me a link to a local news organization that showed a picture of a bus that had ploughed through our fence and into the garden. I scanned the article quickly to make sure nobody was hurt.  Whew. Last time this happened with an SUV and it sideswiped a gardener who never recovered.

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The bus had to be towed out.

Apparently, someone ran a red light and the bus driver, rather than t-bone the guy and kill him, took evasive action into our garden!  It saved lives and injuries, but left us with a wrecked fence and a few wrecked gardens.  The red light runner was ticketed and his insurance will be getting a few bills from us.

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The small Plot Against Hunger got quite a working over.

My garden was untouched, but the small AFAC plot was pretty hard hit.  We were getting ready to plant for fall there, but hadn’t considered replacing the fence too!

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Tonight I salvaged what hardware cloth I could and tossed the bent up steaks.

There has been more vandalism in the outside garden (the blackberry bush was cut down) and we have decided to move the larger AFAC garden inside to a plot adjacent to the small one.  So I cleaned that out a bit tonight.  It had been abandoned and gotten weedy, but was mostly cleared during a garden work day. I will put some broccoli and cauliflower seedlings in there once I prepare rabbit protection for them.

I also gave the county a call and asked for a traffic analysis at that light.  I think it needs left turn lights.  We’ll see what happens.  For now we’re expecting the fence to be fixed next week and to do some of our repairs. soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this video one of the neighbors of the garden took, complete with rainbow.

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Yup, Thinking of Fall Planting…

The garden has been a bit droopy lately because it is hot and the customary afternoon thunderstorms have either not happened or have happened two miles away.

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The peppers suffer most in hot, dry weather.

I was not able to get to the garden last week until Friday and my neighboring gardeners, let me know they had watered my garden, which was really nice.  On Friday evening, I saw things had gotten out of hand, so did a trash bin full of weeding and clearing.

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Even the basil looks as though it’s shrinking in the heat.

There are mulberry trees in the area and as a result of feasting birds, mulberry saplings in the garden.  They are long established, and it’s been impossible to dig them out, so I just cut them off, but when I don’t keep up with it, it gets shrubby along the fence line. Various weedy vines also had gotten out of hand both in the garden and out and flowers that seed, like the Love-in-a-mist, had gone completely brown.  All these things came out, along with some weeds and a lot of Jerusalem artichokes (another plant that goes utterly feral and unmanageable).

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Believe it or not, this is after the clearing!

That created a little room to begin to think about fall crops.  Yup.  In the midst of summer heat, I’m thinking about planting for fall.  The cucumbers, which have given lovely fruit, are about done, so I’ll likely rip them out soon.

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I always hate to rip things out and may trim the diseased leaves, but I do think these are about done…

I’ll keep the beans for the time being, but may rip them out if they don’t keep bearing and put some peas in there for fall.

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There are a lot of blossoms right now, so potentially more beans. We’ll see.

I am not a tomato grower. They fail for a variety of reasons, including weather and fungus, but I always get a few, especially now that I have discovered flower camouflage.

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There are three tomatoes in this picture…

This morning, I looked at my seeds, which include spinach, several types of radish, carrots, lettuces and arugula and something I have never planted, called rooted parsley, which apparently creates a big white root that gets sweeter as the weather gets colder.  I’m going to try that just for kicks.

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The thyme is looking good, with some new growth.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the continued profusion of zinnias in bouquets.

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Heading Into August

You may have heard that it’s been hot here.  Even for me, it’s been hot.  Just walking outside, not even exerting myself, I started sweating.  But it’s already broken, thank goodness.  The plants are looking a bit tired of the heat.

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The sunflowers are not wilting. They are amazing.

I took a walk around the garden, which I don’t normally do, looking at other people’s plots this week. Sunflowers!!! They are so lovely. I can almost feel them smiling when I look at them.

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It does look like artist portrayals of the sun, petals being the blaze…

Someone, a better gardener than I, has eggplant!  My eggplant have not been successful the past few years.

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I have failed in eggplant production in recent years. These two are marvelous.

Someone is growing what may well be winter squash.  And lovely they are!

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Another gardener has planted artichokes , which I did not realize looked so much like thistles at a certain stage.  Their foliage always makes me think of Audrey the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.

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The bees are thriving under the care of their beekeeper.

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They have doubled in size so far.

And I’m enjoying the flowers they work on.

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This week I plan to clear some things out so I can have space to plant some fall crops.  We’ll see how that goes, as the whole garden is rife with evil bunnies with glowing eyes.

I hope you enjoy your week!

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