Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Garden Chores DONE!

We've been blessed with a few mild days so I have been working to get the fall garden chores done before the weather turns. We haven't yet had our first snow but it could happen at any time.

I turned the voluminous tomato vines and pepper plants into compost material by using a mower and grass catcher to chop them up small. It worked beautifully! This method was recommended by Margaret Roach, garden coach extraordinaire from A Way To Garden blog. It worked so slick. Those huge mounds of debris became wonderful small bits of compost fodder in no time at all. It made me so happy to have that chore done - thanks, Margaret. It's important to keep the compost pile aerated and moist. I've noticed that the chickens have been helping me with the aeration by scratching around in the pile. It is getting easier to turn with all their help.

My compost pile that will turn into wonderful DIRT
Also got the garlic bed planted with three varities - Chef's Italian Red, a softneck with mild flavor; Georgian Crystal, a hardneck with large, buttery cloves perfect for roasting, and Erik's German White, another hardneck with a spicy flavor that stores well. All are organic and from Seed Savers Exchange.
Under this 6" hay mulch are my garlic bulbs
After preparing the bed, I planted the individual cloves 2" deep about 6" apart, then covered them with 6" of hay mulch. I followed SSE directions exactly so hopefully with the reliable source of the garlic this year and the specific planting instructions, I will have an abundant crop of garlic next year. I use so much garlic in my cooking, and as my regular readers know, I had to plant my own so I'm not stuck with garlic imported from across the globe.

For those who don't know, softneck garlic has the small center cloves with around 12-16 cloves per bulb and hardneck has a hard center stem and about 4-6 large cloves around it.

I transplanted the daylilies from the peony bed to one of the outside ground beds in the garden on the south east where they can multiply to their little orange hearts desire. I don't want any competition to my peonies. The blueberry bushes (well, they look like sticks now but will be bushes one day!) have been moved to the south ground bed in the garden. Asparagus is in the north east ground bed and the garlic is now in the south west ground bed and come spring, the north west ground bed will be lush with cosmos, one of my favorite summer flowers. I can see it all. The garden will have some lovely flowers within it for my pleasure as well as the bees. I need to attact more bees next year since we seemed to have a shortage this summer compared to what I've seen in previous years.

Yes, this is a blueberry 'bush' of six. Now
in a bed on the south side of the garden
protected from critters with the tomato cage until
spring. The blueberries will get marvelous sun here.
We have several little saplings from Arbor Day Foundation that we planted in a large tank last spring because we weren't sure where we wanted them placed in the yard. I have chosen spots that will show them off in the future once they reach full maturity and today planted them all. We will protect the bark from the mice & other critters including deer that look to saplings in the cold barren menu of winter. I've used the tomato cages that Mark made early last year to protect the saplings from big merauders this winter.

Our cottage is nestled among many trees which is wonderful but most of the desiduous are Chinese Elm which is a 'weed' tree meaning it is like a weed in that it puts out a zillion (yes a zillion) seeds that the spring winds carry so there are little seedlings everywhere. In other words, another weed to pull!

We won't be here to see these new trees grow to a size of substance and certainly not to maturity, but I can visualize how they will enhance the ranch in the future. Hopefully they will eventually replace all the elms around here. We have several beautiful mature evergreen firs, pines (Austrian, Scotch, and Ponderoso), and Norway Spruce which all contribute a lovely structure to the tree story in the yard. Today, we added Washington Hawthorn, Tuliptree, Sargent Crabapple, Viburnum, Kentucky Coffee Tree and Bur Oak so one day there will be a great stand of valuable trees.

BTW, those homemade tomato cages worked beautifully for the tomatoes last summer. They are strong enough to hold up the tomatoes but need a steel post to ensure the wind doesn't blow them over when they get top heavy with foliage and fruit. We'll correct that next summer.

Well, the garden chores are DONE!!!! Yeah! Now I'll look to other creative endeavors to pursue this winter.

Let it snow - I'm ready!

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