Friday, November 13, 2015

A Soggy Mid-November Update


Fall weather is finally settling in and I have been busy cleaning up the beds, putting away trellises, mulching paths and doing the myriad of tasks that close out the season.  These soggy photos were taken yesterday & today, in between bouts of rain & gusty winds - you'll have to excuse the fuzzy quality.

All of the hilltop beds are tucked in for the winter.  I gave each of them a topping of compost but there are still a couple missing their sprinkling of grass.  I don’t like to leave the soil bare over the winter and grass stays put much better than straw, which tends to blow around.

Hilltop beds
 
On the left side of the photo, you'll notice a small pile of soil - that's where I will be placing one new bed in the spring.  The piece of rebar sticking out of the ground is marking the corner of the bed.  This one bed will be the only new addition next year...or so I keep telling myself.

The hilltop mulching is almost finished – I have a stack of cardboard ready to be laid down and one more load of mulch sitting in the trailer:

For mulching the paths between the raised beds I use mulch
that is available for free from the municipality; it's not the prettiest of stuff,
but it does the job and the price is right
 
We are once again expecting some above seasonal temps in a few days, so I’m hoping to have the hilltop completely finished by next week.  What a weight off my shoulders that will be.  Even with the cardboard & mulch treatment, I know that I will still have weeds coming up here and there in the spring, which is ok with me.  Dealing with the odd weed will be a pleasure compared to tackling the jungle that was here earlier this year.

All of the hilltop beds that held annual veg are now empty except for two - these were planted up with garlic and shallots on October 26.  I’ll give more details on this planting in my end of season review.

The asparagus ferns are finally turning colour & they are absolutely gorgeous – the yellow is so bright it almost glows:

Asparagus ferns
 
I'm supposed to cut the ferns down once they turn brown, but they are not there yet.  The only other maintenance this bed will get is a topping of straw several inches thick in a few weeks, as will the garlic and shallot beds.

The peppermint & chocolate mint were repotted into the large metal bin that held the sweet potatoes this year.  The chocolate mint didn’t survive our last winter so I had to purchase a new plant and the peppermint just barely made it.  I’m hoping that placing them in this larger container and covering them with straw (which I intend to do as soon as the soil freezes) gives me better results.

Transplanted peppermint & chocolate mint
A little worse for wear after several frosts and a couple of freezes
 
The blueberries have lost their leaves as have the haskaps that I planted about a month ago:

Blueberry bed
 
There was no point in photographing the haskaps as they are so tiny you can barely differentiate between them and the mulch that surrounds them.

Do you see the green on the left side of the above photo, just in front of the yellow asparagus ferns?  I forgot to take a photo but that's self-seeded chamomile.  Roman chamomile is an annual, so these will not survive our winter – will that be it or will there be a sea of green come spring?

I’m leaving the straw bales in place over the winter.  Since they really didn't start to decompose and give me some good growth until later in the summer, I’m hoping that they are stable enough to last another season.

Straw Bales - These will be kept in place until next season
& hopefully still be in good enough shape to use again
 
That's basically it for the hilltop.  Down in the main garden, all but 5 beds are done for the season.

I cut back the cilantro a few weeks ago, but left the plants in place on the off chance that they would give me another small cutting – and they have done quite well despite a few sub zero nights.  The other day they were a bit droopy with frost, but they perked up once the temperatures rose:

Cilantro together with bunching onions
that are leaning over due to the recent winds

I have 2 more leeks to harvest; one is not so bad but the other is tiny:

Jolant Leeks

I really like how the Nebuka perennial bunching onions are developing – they are the smallest (in terms of thickness) variety I have tried so far, which is a quality I'm looking for:

Nebuka Perennial Bunching Onions

I plan to harvest a couple of these this weekend and compare them to the Evergreen bunching, which are a lot thicker.  The real test, however, will come this spring when we find out if this variety successfully overwinters, which is the whole point behind perennial bunching onions.

Also in this bed are the surviving spinach seedlings – Giant Winter Viroflex – which I am also testing to see if they will overwinter and give me an early spring harvest.

Giant Winter Viroflex Seedlings

We have been well stocked with other greens lately, so I haven't even started harvesting the lettuce.   It is doing quite well under the Agribon even with a couple of -5C nights.  I didn't get a photo as it was too cold, wet and windy - you'll just have to take my word for it.  I do foresee a salad on our dinner plate this weekend, so it will likely make an appearance in my next Harvest Monday post.

The broccoli is still going – I was about to pull it up a couple of weeks ago, but the local forecast predicted relatively good weather so I figured I would leave it to see if I could get another round of side shoots, small as they were likely to be.  And my patience has been rewarded:

Broccoli Side Shoots
 
The kohlrabi has been very slow to mature – Kolibri is supposed to be a quick variety, but it looks like I will only be getting a couple of bulbs from my August 15th sowing:

Kolibri kohlrabi
 
On the opposite end of the bed, the mizuna & tatsoi are doing incredibly well:

Mizuna & tatsoi
 
Both have shrugged off the frosts & freezes we've had with no protection whatsoever.  I've had one good picking of mizuna and it's more than ready for another - you can see one of the tatsoi's peaking out from underneath it's exuberant growth.  The tatsoi's actually look like they are on the verge of bolting, so I'll be harvesting the two remaining heads as soon as the weather lets up.

And lastly, another tree issue has become apparent.  We have a beautiful spruce next to our shed.  And it’s big....too big: 

Giant Spruce
This guy is probably around 30' tall

We just noticed that it’s pushing up against the shed that houses our lawn tractor and the branches are causing some damage to it.  Dealing with this tree will be one of the first things we do in the spring.  Unlike the willow, a tree like this needs a professional to remove it.

I do hate cutting down trees, especially spruce trees – they are one of my favourite evergreens.  We have a few spruce in our front yard (one as big as this one!) and I'm hoping to plant one or two more to make up for losing this one.  Beside the shed, we still need some sort of screening so we'll likely plant either a shrub or a much smaller tree.

Since we will already be having someone come in for the spruce, we've also been looking at other potential tree issues that can be dealt with at the same time.  There are a couple of 20+ year old cedars that are much too close to the house, for instance.  I have been procrastinating on cutting them down for a few years:

This cedar has essentially grown into the side of the house -
it looks like it's taking a bite out of the roof ;)
 
I love these trees as well - the house will look naked without them, which is why I've delayed having them removed.  The plan will be to replace them with smaller cedars & place those a bit further from the house.

We are about 2 weeks away from the official end of the season.  I truly love my garden, but it’s been an exceptionally busy year.  Did I mention how much I'm looking forward to taking a bit of a break over the winter?  Judging by all of the bloggers echoing this same sentiment, I'm definitely not alone on that one.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

18 comments:

  1. Well, that photo certainly LOOKS November-y!
    Frankly, I love this time of year---it's all about reconnecting with my house and hunkering in and getting comfortable and rested up. I got totally screwed out of my fall chores this year, but am so grateful for dear hubby doing it for me. I love the whole process of covering the beds with manure and grass/leaves. I feel like I'm "tucking in" my precious worms for the cold season ahead.
    Happy Fall, Margaret. Time to get that soup pot simmering.............
    :)

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    1. Oh, I couldn't agree with you more, Sue - it feels wonderful each time I put one of the beds "to bed". Not to mention the satisfaction of having a freezer/cold cellar full of delicious fruits & veg. I still have some canning to do, but after that it will be about enjoying the fruits (and veg!) of my labours. And the catalogues are probably going to start coming in soon...one of my favourite fall/winter pasttimes...browsing seed catalogues by a roaring fire...need I say more? I saw some "reading" socks at a local shop recently - I'm thinking about knitting myself a pair as that would definitely complete the picture :)

      I hope you are feeling better now. Seems like bronchitis is running rampant this year...the daughter of a friend of ours also had it earlier this month. Take good care of yourself and have a wonderful (and tasty, by the sounds of it) weekend!

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  2. I would be really surprised if you don't have chamomile popping up all over the place next spring. The one bed where I let it go to seed last year still has it sprouting everywhere, even after digging it out numerous times and turning the soil a few times. It has nearly reached the status of "weed".

    You still have quite a bit left to harvest. That mizuna and tatsoi are impressive and I bet they will be extra tasty after going through a few frosty nights.

    It is sad to have to remove some healthy mature trees. I totally understand your dilemma, I've been there too. We had a house years ago that was surrounded by big Deodora cedars and when they started to drop really big limbs which thankfully missed the house they had to go.

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    1. Oh boy, Daphne warned me about that when I originally planted it. Well, at least I know what to expect and now it will be a matter of trying to keep ahead of it in the spring. I do want to keep growing it, so I'll have to find an out of the way spot to grow it - somewhere where I don't mind it self-seeding like a madman. Easier said than done, I think.

      I love trees - we actually planted several baby spruce when we first moved into this house, although sadly only one survived. It's hard having to get rid of beautiful, mature trees, considering how long they take to get to that stage. But better that then having them damage a structure or, even worse, injuring someone. I think that making the initial decision was the toughest part...now it's just a matter of following through and trying not to think too much about what we will be losing.

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  3. I think once we realise the season's over it's good to get everything put to bed for the winter. A bit of extra care at this time of year makes for a much easier spring, I never get round to doing everything I should though so I usually end up starting the new year playing catch up.

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    1. So true - I would love to start spring with everything done but usually a few things fall through the cracks. I'm finding it easier to get more done as the kids get older so maybe one of these years, I'll actually be able to do that.

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  4. It looks like you will be all set when next spring comes to get right to it! Nice that you are still harvesting a few things. What will you do with your time once the garden season is done? Nancy

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    1. Oh boy, there certainly is no shortage of things to do, that's for sure - top of the list are a few pieces of furniture that have been sitting in the garage for months, waiting to be refinished and the unfinished area of my basement is a veritable obstacle course right now. This seems to happen every year and it's such a great feeling when I finally have some time to get it all sorted out & everything is back in order. And I'll be squeezing in a lot more knitting too!

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  5. Mizuna and tatsoi must be amazingly hardy, they look so lush and vibrant. And your broccoli has done amazingly well this year. I'm really hoping my kohlrabi has time to bulb up too, although the turnips are doing amazing.

    It's really too bad those big trees are so close to your house.

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    1. This is the first time I've grown either mizuna or tatsoi and am really impressed by how well they did this fall - I'll definitely be keeping them on the fall sowing list. Turnips are such fast growers, aren't they? I couldn't keep up with them this year and am hoping to do a bit of succession sowing to spread out the harvest next time.

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  6. I know that our winters are less severe than yours, but these days I make a conscious effort NOT to end the growing-season, but to keep some things going throughout the Winter.. I wish I had a polytunnel - that would help a lot! I have a problem tree too - though the main problem is it belongs to a neighbour! It overhangs part of my garden (though fortunately it doesn't block much light), and its roots spread out well into my property. I wish the neighbour would cut it down.

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    1. Oh, you are not alone in having neighbor tree problems and the roots can travel much further than one would think. Many trees are surprisingly shallow rooted & I've heard of some people dealing with this by digging down about 18" or so and placing a physical barrier - I think it's called a root barrier or something along those lines - along the edge of their garden too keep the roots out of it. Something to consider if those roots get to be a big problem (like my willow was!).

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  7. It is good to see your broccoli is making side shoots (unlike mine)! I'm a fan of mulch over cardboard too. I eventually get a few weeds but the cardboard really seems to help smother them. Your mizuna and tatsoi look lovely too. I think you have grown some of the largest tatsoi I have ever seen! And I'm with Michelle - I bet you have lots of chamomile, which to me would not be a bad problem at all.

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    1. The broccoli was definitely one of the few successes in the garden this year - I can't believe how much I harvested from only 7 plants! I don't know what the story is with the tatsoi - my spring planted ones were pretty normal in size. I guess they must like the fall weather. And hopefully I'll have the time to take advantage of whatever chamomile comes up next spring - I was just too busy to keep up with the harvest this year (which explains all the self-seeding!)....I see a lot of tea in my future :)

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  8. In my experience most perennial onions with Japanese names grow huge and thick stems. Especially after first year. I have an Ishikura plant that is in its second year and is about the thickness of my wrist! Tastes awfully soapy. I have two perennial onion clumps that have stems the size of normal spring onions - a no name welsh onion and a red welsh onion. I really like those.

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    1. I read about Welsh onions earlier this year from somewhere and they do sound promising and obviously you have had a good experience with them - I'm thinking that I'll give them a try at some point.

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  9. Those broccoli heads look really good. Are haskaps like our honey berries?

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    1. Yes, the haskaps are honey berries - I've never tried them but they sound tasty. I haven't heard that many people having success growing them, but every garden is different, so you never know...fingers are crossed at this point that they just make it through the winter!

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