Spent Friday pruning and weeding the red raspberry bed and the new asparagus patch. Both are now ready for winter; over the course of the next few weeks, I'll mulch both with fallen leaves and the strawy manure from the henhouse. I was really pleased with how the new asparagus did over the past summer. I started them from seeds in late winter, transplanted them into their new bed in early spring, and they took off and did great all summer (all that rain really did them a lot of good...I only had to water them at planting time and once after). Compared to the 10 1-year plants that I bought and put in at the same time, the seed-grown ones did much better. I think 4 of the 10 purchased plants died...I did not see any sign of them. If all goes well, I'll have lots of asparagus in the upcoming years. Hoping for a very small harvest this coming spring.
As for the red rasp. they are doing very well. I got a good harvest from them this summer despite the rainy weather and the terrible onslaught of Japanese beetles we had. Now that I'm armed with beetle traps for next summer, I'm hoping to get even more berries.
Very very cold here: I woke up to 16F this morning at 6:30 a.m. We have been running 10-15 F below normal for weeks now. The ground has not yet frozen solid, but it's getting there. I'm still able to dig where the soil is in full sunshine, but in the shade it's like concrete. Heavy frost this morning, but no snow. Saturday was spent doing "xmas stuff" and walking 2 miles down to my friend's house...that was an adventure. Temperature of 25F and wind chill in the teens. Brisk, to say the least. It was actually too cold to work outside yesterday (Sunday) but I did drive over to the mobile home lot and pick up 10 bags of leaves. Those all went into the woodland garden, around the Stumpery. I really need to get some more big logs/stumps for that!
RE: Leaves. You wonder sometimes about the thought processes of people (do they have any?). A man calls me up and says "I have 6 bags of leaves for you to pick up." He KNOWS I'm a woman, He KNOWS I'm doing this for free, as a favor. Yet he packs the biggest bags he can find densely full of WET Leaves and expects me to be able to heave these...they must go 100+ pounds each...into my pickup truck. I got there, nudged one bag and left. He's nuts if he thinks I'm going to do that. Most people are very good about either making sure the bags are reasonable (I'm no weakling, I can lift/manuever around 50-60 pounds without trouble) or else they help me load them (or do both).
We've been having dry weather for the past several days (well, some sprinkles, but nothing much). It's still very cold and very overcast, but I am trying to get into the garden for at least an hour whenever I can. Yesterday I got the driveway bed cleaned up and delivered cut greenery to the neighbor, who traded me four big red bows. We do this every year; she gets my juniper prunings, I get free outside decorative bows.
I have actually got more done in the garden in the past week or so than I have most of the previous couple of months. It's good to be able to see some real improvement again. Today, I'm planning to get the Front Bed done. Next on the list will be a cleanup of the Storybook Garden, which is a real mess. I've also got to got to got to figure out which trees need work and then rent a chainsaw. I'm hoping to get that nice little battery/electric chain saw I rented last year. So much nicer than trying to get a gas-powered saw to start.
Had to take a quick break to check on the neighbor's property. There are three big red vehicles in their driveway and men in hardhats and with chainsaws milling around. It's ok. Apparently my neighbor called for them to clear some branches off the power line that runs behind her house (this is across the road from me). I know the neighbors are not home, so I thought it best to check. Crews have been known to go to the wrong address! Dumb cluck, I should have asked them to drop any wood chips in my driveway for mulch. I guess I could go back over there in a bit...maybe take them some cookies?
I've been getting some things done around here the past week. I'm trying to work around the weather. Whenever I see a morning without rain, I down a cup of joe, pull on the workies and wellies and get to it.
I got some major pruning done on the juniper below the deck. "With lopper and saw, bravely she craw'd, up o'er the juniper mighty. Springy and dense, the shrub it fought back and tossed her right down on her hiney."
Holy moses, what a job. Three hours of clambering over those things. They are so big and so dense, the only way to reach the top is to sort of "Marine crawl" up over them. They are sort of like a gigantic juniper mattress. Basically, one throws one's tools forward, then throws one's self down onto the juniper and wriggles up and forward. It is not easy, it is not dignified and if the neighbors ever put a video on You Tube it is sure to go viral. But it is done and we will say no more.
This morning I got a good bit of winter cleanup done on the upper south border, where it curves down from the Top Border. I meant to really work that portion of garden this fall, but never did. That area really is in need of a major, thorough overhaul. I've got overgrown lilacs, a hugely overgrown and sprawling apple tree, a dead blue spruce, overgrown forsythias, and assorted blackberry canes all over the place, not to mention couch grass in the straggling iris and dayliles. Just a mess. Today, I basically just cleaned up the front of that area and got the edge neat. Also spread compost/mulch. Doesn't sound like much but took a couple of hours. I think what I need to do next is go out there with a clipboard and really evaluate what I need to do. I have a sinking feeling that I might be losing my lovely old lilacs...I hauled out a couple of very large dead branches. At any rate, the area needs a very heavy pruning to open it up to light and air again. It's always a balancing act: I want to have it open enough so that the plantings are healthy, but at the same time, I dont want to remove so much that it stops being a visual barrier against the neighbor's property. Not that they're terrible or anything, just that I don't relish staring into other people's (boring) back yards everytime I go out on the deck.
There was a strange light in the sky for a few hours the other day....some people told me it was called something like "Sun light." Not sure I know what they are talking about. Everyone is waffling over whether this will be a heavy snow winter, a very rainy winter, or no winter at all. I'm leaning toward "no winter at all." I just wonder if the frigid cold and heavy snow we had in October/November might not be all we get. No matter what, it's going to be a LONG winter, with the cold starting in mid-October. It's pretty likely we'll still be dealing with cold weather right into April.
I have to confess I've been in a gardening funk lately. I just don't seem to have any real enthusiasm for the garden. I think it's a combination of several things. First, this past summer...I wasn't able to get ANY of the projects done that I wanted to, between it either pouring rain or being so suffocatingly hot. So, the arbor in the Asian Garden remains unbuilt, the concrete paving in front of the garden shed remains only about 1/4 done, the rock/concrete steps up into the Asian Garden a mere dream... Worse than not making any forward progress, I lost ground. The same heat and rain got everything growing at such a pace I just could not keep up. As fast as i got a bed edged or weeded, it was overgrown again. And watching the hard work in the veg turn to mush wasn't much to keep the spirits up either.
I thought that once the weather cooled down, I'd start getting things back in order. But now we've had 7 inches of early snow, freezing temps, and yes, more deluge-type rain. So, now it's too cold and wet to do a lot of things. I'm looking at back-burnering most of the construction projects until probably MAY of next year. It's discouraging. I have been able to do some "negative gardening" as I think of it...removing plants, cutting down trees, doing heavy pruning on shrubs and trees.
I'm hoping that once the catalogs start arriving, I'll perk up. I do have a new greenhouse that I still haven't put thru its paces ! What little I've used it for has been great and I'm hoping to get a lot more use out of it this coming year. (That's another project never got done...I got a very tiny woodstove and a chimney (free!) that I wanted to install in the greenhouse...it's just sitting there.)
It's a little hard to believe that in a little more than 1 month I will be doing the traditional walk to the Post Office to place the years seed order on January 1.
Maybe the cure for the doldrums is a binge watch of Monty Don and Gardener's World. Did I tell you I actually had a Monty dream? I was watching a show being filmed, and I got left behind when the crew packed up and moved *LOL*. Story of my life.
Friday I took the whole day off and worked on cleaning up the Below the Deck garden. One of those jobs where you think "Oh, I'll get this done in an hour," and next thing you know you've been hard at it for 4-5 hours. Cut back and tidied everything, pruned the mugho pine ... I was reluctant to do too much, but then decided to just go ahead and start removing stuff and it was a good idea. Looks much better and now the path beside it is open again. I also got about 30 small chinese dogwoods dug out from under their mother tree in the Jungle Cliff. That looks much better too, and now I have a lot of small trees that I can either plant out or sell. They range in size from about 3 feet tall to just a few inches. I did the smart thing: as I dug out the small trees, I popped in crocus bulbs; a two-fer! I lined out the large and medium trees, potted up the smaller ones. I think I already know where I will use probably about 10 of the larger saplings. I'm hoping to plant 3 together to get a nice multistemmed look here and there.
Our weather is all over the place. We went from extremely cold on Thanksgiving day to cold on Friday, then warmer Sunday and today quite warm, with highs in the low 50s and lots and lots of rain. I think we're going to see some flooding if this rain continues; we had record setting rainfall this summer but at least with the vegetation soaking it up we did not see much flooding. Now, the ground is starting to freeze, there's no vegetation, and the low temps are reducing evaporation. Already the low bridge that crosses Marsh Run at the end of our road is a couple of inches under water (nothing drastic or dangerous). We're in a rural area with a lot of marshes and small creeks, so nobody is too surprised to see roads under a sheet of slow moving water. As long as I can clearly see the road surface through the water, I'll drive through, but anything deeper or fast moving and I turn around. "Don't Drown, Turn Around" as our local news is always saying.
Completely forgot today is R's 65th birthday. Woke up in a sweat, ran out as soon as stores opened and got him two tees, a spray bottle of Armor-All, scary movie DVD, a can of cashews, a six pack of fancy beer, a jelly donut, and a b.day card. Whew! Ta-Da! Birthday! *LOL*
Tonight I'm making him a shrimp and salad dinner (at his request). Oh yea, baby, we party HARD around here....