The major fall cleanup is well under way. Today, Sunday, I started early in the morning with the intention of cutting down the cannas and dahlias. But when I got up close, I realized there's still a lot of green on the cannas, so I decided to leave them for now. I did cut down all of the Tropicana canna and the black leaved one because those two seemed to have taken a harder knock from the cold. I dug up the Tropicana roots and placed them on paper to dry off a bit in the greenhouse. I did cut down all the dahlias, which were really blasted by the cold, but only dug up my precious small clump of Bishop of Llanulf (sp?), which despite everything I try does not seem to be any bigger than when I first bought it years and years ago. I also lifted out a clump of small miscellaneous dahlia (some of which I grew from seed). All these are also drying off a bit in the greenhouse.
Next, I got the big clump of Jerusalem artichokes (very very tall sunflower like plants) cut down. I am going to move them. I planted them along the south fence in the veg and they are just too big and too rambunctious to leave there. This year they reached a height of 10 feet! I tie them to the fence, but they still manage to lean and loom over the entire east end of the veg. I'm thinking of moving them either up to the wildlife area (I believe they are native plants?), or else to somewhere in the Pine Gap. I have to say I haven't been really impressed by the roots either. The roots form tubers that look and taste a lot like water chesnuts and they are tasty, but it's a lot of plant for a tiny handful of tubers. I think I'd rather grow them for their looks and have the tubers as a nice little bonus.
After the rainy hot summer, everything has grown completely out of bounds and every time I clear away some huge clinging, climbing something it reveals another huge green thing that needs dealt with *LOL*. After I got the J. artichokes cut down and hauled out (I'll dig them up later in the week I think if we get drier weather), I saw that the forsythia that are planted several yards away from the southern veg fence have actually sent long thin branches THROUGH the fence! So I'll need to wade in there and hack those back one of these days. I also need to do some major pruning of branches on the trees along the southern border of the property. I need more sunlight in the veg.
Got a very skimpy harvest of turnips (3 usable roots) from the short row I planted. Again, too shady, too much rain....the J. artichokes had almost completely overshadowed that bed.
The greenhouse needs a major turn out and organization/clean for winter. What a mess. I actually found myself standing in the middle of it picking things up and randomly putting them down in another place. It's that bad. On the other hand, the garden shed looks great. I really got that nicely cleaned and organized early in the summer and I've been careful to keep it that way.
Still cold and the past few days have been rainy. My clay soil is like working with concrete so not much point in trying to dig/plant anything right now.
Our weather is holding, a bit colder than normal, but otherwise absolutely stellar. High, clear blue skies, bright sunshine, breezy, light frost in the mornings. Late afternoons are like fairy land. That deep golden light slanting thru leaves that are just starting to turn ....getting that slightly translucent quality just before they go red or gold.
I've got the veg completely emptied except for the turnips and parsnips, which can stay for a while yet. Most of the beds are cleared, but still have a few to go. I've learned that my horse manure source, the riding stable down the road, has changed ownership, but that the new owners are local veterinarians and are happy to give away manure. I'll have to visit them soon and introduce myself.
Unpotted a few of the smallest dahlias and brought the tubers indoors to cure before storage. These were bought on the discount table at Lowe's and I was glad to see they had pretty good heavy tubers in the pots because the top foliage was nearly gone when I got them. All my tender plants are in now; brought in the two buckets of tender pond plants yesterday. I bought a new bucket to hold my pond pump (just a little solar powered thing). I've been told the best way to store these cheap pumps is underwater so I plan to set it up in the office and have the soothing trickle of water indoors throughout the winter (I'll be running to the bathroom every 10 minutes).
Got all my potatoes dug up. These were the ones from the "Never ever plant stringy storage potatoes" bed. Great haul. From a handful of sprouty taters, I got a bushel of great looking spuds. I noticed that wherever the plants had been mulched with newspaper, the potatoes were much bigger and more plentiful. I've never mulched potatoes with anything more than grass clippings, so this is something to keep in mind.
Yesterday, I got the saws out and tackled some tree pruning. Got some branches taken down on a silver maple up inthe Storybook Garden that is getting too big. I probably should bring that tree down. It won't kill it, and in a few years I'll have a nice young tree instead. At any rate, removing those few lower branches really helped open that area up again. Also got a couple of low branches off the sprawling mulberry in the hen run. It was getting very difficult to walk under that tree. In fact, I think I may take off a few more and lop back some of the more trailing stuff.
The big project was removing a major stem from the paper mulberry that's been swamping the Fairy Glen entrance. I've been dithering about maybe removing that tree altogether, but decided to try removing some big branches first to see if that would be enough. The one I took off yesterday was HUGE. Nine inch diameter where it met the trunk. It took some sawing! As soon as it came down, I could see it was a good decision. Lots more light and the path is fully open again. Today, I'll be up there dismantling the downed branch and hauling it away.
Finally FINALLY got around to getting foxglove seedlings out of the brick path by the Pond Circle. It went much easier than I thought. I envisioned having to lift the whole path to get them out, but found instead that they mostly had put down a fine network of roots OVER the bricks, into the thick mossy covering. Some were big enough to plant out, so those went into three new spots in the borders. The rest I potted up in the greenhouse and I'll grow them over the winter for next spring.
It's been blowing pretty much nonstop since late Friday. I've got some big branches down from the River Birch in the front yard...that is a lovely but dirty tree. I spent about a half hour picking up millions of twigs and branches and hauling them out. I am hoping that this wind blows me some good by knocking apart/down the dead pines in the Woodland garden, but so far no luck.
Worked in the office all weekend and I'm finally getting my chin above water there. Did take some time to dig out and move a dozen daylily plants from the Fairy Glen entrance to several other, sunnier locations. I also got another small section of sod cleared off so I can start pouring Walkmaker concrete pads as soon as I get the chance.
Brought in all my tender ferns and other houseplants....First frost was Saturday morning. Not a killing frost, but enough to wilt the dahlias and crisp the edges on the cannas and colocasias. I usually try to leave those in the ground as late as possible...as long as the earth is still warm, it won't hurt them, even after the top growth is black and dead. I figure the least amount of time those roots, bulbs, etc. have to be in storage in the basement the better. This year is going to be a squeeze...I really don't know where I'm going to store all those cannas! But I'll find a way.
My office looks like a small jungle; it will only get denser as the weather gets colder and I start bringing in more stuff. And by the end of winter it will be packed with some of the stored roots moved up into the warmth/light to begin sprouting.
Not much else to report; it's been beautiful weather lately, despite (because of?) the wind. I've never seen such gorgeous skies, with clouds of every description and that lovely low, slanting autumn sunlight. Big Halloween moon tonight too, with a halo around it, so we are in for more cold and possibly more rain.
PS: We often go mushroom hunting this time of year (we only pick honey mushrooms), but not this year: A mother black bear with 3 cubs was spotted in the area where we usually go. R has bad knees, my knee is still aching too. He said "We couldn't outrun a bear." I said "All I have to do is outrun YOU." He was not amused.
There's just not enough "me" to go around. I'm working all day in the office, trying to get thru deadlines, and there's so much I need/want to do out in the garden too. Plus, there's tons of things around the house need doing. AND to make things even better...yet another major appliance went to join the choir invisible. My washing machine died in the middle of a wash cycle, the pump did something weird, and all those clothes were swimming in this foul blackish water. Ugh. Wrung everything out by hand, but it will need to be re-washed once I get a new machine (on Friday). This makes the third big white thing this year: January, new range, June, new dishwasher, now washing machine. And I don't want to hear about the strange noises the fridge is making either.
Very beautiful sunny weather the past few days, but very very cold now and yesterday, high winds. I've got downed branches/twigs all over the place. I'd like to get out there and maybe dig out the sod for a couple more Walkmaker concrete pads, but first I need to run to the recycling center with a load of cans and cardboard.
I did get the henhouse cleaned out and the waste spread on the veg, and yesterday got a new bale of straw in for the hens. $6 a bale seems salty....and its not even one of those really big bales either. I'll shop around and see if I can get another bale cheaper. Sometimes if you collar a farmer in the field as he's baling you can get a good deal.
I've spent several hours each day Friday, Saturday and Sunday concentrating on getting the Veg cleared out. I'm a little more than halfway through. Cutting back the black raspberries and repairing/resetting/restringing the support system for them took the most time. I've got a big pot of "garden cleanup" soup simmering on the stove: every time I turn up a stray potato, find an unharvested onion, or yank out a resprouted cabbage stalk, into the soup it goes. No telling what it will end up but it should be tasty!
Today, still cold and rainy, but clearing off. I'd like to give the hen house a thorough cleaning out and put in all new straw for winter. I can move the old straw/manure onto the cleared veg beds, so that will work well.
I'm suffering from a hangover. I am no drinker...one can of beer and that's it for me. Last night we had a shrimp dinner with fancy salad and I indulged in three (3) count 'em THREE small glasses of white wine over the course of the evening. Woo boy. What a headache. *LOL* Yes indeed, just call me Bubbles the Party Girl. Cleaning out the henhouse will be appropriate punishment for indulgence.
Blue Spruce blight. I'm losing a lot of my blue spruce trees. I've been hoping against hope that two of the big ones by the mailbox would be OK, but I think I might as well concede defeat and prepare to have them taken down. What ever this blight is, it starts at the bottom and just slowly burns its way up the tree until only the top is left healthy and eventually that succumbs too. It's not just me; I've been seeing dead and dying spruce everywhere. This might be a good time to talk to my mechanic who has set up young man to start a tree maintenance business. He assures me of good prices and good work. Anywhere else on the property and I might just let the trees stand, but these are RIGHT out on the road by the mailbox and really looking bad.