I had arranged to get bags of leaves from a senior apartment complex in town and WOW! Last week I got 39 bags and there will be more. Now they have all been unloaded and the bags are sitting in groups near the garden. I thought they might already be moist because they were so heavy but my moisture meter says DRY, so I watered each bag from the top. This is probably more than I need but I did say I would pick up the rest of them which the maintenance guy said will be about 10 more. The dry leaves I could see at the tops of the bags could not account for the weight so it seems that maybe the leaves were collected by a mower and chopped, bagged in the mower bag and transferred to garbage bags. I should open one and look.
These leaves will slowly break down in the bags. Moisture, freezing and thawing, plus time and whatever grass clippings are in the mixture will work slowly through the winter. I had planned to make a bin from t-posts and plastic fencing that comes in a roll and is similar to that orange stuff they use at construction sites to keep people out. This is black. My injured shoulder prevented building of the bin so the bags will sit through the winter and maybe the bin will be built in the spring so I can see what is happening. Mold and various bacteria types will do some work even in the cold temperatures. I have been watching U-tube videos about composting leaves and one in particular tells about some of the helpful critters quite specifically that work at low, medium and higher temperatures. The centers of the bags might have work going on in them all winter!
We have had some nice days and now the forecast is for snow in the next few days. Two weeks ago some if our family and a couple of our neighbors got together and cut two and a half cords of firewood for us. The trees were all dead and dry but mostly still standing and the landowner wanted them removed before they fell over fences. Dead trees are a problem and their removal is a good thing. We are very thankful to have a good firewood supply and have had help to get it.
The Christmas cactus has a lot of buds now and a few are showing color. One might open today or tomorrow.
A storm brought us between 1 and 2 10ths of an inch of sloppy, wet snow. It covered the ground and then froze in place overnight and melted yesterday. All good.
Our neighbor's cattle are still here grazing. I prefer not to turn my horse out with them because when they need to be moved it is easier to not have to deal with the wrong animal going through the gate. My hay supply was getting very low so I asked the neighbor to bring me more. The bales he delivers are big and heavy, probably weighing around 900 pounds. It's very nice grass hay. My horse is retired so he doesn't need anything but hay, however I do give him a little grain every 2 or 3 days as a treat. He also gets apple peelings and cores, and carrot peelings. On days when he doesn't get a treat he just looks at me when I put the hay in his feeder as if to say "is this all?"
Burdock is one of the noxious weeds in our area and the burrs on it can stick to animals and be carried here and there. They are also very hard to comb out of manes and tails so I have been going around with a feed sack and clippers to collect them as carefully as possible along with thistle heads and a red weed that makes a huge amount of seeds. The goal is to remove as many as possible without loosing the seeds and then burn them in our burn barrel. If I put them on the burn pile the cattle would scatter them before the pile is burned. It's a slow job and a cold one!
Early this morning our low temperature was about 20. The high today will be near 40.
******************* A couple of days later
More snow and more rain put 9/10ths of an inch of moisture in the rain gauge over the past two days! It's adding up to a respectable amount this fall. The snow started as rain late in the evening and changed to snow overnight and most of the following day. We had about 3 inches of snow by late yesterday afternoon. Overnight it rained more and soaked into the ground. What a blessing after months of dry! Another storm is coming at us so who knows what we will see in by morning.
All of the garlic that was worth planting is in the ground now and yesterday I mulched it all with straw and watered it to form a mat that the wind won't blow away. Most of the tools have been brought up the hill to the shed. The rototiller will be ready to store away after the tire that keeps loosing air is repaired and put back on it. Better to deal with it now than have to fiddle around putting air into it multiple times next season.
It looks like my plans for a no till garden will not happen next year because when I gather leaves this fall they will be tilled into the rows next spring to help with that excessive nitrogen problem. Meanwhile, I am leaving the big manure fork in the garden so that I can work on cleaning roots out of the rows so they won't be chopped into itty bitty pieces when I run the tiller. And maybe after next year I will be able to go the no-till route. I would like to get that hard clay layer broken up under all of the rows.
I'm still having to be careful using my right arm. While not as painful as it was, it is still uncomfortable and I am hoping if I take care of it now the discomfort will be gone and my strength will return over the winter with careful use. Meanwhile, my left arm works just fine and I have learned to do some things left handed.
Today we took the shade cloth off the greenhouse. My baby plants in the salad bed will be happier with more light.
A storm is blowing in and I hope it will bring us rain or snow. It rained in town today but we didn't get any of it. The rain plus the wind will help bring the leaves down from the trees and soon I will be bringing home bags of them.
Yesterday morning we did see snow on the higher mountains!
So far my rain gauge collected 4 10th's of an inch, then we got more rain last night along with a frost warning. I covered the geraniums in my planters and now have wet curtains, heavy shirts and a rug to dry out. The geraniums will be dug out of the planters, put in plastic bins and taken to the greenhouse today. Could have avoided this by moving the plants yesterday. Hindsight is wonderful!
Hoses and tools need to be removed from the garden and taken to the shed for storage. I said that last week and still haven't done it. Two hoses will stay in place there for a while so I can be sure the garlic has enough water. Why two? Because I hate dragging a hose from one side of the garden to the other and then back again. Two varieties of garlic remain to be planted.
Today, Tuesday, October 25
Yesterday it snowed all day, wet stuff that finally gave us about half an inch on the ground and half an inch total in the rain gauge. I think that brings our total for the past few days to almost an inch! October is one of our "wet" months! Today we have fog. Thick fog. And the temperature is just warm enough so that it isn't forming hoarfrost on anything. It will probably do that overnight if the fog hangs around.
I did get the main varieties of garlic into the ground before we got this last little storm and now have started preparing a spot to plant a couple of varieties I don't care so much about. They will go at the bottom of the garden where the soil is looser and the gophers find tunnels easier to make, so if I can keep them down there they won't be so inclined to dig into harder soil and bother the better stuff. The weather prediction seems to be optimistic for the next two or three days and I hope to finish that project and also dig the rest of the potatoes.
Today I can work in the greenhouse, planting those baby salad greens in the little salad garden bed. It's not actually so little, about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. The shade cloth needs to come off the greenhouse roof now that the sun angle is lower and the light is not so intense. Just another little job for the DO list.
I'm tired of planting! My knees hurt, my shoulder is sore and my hands are rough and on the verge of bleeding from the hard clay lumps of soil. I've been hurrying to get it all planted so have been pushing to beat the rain. I should have done some watering to soften it before trying to work in the peat moss and plant the cloves down a few inches into it. I wore out a pair of gloves! The showers arrived this afternoon just after I quit planting for the day and was watering everything. The ground is very dry so it is going to take a lot more water than just a few showers to get moisture down several inches. Adding the peat moss and mixing it into my mini rows took a lot of extra time and so did working with a sore shoulder. My kitty helps a lot, she rubs, tries to give my face kisses and likes to appropriate my kneeling pads for her own use. Today an owl was roosting in the big tree just outside the corner of the garden, quietly minding his own business while I was minding mine. Yesterday he moved from his roosting place to a post and watched a while from there.
Today I saw a hummingbird! I told him he had better get himself south right away. I still have the feeder up so he got a drink and hopefully also saw the lilac blooms on one of my bushes. Lilacs in October are either 5 months late or 7 months early. Very strange!
I picked a few of our plums today, ate a couple and decided they need frost before they will taste good. I think frost sweetens them. Our tree is loaded again this year.
This showery system is moving from northwest to southeast so we could be seeing snow on our higher mountain peaks as early as tomorrow morning.