Posts Tagged ‘Fall Gardening’

Garden Update ~ And Then There Were Seven

I guess you could say I asked for it. Last Thursday, while planting garlic in the 100-gallon bed on the West side of the shed, I lamented how much the voles have destroyed our grass. Deep gouges swish and swirl around the yard, especially since I threw some extra fritillaria melagris bulbs into the largest holes. I noticed the voles had thrown one out in disgust and appeared to have dug new trenches. Thank goodness I opted for the various styles of grow bags, which so far live up to their reputation as vole resistant.

In the midst of hauling compost from garage to far backyard, I might have wondered where “my” cat went. Did she really only visit our yard to torment Kalamazoo Kal? He hasn’t come by for awhile. Did she follow him to less restricted kale pastures? Did something happen to her? Why do these voles feel so comfortable in our yard? If only they smelled more cat, maybe they’d go the way of Kal. If you wish it, they will come. And come.

Meet the new Vole Patrol:

IMG_1485 Continue reading

Garden Update: New Critters, Compost and Putting the Crazy Back in CPL

We’ve had some new developments since I posted “Garden Update: The Good, the Bad and the Undetermined.” The big news is that Kalamazoo Kal showed up the next day, apparently to apologize for stealing my kale. He popped out of his old hidey hole and stood on his hind legs as soon as I sent him the mental message, “Not acceptable, Kal!”

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He normally only stands on hind legs when the cat teases him, but this time, he seems to have been responding to my lecture about kale thieving. Soon afterwards, he went right to spots of the yard I had tagged earlier in the day as in need of weeding. He even munched dandelions in the mulched area between our magnolia and purple maple. (Sorry for photo quality. It’s tricky to Continue reading

The Photo Version

As promised, here’s the photo version of ‘Twas the Weekend ‘Fore Autumn:

The Weekend ‘Fore Autumn

 

‘Twas the weekend ‘fore Autumn and all through the yard,

All the plants were a’thriving, including the chard.

chard

 

The bees dined on asters; the cushaw had grown.

The mums nearly bursting, the yard freshly mown.

 

Thai basil hummed purple; eggplants danced in the breeze–

The garden so fragrant, it drew many a sneeze!

 

Sweet potato vines covered the sides of the trough,

And on sedum and zinnias, butterflies sipped on and off.

 

For the first time in years, the holly had berries.

Boltonia blossoms delighted the faeries.

 

As Fall Equinox split the light and the dark,

Those flowers all giggled at anything stark.

 

The Robinhood roses had been blooming since June–

So hard to believe ‘twould be Halloween soon!

robinhood-roses-blooming-since-june

Garden Update ~ Butterflies, Blooms, Garden Tower Project and More

People keep asking me, “How was your garden this year?”

To which I reply, “It was good, but it’s still growing.” Although I have moments when I think I’d feel fine to have everything tucked away for winter, fall is really one of my favorite times in the garden. It’s butterfly season, for one, and even with those thousand bulbs I planted last year for this year’s spring, we still have more blooms in September than we do in April or May. Here are this week’s photos:

sunday-bouquet-2

Last Sunday’s bouquet for David’s mom.

butterfly-season

So many butterflies this year! Here’s one of several at a time that like to sip from red zinnias.

cushaw-update

The cushaw squash continue to grow. This one is about twice the size of the other one. I accidentally cut off two babies while trying to tame the vine, but these should be plenty! Last year I needed to give away three giants.

The Garden Tower put on another rush of growth. We now have so many ripe eggplants we’ll need to make baba ganoush. Oh, the sacrifice!

Not visible in the photos are some tiny spinach, broccolini and cilantro sprouts started for a late season harvest. Something ate a few of them, but we should still get some yummies.

scabrosa-rose
The scabrosa rose is blooming and making its trademark large, tasty hips.

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Haus Am See’s herb spiral and asparagus hedge continue to fill in.

cosmos galore.jpg

We’ve got cosmos galore.

welcome-to-the-jungle

Welcome to my jungle!

Lilies, Glads, Sunflowers and the Backyard Forest Garden

Mid-July has brought an explosion of white and color in the backyard (and front yard) forest garden. People keep asking about these white lilies — some of them taller than David — so I thought I’d share some of the abundance and beauty:

A peek at the edible ornamental backyard forest garden with black lace elderberry to the left, various currants and jostaberries to the right of the path, plus a potted lemon tree, and off frame to the right, hazelnut, aronia berry and apples:

backyard forest garden

You can see more of the raised beds that allow abundant growth over a yard full of juglone containing black walnut stumps. The beds are so full that you can’t really see the three beds of triple-tiered produce behind these green zebra tomatoes, bush basil, shiso, egglant, asparagus, beans, chard, and marigolds, but they’re spilling over with a mystery melon, tomatoes, Thai basil, cabbage and more:

The front yard has gone full on sunflower, gladiolus and lilies, so large that you can barely see the cherry and pear trees, blueberry bushes, hazelnuts, kale and kalette behind them:

front yard sunflowers and lilies

The bees are very happy here, too, with skirret, chives, borage, calendula, black eyed Susan’s, zinnias and elecampane:

nectary

It’s difficult to believe or convey just how non-magical this yard originally felt and looked. Yes, it does take work to maintain, but I actually spend far, far less time in the yard than I did for the first two years of living here. This year, I have spent more time harvesting than anything else: black and red raspberries, blueberries, currants, aronia berries, strawberries, sea kale, lettuce, herbs, asparagus, peas, green beans, pears, sour cherries, tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, cucumbers, parsnips, cabbage, eggplant, flowers for bouquets and loads and loads and loads of greens!

We eat well, and many of the trees and shrubs have only just begun to produce. We look forward to the extra thirteen asparagus plants I’ve added to the blue house yard, along with more fruit and nut trees and shrubs.

Anyone can add food to their landscape! You don’t need 1/3 of an acre like we have here (minus the houses and garages). Espaliered fruit trees take very little room along a fence. Fruit and nut shrubs and trees can take the place of more traditional ornamentals. Special colors of vegetable plants make them look unrecognizable as food plants, blending into more traditional flower beds. You can use raised beds, plant in the ground, a Garden Tower, “big bag beds,” or any and all combinations of these to fit your space, time and budget. Too much shade? Grow currants. They produce buckets full even in deep shade. No room? Experiment with vertical gardening through trellises, teepees and tiered raised beds.

For me it’s not just about the food. It’s about bringing beauty and nature to an otherwise industrial, impoverished and forlorn spot of earth. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and all manner of insects abound in our yards, delighting the eyes and senses … and most importantly, the heart and soul. In a world of chaos, gardens offer a chance to bring peace, abundance and delight, along with grounding and natural anti-depressants. As David likes to say, what’s not to love?

If you missed spring and summer produce, it’s not too late to plant for fall. Look into cool season crops like kale, brassicas, Lucullus chard, beets, carrots, daikon radishes, and even very short season warm weather veggies. Check your seed packs for days to harvest and subtract from your average first frost date to see if you can still get a harvest!

Wishing you and yours abundance and joy.

 

Flower Angel

David snapped this photo on his way out of the car at lunch. So sweet! I was just thinking how grateful I am for calendula still blooming in November:

Flower Angel

Planning Next Year’s Harvest ~ Lasagna Gardening How-To

It may not seem like it, but now’s a fabulous time to begin imagining, designing and plotting next year’s garden. As we come into the season of fallen leaves, straw bales, and this summer’s yard waste, a little planning can turn all that free biomass into fertile, no-till soil. As a Mad Scientist Gardener, I’ve tried all sorts of methods, depending on the location and juglone (toxin from black walnut) levels of my soil. The Lasagna Gardening method, also called “sheet mulching” builds rich, deep soil over the winter, so you don’t need to dig in spring.

I love it so much, I’ll be using it to create a horseshoe shaped asparagus bed in the Blue House yard, a perfect edible hideaway for gatherings from spring through fall. I learned yesterday that an 18″ underground electrical line cuts through my would be horseshoe, and asparagus gets dug in deep. This information only solidified my original plan to build the soil up so that I wouldn’t need to dig down. It’s a great way to kill off grass and weeds, too, incorporating them into the overall soil fertility.

For those who find the idea of a no-till garden intriguing, here’s a Mother Earth News full description of how and why to try Lasagna Gardening for next year’s bounty. Enjoy the planning …. and the harvest!