Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Work to Ready for Winter.

Now that the root cellar cans are almost full, and the firewood stacked, we still have more to do before winter. Jim's working on the greenhouse and it's almost ready for us to move into it. He's got the polycarbonate on the slanted wall, and is working on tightening up all the air leaks around the sides.I've already put the fragile house plants along the back wall, in case of a nighttime frost. We planted some small food plants in pots to try to grow for winter eating too and they're coming along. The next task is to paint the buckets we've gathered with black spray paint so we can stack them in the greenhouse to absorb and radiate heat.

The trees are changing colors fast and dropping their leaves. I'm raking them up, piling them on a small tarp and dragging them out to the garden to feed next year's plants. One big pile is waiting for Anna to arrive so she can jump on them with joy.It's coming together, pretty soon we'll be ready for that snug time of year, when we can stay warm and comfy inside, sipping a glass of wine by the stove, while snow blows and winds rage outside. Not quite yet though!

Getting Ready for Winter

This time of year, we're scrambling to get ready for winter around here. Something about the nip of coming frost in the air just sends us into a frenzy of putting by, cleaning up, putting away and stocking up. Jim gathered plump walnuts to work up into delicious baked goods this winter.We've bought firewood, stacked and covered it.Cleaned up the garden, pulled the old plants, and tossed the dead stuff onto the compost pile. Coiled all the hoses and carefully put them away for spring use.Anna found a toad in the garden vegetation. Planted some cold hardy things for late season growth-the peas and collards are doing well, not much else is.Now it's time to store away food for winter. We took Anna with us to pick apples. Fugi for long keeping, Golden Delicious for immediate delicious eating, and Jonathans for Jim's wonderful apple pie. Each apple is wrapped in paper, sorted into labeled bags and lowered carefully into our buried root cellar cans out back in the woods.Another can holds knobby red potatoes that will stay fresh and crisp for meals all the way into April. We still need onions and carrots, but we're getting there!

Monday, October 05, 2009

The New Asparagus Bed-or Karren Goes Looking for HorseS**t

We decided that we really want a bed of our own asparagus, but didn't want to devote any existing garden space to the plants. So I started looking for the best place outside the garden fence to tuck in a bed dedicated to these delicious green spears.I found the solution in Lasagna Gardening, a book about a way to set up a new gardening bed without all that digging, weeding and back-breaking work. In short, you set aside a space, define it somehow and pile on layers of stuff, cover it and let it work, then uncover it in the spring to find healthy black soil. Here's my step by step preparation of my new asparagus bed.

First, pick the area-this is at the east end of the garden with sun most of the day, and if I put it right outside the fence and keep it mulched, it'll keep down those weeds that keep moving into the garden on that end. I started by making a sort of enclosure with some old aluminum soffett pieces that we don't need. I nailed them to the fence posts, tin-snipped the corners, and pounded in small stakes and nailed the metal to the top.Next, laid down thick layers of newspapers-Followed by lots of maple leaves, raked and watered down thoroughly.Then the woody plants from fall garden cleaning, ashes from the wood stove, and some dirt from leveling the greenhouse floor.

Yesterday I put three big tubs in the back of the truck and drove to the neighboring horse farms to find some fresh manure to pile on. They all have these big piles right next to the barn, and usually are fine with you just loading up with you need. The first place had access to the pile blocked by a truck. Second one, nobody was home. At the third place, she dropped what she was doing and invited me back to the barn. Said the stall needed cleaning anyway and she'd just pile it right into my bins-and she did! What a terrific person. I promised her some asparagus someday, but cautioned her that it'd be a while. It was just scraped right out of a horse stall and still wet, so it should be quite active and heat the pile up well.Picked up some cardboard I'd put down in the garden paths to add to the stack, and found all kinds of critters living in there, worms, slugs, and this little salamander.One more thick layer of maple leaves-wet from recent rains that saved me the task of hosing it all down.Then finish with black plastic with pieces of wood to hold it down. As it settles in, hopefully I'll be able to tuck it in more securely to let it rest until spring. What happens next is that all that stuff is to work in there along with worms and compost action and when I pull off the plastic in spring it'll be a whole bed of weed free, soft, crumbly healthy black dirt to plant our asparagus roots into. I can almost taste those delicious green crunchy spears now.

This bed is about 2' wide, by 25' long, and should hold plenty of asparagus rootstock in the spring to satisfy our needs. I sure do love asparagus.