Sunday, October 24, 2021

Late October: Gardening Journal

57 F here at 8 a.m. and by mid day the temperature was a sunny and breezy 77 F.
It was the weather I've been waiting for to tackle fall gardening chores.

The men of my family have doubtless grown weary of listening to me wail about my need for raised planters. In early summer they constructed one of timbers along the front wall of the house. This held only a small portion of the plants I had optimistically started in the greenhouse before my gardening plans were sidelined by a DVT.
I managed to pot up the seedlings and watered them through a long summer, but have fretted that they need a safe place for the winter.
Howard discovered that a nearby garden nursery was selling off fiberglass planting bins and obligingly took me with him to bring several home.

On Thursday Jim [with a certain resignation] agreed to a trip to Lowes where we purchased a dozen bags of garden soil.  Three of the tubs have been filled with bark mulch as a bottom layer for drainage and the bagged soil on top.

The motley collection of pot-bound plants.

Prior to setting plants into their winter quarters I emptied the tubs and pots which have lined the front walk, dragging the containers into the greenhouse--but not taking time to stack and organize in there. 
Greenhouse tidying can be done another day when the weather is less perfect. 

I didn't try for any artistry--plants were plonked in groups--foxglove, blackberry lily, New England asters, clary sage--pots of catnip set along an edge.
I disinterred  dwarf dahlias which summered in galvanized tubs, spread the tubers in a tray in the greenhouse to dry a bit while I search for a good way to keep them over the winter.

I dug up three clumps of phlox from the weedy rough strip where the peonies and daylilies live, pruned back the woody stems and set them into the bin located on the west side of the house. 
It will be interesting to note how quickly the cats find all this lovely dirt--the better to dig in!

There is more outside work to be done, but I am trying to learn sensible limits--the last half hour of work was weighing heavily on me.
Inside for a restorative shower and clean clothes--a soft pair of shabby jeans and a loose sweatshirt. 
I cut a Winesap apple into wedges, added bite-size pieces of Colby cheese, made a mug of tea. A rummage in the fridge turned up a bowl of creamy tapioca pudding made on Friday. 
I conveyed all this--along with a book--to the east porch and flopped gratefully into a rocking chair, sighing with pleasure as my aching back settled against a plump cushion.

I was followed by Rosie-the-Kitten who wondered if she might fancy tea or pudding. She draped herself, purring, over my shoulder, whiskers tickling my face. 
When she decided I wasn't going to share, she hopped down and began weaving about amongst the pots of rosemary and geranium. 
A very tired bumble bee was spending what were likely its last hours in the saucer under a geranium. Rosie discovered it and [of course] began prodding at it.
"No, Rosie," I said, and made shooing motions. 
Rosie continued to poke and the bumble bee roused enough to become annoyed.
So much for a leisurely cup of tea.
I isolated the bee underneath a clear plastic bowl and returned to my tea and my book.
Rosie prowled around the container while the bee lay unhappily on its back.
Tea finished I managed to remove the bee to the front garden--where I expect it soon expired in peace.

Rosie opted for a nap with Edward in the front windows.
Somewhat revived by my tea break I hoovered up the first onslaught of the Asian lady beetles which are making their annual visitation. A few had squeezed around the screen and were trundling back and forth along my bedroom windowsill.  I hoovered them up, washed the inside of the window, then did the same in J's adjoining room. 

Back outside with my camera to enjoy the late afternoon sun. 
Leaves have been drifting down from the trees that line the north ravine--but the landscape still reads strongly green.

I raise nasturtiums every summer--mostly from the seeds which ripen and fall into the pots from the previous season's flowers. Early in the spring, with the pots still in the greenhouse, I clear away the old stems and poke the seeds into the soil. By July the first growth has gone straggly, but more seeds germinate for a second flush of bloom. Jim moved this large pot into the corner between the greenhouse and his shop so that he could mow. The nasturtiums have flourished there, creating a 'tower' of leaves and blossoms, crawling through the join of the two walls to clamber over the greenhouse floor.

A long trail of nasturtiums have crept into the garage/shop.
Its interesting that this year's crop of blossoms are mostly a brilliant yellow/gold with a few that are milky white. Empress of India with its smaller blue/green leaves and dainty dark red flowers is one of my favorites, so I plan to start a pot of those next spring.

The shabby gone-to-seed row of zinnias. Volunteer plants several inches tall are growing outside the row.

Here and there in the faded ranks, there is a fresh zinnia.

Tomato and cucumber plants have sprouted by the hundreds in the cleared and tilled sections of the garden.

Sunflowers have sprouted.
These volunteers, along with the self-sown runner beans will succumb to the first frost--which can't be too far in the future.
All that energy gone to waste, trying to flourish in the wrong season.
Still, I marvel at the energy of the fallen seeds.

The late flowering New England asters in the weedy rough garden strip [now hardly worthy to be called a garden;] the branches sprawl, some of the flowers are a bit tattered, but still a lovely blanket of color.

I was attended throughout my labors by the ever-faithful Willis. 
He plodded back and forth from doorstep to the tubs, into the greenhouse, eyed the big planters with a bit too much interest. 
This has been the 12th summer of Willis--never a house cat, but always a follower and overseer of our doings. We could hardly run the place without him!


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

6 October, 2021, Journal

Our driveway takes a wide bend here onto the lane that serves the three properties on Turkey Flatt Road.

Vegetables were in dwindling supply at the Casey County Produce Auction today, mostly offered in small lots.

Much of the floor was filled with ranks of mums, with more waiting on flatbed trailers parked alongside.

Colorful beauties, but I'm reluctant to spend for plants that have a short life.

 A bin of cushaws.

Warty pumpkins. I gather these are mainly for autumn decorations rather than having food value.

'Gremlin' gourds.

The August planting of green beans is providing us with the best harvest of the season.  Intermittent showers all week mean that picking is a bit problematic, mud splashed onto the bean bushes, bits of leaf and grass clinging onto the beans,
Much of yesterday afternoon was spent snipping ends, rinsing, cutting. 

8 pints went into the pressure canner, more saved out for fresh eating.

The dreaded Japanese beetles have run their course and there are a few fall roses to cherish.


Today's lineup of blooms spaced along the kitchen windowsill.
Rain began to pelt down at 5 p.m. accompanied by rattles of distant thunder.
It was nearly full dark by 6, raining hard, thunder and lightning moving closer.
The air has felt close and heavy all day.
Jim peeled apples for me this morning to make two pies--we long for the crisp apples of New England and upstate New York; the same varieties grown locally or shipped in from nearby states lack the tart/sweet flavors and keeping qualities with which we are familiar. 
Matt and Gina invited us to go with them to the produce auction, the next to the last of the season.
Matt had his eye on 3 buckets of everbearing strawberries, a carton of rhubarb and several small boxes of tomatoes. He snagged then at good prices and shared with us a bucket of strawberries and a box of the tomatoes. We declined the offer of rhubarb.
Jim treated us to a buffet meal at Bread of Life.

Thunder crashing with sudden vigor, startling Nellie-cat who is reclining on my desk; others of the feline crew seem agitated. 
I don't enjoy T-storms and intend to lower the blinds and curl up with a book.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Late September-Early October: Journal

Soybean fields on the river road.

Pumpkins and mums headed for the Casey County Produce Auction.

Seasonal displays outside Laverne's Market.

Warty pumpkins.

When did pale pumpkins join the ranks?

Observe the price tag on this giant!

Sunrise is later each morning.

The colors change quickly.

Edward on the small front patio enjoying the morning air.

I started this post on October 1st--photos and text whisked away, no copy saved. This has happened several times recently; I'm using my laptop while my desktop PC is away for service.  It may be that the laptop keyboard is extra sensitive--or that I unwittingly hit a key which deletes all.

Late September

Cool mornings, eastern skies streaked with rose, peach, mauve and lavender. By afternoon the temperatures climbed to the low 80's F.

The routine home making tasks were broken by errands on several days. I needed a 50 lb bag of bakers' unbleached flour, reason enough to make a run to the South Fork community. Most of the businesses and shops there are owned by families of the Amish or Mennonite persuasion, the pace is slower, each customer valued, service courteous.

The one caveat is the narrow winding roads shared by laden semis, bicycles, farm tractors, horse-drawn buggies, in addition to the usual traffic of cars and pickup trucks.

I met two semis--one loaded with logs, the other with pallets of lumber; in both cases there was room to pull to the side of the road and give them room. 

Back in the day if Jim wasn't along I would attempt to manage the 50 lb sack of flour by myself--heaving it into the shopping cart from a stacked shelf. Now the bulk flour, beans and rice are housed in a cooler, so a young Mennonite woman who was clerking called the owner from his office to pull out my chosen product: Seal of Minnesota Bakers' Flour. He assured me that he would be available to load it in my car, however he had retreated back to his office by that time.  I had noticed an elderly Amish gentleman also shopping--short and stooped, thin brown arms below the rolled up sleeves of a faded shirt. It was he who followed me out to the car, the sack of flour clasped to his middle. When I thanked him he smiled through the gaps in his teeth and commented wryly, 'I'm not quite what I used to be!'

Since I was in the neighborhood, so to speak, I decided to visit The Quilters' Trunk so see if they had restocked batik fabrics. There are two roads that go there--both steep and winding; the route I chose was longer but slightly less daunting in terms of sheer drops from the edge of the road into a ravine.

As I began the first twisting climb I caught up with an Amish buggy driven by a young woman with a child on the seat beside her.  Toiling behind was a sturdy older woman, walking to lighten the load for the horse. Rolling down the car window I asked if she would like a ride to the top of the hill. red-cheeked, smiling beneath her white head covering she declared, 'Thank you, but the exercise does me good.'  I eased the car along until I could carefully pass the buggy; the horse was leaning into the climb, head down, feet clopping a plodding rhythm. 

Pies made on Thursday, one for us, one to welcome the former buyers of our Amish farm back to a new place in the neighborhood; one to pop in the freezer in reserve for Matt and Gina who supplied the apples from last week's produce auction.

A last view of the sunflower row--later in the day they fell to Jim's mower.

Seed heads of Joe Pye weed.

Goldenrod growing in the brush and weeds along the north ravine.
The turning of a calendar page, cool misty mornings warming to dry afternoons in the 80's--evenings that draw in a little earlier each day, daylight disappearing in fiery afterglow.

The plants in the containers lining the patio are spent and drooping, ready to be discarded or trundled to the greenhouse in hopes of spring revival. 

The hummingbirds have departed, their numbers diminishing over the last week of September, until I wondered if those seen briefly at the feeders might be transients on their way south, rather than the summer residents. Today Jim took down the feeders; taking them apart for a final cleaning I discovered the base of one filled with drowned yellowjackets.

Shield-shaped 'stink bugs' crawl about on the porch screens, find their way into the house  trailed by the cats until I notice and escort the nasty things outside to be squashed,
Any day now the yearly invasion of Asian ladybugs will begin and the windows will need to remain closed against their onslaughts.

Leaves have begun to yellow and drift from the trees; some cornfields have been shorn, in others the stalks have turned sere and brown awaiting harvest. 
At times the weeks seem to pass slowly, but at the turn of the seasons each day brings changes--for those who take notice.