Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First Frost- November 1

We had a very nice, long fall. We had a good week of rain, mellow temps without much swing and spectacular fall colors. I never felt rushed to get all of the last minute winterizing done in one fell swoop. We finally had our first frost on November 1 and then a little more the following evening. We've gone frost free until this week. The Polar Vortex that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds is reaching us today. The next 4 days has highs in the mid-30's and lows between 19-25F. Come winter. 

Final Harvests:
 1/2 bucket of Kennebec potatoes

 Criolla De Cocina peppers
Probably my favorite.
Very productive. Love the colors & texture.
 Criollas, Tomatillos, Corbachi peppers

Awesome year for Sweet Potatoes
Large, no cracks, no pest damage, prolific
 The record sweet of the year
Winter Prep: Chilies
 Winter chili pepper prep
Shishitos & Peach Habs

The Chosen 8- chilies prepped for the basement
Includes: Mustard & Peach Habs, Lemon Drop & Shishitos

Winter prep: Ginger
 Looks like I have a nice Ginger rhizome here.
I plan to overwinter again (winter #2) and if it makes it
maybe I will transplant. It clearly needs more room.
A broad & shallow pot looks needed. 

Winter Prep: Houseplants Back In
 East: Living Room

 East: Kitchen
South: Kitchen (below)

Winter Prep: Outdoors
 Walking Stick Kale and Broccoli under wrap
Collards(back) & new broccoli (front)- not yet covered

 New raised beds- just concrete blocks
and simple covers from old 1x2's & reused plastic
housing- various greens & turnips
 Protecting young perennial seedlings
Coneflowers, Lobelia, Angelica
 6 young Broccoli (above)
Collards (below)
 Taller plants are less frost tolerant. 
Will these make it?
Parsnips from spring planting & collected seed- hope to eat this winter
Fall Critters
 Appears to be a lighter version of a common
spider we have around here. I saw a couple this color
in recent weeks. This one was on the Kaffir Lime.

It appears I will have even more slugs in the Geodome soon.
I caught these two mating. The white protruding objects are their genitalia. Read this interesting fact:
"Apophallation is a commonly seen practice among many slugs. In apophallating species, the penis curls like a corkscrew and during mating, it often becomes entangled in the mate's genitalia. Apophallation allows the slugs to separate themselves by one or both of the slugs chewing off the other's penis. Once its penis has been removed, the slug is still able to mate using only the female parts of its reproductive system" -Wikipedia

I found this while cleaning the garden. I wasn't sure what was going on here so
I placed the whole mess in a jar to watch.
About a week later I got my answer: Parasitic Wasps
(below)

Odds & Ends
 The Jewel Orchid cuttings are taking root in water.

The final bouquet

 1 Narcissus pulled from the fridge
 Drying chilies from Holly
Some of the overwintering plants in the basement under shop lights

Winter greens in the basement? 
Maybe. Planted 11-9-14

Fall Food:

The "Amazing" Quiche that I've already forgotten how to make.
Good thing kiddo made me write down the recipe. 
I put all of the ingredients in the blender & poured into a 
pre-made crust. It was very good. Even the former egg-hater liked it.

Reminders of A Garden Gone
Tomatoes

I still prefer my ripening tomatoes over the 
taste of store tomatoes. Even in November.
I like to see how long these will last me.

Winter. Soon Come. 









Thursday, October 23, 2014

You should...

You should plant paperwhites now. In the humdrum of winter you won't regret having fragrant flowers blooming in your home. You can get bulbs, like these Ziva Paperwhites, already pre-chilled at your local nursery and they will bloom in 6-10wks or you can pot them up, like I did. I put these or hyacinths in the fridge and take the pots out 1 week at a time to have a succession of blooms over winter. Pre-chill for 9-14 weeks. Occasionally check on them and give them a little water, but not too much so the bulbs don't rot.
Wrap in a plastic bag, close the box & tape shut.
Check on them every couple of weeks.
When the tops start breaking through you'll need to pull them out.

You should...notice Fall right now. It's been spectacular. Cool temps, no frost, good rains.The colors are outrageous.
 Dogwood.
Pond by Foggy Bottom Refuge
 Cups of spiderwebs in the Asparagus
Devil's Walking Stick- Aralia spinosa
 The sky and the leaves oh my!
 Nature watch with Smokey
 Panicled Aster
Symphyotrichum lanceolatum
Harebell in the wheelbarrel

Drummond's Aster
Blooms after Short's Aster
 Symphyotrichum drummondii

You should....buy from the end of the season deals now
Tent sale= Mr Poppins Winterberry bush $10
and 6 Blueberries, $2.75 each. 

You should go outside and see something that you've never seen before. 
Notice.

Monday, October 20, 2014

No Frost in Sight

Almost done with my latest growing space- the geodesic & geothermal dome. After a lot of searching for best designs for hoophouses I came upon the geodesic dome. They aren't new to me. Once when I was thinking about building a home I looked at geodesic kit homes. I still like them, but I can't beat the construction of my 1851 home. Once I saw the price tag on these geodesic greenspaces I looked into making my own. Of course they require a lot of precise wood cutting and geometry, which I was actually kind of excited about doing. Still looking I came across a very cheap way of building them with PVC, but surmised that wouldn't last long and then I had an epiphany. Many google searches later I couldn't find anyone who had this idea: buy a child's climbing dome! It's cheap (in greenhouse terms), well constructed and should last a very long time (and could have a dual purpose-climbing). 
 Hubs and I stacked 2 layers of concrete blocks to add height to the
five foot tall dome. 
I used zipties to strap the plastic to the climbing handles.
 I used a door I had from my last hoophouse (now deconstructed).
I dug foot space about 2 feet into the soil. The purpose is
to have a cold air sink and to take advantage of the geothermal
warmth of the soil below.
Cool air sinks. Warm air rises. 

 We had about 3 inches of rain last week so I
tossed some cardboard down until I get some rock in.
Hopefully you can see how the space is below grade.
The dome is 10ft in diameter and with my foot space I have
about 8 ft of head space. 

 In the space- collards, leeks, shallots, pansies, hyacinths, mizuna, chard, kale.
Lettuces, cilantro, spinach, flowers (experimental) are still in the flats. 

 The chicken wire is for when I raise the plastic sides
for ventilation and so the chickens don't get in.

 Guttation (above): when the stomata close at night and
the soil is heavy with water, root pressure builds and forces the
excess water out of the hydathodes (water ducts) on the edges of the 
leaves. This is not dew. 
 Collards, Alliums and Chard.
Outside the Dome:
 Tronchuda: Leafing cabbage

 The nasturtiums are very happy with this weather. 
No frost yet and none in sight.
 One of my new Asters. 
 A rambling squash
 My hidden cottage

 The hedge.
 Hedge
 A few of the pumpkins we grew this year.

Happy Fall with no frost in sight!