Posted on September 21st, 2009 No comments
After a day of 32C the previous day, yesterday was rainy and only about 10C. It was nice to have a cool day, and although we didn’t get much rain it wet things down a bit and settled the dust. 32C in late September is unheard of here, and the forecast for this coming week is temps between 24 and 29. I think climate change has moved the season one month ahead. Spring starts later and September is now the old August.
I took advantage of the reprieve from the heat and picked off most of the remaining apples. A couple of our 12 varieties (100 trees) is quite impressive and if we can keep the deer out of the orchard again this winter perhaps all or most of our 100 trees will produce. The cold spring this year significantly reduced the fruit tree pollenation which showed low production for not only the apples, but the plumb, nan king, strawberries and crab. However, for our little farm we still had more than enough production for our needs with lots to spare.
The poplar trees are loosing leaves this year before the ash, primarily because it’s been so dry, but the ash leaves are turned and will likely drop this week.
The garlic is picked and stored, the corn is just about finished, and the last batch of salsa is in progress. Today would be a good day to get a good portion of the mulching done since the rest of the week is set to be hot.
The farmers are still harvesting in the fields around us. The renters of our land have yet to start combining. The day before yesterday a combine and field caught on fire which caused an afternoon of excitement around here. I called Gene home from his job combining a mile or so away, the fire trucks arrived, and the owners of the combine and crew all set to work to get the smoldering patches put out. Since some of the smolders were less than 500 feet from our yard, our primary concern was to see that they were dosed while the fire crew handled the main burn further up the hill. Thank goodness the fire started in stubble and not crop, and didn’t catch in the ditch or slough. Since the hot, dry wind was blowing directly towards our yard we were very lucky.
Posted on September 7th, 2009 1 comment
Monday, September 7th – Labor Day Weekend.
Another gardening year is coming to a close and I will soon be going into my winter hibernation mode, but it is early September so there is garden harvest yet to do. The underground vegetables like carrots, potatoes and beets can stay in the ground until the 1st weeks of October, and my greenhouse assortment of zucchini, winter squash, tomatoes and peppers will be fine until then as well, depending on the forecasts. There will be plenty of corn if the frost stays away another 2 weeks, but now that our hot September days are likely behind us any night could bring a frost, with tender vines like cucumber and pumpkins planted outside the greenhouse the first to succumb to the cold. If the weather stations shows even a chance of temperatures below 3C, which in our low lying yard could end up being -1, I will be throwing over frost covers to buy enough time for the my few pumpkins to ripen and my cucumbers plants to keep producing. Right now the cucumber plants are loaded with blossoms, and the little cucs I can pick off late in the season make for great bread and butter pickles. I’ve had enough with picking green beans so I won’t worry too much about them at this point in the season. The tomatoes have been ripening for several weeks now so by using last years corn and onions and this year’s garlic, peppers and herbs I have most of the supply of salsa done. The batch of crab apple butter got put up yesterday, and the July and early August crops like strawberries and peas are in the freezer.
The other fall jobs remaining are to collect the mature flower seed for next year’s seeding or March transplanting. Our 4 year old apple orchard is finally producing fruit now that it is enclosed with a protective deer fence, so there will be apples to pick and store. The biggest job is the task of topping the perennials and strawberries in late October with flax straw mulching to protect them from our long cold winters. Our typically dry climate doesn’t always produce enough snow to insulate even hearty plants from the potential -35 to -40 temperatures or too early spring thaws. I don’t often get away with attempting to grow any perennial plants above a zone 3.
Our twelve May chickens are now producing about 6 eggs a day. We’re newbies chicken farmers so finding the little brown eggs left for us each day has been a delight. It’s great to finally have our own supply of fresh farm eggs which adds one more element to our sense of self sufficiency on this little farm. Their little coop, my converted garden shed, was a project we got started early this spring but which will still have to be insulated before winter. When the chicks were old enough to go outside we added a securely fenced-in court yard around the shed, and then roosts and nesting cubicles inside. Although they would probably prefer free range of the yard we would sooner not have to worry about them being attacked by anyone of our 12 cats or other prey. I have been collecting an assortment of greens for them all summer including lettuce, spinach, and edible weeds and give them all manner of kitchen scraps left over from canning and freezing. At night their entrance to the court yard is shut tight to keep out skunk, weasles, fox and coyotes.
I see lots of thistle seed blowing in the today’s cool south westerly wind promising a good crop of sow thistle to hoe and weed next year. The weeding is the job I dislike the most which is why I mulch heavily between and around my flower beds, shrubs and trees with flax straw mulch. Not only does this type of mulch prevent weeds, it is also the only type of straw that doesn’t rob nitrogen as it breaks down. It last for several years whereas wheat or oat straw disintergrates in one year, and it holds down moisture like no other mulch. Also, it doesn’t blow away when it dries out, and when it comes time to cover over tender transplants in the spring it’s easy to fork from between the beds and replaced again later since it clings together in bunches. I recommend flax straw to all my garden visitors.
“Next year country” is the term we use around here to describe our wishful thinking. When gardens and crops don’t go as planned there’s always next year to attempt the correction, plant it different, or hope for better conditions to make it just right. So, as I am collecting my seeds and putting garden spots to bed for the winter, my mind will be looking ahead to how it might be better or easier the following planting season.