Very Last Hold Outs

Granny Smith apples on tree. The little Granny Smith apple tree is the final hold out with fruit still clinging to the branches along with a few stubborn leaves.

Until most of the leaves dropped off, I had no idea that this little tree had so many apples hiding.

Granny Smith apples make delicious pies, cobblers and baked apples filled with cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins. With the harvest season lasting until the 1st of December this year it will be a hard transition to not have fresh fruit right out of the garden.

Good thing I have a cupboard full of dried fruits and vegetables ready for the nibbling.

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First Frost Of The Season

Since we are a little higher than the Willamette Valley the possibility of frost comes early around here. September 15th is when I start watching for the chance of frost on what is left of the garden vegetables.

This year surprised me and the first tinge of frost was seen on the morning of October 3rd. The zucchini and yellow crookneck squash with their tall leaves saw their edges curl from the frost and the basil browned from the tips to the stalks. It signaled the end for the beans that had been still producing. Only a couple of the tomato plants had their edges nipped during the coolness. The vines on the cucumbers and spaghetti squash are completely dead, and I have already started on caning the spent raspberry stalks that produced in the early summer and those late bloomers that recently fruited.

Now begins the garden cleanup in earnest. This makes the cows in the show barn very happy because what gets pulled out of the garden gets dumped over the fence for them to scour through to pick delightful tidbits of fruit and vegetables.

Cruciferous Corner

In previous years, I had the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts planted well out into the garden area. This year I planted the starts where the old strawberry patch had been. This area is closer to the shade of the filbert trees and is protected from much of the morning sun as it sits in the shade of the shop.

Cruciferious vegetables growing in garden.I have always kept broccoli plants after the initial harvest of the large head so it could produce small flowerettes, this year the harvest lasted well into August.

The cauliflower produced nice, solid heads and we have only worked through half of the cabbage so far since each head is more than a pound and closer to two.

The Brussels sprouts are just about ready to harvest and will be good to have with Fall meals.

Overall this area seems well-suited to grow these hearty vegetables and I have already decided that I will try this spot again next year.

Power Tilling

A John Deere tractor with a tiller mounted on the back makes a first swipe through the weeds to work up the garden space.Mike made good use of the tiller that is attached to the John Deere tractor to work up the main part of the garden.

To the left is lawn, to the right is the garden space with cover crop and weeds (mostly weeds) growing after the unimaginably wet winter and the hard crust of compacted earth. By using the tractor to work the ground, the task to finish with my small rototiller takes many hours out of my hands.

There is still a danger of frost in our area for a while yet, so planting this space is still a ways off. But it makes me very happy to see the weeds turned over and the ground getting ready to be planted again.

Native Wild Currant

The blooms are the wild red current are very showy in the front yard near the county road. Soon the leaves will open and fill the plant with vibrant green along with the blooms. In the fall, the plant produces small fruit that is smaller than the currants that are grown commercially, they are also a blue color instead of red. They are edible, but not tasty for humans. Birds enjoy the berries right off the plant. A snack on a stick, so to speak.

Wild currants are native to this area and this plant was transferred from the woods a couple of years ago so that we could enjoy the beauty closer to the house. The blooms appear early in the spring, some color was noticed about the time the daffodils bloomed and will continue for a few more weeks.

Fortuitous Procrastination

One never runs out of tasks needed to be done on a farm.

It seems like life is a revolving list of things that needs to be done. Top of the list is always what is the current, most important item-usually critical. Things having to do with animal welfare, weather concerns, or my comfort are the highest priority.

Over the last couple of years, I have tended and neglected a DIY project just outside the kitchen, at the edge of the patio. It originally was a mini greens garden made from an old pallet. The slats on the one side made good barriers to retain moisture and control weed populations while allowing spinach, lettuces, mustard, kale, and cilantro to grow. Continue reading

Yes They Were That Close

Looking out my front room window, just beyond my garden, a herd of 22 elk grazed and played in one of the fields Mike had just coated with lime.

A herd of elk just beyond the garden space.In the foreground you can see my young fruit trees and some of the elk were eyeing the green grass around my trees.

I had to have a stern talk with my farm dogs, they had not made a single noise all morning with this herd encroaching so close to the house. The dogs have the job to alert us of intruders and this herd could cause major damage to the trees, strawberries, cane berries and all the other plants that have new spring growth. If the herd bounced through the garden area, the footy prints would not only leave big impressions, but would chew up the turf I have growing as a cover crop to maintain healthy soil.

Mike came to the rescue and scared the herd off for now. I’m sure the neighbors are a little miffed about that.