ghosts and goblins come out to play.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The leaves have been turning colour for awhile now. Many are on the ground and some trees are almost bare providing the incentive for leaf blowing and raking. Now that the leaves are accumulating it is time to consider composting. Leaves can provide wonderful organic matter for your soil. The first step is to gather the leaves.
While raking is the easiest and quietest method for gather leaves, it can be time consuming for larger yards. A leaf blower makes quick work of turning your leaves into piles. We use a leaf blower then chop each bag using the vacuum setting on the leaf blower. If you don't have a leaf blower spread the piles a little then run over them with your lawn mower to chop the leaves. The chopped leaves can then dumped into clear plastic bags or used as mulch on your garden beds. This is the point where many stop the process and simply put the leaves to the road for collection. Most communities here will pick up yard waste, compost it then sell the compost.
I like to compost leaves as well by adding a layer of chopped leaves to my compost bin. Leaves provide carbon for the compost. That still leaves me with a lot of leaves to compost so last year I tried my neighbour's method. He does not chop the leaves but gathers them in the plastic yard waste bags and sets them aside until spring. Then he dumps a bag or two onto his garden and rototillers to mix. I don't use a rototiller on my raised beds but I did work some of decomposed leaves into the soil. If you use this method, be warned the leaves do smell but that could be because mine had not been in the bags as long as his. Once worked into the soil the smell dissipated quickly , the leaves will continue decomposing. I'll use his method again this year except use chopped leaves along with mulching and composting in the bin.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
One of the easiest ways to camoflage an unsightly feature or provide friendly privacy is to grow flowering vines. I think flowering vines are the most versatile for these types of applications but by all means can be grown just for their beauty.
While I have other flowering vines both annual and perennials, I have to admit to liking clematis. They put on a showy display. I have two clematis plants, one still has the original label then there is this one that we moved from our former house to this house. Unfortunately I do not have the original label and that was well before I discovered the benefits to a garden journal so I do not have the variety. It is a gorgeous flower!
Another perennial flowering vines in our zone that I like is trumpet vine. This hardy vine does well but takes a long time to flower. I planted one three years ago and it still hasn't flowered even though the foliage looks nice and healthy. I specifically wanted this flowering vine to attract hummingbirds. Hopefully it will flower for me next year.
Monday, October 16, 2006
We had our first snow flurries on October 12. At times the flurries were thick enough to cause whiteout conditions. In between the flurries, I shot this video clip of one of the trees near the vegetable garden. There were a few snow flakes but I don't think they showed well in the video clip.
Video details: 21 seconds, taken by author October 12, 2006 using Cannon OPowershot A540
Today's sky is a mottled bluish grey with whispy white clouds surrounded with menacing, fast moving darker grey storm clouds. Grey, overcast skies with darker grey clouds will be the norm here from now to the end of November. I hooked up the light in the greenhouse to compensate for this. Occasionally the sun will break through now but only for brief periods of time. The greatest chance of this happening is during Indian Summer. The days are getting gradually shorter and shorter. Snow flurries, chilling winds and fog become more common. The leaves have started turning vibrant shades of reds, yellows and orange providing stiking contrast against the grey. They take on jewelled tones when the sun touches their leaves. Soon it will be time to do the final outside chores and shut down the greenhouse.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Gardens need sunflowers not only for the simple beauty but for attracting beneficial pollinators. Both of these photos were taken last year. Since this year's growing season has closed I thought I would start sharing older photos.
I feed the birds and some of the mixture contains sunflower seeds. This is just regular, run of the mill sunflower seed or black oil sunflower seed. Each year I get volunteer sunflowers growing in the gardens and whenever possible, I leave them be. This volunteer sunflower is just a regular one. The black oil sunflowers are much smaller. The head will droop as the seeds mature. Despite the drooping head, birds will have the seeds picked clean in no time.
The Jade Sunflower was planted from seeds bought online. The petals are a pale green hence its name. This sunflower got a lot of comments because it was so different. I kept some of the seeds before the birds got them with the intentions of planting in the 2006 season but never got around to it. I'll plant them in the spring of 2007.
Which ever way you look at it, sunflowers should be part of any garden :)
Monday, October 02, 2006
With the ADFF rapidly approaching we decided to start winterizing the raised garden beds Thursday before dinner. We already had plans to be away for the weekend so did not want the tomatoes to get hit by frost. In preparation, I did a final pick of the tomatoes including all the green tomatoes. We should have plenty of slicing tomatoes to last into mid Novemember.
Other than tomato deformities related to blight and too much water, I've only had a couple of natural deformity in perfectly healthy tomatoes this year. One Lemon Boy had a small extension that might have got the picture censored. I did photograph it for my own records. It was a lovely tasting tomato. I found this little oddity in bed #6.
Perhaps this tomato was wise to what was coming. Two Heinz tomatoes grew together to form this natural snowman. I do hope this is not an omen of the upcoming winter. The Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a nasty winter for us so perhaps we have been also duly warned by Mother Nature.
This is how bed #3 looked when it was about a quarter of the way cleared. The picking basket near the top of the greenhouse was filled twice with ripe tomatoes and four times with green tomatoes. This is a good sized basket about 18 inchs in diameter and 6 inches deep. The vines were havested then pulled from the bed. Harvesting the final crop and clearing the bed took little time with both of us working at it.
This poor little fellow was not very happy with the clearing of his free rental property. He will likely move onto the herb or strawberry bed. I'm he and his relatives will visit the garden agin next year. He works hard for his free accomodations keeping the vast insect population in check and provides great entertainment.
Rough Tilled Beds
Within a half hour the new beds along with beds #1 and bed #3 (not visible in the photo) were cleared of all vegetation. I would have left the marigolds but my husband said that would just delay the winterizing. Then the beds were rough tilled. I prefer to turn the beds when witerizing for a few reasons. Turning the soil gives me a good idea of what soil ammendments are necessary. I think it helps control soil pests like squash borer that overwinter in the soil as well. It helps aerate the soil and gives me a chance to check the condition of the wood sides of the raised beds. Finally, it helps to kick start that planning process for next year's gardens. Once the leaves start falling, the beds will be top dressed with chopped leaves
In the photo, beds #3 and 4 are not visible. Bed #2 is the herb bed and only portions of that are cleared for the winter. Bed #5 was not cleared. It is the furthest bed with the sunflower. It will be partially cleared within the next day or two.
Many of the outdoor potted plants were moved into the greenhouse. From there more seeds will be collected along with clippings. Some greenhouse plants will move into the house once the weather gets too cool and the greenhouse is shut down.