Welcome to November!
The warm summer days are but a memory now and the dark, cold and gloomy days of November are upon us. Oh sure, we'll get some warmth now and then, just a tease to keep us going, but overall there's not lots to look forward to for the next month or so. The gardens are pretty well dead and the harvest is winding down. Lots of field cleanup to do before the ground freezes which may come sooner than we had expected – it's as good a guess as I care to venture.
The geese are headed south in fairly good sized flocks as are the local crows. I saw perhaps 300 crows headed out last Sunday – maybe they know something we don't. I think the majority of the ducks have gone – I saw none in the beaver pond over the weekend and I haven't seen any flying around in the past couple of weeks. I have seen a couple of Blue Herons, fishing unhampered by anything else; trying to get those last few bait fish before their flight south. The ospreys are gone as are the earlier flyers like hummingbirds and swallows.
Besides cleaning up the garden, now is a good time to check out those birdhouses around the property. Might as well clean them out and see what the needs will be for next year. Winter is a good time to churn out some new ones in the workshop as not much else is going on. I think between Johnny's farm and the house I'll need around thirty or so new swallow houses for next spring. Maybe this will be the year I get around to build and install some wood duck nests in the beaver pond.
All summer I noticed bigger woodpiles than usual and bigger gardens. I see people that never had a garden before having on this year. Gardening can be a family affair; I think it's fun, although I seem to be alone in the garden the bulk of the time. That's fine; I enjoy the time alone. It gives me time to watch the world around me and contemplate life in general. The garden is a good place to try out things that might or might not work. At the farm, the farm crew takes exemplary care of the crops, but the garden is different. It doesn't get everything it needs to produce a bumper crop every time.
I think I've perfected the beets and onions – what exactly they need to thrive and not become a time sinkhole. Everyone in the neighborhood has had their share of beets and beet green sthis season. I like beet greens so I planted Big Top. They were right, they have big tops! We put plenty of greens in the freezer and had lots of beets for the cold cellar. I planted a packet of Ace and we ate these all fall and will also have some stored this winter. As for onions, I used plants this year. My patience in weeding tiny onions is limited. I planted Alisa Craig Exhibition for summer use and Copra for winter storage. It was dry when I planted the two aforementioned crops so, and I don't like watering the garden, I dragged two hundred feet of garden hose out and watered the garden.
Good thing I did. Everything took off immediately after watering and it didn't need any more moisture after that, not at least from the well. We harvested sweet onions all summer and into the fall. We pulled the Copras and put them in the greenhouse to dry before bagging them up for storage. An interesting side note here; the sweet onions won't keep any length of time, so when they start to sprout and regrow we place them in a cardboard box in a sunny south window and have fresh shoots for a month or so. Beats throwing them out.
Until next week, Brian