Autumn of 2016

As I wait for autumn to officially arrive, which to me means colorful leaves, there is much still to do and a few new things to learn.

I learned this weekend that carpenter bees reproduce sexually when these two landed at my feet and proceeded to mate. Look at that little guy’s face.

mating bees

 

The weather continues to act weird. I’m used to leaves changing their colors between late August and mid-September. Here it is mid-October and barely any trees have changed.

maple tree

Off in the distance I can see a tree here and there changing. The yellow you see below is an apple tree.

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The cicadas damaged a lot of the leaves on one of my Maple Trees this summer leaving behind dead brown spots on the leaves.  This  week the tree began dropping a few leaves but most of them are either still green or brown, not their normal vibrant golden colors.  I’m wondering if the cicadas affected the normal process of this tree.  Here are a few of the leaves that landed on my deck, only one has that golden yellow color and it’s from a different tree, the silver maple, on my property.

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The garden beds are being prepped for winter. While working on each I’ve finalized a few plans.

This small bed has been layered with tree branches and leaves. Soil was filled to the very top edge and then as the wood below rotted allowing the soil to settle compost and food scraps were added multiple times.  Finally this summer the bed was topped off with more top soil.  You can see how far it has sunk from the continuing decay of the branches.  I will fill it back up with a mixture of fallen leaves and compost.  In the spring this will be my rhubarb bed. The rhubarb should thrive in here.

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This area on the north side of the shed had rotting branches piled there when I moved in making the soil beneath soft and moist.  I haven’t done much more than add more branches and grass clippings.  In the spring I will weed well, add compost and plant quinoa which doesn’t like hot temperatures and prefers shade. This will be my first time growing quinoa but I hear that it produces pretty flowers and am looking forward to seeing how it does.

north side of shed

In these next two beds one is further along than the other.  The small bed I grew peas in last summer but let sit this summer while building up the soil with compost.  Next summer a cranberry bush will go in it. I’ll do some research this winter and see if there is a good companion plant to plant with the cranberries.

The larger bed along the back of the shed is in the early stages. I have cardboard under the branches but still need to add soil and compost.  In here will be two female and one male honeyberry bushes with strawberries planted under them.

fruit bush beds

The latest bed, which I just built, is this one. Again the bottom layer is composed of cut up branches and stacked as tightly as possible (the large branch you see sticking up recently fell out of the tree and was tossed there by the girls to get it out of their way, it still needs cut up before being added to a bed). A mixture of compost and garden soil has been used to begin to fill this, next week I’ll be purchasing more soil to finish filling it.

The two raspberry plants I received on Mother’s day are now in here.  I thought the cicadas had finished these two plants off but the roots seem intact and I even had new growth coming up from the one so I’ve got my fingers crossed they will survive. Five or six more raspberry plants will be added to this bed in the spring along with strawberries.

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Why more strawberries? Simple because I would like to have some to put up for myself without having to limit the number the children snack on. With raspberries having thorns I plan to train them on a trellis to protect little fingers and plant strawberries under the raspberry canes.

The current strawberry bed is in a raised bed that was built before I moved here. The first year I added food scraps a few times and mixed in leaves to build up the soil but didn’t pay much attention to what was going on with the soil. I hadn’t planned to plant strawberries in this bed, instead I wanted to grow chamomile for tea.  When the new raised beds were late being built the strawberry plants were hastily planted in here with regret and not tended to properly.

strawberry bed

The strawberries produced plenty of berries for the small amount of plants I had in here but all summer it bugged me that the plants hadn’t spread to the middle or far side of this bed. I would notice the lopsided way the plants were spreading as I worked on other things and kept meaning to investigate.  I noticed recently a runner that was completely above ground as well.  Yesterday, while weeding and preparing the other beds I decided to finally investigate what was wrong here.  What I found was hard rocky soil. It was compacted so tightly that it took quite a bit of work to break up even the top couple of inches.

Strawberries don’t like compacted soil and won’t thrive there. Today I’m heading back out to work on this bed some more. I’ll dig deeper in the compacted soil, remove as many rocks as I can and then mix in as much compost as the bed will hold.  By next summer these plants should happily spread through the entire bed.

How did the garden do this year? Both good and bad. There were plenty of seeds I didn’t even bother to plant because the beds took so long to fill.  It was the end of June before all the beds were filled and too late for many plants to be started.

The good:  By planting lettuces under the tree they provided me with salads all summer and into late September before bolting. Carrots were stunted, cucumbers did well, strawberries continued to give us a few berries until just last week, well into October!

On the other hand, the tomatoes either did poorly or didn’t come up at all, same with the cabbage and a few other plants, and that’s not taking into account the damage from the cicadas.  I had a bit of trouble with seeds being washed away in the heavy rains we had both early and into late summer. Having beds built on a hill didn’t help either. As I turn the soil and prep for next spring I have added trenches at the bottom of the beds to catch water and am contouring the soil differently for better drainage.   Hopefully this will help next years’ plants even if we have a rainy summer.

This was a good year for learning and I feel confident that next summer will be better for it.

Finally, one last thing I learned this year, and a cute picture to leave you with.  My grandson, no matter where they go and what animals are around is gravitated to goats. He enjoys all animals but when he sees goats he takes off in a full out sprint to see them, something he doesn’t do with any other animal.  His mom is now joking that  her son is going to grow up to be the crazy goat man. 🙂

boy loves the goats

How was your summer? Are you enjoying autumn?

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34 comments

  1. Lovely to catch this update just now Lois, and good to see how your garden is shaping up,, Yes your raspberries should easily grow, we are going to be cutting our Autumn fruiting ones back soon. And that is such a lovely picture of your Grandson.. I think it is something about goats eyes that look back at you.. 🙂
    And the trees only this last week here in the UK have started to turn. xxx

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    • You have autumn fruiting raspberries? I didn’t know there was such a thing. Now I’ll have to try and find those. 🙂

      I don’t know what it is that attracts him to the goats but he will pass up all the other animals and run to them. He doesn’t care for lambs, or any of the other smaller farm animals, just the goats.

      Our trees are all changing at different times here this year. We aren’t going to have a big show of them this year. I do hope you get to enjoy your fall colors.

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      • Yes there is early and later Summer Raspberries.. Some we pick which are ripe in June, and the others are forming late August September.. There are still fruit on them now.. But I have so many in the freezer these will be left for the birds 🙂 🙂

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          • Such a shame you have had none this year.. And if you lived nearer you could also share in veggie and flower patch too.. 🙂 I have given loads away of both veggies and fruit and flowers this year.. And I have been delighted by the returned smiles I got from neighbours and family.. xx

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          • Sue, I got one raspberry before the cicadas got to them and my granddaughter got it. When they gave me the plants for Mother’s Day she asked if she could have some so the first went to her, I had all kinds of berries starting but they died before ripening and never came back.

            I can’t call this a lost year as we did get plenty of strawberries for all and the lettuces and cucumbers provided me with a salad daily plus enough to share. It’s taken longer to get the beds built and filled than I had expected but feel confident next year will be a good one being that is finally set up so I can plant on time.

            I can only imagine the smiles you get from the bounty you share, the neighbor boys decided my food tasted so good they began to show up asking if I had work they could do, not for money but to eat from my garden. 🙂

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          • Aww bless those boys, just shows how homegrown always tastes better.. And yes I am sure Next year Lois your garden will do much better..
            I have been in the allotment all morning.. We pulled up the squashes and some need ripening off so we are putting on the window sills to help them.
            I am still picking Dahlia’s and getting large bunches of flowers, The frost so far has held off.. The moment it hits the blooms will be gone..
            Sending you thoughts have a good week my friend . Love Sue xxx

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          • I’ve got my fingers crossed that next year will be a bumper year for once. We’ve had a return of warm weather so I’ve been out adding leaves and other organic materials to the raised beds and turning them to give them a head start on next season, well at least that’s what I tell myself, really I think I’m just playing because I know that soon it won’t be possible. 🙂

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  2. Nice to hear how it went/future plans..

    re the raspberries….don’t know if you can train them. If it is like our yard/my friends, they will grow like weeds, and fill any spot, and spread any where they can. Guess it is the runners, maybe some of it the seeds.

    chamomile , once established, is much the same (for me). Grows like a weed. Problem for me, at my yard though, darn chamomile apparently attracts some tiny tiny bug which also loves it. Several yrs in a row, we carefully picked the heads, washed out side, washed inside, dried carefully (all the while picking out these bugs), and yes still suddenly the bugs would “be there”. Too gross for us. have now pulled out most my chamomile, except for what I left for “flowers”.. (it does have a nice little daisy sort of flower)

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    • The raspberries will be tied up and any runners I will tie as well to keep room for the strawberries. If after a few years I find it’s too difficult to keep them separated I’ll transplant the strawberries into another bed.

      Not good news about the chamomile. Maybe it’s a good thing my other beds weren’t ready and I had to stick strawberries there. I have plenty of other places I can plant chamomile- away from the house- because I sure don’t want to deal with another annoying bug! Did you try soaking the chamomile and seeing if the bugs would float to the top to be skimmed off?

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  3. oh, too cute about the goats /grandson

    just curious, goats are sort of notorious (the bigger ones) for butting over / jumping on kids. How do they react with him? Maybe he really will be a “Goat Whisperer”? grin

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    • I’ve only had a problem with the billy’s (males) butting people and things over. So far they’ve taken him to petting zoos, farms, county fairs and zoos and at each place he runs right for the kids (little ones). I’d be fine, actually I’d enjoy watching him, if he became a goat whisperer,

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  4. I thought of a little “goat whisperer” too 🙂 I have had 3 goats and each been the bane of my life at the time but adorable at the same time. Cicadas just weak devastation on a garden but hopefully next year you won’t see any, or few. We have a Cranberry hedge and they benefit from coffee grinds which a cafe in town gives away to gardeners.

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    • You know he looks like he understands the goat and believes the goat understands him in return. 🙂 The oldest granddaughter can walk right up and pick up butterflies between her fingers, they just sit there and let her. She and her brother notice changes in birdsong such as when they are alerting to a danger, so why not the little one having a connection to goats. 🙂

      We have an annual cicada here but it doesn’t do any damage that we notice and I can enjoy their calls the way I enjoy a cricket. The brood that came out this year is the largest of all and won’t be back for 17 years, thank god. We also have a 3 and 7 year cicada but no one here remembers them as being destructive so I’ve got my fingers crossed.

      Good to know on the coffee grounds. I’ve been dumping the coffee grounds, and any left over coffee my son leaves while he’s down here on the weekends to work, into the bed I plan to plant cranberries in and one other. I heard coffee is good for blueberries too so will have to collect more grounds when I get them planted.

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      • I was an animal whisperer too as a kid so a believer here 🙂 🙂 Just think it’s so cute he loves goats lol….mind you baby ones are pretty cute.
        Yes, we get the same here with cicadas but have never known them to destroy gardens – I think we had this conversation months ago because I remember saying there was probably too much natural bush around for them to go to gardens.

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        • And what animal were you drawn to, Wendy? As for the cicadas, I wouldn’t wish these 17 year ones on my worst enemy, just glad to be rid of them.:-)

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          • Dogs and birds mostly 🙂 I knew and visited every dog within miles and knew if they were happy or unhappy. Injured birds were a big thing with me and even now I can’t bare to see a dead one. Horses are too powerful and goats too gnarly lol.

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          • Mine was horses and dragonflies.. 🙂 I used to climb in the stable and sleep with one horse rather than my own bed. I also felt a connection to the animals that were wild and would carry around and study snakes too.

            I think each child has a connection to some animal or insect. For my one granddaughter it’s butterflies. That child can walk right up to a butterfly and pick it up, they simply sit there and let her. I want my little ones to always have a connection to nature and find they do so far. This summer I was taken aback when there were a couple of birds sitting on the fence outside my living room window who began chirping at us though the windows. I knew there was something different in their behavior but before I had a chance to contemplate what that might be my granddaughter informed me they were hungry and the birdfeeder must be empty. We went outside to look and sure enough it was empty so she filled it and a flock – had to have been 25-30 birds flew down and began taking their turns at the feeder. You should have seen my little one grin.

            I loved dogs and birds, although not as connected to other people’s dogs as you were but other than the horses, I was drawn to the undomesticated animals world..

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          • I was pulled off a horse as a small kid and always associated that with a fair of being up close to them though I like to talk to them over fences 🙂 Love that about the birds. I was one of those kids who used to encourage any wandering cat or dog home and ask if we could keep it because it was all alone. My father and brother would hunt and fish and I remember many a time as a kid being heartbroken they had murdered an animal!

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          • I can see why you didn’t have a connection to horses after that. I used to fish with my one step father but lost it when he decided I needed to learn how to kill and clean them for dinner. Today I can do it and I’m glad I learned how but at nine it was too much to handle.

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  5. Our Autumn leaf drop was also really late, here in New Zealand – which I put down to climate change. I’ve never seen or tried honeyberries – will look forward to photos. You garden looks like it would be quite challenging for you to get around – you do so well. One of my stepdaughter’s not-so-bright friends used to think that goats were teenage sheep, so that’s what we call them when we see them (when no one else is listening)

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    • Hi Anne, I think we are going to find autumn being very different than what we grew up with. Current theories are that our trees will have shorter periods of color and may change at various times, which is happening here, so that we won’t have that two week period where the leaves are all “in bloom”.

      The yard is challenging for my chair but I’m getting it worked out. There are a few roots from the maple tree that need to be cut back as I get caught on them but things are getting better as I learn more about the property.

      Teenage sheep….that’s hilarious. Does the friend appreciate the joking?

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  6. I love the photo or your grandson with the goats! We had milk goats when we were young and living in SC and they were such sweet and friendly animals. Your grandson chose his favorites well.
    One of the things I love, and hate, about gardening is that there is always something to learn. I can’t look back at a single year and say I did everything right. I imagine next year those beds you are tending will be filled with abountiful harvest! And, as long as you have kids in the strawberry patch, you will never have enough strawberries!

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    • I keep telling his mother they should get him his own kid, just not a billy, but she thinks I’m joking. 🙂 I think having milk goats would be fun. I’d rather have goats than almost any other farm animal.

      I shouldn’t complain about the challenges I’ve had with my garden after the troubles you’ve had since moving to the southern coast. I would be ready to give up if I were in your shoes.

      You’re right, there will never be enough strawberries with kids but I’m going to try. 🙂

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  7. What an adorable picture of your grandson. I have two friends who raise goats and I’ve learned to appreciate them much more than I ever did in the past.

    As always, I enjoy seeing what you have planned for your gardens. My mind is all over the place of what we might be doing with our space in the new house, but first we have to get moved into there.

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    • That has to be one of my favorites of him and one of my favorites of him with goats.

      Will you be able to uproot some of your plants and replant at your new home? I planned to bring a couple of the plants, such as a few of the lambs ears which spread easily, down here from the apartment but it didn’t happen. How long until you are moved in to your new home?

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        • I hope you are moved in before the weather gets too cold. Could your son come get some of your plants or would you need to be there to show him where to plant them?

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  8. That’s an awesome picture of your grandson! Interesting about your colors not changing. Our leaves changed “on time,” but we’ve had all rain and none of the amazingly beautiful crisp October days we normally get.

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    • Thank you, it’s my favorite photo of him probably in his entire young life because of the look in his eyes.

      How crazy the weather has been. We had a rainy summer and a rather dry beginning to autumn, although it started raining yesterday and is supposed to continue through tomorrow.

      I hate when the rains keep the leaves from being crunchy, plus it makes them harder to rake up. I hope you get some beautiful crisp days before it’s over.

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  9. Your grandson is adorable. I like the idea him having an affinity for goats. Each of us has a gift. You sent me on a search. I’d never heard of honey berries. Have no idea what they taste like. You have accomplished quite a lot in the short time you have been there. I keep saying that next summer will be better too. This year was experimental. I’ve learned a LOT! Weather is off everywhere. I wonder if it’s too late to turn it around now. Damage done. Crazies are loose. A little scared. Have a good weekend.

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    • Thank you, Marlene, I think he’s darn cute too. 🙂

      The honeyberries were suggested to me by a reader who lives in Canada. I’d never heard of them but being that I want to have mostly perennials and plenty of unusual foods that can’t be found in the stores it was a perfect addition. I still plan to use my property, when it’s all planted as a place to teach children about food and give them experiences to try new foods.

      As for turning things around, I believe we are too late. As a result, I am experimenting with ways to grow in both wet and dry seasons, using hugelkultur to extend the growing season etc and will pass that information on to my kids and any one else who is trying to provide for themselves.

      And yes the crazies are loose and I’m scared as well.

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