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