The deer decoy garden is still growing well. The sections seeded second are coming in well, and the first section is a couple inches tall and really dense. The third section is just starting to sprout, but we’ve got a week of rainy weather which is perfect for sprouting seeds.
We’ve had a lot of trouble with deer eating our veggies — corn, beans, lettuce. All very good deer munchies. We had a little luck playing talk radio all night long, but I think they get used to it pretty quickly. Then eat all your not-quite-ready-to-pick sweet corn. This year, we put in a decoy garden full of deer’s fav foods. There are brassicas, beets, radishes, oats, and rye grains. Scott tilled up a big area where our garden used to be, I raked it out to level the soil, and then I spread a bunch of seeds. We did it in three sections — the north-east quarter was finished first. The south-east quarter and west strip were done second, and the strip in the middle was done last. The first section is coming in quite vigorously. The second section is just starting to come in, and the final strip is pretty much dirt. We’ve been lucky to have a few heavier rains since the seeds were spread, so everything is watered well. This should be really cool. My next adventure is to replace some of the lawn with a wildflower seed mix so we’ve got plenty of bee chow available.
So we’re supposed to get five or six inches of snow tonight, and tomorrow night will get down to 28 degrees or so … which means the hop greenhouse is back! It’s sturdier this time so it’ll handle the snow load. There are two logs on each side, both with a long 2×6 board run across. Shorter 2×4’s were laid across the long boards to provide support for the roof. There are additional boards diagonal from the “roof” to the ground. The whole thing is covered with greenhouse plastic, and 4×4’s (and a few large logs) weigh down the edges.
I’ve also got plastic bags over the blueberries, raspberries, elderberries, baby pawpaws, garlic, and baby black walnuts. There’s a tarp over the part of the deer garden that’s actually sprouted. Hopefully everything fairs well. The hazelnuts aren’t protected — they’ve gotten quite large, but they should have plenty of energy in the root system. The kale isn’t protected either, but it survived the winter already … so that should be fine.
We’re in for a drastic temperature drop this week — 70 degrees one day, 27 the next night. We’ve covered our hops before; but, as the plants spread out, they get harder to cover.
This year, we built a quick (temporary) greenhouse over the entire hop bed. Rebar and longer metal poles are pounded into the ground at an angle, and the 1″ PVC that I had for the low tunnel greenhouse is mounted to the poles. A large sheet of greenhouse plastic covers the entire bed, and a lot of bricks are (hopefully) holding it all in place. This should keep our new hops from freezing.
It’s almost time to start seeds for this year’s garden. I’ve got about two weeks to get some pots ready — we’ll get the peppers, asparagus, celery, and verbana started. There are a few herbs that we can start too — oregano, rosemary, and thyme. I’m not growing any eggplant this year.
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Autumn is coming to a close. We had an great growing season this year — I covered the lettuce beds with fabric tents three or four nights in November because temps would be near freezing. We had a few nights where our small pond froze on the surface, but tomorrow night will be the first sustained sub-freezing temperature. I got a bit of a late start to outdoor gardening because we rebuilt the garden beds in a sunnier location, but I still managed a 200 day growing season. Adding another six weeks for the seeds started indoors, I had plants growing for 244 days — about 2/3 of the year! Moving the beds to a sunnier location greatly increased productivity, and the compost in the garden area has turned into a large pile of dirt. We’ve been adding new stuff to the north side of the pile, and I’ve been moving everything south as I turn the pile. It is impressive how much the pile of grass and leaves shrinks down as it decomposes. In early autumn, I put about 16 cubic feet of compost into the garden beds to make a lettuce and kale bed. Yesterday, I amended another fifteen cubic feet of the lettuce bed. Anya and I used two cucumber A-frame trellises and a few of the tomato trellises to create a structure and covered the lettuce bed with greenhouse plastic. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue growing lettuce throughout the winter. I also plan on planting the broccoli, brussle sprouts, and cabbage under the cover next April.
I was worried the chicks we got in August would be too small when the temps dropped, but they are fifteen weeks old today. They love being outside and fluff up really big when it gets cold. Both the coop and chicken tractor have a wide roost so they can keep their toes under their warm feathers.
In the next few weeks, we’ll build some nesting boxes and get the coop finalized. I also want to finish making packets for the seeds we harvested this year and file them into my seed storage boxes. In the next week or two, I will be making a lot of candied almonds — vanilla cinnamon candied almonds, maple roasted salted almonds, and some plain candied almonds — for us and to give away to neighbors.
This winter, I want to finish the crochet blanket I am making for our family room. It should be a thick, warm blanket that we can all snuggle under. I want to finish Anya’s new Peppermint Swirl dress. I also want to make her micro-corduroy dress/tunic/shirt to replace the one she outgrew this past year. Both will be worn in the spring/summer, but sewing is a cold/snowy day activity for me.
I wanted to grow a little treat for our chickens to eat as winter sets in and green leafy things become scarce. I took about half a cup of wheat, a quarter cup of barley, and a quarter cup of oats and mixed the seeds together. I covered the seeds with water and soaked them for about 20 hours. I then spread the seeds in a 8″x8″ aluminium tray that has holes poked into the bottom. This sits into its plastic lid to keep from dripping water everywhere. Twice a day, I run water into the tray and let it drip out. No soil used — the roots and seeds form a fairly solid mass as the seeds sprout. One week later, I have lots of bright green shoots. Hopefully they think it’s a tasty treat!
The 2020 hop harvest is in. The centennial produced a handful of hops that I’ll use in a barbecue sauce. We got about 44 ounces of cascade — much of which will be used in the 2020 fresh hop beer. The new baby plants we got this year got to set their roots, and hopefully we’ll see some cones next year. I cannot wait to try some Medusa!