June 13, 2018
Most of the birds are paired up this time of year. You always see two doves, two blackbirds, two turkeys, two geese, and two of those little yellow birds that eat my Chard. They are eating the zucchini leaves now. Good luck with that. Watching the ongoing avarian courtship in the dead branches of the cottonwood trees, I came to realize that the only thing required for the continuation of a species is for the female to hold still.
Most people hate cottonwoods because they drop branches and are not suitable for firewood. They produce an amazing amount of leaves also so if you're not a gardener you hate all the raking. I get to watch them from my garden shade spot and every breeze makes the leaves shimmer and whisper. They are magnificent in their size so you can love them from a distance.
October 13, 2018
I'm still disappointed in the fall peas. I pick only about twelve fully formed ones every four days from a six foot double row. The vines are skimpy and thin. I look to the heavens and what do I see? An 80' cedar tree looking down over me. It's up on the lawn and the sun is now behind it all afternoon. It's funny how much we can miss if we don't look up.
I keep finding places that get increasing shade as the sun lowers it's arc. Two of my artichokes are now in the shade all day long because they are too close to the fence on the south side of the garden. The fence is covered in grape vines so when their leaves fall the artichokes will get winter sunlight, but for now, nada. The combination of trying to rotate crops and changing shade patterns makes keeping a garden journal more important than ever.
October 14, 2018
The cold night time air flowed down across the lawn and over the tomato plants that were sprawled on the ground burning every leaf. Up it went, over the zucchini, burning all the outside leaves. Next in it's path were the tomatoes in towers. They were unscathed. That's a good reason to grow your tomatoes in towers.
They can withstand mild frosts and extend your harvest into November. Keeping the fruit off the ground also minimizes insect damage and prevents mold and mildew problems. The fruit that's resting on straw mulch doesn't get as much damage as those touching the ground, and the straw, which has been keeping the ground cooler through the heat wave, is now insulating the soil from the cold.
October 15, 2018
I picked enough green beans yesterday for a meal. They were mostly smaller than I usually pick but with 29° forecasted for tonight I wanted to at least get one meal from them. My plastic row cover works great for mild freezes but probably can't prevent significant cold damage. I think the time factor is relevant. If it's below freezing for a couple of hours they will be alright but, a hard frost, which is long exposure to less than 32°, will burn them. I read that the ideal time to plant garlic is 5-10 days before a hard frost.
This gives the roots time to start their growth but keeps the tops underground. Good luck with that. Can anyone predict a hard frost that far in advance? Why our local extension service recommends planting in October is a mystery to me since our average first frost date is November 15th. I've always planted in November and always been successful so this old dog needs to pay attention. Our first frosts are coming earlier.