December 15, 2017
The most colorful thing in the garden this time year is the bright cranberry color of the blackberry vines. They seem to be taking over the fence line from the grapes. They don't lose their leaves in the winter so I'm getting more and more seclusion. This is good. I'm not a social animal anymore. Lots of people don't like blackberry bushes because their thorns always get you when you try to trim them back. The bushes are a significant contribution to wildlife habitat.
The rabbits and ground squirrels that make their burrows under them have a better chance of not being dug up by coyotes and dogs. All of the nocturnal four legged critters seem to enjoy their berries, judging by the scat I've seen. The birds do too. The honeybees and solitary bees visit the flowers, along with the pollinating wasps and flies. Field mice dart under when a hawk soars overhead. And, best of all, blackberry freezer jam is as easy as strawberry.
December 16, 2017
This is the time of year that some of the blackberry bushes get festive looking for Christmas. Some of their leaves turn red, and some turn yellow. Some are orange, burgundy and gold. Some turn light green and some stay dark green. It's hard not to think of a decorated Christmas tree when you see them. Several bushes together are an ideal place for the woodland rats to build a shelter. They take advantage of the vines and thorns to protect it.
They even chew off foot long vines and put them around the outside of the mound so curious noses get discouraged. I once caught one in my garden ground squirrel trap, and was amazed at how big it was. It filled the trap. If it wasn't for the lack of irises, and the absence of hair on its tail, I would have thought it was a ground squirrel. Oh yeah, and it stayed perfectly still, glareing at me like the ravens did.
December 17, 2017
The first half of our winter rains have past and we're left short. The creeks aren't flowing and the ponds aren't filling. A significant amount of rain will be required this spring to make up for our shortage. This will give me another opportunity to complain about sow bugs. I learned last year that my cold frames helped them to survive to decimate all my summer starts.
The only melon and squash that I got came from direct seeding. I'll need to be patient this year and try to wait for the soil to warm up. I've also got to get the rest of the beets harvested before they get huge and tough. These cold nights have stopped their growth so I think they might begin to rot.