Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tuber Digging - Weekend #1

Today I started digging my dahlia tubers. I didn't pick the most ideal day to dig. It had been raining off and on quite hard for most of the morning. But I decided to go down to the garden around 12:30 during a break in the weather. I think I had dug up about 6 clumps when it started to sprinkle. Within a few minutes it turned to rain and then is just let loose! I ran under the fir trees, which will keep you fairly dry in a normal light rain. But the trees were no match for this downpour. I had water running down my nose and my hair was soaking wet. Just then I heard a car honk across the street from my garden. My Mom had driven down to rescue me! I went back to the house and dried off.  About an hour later I decided to venture out again. This time the rain held off and I finished digging for the day. I dug up the dahlias at 12 posts, 2 posts short of a full two rows. I got the clumps hauled back to the house and hosed them off. They are now in the shop, awaiting division. So begins the digging season!

*We ended up with .37 inches of rain today. I am so glad that I received a brand new pair of Bogs boots for my birthday!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fall Bouquets

My cut flower rows down in the big garden are really doing nicely. The plants are starting to get a bit tall and the rows are growing together. Instead of planned order, the whole cut flower area has "cottage garden" charm now.

Two fuchsia colored blooms of cosmos "kneehigh sonata mix".

A perfect white bloom of cosmos "Mixed seashells'. Most of the blooms on these plants do not have the perfectly tubular shaped petals. But the few blooms that do look like the picture on the seed packet are pretty cool.

A pair of white cosmos "kneehigh sonata mix".

My 5 plants of "Francis' Choice" marigolds are really looking great.

They are almost 4 feet tall now and are covered in bright bi-colored blooms.

Since rain was in the forecast for today, I cut 4 different bouquets for the house.

A beautiful dahlia bouquet made up of two "Red Velvet" blooms six "Pam Howden". So simple and so very pretty.

I also cut a generous handful of "Persian Carpet" zinnia blooms. Picked in mass, these little blooms make for such a pretty and long lasting bouquet.

My last little bouquet was made up entirely of "Francis' Choice" marigolds blooms. I wasn't sure how this would work but I was pleased with the results. It was bright and glowed with the colors of Fall.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekly Harvest for Early October

I thought I would start out this week's harvest with some flowers from the garden. While most of my dahlias are really starting to wind down for the season, the Poms are still producing like gangbusters. Saturday I cut a bouquet using blooms from "Willo Borealis", "Bowen", "Elfin", & "Valda".

The tomatoes continue to ripen. They loved last week's 85 degree weather as much as the humans did. But we are expecting pretty heavy rains to arrive on Tuesday, so I imagine that this will be the last big harvest of the year.

Here are the numbers for this week's tomato harvest. It is especially impressive to note that I harvested tomato number 39-48 from my "Moonglow" plant. It is a grafted tomato and, as advertised, has produced phenomenally. 
  • "Moonglow" - 10 tomatoes - 3 lbs. 11.5 oz
  • "Bumblebee" - 44 cherry fruit - 14.4 oz.
  • "Bloody Butcher" - 5 tomatoes - 4.0 oz.
  • "Black Plum" - 15 tomatoes - 8.9 oz
  • Amethyst Indigo" - 6 tomatoes - 6.3 oz

I also harvested my "Poletschka" Dry Pole Beans this past week. Since the plants were attacked by rabbits not just once, but twice this season, it is amazing that I had anything to harvest at all. But I did manage to gather just under 1/2 cups worth of dry beans that weighed in at 3.1 oz. At least I will have fresh seed for next year!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Garden & Flowerbed Clean-up

With the looming threat of heavy rains arriving on Tuesday, I spent 3 hours outside today working on garden cleanup chores. I started in the Kitchen Garden. I first picked up all of the old Winter Squash vines and took them down to the compost pile. Then I cleaned off the bean tower and took it into the garden room for Winter storage. Then I disassembled my whirligig and set it in the shop. I need to clean it before storing it away. 

I finished up by raking the soil and starting to build up the raised bed for my garlic. I hope to plant my garlic next weekend.

You might have noticed the Blue morning glory in the last picture. My two plants of "Heavenly Blue" morning glory are outrageous this year. I haven't ever had two plants of this variety grow and bloom like they have this year. They have smothered and covered the four tomato plants.

It is literally a wall of gorgeous blue blooms and as a bonus, the blooms have lasted all day for some strange reason.

The blooms are still large and amazingly blue, even in October.

I next moved my attention to the West facing flowerbed. It was a mess, filled with large weeds, spent flowers and stalks, and  newly sprouting weeds. I weeded the whole flowerbed and it looks so much better. The next step, for another weekend day, will be to fill up the back of the bed with more Nature's Best compost. The bed slants horribly toward the back right now and all the water runs in that direction.

As I was cleaning up my my Sweet Pea tower, I did find one last "Royal Family Lavender" bloom.

After I finished all of the weeding, I took a shovel and dug up all of my "Kokopelli" narcissus. The dry Summer had caused many individual bulbs to heave out of the ground.

It was amazing to see the mass of bulbs. I originally planted 6 small bulbs on January 8th, 2012. They have done an incredible job multiplying. I decided against separating each clump at this time. I think I might do that next Summer but I had too much on my "to-do" list today. So I dug the planting hole as deep as I could and set in all of the bulb clumps as well as a bunch of individual bulbs.

The bulb clumps had already sent up tender new shoots and had large, healthy masses of roots. With the rains returning next week it was a good time to replant them.

As I weeded today, I was surprised to see that the Oriental Poppies have already begun growing again for the next growing season. These young plants will amazingly survive all Winter's harsh weather and start blooming once again in May. And I was equally surprised to see that our Peony plant had also started to sprout. I found three blood red shoots forming at the base of the plant. To give the plant some added protection, I dumped a bucket full of compost on its crown to cover up the shoots and give it some insulation against the cold temperatures that lay ahead.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bean Harvest

We have enjoyed a long stretch of dry, sunny weather this October. But it is due to end next week so tonight after work, I harvested my "Poletschka" Dry Pole Beans.

It truly is amazing that I had anything to harvest at all. I started by planting bean seed this Spring. A vole pulled down over 1/2 of the seed and ate it. Then I replanted with young bean transplants. When they were about 12" tall, a rabbit came in and chewed off all of the vines! Amazingly the plants slowly recovered and sent up new vines. The rabbits stayed away for over 6 weeks and I thought all was well. But then a rabbit struck again in September and chewed off over 1/2 of the plants. Needless to say, that didn't leave me with a lot to harvest tonight.

Each dry pod held 7-8 shiny black beans. I sat on the back patio in the waning evening sunshine and quickly worked though all of the pods. I ended up with just short of one 1/2 cup full of beans. They weighted in at 3.1 oz. Thankfully, we don't have to live on that harvest this Winter!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Glorious Weather

The weather has been just amazing the last five days. Since Friday we have enjoyed high temperatures of 80, 83, 84, 85 and 85 again today. This is just what we were wishing for all Summer when it was 95!

The cats are especially enjoying these Indian Summer days. They are spending as much time as possible outside, in any odd spot of shade that they can find. I think they know that the sunny days won't last forever and need to be enjoyed to the fullest.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Early Fall Color

October means peak Fall color here in the Willamette Valley. This year it is a bit different however. Our hot and dry Summer has carried over into the Fall. With the exception of two wet days in September, we just haven't had any appreciable rainfall since the Spring. It is taking its toll on the trees. The early Fall color that we normally get with the Ash and Cottonwood trees has been almost nonexistent. The leaves are going from green to dark brown and immediately falling off. Ironically, the one plant that is still having a great Fall color display is the poison oak! Right now the forest is full of shiny, velvet red leaves. You have to admire its tenacity and beauty - just from a distance!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Welcome October

Happy October.  Our weather continues to be lovely. In fact, the forecast calls for temperatures to return to the mid-80's by Friday. Fall is my favorite time of the year. Warm days, cooler nights, beautiful colors everywhere, and the bounty of the harvest. Enjoy.