Monday, November 10, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden This Week

We got a break from the chilly weather with a gorgeous day in the 60s today.  After a walk with Ida the Dog in Frick Park, I was gardening til the sun set just now.  Most things are mulched and tucked in for winter, except the greens that are still growing under cover.

Stayman Winesap apple tree in foreground and 2 beds covered with hoops and row cover for fall and winter harvests.
I have picked up a nugget or two of wisdom from all the expert gardeners I have read about.  One of those is keep your soil covered!  Winter winds and rains erode and compact soil, and the sheet mulch beds that we made this spring are indeed covered.  2 beds got seeded with winter rye, which grows in the fall, overwinters, and then grows in the spring.  We will mow it down and fork it in, or let the chickens finish killing it 1 month before summer planting.  Planting in a rye bed sooner than that is asking for poor germination, as the plant puts out chemicals that inhibit germination.

Winter rye in some of the beds

Soil that isn't covered with rye is mulched with straw or dead plant material.  I like the way the straw makes the beds look.  It tidies everything up a bit.  

An old mailbox becomes a garden toolbox for trowels and gloves
This horehound and Aronia (below) are part of a mixed planting of shrubs, trees, herbs, and berries that I would like to become a screen of sorts from the road and neighbor's house.  Its about a 4' wide swath of plantings along our front and side fencelines, and I have a mix of all kinds of things going on.  I have my culinary herbs in a border of sorts closest to the house: oregano, marjoram, thyme.  I have Aronia (a berry shrub rich in antioxidants), Nanking Cherry (These are doing terribly and will need a boost of compost, worm castings, and rock fertilizer in spring), Serviceberry, Paw Paw (the site is too sunny for these trees ideally but they are an experiment here.  I also have them planted in a different spot with dappled sun that they should prefer), comfrey, borage, fig, 3 apple trees (Stayman Winesap, Zestar, Arkansas Black), hazelnuts, and flowers.  It has been great fun to see these things grow this season.  All have been slow, but I think next year, we will see some real growth!

Horehound, a medicinal herb (left) and Aronia, a berry shrub (right)
2 of the 4 hazelnuts I planted are still kicking.
I've read hazelnuts yield the most when grown as a single stem form.  Since part of the job of these plants is to form a "hedgerow screen", I plan to let them just grow wild, no pruning required.

My gaudy New England Aster is still blooming and the bees love it.  Aster actually produces more bee food after frosts hit.
A young buck made it into our yard a few days ago.  We hung up some streamers from the fence to discourage him from jumping in again, although he was so freaked out by being in the yard, he didn't eat anything and promptly jumped out again.  This is the time of year we expect them to make their moves in, so we will just have to see how it goes.  I plan on planting some diversion plants on the outside of our fence in the back.  As far as other munchers, I know we have a lot of voles around here because I see them running around.  The chickens catch some of them, but I protected my apple tree trunks from the ones that the chickens can't get to.

Rodent Guard around apple tree trunk.  Rodents love to chew tender bark.
I rarely sit and relax in the garden.  It doesn't feel quite private enough for that yet.  But I do sometimes sit on this little bench I found.

My little garden bench, found on garbage night in Edgewood.
Asparagus ferns starting to die back
I love this Sweet Bay Magnolia, grown by our friend Nick and purchased from Tree Pittsburgh.  Now, it has a fancy belgian block ring round it!
Lil kitchen herb garden by the back door


No comments:

Post a Comment