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Fall Gardening Chores

Good afternoon, my little cheese puffs – it is time today to talk about ‘putting things off,’ or procrastinating. This year, in late October in the Mid-Atlantic states, we got a little lesson in how Mother Nature can flex her muscles. We can’t really complain up at Chez Siberia – all we got out of the storm was a couple of inches of light fluffy dry snow. Folks at the coast from Pennsylvania to Connecticut got hammered (I think I saw a measurement of 19″ in northern New Jersey. That is serious snow, people) and many of them still do not have power. I am sure when people looked out into their gardens, they were reminded that they needed to do some tidying up before ‘real’ winter comes. I should have taken a picture of the ornamental grasses we have in the snow. Here they are now – not much the worse for the snow but I can tell you that even with our couple of inches, that clump was right down on the driveway. It was a real reminder of what will happen when winter really sets in; on the other hand, these are basically all dead now and I would have to trim them back in the spring in any case so after the snow melted, I decided that I had to get started tidying up.

Now, one of the things about bushes and perennials is that if there is anything at the ends (like the seed heads on these grasses and the dried up papery flowers at the ends of my hydrangea bushes), the snow will weigh them down and pull the entire thing down to the ground. With a woody plant such as a hydrangea, we’d end up with deformed plants in the spring. So, I took out my clippers and cut down the grass and snipped off the flower heads on the hydrangea so that we won’t have that problem.

Not that I got it all done, but this week, weatherwise, is supposed to be very good in the Northeast, with nice warm temperatures, so before dinner, I will get the rest of these done. As a side note, the temperatures will be in the 60s, so anyone still looking at a bit of outdoor caulking or painting can still get that done over this week.

Another thing I happened to notice is one of the beds in the garden has some interesting stuff growing in it. Actually, this is in the path between two beds in the vegetable garden and it is very interesting to see that the whole thing basically is now paved with good sized seedlings. Considering that we have had night time temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees F., this is sort of astonishing. The ground must still be in the 40-50 degrees F. range for anything to germinate and even then, it has to be something really hardy.

Ding! We have a winner. Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up: check out the shape of those seedling leaves. Heart shaped. Anyone guess what that is? Yes, you in the back? Mmmhmmm – that’s right. Cabbage Family!!!

If my memory serves, what was in the bed next to it were lots and lots of plants of various sorts of Chinese cabbages and mustards (which has been wonderful stuff; we still have some growing). Some of these DID bolt and go to seed during a dry period late in the summer, so these are the culprits. I could dig them up, I suppose but for the moment, I am more inclined to try another one of my experiments. I’ll mark these, mulch them with leaves for the winter and see what happens in the spring.

Another plant which we’ve been keeping our eyes on this summer and fall is the celery that we grew. This looks like celery but has a much stronger flavor and texture. I was very concerned when I went out after the snow and saw this: I tried to shake off some of the snow and some of the branches of the plant actually broke off in my hand. This plant was frozen SOLID. I walked away, thinking that we’d lost the entire thing and gave up on getting anything to save. A couple of hours later when I went out again, after the sun had come out and the snow had melted, I expected to see a pile of mush.

Instead, I saw this: The plant HAD been frozen solid but once the snow melted and the temperature started to warm up, it was good to go.

A good thing to remember.

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  1. Duchesse says:

    Don’t have much to say about gardening (downsized to large balcony, pots) but as a deeply northern person: you just never know once October hits. In May we moved to a more northern location (from Toronto to Montreal) but not as northern as my childhood home. Always said that when I cannot stand a real winter, I’m old. Maybe that will happen in 2012. But for now, its an elderly fur, new boots, plenty of long underwear and down comforters. Don’t mind the snow but do get cranky if there’s no sun in a week.

  2. Toby Wollin says:

    Wool socks. I advocate for wool socks (and wool tights, too, actually; I think they are the greatest thing since…long johns).

  3. Shiphrah says:

    Ditto on wool socks. But not just any ol’ wool socks. Substantial ones, preferably hand knit. SILK longies are the creme de la creme if you can afford them. I can’t, but I fondle them longingly when shopping.

  4. Duchesse says:

    Any source for wool tights online? Have not been able to find, so wear silk long underwear and merino knee socks. Am eyeing cashmere leg warmers, mmmm.

  5. htwollin says:

    Duchesse: Here is where I have gotten my wool tights. I used to be able to find them from a place in Canada, but they went out of business.

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