Friday, November 20, 2015

A Fond Farewell to the Vegetable Patch -- Almost

Lonely posts at the back are all  that is left of the cucumber
  vines  that fed me all summer.

     September's warmth continued right into October and then even most of November. Who needs North Carolina  when I can live  like this? We owe this bliss,  apparently,  to  a strong El  Nino in the Pacific.

     I am not complaining. In addition to wearing short sleeves much later than usual, I saw the leaves on my trees change color more leisurely and cling to their branches much longer.

     My veggies did the same. Cukes seem to have a clock of their own no matter what the weather, so they checked out at the end of September. But my green beans and tomatoes were still poking along last week when we pulled the last of them. The beans are safe in the freezer, along with all the basil and pesto sauce. Our last tomatoes are still ripening in a flat cardboard box in the pantry, I had two more at lunch today.

This small head of broccoli should withstand
 what may be our first light frost of the season.

     My fall crops of cool weather veggies like chard, snow peas, spinach and parsley are still going great guns and should even make it through the 4 inches of snow we are supposed to get tomorrow. But we harvested about half of them just to be safe.

My peas lie right on top to make them  easy to pick..
Next year I will train them to jump directly into my bag.

     And my parsley, so essential to everything from pasta to tabbouleh salad, will get frozen and crushed several times by the snow and still spring back when the sun pops  out. I hope to be picking some for Christmas dinner.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Falling Leaves

     A remarkably warm September has helped keep the leaves on the trees longer than usual. Not until Halloween weekend did our trees start shedding seriously.

     Some of these leaves serve a crucial fall  function. They act as great pillows to jump and fall in and are a lot of fun for some of us 14 and younger -- and even some of us 65 and older.

     Far too many of us rake and bag all our leaves in a feeble effort to keep our lawns clean. Not only does this create unnecessary work, it adds additional tons of refuse to our landfills and starves our yards of  nutrients.

     I use a leaf blower and a mulching lawn mower. I blow the leaves out of the flower beds into the yard where I can chop them up with the mower. I blow some of the inch or less leaf fragments back into the beds and leave the rest on the lawn.

     For the first several days the yard looks a complete mess, but a few days of breezes will encourage the leaves to shimmy down the blades of grass closer to the earth, and the yard will quickly look much better. Meanwhile, I have saved my self all the aggravation of bagging the leaves up. The leaf bits will decompose over the winter and provide spring fertilizer for the new grass. The decomposition will also produce a leaf mold that inhibits grubs.

     A heavily shaded yard in Beverly may require more frequent mulching than  summer mowing. But there is no raking and no bagging and you get free fertilizer, grub control and even fewer Japanese beetles the following year. So what is not to like?

     By the way, for you procrastinators out there, we are having yet another bout of delicious warm weather, and you still have plenty of time to buy and plant spring bulbs.