FALL ACTIVITIES IN THE GARDEN

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 16-09-2012

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OUR GARDEN

The reduced number of gardeners available to work in the garden has not slowed our fall garden effort.  Kathy, Davis, Dragana and Scott have stepped forward and have planned, planted and weeded until they have created our fall garden.  I can’t really comment on what is happening except that when I hobble through the raised beds, I see new sprouting vegetables and manicured walkways.  It is beautiful and I wonder if my contribution is even missed.  In fact, my only contribution has been to take cuttings off several heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato plants and root them for the fall garden.  I have also seeded the centipede grass areas outside the fenced vegetable garden (inside the larger fenced garden) with New Zealand White Clover so as to improve the nitrogen content of our sandy soil and add a little diversity to the lawn area while providing a nectar source for the bees.   Speaking of which continue to do well.

 

ARTICHOKES

After reporting, in the last blog, about the failure of our artichoke crop, I received a letter from a friend out of my past, Bill McKee.  Bill has lived in California (artichoke country) for most of the last 30 years and has been involved in various horticulture activities over that period.  He reports that artichokes need warm, humid conditions to grow.  Just the climate found in California.  Not what we experience here.  The summer heat with the afternoon “killing sun” will dry the air around the plants which desiccates the large leaves and when we watered daily to combat the wilt, we drowned the roots leading to root rot and the loss of the plant.  I have decided to try placing a “bell jar” (made by removing the bottom from a 5 gallon office water cooler bottle) over the individual plants.  I have used this technique to grow pineapple to 2 feet wherein they have dropped roots deep enough to survive.  This may work with the artichokes if I plant them where they will be shaded from the afternoon sun.  Bill’s advise is an example of the many helpful inputs we receive from our blog readership.  Thanks.

 

JELLY FROM THE FOREST

I am always searching for new things from our wild table.  Over the years, I have made just about every jelly and jam from our wild fruits and berries.  My last discoveries were the wild chanterelle mushrooms that I discussed several blogs ago and a sweet pancake syrup made from hickory nut shells  (exceptionally good and a subject for a future blog).  Last week, I harvested the American Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana).

AMERICAN BEAUTY BERRY

AMERICAN BEAUTY BERRY

 

Birds use this berry as a fall and winter staple and I have read that it is somewhat bland but that a good jelly could be made from it.  The plant thrives in the forest in full sun or shade and if the jelly is as good as they say, I will plant it along the  1/2 mile drive for another crop to harvest.  Deer don’t seem to be interested in it as the vegetative portions have a strong odor that they dislike.

 

the harvest

THE BEAUTY BERRY HARVEST

 

I collected only 3/4 quart of berries but it was enough to make 4 pints of jelly and I am proud to announce that I will be  planting American Beauty Berries along the drive to the house.  This is an extremely easy thing to do as the plant will root in plain soil from a twig pressed into the ground.

 

beauty berry jelly

AMERICAN BEAUTY BERRY JELLY

 

My knee surgery is tomorrow morning and then I will be heading back to the garden.

 

Gordon

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