Fall fashion

I love this time of year. When the air cools and the perfume of hardwood burning fills the hollers. When there is a subtle fight between the stove fires smoke and the morning mists twisting up the sides of the hills. Heat loving plantings from the garden are showing their intolerance of cold mornings. The frost hasn’t quite taken its bite. Pumpkins are still hiding out under their still green umbrella.

The trees are turning and the nuts are falling in waves. I found myself taking a break from buttoning up the high tunnel to watch the chickens jump outta their feathers every time a hickory nut dinged off the metal roof of the hog house.

Cutting wood becomes a chore that I don’t really mind doing when the air is dry and temps aren’t in the 90’s. There is a ton of wood to be split this year. Thankfully most of the work is close to the house so hauling isn’t a daylight drain.

I have made another one of those dumb lists of jobs that I need to finish around here. I really can’t figure out why I feel it is necessary to waste my time making a list of all the chores I need to do when they stare at me on a daily basis screaming for my attention. I’ll rationalize this somewhat useless activity as planning. A skill that I’m not very good at unless it is in regards to procrastination. “I’m planning on getting that done…next week.”

Yesterday I opened up my worm box for an inspection of what I assumed would be a neglected mess of slimy food scrap teaming with everything but worms. I hadn’t really kept up with what anyone would call management of a worm farm. I have been taking a bucket or two of kitchen scrap infrequently out to the 4×4 box that I built in the greenhouse for the composting worms that we had bought last winter. They were moved from their cozy little rubbermaid bins in the basement to the box about the time we were putting the garden in. The last time I had dug into the bin their population was looking thin so I assumed that I was going to be turning the worm bin into a nifty new raised bed planter. Much to my surprise I found a writhing mass of worm. I guess the cooling temps have spurred amorous moods among Eisenia fetida.

My brother gave me a stack of old aluminum storm windows. The packrat in me said that I needed them for…..Maybe I’ll add on to the chicken coop. It does get a bit cozy in there when I use the coop to store the hog feed. If I do it right I could just sorta stick a front porch on it. A coop veranda.

Garden clean up will be the focus this morning. This is when I do my best thinking about what I want to stick with or dump for next year. One of the experiments from spring was the use of some cut cattle panels that a friend had halved length ways. They used them to keep their dogs out of their flowerbeds. I guess their intended purpose was a failure because the panels ended up at my house as a gift. I used them to form hoops that we planted sweet potato slips in. We lined them with straw and a front loader scoop of compost in each. I flipped the hoops over last week to find an unexpected bounty of huge sweet potato. Some of them are so big I feared they wouldn’t be very good eating. I was wrong but one wouldn’t fit one my grill. We joked that a turkey and one sweet potato would make a meal for the whole family.

The hoops will return next year.

Cattle panels will not make a comeback next season as tomato trellis. Cages will make a return. The panels didn’t lend themselves to a tomatoes natural and necessary bushiness. Many of the fruit found themselves with out shade resulting in scald. My knock against store bought cages is they are too small and I hate staking and tying. To remedy this I will build cages from concrete wire panels.

Bean arches of cattle panels will never be left out of our garden plans…ever.

We will plant more potatoes next year. This year only Yukon Gold were planted. They did well but we want a potato that will store better. Viking Purple is heading the list but I’m very open to suggestion.

We won’t plant Tiger Melon next year. It did very well but we weren’t very enthusiastic about their taste. There are some plantings that end up being pig or chicken food around here. This one is tops on the chickens menu.

I sure am thankful that I kept a garden journal this year. I always intended to keep an up to date record of our plantings. This was the first year that I actually followed through. It is becoming much more of a necessity for me to right down what I’ve done instead of what I need to do. Getting older is a bitch.



  1. Ron said,

    October 18, 2008 at 6:57 AM

    I learned from your tomato experiences. This year, I just let mine go all over, and they did well, but it is a lot of stooping and straddling to harvest them. Glad to know that the cattle panels are fairly high-effort. I might do like you and make cages from concrete mesh.I definitely need to make a bean arch. Ours did well, but harvesting is a pain when you have to use a ladder. Maybe next year I’ll make that garden journal… or the year after that. :)Ron

  2. October 18, 2008 at 8:26 AM

    Woody, way to go on those sweet taters. Glad you got a good harvest. I too need to start a garden journal/farm journal. I say I’m going to every year but… well you know what I mean. lol Great post. Love the bean arch.Chris

  3. October 18, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    Woody, sigh I want sweet potatoes, mine have never gotten very large. Your wonderful post makes me want to grow them again. Sounds like you had a great garden year!

  4. Ed Abbey said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:45 AM

    I tore up the last of my cheapo store bought cages removing them from the garden this year. I’m currently scheming on building the perfect ones right now. I’ve got to check out what you mean by concrete mesh. I’ve always used a real thin gauge stuff that wouldn’t stand up any better than the store bought stuff. Perhaps you were talking about re-rod though that might be pricey stuff these days and a bit of overkill.

  5. Danielle said,

    November 4, 2008 at 12:16 PM

    Getting older is a bitch—too many creaks and aches and pains. My neighbor made tomato cages like you describe and was quite pleased with them. I don't know what I'll use, but not this year's method, which collapsed under the weight. I think we'll try the bean arches as well. Thanks for all the details of your musings!

  6. December 10, 2008 at 5:31 PM

    I just love those bean trellises that you have made…useful AND they make for a great photo!I’m planning more spuds this year too: Kennebec are the choice for me, along with my Ozettes. I used to like the Yukon Gold until I met up with kennebecs this past summer.

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