yeah, pretty lame excuse

​Hello good friends, and my apologies for dropping off the face of the earth without a word. My thoughts are simple (as might be evident); I didn’t have anything interesting to say. If it wouldn’t interest me, I can’t expect it to interest someone else.

And then I kinda got sucked into the whole lazy thing.

The garden has wound down. Last night was our first real freeze. Frost on the windshields and brown pepper plants.

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I’m waiting for the rest of my free brown materials to fall from the sky. In the meantime, I fashioned a large leaf-collection bin, made from 20-some year old materials that were sitting in the barn waiting for their moment in the sun.

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The cold brings out the chainsaw. I use only deadfall trees from the property for firewood, and the scrub trees that die and fall are usually dry enough to use the same year. This year has been a little lean as far as deadwood. There was a nice big oak down, but that has to season till next year. It might just be a year for buying a little wood that some other fool cut up.

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I’m coming to the realization that cutting and splitting firewood in quantity is a younger man’s game. Somewhere along the way, I messed up my wrists and thumbs, and handling a chainsaw doesn’t suit me for long periods, nor does crawling around on the roof cleaning the chimney. But I’ll keep picking at it until I have to say uncle.

There’s not much activity in the garden. My fall cover crop mix is doing its job without complaint. After watching the deer happily grazing on last year’s crop, I decided to strategically place tomato cages to nip that kind of thing in the bud. So far so good.

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I planted garlic and shallots today in the space occupied by this year’s compost bins. And the lettuce plants that I sowed indoors in August are hitting their stride under a cloche.

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It’s good to be back in the saddle. But I reserve the right to be lazy at any time I choose.

garlic

Yesterday was garlic harvest time. Around here garlic goes into the garden in the fall.  Mine were planted in October.

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The variety that I’ve been using for several years is Chesnok Red.  It’s a great mellow-tasting garlic, prized by chefs, not huge but with evenly sized cloves and a very reliable track record.  It’s a hardneck variety (better for storage), and has a great rich aroma and flavor.  It’s unbelievably mouth-watering when it’s roasted.

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I end up using most of my bulbs to feed my pickle-making fetish. But before I use any of it, I single out the biggest healthiest bulbs for next year’s seed stock.

To harvest, I’m generally able to just pull the stalks out like onions, but I know a lot of people recommend using a pitch fork, especially in tougher soil like clay.

I let it dry completely on a wire rack in the barn and then braid the stalks or send it on to the wife for roasting.

Right now our barn smells like a polish deli. And the side benefit is no vampires.

spring things

I decided to move the compost bins down the row and plant the area where they sat last year. Why not? I think I’ll put peppers in there, since they’d be least upsetting to me if something went horribly wrong. The piles needed turning anyway.

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It was exciting to see a little steam rising from last fall’s pile of shredded leaves and coffee grounds. It’s coming along well, and should be ready for use by mid-summer.

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The fall-planted garlic is poking through the shredded leaf mulch nicely…

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And every Spring a pair of geese or ducks makes our pond their honeymoon suite. We were walking the grand-dog and were surprised when a mama goose popped up from the edge of the pond honking, leaving her nest with four or five eggs.

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I’m not sure how bright geese are. Last year they built their nest right on the edge of the water, and when the pond rose the nest flooded and none hatched. Their nest is pretty close to the water again this year, so I hope it’s not a real rainy month.