Monday, October 27, 2014

Protect Those Cold Season Crops!

Although it's customary to lay row cover fabric directly on the plants, close to the ground, I've used some other options in the past.

This is one of our 4' x 8' raised veggie beds shown just after I planted it with fall lettuce and chard.  The hoops are 1/2" pvc pipe (10'), although smaller fiberglass hoops are available,  and the covering is just the typical green plastic "chicken wire" fencing.  It was not intended to actually fence out anything - I'm trying it out as support.

(The thing in the background is our remaining "little" hoop house or high tunnel, being only half sized at 50'.)

And this is what it looks like with the Remay row cover over the frame.  Snug as a bug for the winter weather.  This isn't a heat generating greenhouse, as a clear plastic cover would be, just a retainer for ground warmth and something to block the really strong, cold winds of winter.
It's easy to lift a side to harvest fresh greens.

FYI, for my Town Gardener friends, we're usually taking ice off the cars, at least one or two mornings each week, before the end of October.  Those beautiful, clear autumn nights?

It gets cold out here, friends, cold out here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lucious Loquats!

It's that magical time again - the loquat trees are in bloom.


Seems odd in the fall to suddenly find the air perfumed with a sweet, sultry fragrance and to hear the frantic blur of busy bees, but that's what's happening right now in our loquat trees.

The smell is vanilla heaven.

Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) are about on the northern edge of their range here. Although they list as Zone 9-10, they grow happily in the Zone <9 microclimate on the south side of our pool fence. As you can see from the photo, they don't need the fence to shield the top half as long as their roots can stay warm.  Our trees made it through single digits this past winter, losing some tip growth and the fruit that was forming, but all was well in the long run.

Loquats were my favorite fruit as a Florida child.  Our neighbors large, sprawling loquat tree filled with the apricot-colored fruits each year and we clambered up the tree (easy climbing!) to get them.

A year ago, almost two, I started about a dozen loquats from the seeds in the fruits from my trees. Most were given away, but one resides in a pot - hoarded against our eventual move from this farm.  I am delighted to see more and more of the local nurseries carrying loquat trees although, like mine, they seem to be grown from un-named seedlings.  I have seen named cultivars listed in New Zealand but I really don't know if we can get those here.  Bet the fruit is awesome.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Buddha Toad

The puppies are obsessed with toads.

As the cool weather moves in and the gardens thin out, the large toads that feasted out there all summer are showing up on the warm concrete in the evenings.

The puppies flip the toads.

They don't hurt them, they just seem to love pushing the toads over onto their backs. Although the toads are perfectly able to wiggle back over, they choose to stay - right there, on their backs, feet folded over belly.  Frowning with all their might.

Eventually, I go out... pick them up and put them safely into the hostas away from the pups. The toads don't appreciate me.   They would rather frown.

I tell them I've known other people just like that.