Thursday, October 20, 2016
It is my understanding that this is the time of year when hordes of people pay money to ride on buses or trains to see our seasonal color displays. This is a season of incredible beauty and we find it close to home. We own everything in the foreground and have the landowners permission to walk the distant ridge. Twenty-two years ago when we first walked this land, the similarity between this ridge and Diamond Head impacted me. Here the ridge runs to meadow rather than ocean and we encounter prickers not beaches when we approach. Ours is without question truly majestic at this time of year.
This is not your typical fall color picture. The scraggly white pine tree has finished putting on its winter coat. Fallen needles litter the ground in sharp contrast with the new green needles. This process of renewal is a true wonder. The tree is never bare. New needles push away the old in scattered spots among the branches. Green is always the dominant color but since no golden brown can be found hanging on the tree the cycle has ended. Walking on newly fallen pine needles is hazardous. They are slicker than new ice and show no signs of danger there.
This is diamond head as seen from the high ground to the left in the first picture. Our numerous briers, as seen in the foreground, are a source of a different color. They are an invasive nuisance and a source of many scratches but they also sweeten spring air. The newly opened leaves release a pleasant scent as do the flowers that follow. It is best to see their good side since they are firmly here to stay.
Here is a long view from the nearby level ground that is close to where the previous picture was taken. A dead ice sink forms the bowl shaped depression to the right. Our twisted lumpy land makes for interesting walks.
This picture was taken from the same high ground as the previous two. My garden by the woods at the far right of the picture is marked by white metal post tops and brown grass mulch cut from what looks like lawn. It is in fact mowed meadow complete with horse manure! No one walking on it could mistake it for lawn.
Looking north from the high ground around the dead ice sink, one sees our home. It is rather easy to imagine the type retirement life that has been ours here. We feel fortunate to have found this place and treasure our time spent here.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Growing healthy garlic in upstate New York is difficult at best. The natural growth cycle of the plant is totally at odds with our weather. Prior to its mid July harvest, garlic needs several weeks to dry down. Our weather at that time of year roars to us from the south and features both high humidity and high temperatures. Thunderstorms are common then and garlic plants that are trying to dry are repeatedly soaked. As any Alabama belle can verify, mold is common under those circumstances.
This garden by the woods was opened to provide disease free ground for garlic growing. Since I poisoned one bed by planting disease ridden cloves there, garlic is rotated through the remaining three beds. A new bed is planned to be ready in time for next year's crop.
Six different varieties were planted in a bed that is five feet wide and eighteen feet long. The covering leaves are newly fallen and were run through the lawn mower. Wire fence was placed on top of the leaves to hold them in place. It will be removed just as soon as the snow melts.
In an attempt to control disease, we soak and peel each clove. This is an effective approach as very few of our bulbs are now soft to the touch. Despite an overnight soak, the wrappers remain tight to the clove. A well placed tiny scissor snip is necessary to provide a spot to pull on. After that the most annoying result is a thin transparent skin that clings to whatever it touches.
This clove shows the most infection found this year. As disgusting as it appears, the bulb felt solid hiding the problems just under the skin. Had this clove been planted a diseased plant would have tried to grow infecting our soil. Each of our six varieties revealed some infected cloves. Many contained only a single small brown spot but all of them found the trash. The range of infected cloves per variety ran from 5% to 20%.
This wrinkled clove is a new experience for us. Only Lamb's-quarters presented these. Four such cloves were planted and their locations recorded so that we can see what grows from these wrinkled cloves.
Having no hint of the outcome when peeling cloves, we need to soak enough to exactly fill the fifty or forty planting holes allotted to each variety. That produced a large pile of peeled but unplanted cloves. An old favorite recipe for garlic chicken solved that problem.
It is difficult to adequately describe the feelings that come with planting next year's crop in October. We did fall plant potatoes but the garlic will begin showing above ground growth soon after the snow melts. Our next garden is well and truly under way.