The gardens as I left them

One of the main reasons I wanted to buy a house was to have a garden (other reasons were to have a bunny and bees). I planted my gardens, I’ve enjoyed the process, I’ve loved my gardens, and now I’m leaving my gardens. I hope when we return to the states that I have the energy to do it again.

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Would you like a sweet candy carrot?

We dug overwintered carrots on a mild evening while grilling venison out on the back patio. The winter was so warm that the carrots lived through, tucked away in the soil, without even a protective mulch. Voles didn’t find them either. What a spring treat!

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Brussels Sprouts with blanket of snow

Brrr! These guys don't mind though

We woke up to an inch of fresh wet snow this morning–the hills around had 3 inches. It was wet ‘warm’ snow though, and these brussels sprouts don’t mind it. I love cold hardy plants!

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Milo surveys the onions

Milo surveys the onions, and reminds me that they need fertilizer

We’re growing onion transplants galore this year. Milo seems to think they’re his for plucking, but I’m trying to teach him otherwise. We have yellow storage onions, big sweet onions, beautiful red onions, leeks, shallots and scallions.

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Merk Forest in March

You can tell they're all related, huh? Kyle is our friend on the left

Milo likes the door of our cabin at Merk Forest

We spent the last weekend in March at Merk Forest in Vermont with Missy, Moriah, Isaiah and Kyle. Maple syrup season ended early this year because of the crazy warm spring, so they weren’t boiling sap when we were there. The tree tubes were still strung all over the hillsides though, like IV lines to hospital patients. Our weekend had more seasonal weather, with a little overnight snow and clouds. We were glad for the cabin’s cozy wood stove!

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Harvesting carrots, blanket for beets

We picked up these leaves and put a nice deep blanket on the garlic for the winter.

A wagon ride is always fun!

We harvested the rest of our carrots and beets, sweetened by the frosts, and are storing them in the garage where we can get at them even after the snow flies.

The cheeky garlic were poking their green noses up through the soil. Too early little ones, best to stay under the soil for the cold winter! So Milo and I covered them with a nice thick blanket of maple leaves.

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Riding on Mommy

This is how I get work done!

There’s not much I can’t do with Milo on my back! This is how women all over the world function with their babies, and Milo loves it. He’s happiest riding with me doing whatever I’m doing, whether it’s making dinner, cleaning the house, or working in the garden.

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Moving the tunnel

First step-removing the plastic and picking every good tomato that's left inside. Taste of Tioga has been rescheduled (due to the Flood) for Nov 3rd, so these last cherry tomatoes are destined for TOT salad.

Second and third steps–pounding in the anchor posts and fitting the bows onto them

Fourth step--tying the "purlin" down the center of the bows.

Yesterday we moved the “caterpillar” tunnel from its summer location over tomatoes, basil, eggplant and peppers to its winter location protecting the baby spinach. Jeremiah offered to help, so he did most of the anchor pounding before he went out hunting–’tis the season.

A couple years ago we built a similarly-styled tunnel at Muddy Fingers Farm (part of my Cornell Extension job). Check out our construction video to get a sense of how the tunnel is put together.

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Baby spinach!

Planted Sept 15, this baby spinach is almost ready to harvest

We’ve had a mild fall thus far, and the spinach, planted Sept 15, is growing well. Should have nice baby spinach at Thanksgiving….if any local restaurants are open and interested by then. Most are still cleaning up from the Sept 8th flood. Pretty soon I’ll move the caterpillar tunnel off the summer tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, and on to this new planting of spinach. It should make it through the darkest days of the winter and start growing again for early spring harvests.

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Cover crops for winter

Nice green cover for the soil over the winter

Most veggie gardens look kind of brown by this time of year, but wherever I can I like to plant oats to keep the soil covered over the winter. If I can get them seeded some time in early September they’ll grow this nice lush grass, they’ll be green until somewhere around Christmas, then under the snow in the dead of winter they’ll kick the bucket. Come spring, I have a nice weed-free mulch that’s easy to plant into. It’s good for the soil, giving the soil critters something to eat over the winter and protecting the soil from erosion (for those of us with hillsides). Farmers use other types of cover crops that actually live through the winter and begin growing again in the spring–some even fix nitrogen–but since I don’t have much of a plow, I like to use oats that conveniently die all by themselves, without any work on my part.

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