Saturday, October 31, 2020

October's Garden (2020)

This month has been exhausting but very successful.  The rain has continued to fall at perfect times, the first frost arrived on October 15th as scheduled, it was light and only burned a few outer leaves, then it warmed back up so the vegetables managed one last growth spurt.  An October made to order.  

On October 1st, this was the garden, plowed and ready to plant. 

The pile of grass clippings drying on tarps in the back of the garden will now be used.  Collecting and drying this much has been hard work - I WANT A ROUND BALE OF HAY!  I haven't been able to find any for sale close to me. We don't have a truck and they must be delivered with a tractor.

First, the wire hoops were placed to mark the rows, and then grass clippings were put down in the aisles.  Drawing plans on graph paper has never worked for me.  I need to see it with my eyes and design as I go.

The winter garden seedlings were ready and waiting on the front porch.

The back rows were planted first.  Collard greens are my favorite so I started with them.  They are in the left row closest to the fence.  Red beets are scattered around and tiny endives are along the outside edges. The next row to the right of the collards has different kale varieties with lettuce in between.

The collard greens will grow tall, the beets will cover the ground below and the short endive will fit along the edge under the low curve of the hoop house.  Since the weather is still warm, the beet seeds germinated quickly.  When the beets are taller, it will be necessary to weed, cover the soil with grass clippings and then this row will require no more work except harvesting.

The kale row has lettuce between each plant with grass clippings already on the ground.  The kale is tall and will last into the late spring before bolting in summer.  The lettuce is short and so will be harvested first since it isn't as cold hardy.  

The third row over from the fence originally held potatoes in the spring, followed by a watermelon in the summer, and then the assorted unknown greens' seeds were scattered beside the mature vine.  The watermelon is gone and winter seedlings are in its place on the left.  The unknown greens on the right will be harvested soon and that spot will become a walkway.  The row is way too wide to fit under a hoop house.

Surprise!  Another overlooked potato sprouted.  The first one was transplanted to the back of the garden with the other potatoes so I can see if the hoop house helps them.  

The first row on the front left corner moving away frontwards required strategic juggling because plants were still growing but space was needed.  The fence on the left originally held tomatoes (now gone) with a late-planted spaghetti squash twining underneath.  Swiss Chard seedlings were squeezed up against the squash and the Zipper Pea in the back of the row was allowed to continue growing.  

The first frost on October 15th damaged the Zipper Pea plant a bit so on October 21st it was removed and more Swiss Chard seedlings were put in its place. 

The squash that were hanging high on the fence in the open got frostbite but those under leaves on the ground were fine.  As of the end of the month, they still aren't ripe.  Time is up so they have been picked.

UPDATE: Even though they weren't ripe, we ate them anyway.  The only differences were that the flavor was milder and excess water poured out when cut open.

Two more rows of various seedlings are in the middle of the garden.

A thin row of assorted unknown greens was squeezed into the walkway between the Dixie Speckled Butterpeas and the short fence.  Two other short rows were planted at the last minute in other empty spots.

Now ten days later at the end of the month, they are huge!  

From seedlings in cups on the front porch on October 1st to this size on October 30th.  How can a person not grow at least a tiny winter garden?

Now on to the rest of the end of the month garden tour. 

The Tahitian Butternut Squash needs to go! If the weather stays warm (which it won't, 28 (F) will be the low tomorrow night) this monster would take over the yard and swallow the house. Die squash die!

The crazy Lima bean arch collapsed and looks even crazier. Thank goodness we live in the country and this eyesore is in the backyard.

There are so many beans the weight bent the wires.  I planted fewer beans this year than last and oh, what a little rain at the right time will accomplish.

The sweet potatoes in the deep shade under the arch produced almost 10 pounds of roots, much better than I expected. 

Regular potatoes are in the empty spot behind the sweet potatoes. They are the late-planted second crop that I had given up waiting for them to sprout.  It is an experiment to see if I can grow two crops of white potatoes in my zone, (6b - 7a, lower-middle Tennessee, USA).  The gardening charts say it is possible but I am skeptical.  

UPDATE: These out in the open were damaged by the first hard frost and the vines died after the second.

Yesterday we harvested everything left from the summer garden.  We got one small tomato, one okra, a very green pumpkin, Long of Naples, yellow, butternut, Tahitian, and spaghetti squashes. Dixie Butterpeas, Zipper Peas, Lima Beans, Purple Hull Peas, and green beans were picked.  Sweet potatoes were dug.  Dill and cilantro were brought in along with the peppers and cucumbers.

Everything is piled in baskets on my kitchen, laundry, and living room floors.  Today we have been cutting, blanching, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and eating.  It requires a game of Tetris to put anything else in the freezer and I am down to my last seven empty canning jars.  Tomorrow night's killing frost will end the summer garden and I am ready.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Nana Has Been Released

Imagine you are sick, helpless, and have a very short time left to live.  Would you prefer to spend your remaining days with strangers or with family and friends? What if an unknown, unelected, unaccountable government employee had the power to lock you in your bedroom for eight months, declare your family to be parasites, and only allow people they deem "essential" close to you.  They arrogantly decree their draconian rules are for your safety and any questions to the contrary are threatened with fines.  This is the hell my mother has endured.

She is living in a wonderful assisted living facility with the kindest people in the world.  It is where she needs to be, yet, what the government has forced upon all of them in the name of "safety" is unimaginable. 

Due to the coronavirus, the facility was forced to lockdown at the beginning of March "for only two weeks" - a lie straight from the pit of hell.  The front door was closed and none of the inmates were allowed to leave for any reason other than a doctor's appointment; however, "essential" persons by the hundreds could enter and exit at will.  In their off time, they could shop, travel, walk through crowds, spend evenings with family members (who had also been in public places), and then as soon as they clocked in, they magically became "essential."  I am family and labeled "nonessential" therefore, I am hazardous.  

The staff works intimately close with everyone because it is necessary to assist during baths, hair washing, and dressing; however, during lockdown, for some strange reason, haircuts were not allowed. No one could get a haircut even though it is hygienically necessary.  Ask any nurse, they will tell you it is important, but no one asked them because bureaucrats are in charge.

The activity room was deemed off-limits because it might be unsanitary so the daily activities were held in hard metal folding chairs in the middle of the busy hallway where the nursing, maintenance, delivery, kitchen, office staff plus "essential" visitors had to step through the middle.

Meals were no longer allowed in the dining room and were moved to the bedrooms.  That meant all of the services and the personnel performing the work had to shift.  Inside my Mother's bedroom, no fewer than 12 "essential" personnel from three different shifts entered daily yet I could never once step inside the front door.  They were:
  • Morning and evening nurse - administered medications
  • Kitchen staff - delivered and removed three meals.
  • Medical staff - temperature was taken twice daily.
  • Housekeeping - room cleaned once a week and trash removed twice daily.
  • Laundry - picked up and dropped off once a week.
  • Maintenance - changed light bulbs and made other repairs.
  • Activities Director - checked in twice a day in an attempt to encourage socialization and ward off depression.
Every staff member was compassionate because of what had been imposed by tyrants on the helpless people they cared about.  They could see the pain caused by the loneliness but were unable to stop a government with too much power.

In an attempt to alleviate melancholy, the staff moved this couch to the front window. The occupants were able to chat on the phone while their families stood outside the window.  Mother is almost blind and this was not a comfort to her.

Finally, after eight months in jail, Mom was released last weekend...sort of.  I was allowed to visit if I promised to wear a mask, stay at a safe distance, and not touch her.  

I do believe the Chinese Coronoavirus is real and is deadly.  When it first arrived on our shores in February, extreme caution was warranted.  It was an unknown bioweapon and we were unprepared.  Now, our medical doctors have studied it, know how to treat it and the survival rate in the US is 99%.  It has become a pandemic of fear and those in power have capitalized on it to seize more power.  Will we be locked down again every time there is a dangerous flu season?  Never again should we destroy the healthy by quarantining them in hopes of stopping what might or might not happen. This cure is worse than the disease. A freedom relinquished is a freedom lost.  We have lost so many freedoms here in America it is horrifying.  

All I wanted was to be an "essential" person and be allowed to spend a little time with my mother like hundreds of others.  Why was that so bad?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A Lost Turtle

I consider my yard to be mine without realizing it is also home to many other creatures who also claim its ownership.   Earlier this year, we moved the compost pile to the back corner of the garden and put railroad ties around it. There is a permanent tunnel under the fence in this spot leading into the woods and no matter how many rocks or buckets of dirt are dumped, the gap reappears.  The railroad ties seem to have stopped the tunnel digging...for now.  

A big, dangerous snapping turtle showed up confused by the mountain now blocking his normal route into the woods.  He looks like the one which climbed our front yard fence but I'm not sure - they all look the same to me. What a face!

I cleaned out a lower part of the fence row to give him a new path for which he expressed no gratitude. He promptly disappeared. He either wandered under the daylilies or became perfectly camouflaged on the rock but he was gone in seconds. 

Wonder where he will appear next?