New post on Laura Bruno's Blog
I had finally whittled down our fifth huge pile of wood chips to perhaps one or two afternoons' work. After a long day of sessions and calls to volunteers for our local food security week events (which have turned into two weeks of events!), I walked outside to get the mail. Dale, the man building our next door neighbors two new porches, cracked up as he watched my jaw drop and heard a loud cry escape my throat. This is the scene that greeted me:
I really did almost break into tears right then and there, because I had completely forgotten about asking the man who maintains the apartments on the other side of us to dump a huge pile of leaves "anytime this Fall." Ohhhhh, man! Have I mentioned I'm actually looking forward to winter? ;) Anyway, in sighing about this huge pile of extra work to David's mom, she explained to me that the leaves came from their yard and to "take good care of them." We joked about her helping me move them, but through the joking I learned that in all seriousness, the guy who maintains the apartments' yard also maintains David's parents' yard, and he specially mulched them for better gardening use. Sure enough, when I returned home and mustered enough courage to inspect the leaves, they were well chopped and already clumped. Since I had just the day prior to delivery said to David, "I really need some leaves for the raised beds!" I can't complain. "Ask and you shall receive" is seriously evident in my life these days. Almost immediately so.
Yesterday, the "Bed Bed" (a repurposed Sleep Number bed frame) got a couple inches of compost and several inches of leaves:
Once I realized that I could use whatever leaves I want now and then bag them up for another round in Spring, I relaxed about the work. It's windy! Not the best time for figuring out where to put all these leaves. Plus, I have a wood mulch clearance deadline of early next week, so this will work out just fine. Rotted leaves made excellent mulch this Spring, keeping our beds moist and dandelion-free. The plants really love all the nutrients from the leaves as they begin to break down. While cleaning up the Bed Bed, I harvested this giant green onion I had replanted from the store this Summer:
We had the white part of the onion last night in a homemade spaghetti sauce David made from some Farmers Market peppers, homegrown tomatoes (fresh, dehydrated, frozen puree with oregano), and co-op mushrooms, served over peeled zucchini "fettucini." Um, wow! David makes the best sauce and soups! (I'm sure all the fresh, local, organic produce doesn't hurt, either.)
Meanwhile, back in the yard, David was also the master engineer for errant, flying cold frames. Ours is now expertly anchored on all four corners, plus it has a 4-tarp "skirt" to block those nasty drafts that can damage plants even more than snow or frost. Did you know that snow is actually an effective winter mulch for cold hardy plants? "Four-Season Harvest" by Eliot Coleman will tell you all about that and more. Anyway, it's not the prettiest thing we've ever seen, but it has stayed in place despite our crazy Northern Indiana gusts:
In the back, you can see a repurposed sheer shower curtain protecting my tree collards until I figure out what to do with them. They were some of our favorite eating this year, but they're not hardy in Zone 5b unless you can get them buried and majorly mulched. Ours haven't re-rooted yet, so I'm a bit nervous to smother them. Mr. Gnome kindly oversees the whole shower curtain operation, carrying fire wood just in case those plants need a bit of extra warmth:
Our rosemary also got "fleeced" last night, and it will continue to do so until Yours Truly gets motivated enough to dig it up and pot it inside for the Winter. Poor, non-cold-hardy rosemary. If only you weren't so pretty and delicious smelling, you wouldn't need to look so silly:
In the background -- above -- you can see another raised bed happily leaf mulched. Look at those calendula go!
Calendula flowers, ruby chard, French sorrel, parsley, oregano and kale ... one diverse, happy family
Inside, I've got tarragon and chocolate mint drying alongside a Lone Alaskan Pea Pod! (I planted those too late in the season, in a spot too shaded by my crazy huge lemongrass plant, and I'm sorry to say, I've completely neglected watering them for weeks. That we have any peas is a miracle. We have more growing, but I doubt they'll handle this weeks cold temps.)
According Eliot Coleman, fresh peas from the garden are enough reason in and of themselves to justify an entire season of gardening. I guess we'll see about that tonight! Acorn squash, the Lone Alaskan Pea Pod, and a whole messa greens. Mmmmmmm, can't wait. I do love fresh food and pretty flowers. LOL, can you tell?