I’m at it again, trying to finish a quick post before the sun comes up. The house is quiet and dark except for when Merry, our old tortoiseshell cat with one purple eye, occasionally scratches at the glass back door. She is spoiled for an egg for her breakfast every morning, but I haven’t given it to her yet. I sat down to write, and by golly, I’m going to write! 😉
Well. It’s quiet except for Scout, who is busy “thrashing about” (as my Dad would say) out on the sunporch with me. Every 23 seconds or so, I must get up and correct her. To wit: she drags a cereal box out of the trash: “no, no, Scout,” I pull it away from her and put the trash up. She notices Merry at the door, and scratches vigorously on the glass door at her: “Scout–no!” I move her away from the door and give her one of her toys.
She drops the toy, disappears for a minute or two, and returns with a piece of (cough) Amalia’s delicate undergarments in her teeth, shaking it to and fro. I get up (*siiiigh*) again, carefully extricate it from her sharp little teeth (must—not—let–it—rip!) take it back to the bathroom, stuffing it back into the dirty laundry hamper. Meanwhile, Scout has found a piece of packaging bubble wrap, and takes a couple of laps around the room, tossing her head and popping the plastic bubbles.
Finally she flops down on the floor next to me, making sure to lean heavily against my leg, and continues to chew on the bubble wrap. “Pop . . . pop! . . . pop . . . ” Physical touch is surely one of Scout’s love languages, as it surely is one of mine. We complement each other in this way. 🙂 We are on the very same page, you might say, touching-wise.“Pop, pop, pop . . . “ Both of us love bubble wrap, too. But one of us is quiet this morning and one of us is not quiet.
I know better than to say “It could be noisier.” I wasn’t born yesterday, gentle reader.
At least it is quiet outside, though I have the window cracked open so I can hear the coyotes, if they start to howl and yip in the field behind our house. If this happens, I’ll step outside to listen–it’s such a wild sound, and it thrills me to my bones and marrow–and Scout, brushing up against my leg, will growl deep in her throat and maybe give out a tentative throaty bark or two.
Usually by the first of November, most everything outside has been frosted and frozen into a several-months’-long submission. The garden is frozen to a crispy brown, and only needs to be cleaned up and torn down and put to bed.
BUT THIS YEAR is different. While we have had one killing freeze, it didn’t kill nearly everything, and we’ve had weeks—weeks!!–of pleasant warm weather since. New Zealand weather, folks. Pretty near perfect: 70s in the daytime, 40s at night. We are, en masse, pinching ourselves–is it a dream??–but not wasting much time with that, either. There is just simply too much still to do, in the yard and garden department, here in Nebraska. I could easily go out and mow the yard and paths one more time, though I don’t know that I’ll do it. I can hardly believe it, but there are dandelions blooming and going to seed in the yard! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in November before.
I am still harvesting plenty from my garden and hoop house. Look at this beauty:
My conventional farmer friends are nearly finished with harvesting their corn and beans–they’ve been working out in the fields every night until very late–and many of them have cover crops of huge radishes and turnips growing vigorously in between the rows now. I eye those acres of lush green hungrily, not for myself, but for my chooks and piggies. I just know my livestock would love me forever if I had a few bins of those big babies squirreled away for winter. I might have to look into growing some next fall, myself. 🙂
So. 🙂 A bit more garden talk, do you mind? I started writing about my garden in my “fam and farm update” post earlier this week, and then realized that I had way too much to share to just tack it onto the end of that post. In a few weeks, everything will be covered with snow/ice/frost and I’ll come back and remember these sweet days of Indian Summer, borrowed as it were, from early winter’s selfish grasp.
Have you wondered why winter is being so unselfish this year? She has only barely brushed her frosty fingertips across our place twice, and then relinquished her touch to give fall a few more weeks’ revel. I am so grateful. Maybe next year will be just the opposite, and there’ll be 6″ of snow on the ground by Halloween. You just never know.
My tomato plants were too large to cover, and they were nearly finished by the time it froze here, anyway. But I did cover peppers that are in my outdoor garden, and most of my edible flowers and more peppers were fairly protected in my hoop house.
This window of pleasant weather after a freeze is a great time to sow lettuce into cold frames, or a few crops of radishes, or a row of turnips or watermelon radishes in the hoop house. Also it’s a great time to sow a cover crop (as my conventional farmer friends have done with the huge radishes and turnips), for the areas of the garden that are finished and need the attention.
The fun thing is, if you have a hoop house (a full-sized one like I have, or a smaller one, too) and/or cold frames to put into place in the garden, it’s easy-peasy to extend your garden season. Which is great news for a garden-crazy person like me.
You can even buy small kits for making your own mini-hoop house in your garden, where you can plant many of the annual crops I’ve mentioned in this post. They can also be used as protection for your cold-hardy crops–such as beets, turnips, parsnips, winter radishes, cole crops, etc.–for when the temperature dips below freezing. It’s not that hard to do. It keeps you off the streets. And it’s so worth it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to start buying all my fresh veg yet from the grocery store, when I can still grow a bit of it in my garden.
Though it’s November it’s possible to grow a lot of veg with these cool nights and warm(ish) days. It’s perfect weather, in fact, for these lovelies:
Also growing in my garden and/or hoop house: watermelon radishes, beets, spinach, borage, many cole crops (including a new crop, kalettes), rhubarb, edible flowers of dozens of varieties, turnips, peppers, and leeks. It’s a perfect time of year to grow baby kale and lettuces, too, and actually I have some planted, though it hasn’t come up yet. We’ll see if I got it in soon enough! I am grateful to have quite a lot to choose from in planning and cooking our meals. 🙂 Oh yes, and at least a couple dozen types of herbs, too.
I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been selling specialty veg from our place to upscale restaurants in the city all summer, with a group of like-minded farmers in our area. That’s one reason I’ve been such a blogging slacker this summer. 🙂
We call ourselves the Tiny Farms Group because . . . (wait for it!) we all have very small farms, compared to many of the farms in our area of the world. We have a great deal in common: we raise our veg in a sustainable manner; we don’t use synthetic chemicals on our crops; “manure” and “compost” and “cover crops” are musical words to our ears.
We also push our farms to grow through an extended season, using row covers, cold frames (ala Eliot Coleman) , low hoop tunnels, hoop houses and/or green houses. I’ve learned tons from my mentor Gene about farming and running my own business. It has been an awesome summer, and I’ve learned much more from him than I would have learned on my own, absolutely!
This experience has been a perfect fit for me. I enjoy growing interesting varieties of veg in great quantities and (alas) no longer have the large family at home to eat it all. I love making an income from our place, too. We’ve found a ready market in restaurants not far from us for unusual varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers, fresh herbs, eggplants, carrots, beets, etc., and my new favorite thing to grow and harvest: edible flowers.
Plus, it keeps me and the kids off the streets. No more late-night trips for Bryan to the local jail, to pay our bail, after a raucous night of reveling *siiiiigh*. He said it was getting old. I don’t blame him, really.
Since the kids and I started school, and since so much of my garden was nipped back by a hard freeze a couple of weeks ago, my farm offerings have tapered, anyway, and this actually is a blessing–not to the paychecks, but to my sanity.
One tired ole’ farm woman can only do so much, after all.
Do you do any season extending in your own garden? Are you pushing the limits, as it were, for your seasons? I’d loooove to hear about it in the comments below.
Viva le jardin*! say I.
Thanks for popping in–I appreciate you guys and gals!
*Long live the garden!
- Indian Summer at our place: fam and farm updates
- The Brassicas Conundrum and the fall garden surprise they hold