Breaking out the winter wardrobe. The cold front that moved in yesterday has dropped the early morning temp below 50 which is my pain point. That means long sleeve shirts, sweat shirts and pants, and lined jeans. Wooly socks. Put away the shorts and flip flops. I have really jumped into the jungle clearing now since the cool weather puts down the bugs and lets me work at my normally fierce pace without breaking a sweat.
I need another month of warm weather to bring in the warm weather crops – the squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans. I think I’ll make it on everything, especially if I start thinking green tomatoes. About half the garden is in winter crops and by Christmas that will be up to 100%. Up until now the garden has been a nice hobby but now I have to get serious about it. I don’t normally go to the grocery store and when I do, I hit the wine aisle or the deli while Nancy does the real shopping. For some reason this week we were in a big hurry and Nancy told me to go over to the produce section and pick up a green pepper. While there I happened by the broccoli and was blown away by the price – $2.50 for a small head. I continued scanning prices and noticed that a small head of cauliflower was $2.89. Wow, but the real show stopper was a small package of turnips. Turnips are something you should get for free or at least have to get a service cart to move a dollars worth. The package couldn’t have been a pound and was $3.09. They didn’t have any snow peas or sugar snap peas so I can only imagine what they’re going for. All of a sudden I view my garden through a different set of glasses. I’m looking at $100 worth of Broccoli and cauliflower alone. With no exaggeration, there will be several hundred dollars worth of goodies coming out of the garden between now and Christmas and just as much between Christmas and April Fools Day.
My next move is to start some exotics. Exotics are vege’s that nobody has ever heard of. I have one semi- exotic now – kohlrabi. A friend put me onto those in Salt Lake about 30 years ago. I noticed that they now have purple kohlrabi but I’m growing the conventional white ones now. In my sights are purple and orange cauliflower and something called Romenesque. Romanesque is a cauliflower looking veg but instead of a rounded head, this is a bizarre, peaky, swirly kind of lime green green head. And I’ll move on to the less widely known lettuce varieties, of which there are literally hundreds. In a nod to Nancy, I’ll put in collard greens with the understanding that I don’t have to eat them.
The weather patterns finally changed and we’ve moved hard into fall. That means that wave after wave of cold fronts move in from the northwest every couple of weeks. Generally each one gets progressively stronger with frost happening usually in Dec and January. For the past week it’s been dry, clear, and cool. We’ve gone from slightly above average, mid to upper 80’s, down to a below average mid 70’s with night time temps in the 50’s. A really welcome change but I could still use a month with slightly higher temps. It’s been so cool that I finished up the garden, working a piece at a time, and have it about 90% planted out now. This week I put in peas and lettuce and will finish off with a couple rows of beets. Should be doing the first harvesting next week – string beans. Tangerines turning orange; grapefruit turning yellow – what could be better. This temperature drop sweetens the fruit just at the right time. Greyhounds.
Something quite interesting and surprising happened the past two days while working the garden. What I’ve been doing is digging down about 8-10â€ with a hand tool and picking out rocks and gravel by hand. Real drudge work. To give you a feel for the amount of gravel – an area of maybe 10 SF gets me a full wheel barrow full of gravel and I’ve done maybe 80 SF in the past week. I’m guessing that’s 400 lbs of gravel. I use the gravel to fill in low spots in the driveway so that’s a bonus. Anyway, yesterday I’m digging down to loosen up the ground and my hand is deep in the dirt when I wrap around something soft. It was a shock to the system when I pulled out a toad – living and breathing. He (or she) was quite alive and seemingly living under ground. No apparent entrance or exit hole. I pitched him a few feet and he just sat there watching me. I had also unearthed a couple of insects and he quickly gobbled them up. The next morning I return to the same general area and there he is a few feet away. I started digging and he hopped over closer and waited for me to dig up more insects which he quickly dispatched. So I now have a pet toad. Honestly, when I go to the garden now, where ever he is, he hops over to me. I wonder if I grabbed him up and fed him to my pet bass…………. Nah, couldn’t do it we’ve already bonded and maybe now that I’ve dug him up he’ll return the favor and gobble up whatever bugs are attacking the cabbage.
Funny story. Nancy has a euphemism she used with the kids when it was time for them to go to bed. She would say â€œit’s time to go to Lilly White’s Feather Ballâ€. I always assumed it was something her mother or grandmother had used on her as a youngster. And it was. She said it conjures up images of clouds and white feathers and sleepy kind of things. Last night she asked me if I was familiar with the term as a kid and I told her no, that it was something I assumed was a New York thing or maybe a German thing since her mother and Grandmother were German. The reason she was asking was that a friend of hers in Salt Lake, Barbara Jones, had been commissioned (I think) to write a children’s book and was thinking of using â€œlilly White’s Feather Ballâ€ as the title. She had asked Nancy if she knew the origin, I assume for copy write purposes. Barbara is very creative and I guess the book would somehow hook to a line of fabric or maybe a quilt pattern. Anyway, I suggested that Nancy Google â€œLilly White’s Feather Ballâ€ to see if maybe there was already a book with that title. She did and found that Lilly White was a stripper in NY and used a feather ball as a dance prop. Can’t wait to get a copy of the kid’s book and see the material. Wish I could find a picture of Lilly to put on the blog.