Frosty mornings and a Long Todo List

>> Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last nights temp dipped to 35F! Arrgh, this is coming on all too quickly. I still have so much to do.

Perennials need to be trimmed, seeds collected.

I just read a very timely and informative blog called Choosing Voluntary Simplicity about growing Hollyhocks. In the article Shirley informs us that she collects seeds from her Hollyhocks and I thought, duh, why didn’t I think of that. I am still such a newbie at this stuff that I didn’t even get this idea on my list of things to do.

I don’t have nearly the collection of Hollyhocks Shirley has (and it is a beautiful collection), but I hope to correct that oversight.

My one lonely Hollyhock needs company. So, I’m going to see to it that next year it will be surrounded by more beautiful Hollyhocks.

Since I have never collected seeds before I’m a little stressed over getting to them before freezing weather kills them off. Her instructions on how to handle the seeds and store them has given me confidence to go for it.

My compost pile needs to be spread out into the beds where it will do the most good. This clay soil desperately needs this stuff every year to improve its poor drainage. After that, I’ll be able to empty about half my freezer of all the compost material I’ve been collecting over the past few weeks. It really is amazing how much compostable stuff my wife and I can create. For instance, I drink several cups of coffee a day which creates quite a bit of coffee grounds along with the paper filters. We eat a lot of vegetables so the trimmings from all of that adds up. Egg shells, extra pancakes (because I can’t seem to make just enough for two of us).

Yesterday, I made Butternut Squash soup from a recipe our daughter gave us which created even more leftovers for the compost pile. By the way, I saved the seeds from the squash. Just remove all the pulp, lay them out in a cookie sheet for 3-4 days, turning them once a day. Then put them in a paper bag, inside a plastic bag and keep them in the fridge or freezer until next spring. From what I have read these should keep for a couple of years. Tip: place a few seeds in a wet paper towel inside a plastic bag and see if they sprout after a few days. This way you know the seeds you are keeping are viable.

This morning I cut up a cantaloupe my sister-in-law gave me and I will save these seeds as well. Plus, more for the compost pile.

The tomatoes need to be covered, still a bunch of green ones after our huge harvest two days ago. Whatever is left will go to the, you guessed it, compost pile.

This year I think I may plant some cover crop in my vegetable beds. This will be another ‘first’ for me. I used to think my space is too small for such things but I figure size really shouldn’t matter. I’m sure the benefits will be worth it, even if it is not on a grand scale. A couple of suggestions are Hairy Vetch, Winter Rye.

From Organic Gardener: ‘You must kill your cover crops before they set seed and the top growth gets out of control. That's right, kill them.’ Now this just scares me. I can picture myself not getting to the crops in time and having Hairy Vetch all over my backyard. Mowing is not an option because these will be planted in raised beds. Maybe I can use a weed whacker or pruning shears.

Oh, a very important point I just stumbled upon, some cover crops such as rye are allelopathic, which means they inhibit seed germination. Great to know BEFORE buying a bag of rye. Now I need to research which cover crops don’t inhibit seed germination.

Well, I’ve procrastinated enough. So, with my coffee mug held tightly in my fist, it’s time to face the chilly morning and plan my day.


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