routine as routine gets

lovely weather lately, sunshine, mid 60s-70s most of the time.
the rain finally went away and things have dried out enough that i can get back to the drainage project. it is much easier to redig than dig the first time. what took me about ten days to reach before i've already passed in one day.
the challenge this time around is that there is standing water in a part of the trench and that makes for slippery and sticky clay digging, pretty much have to scrape the shovel clean with a trowel i keep handy for the task every few shovels full. i'd hoped i had the slope set right for drainage just by eyeballing it the first time around and was just about to run the level string and check it when we had the heavy rains that put the pause on. after the heavy rain with much of it slumped i wasn't up to digging again until i recovered from illness and the weather dried out enough. i had plenty of other things to keep me busy...
a few more days and i should be back to where i was and perhaps can get the tubes down and it partially filled back in so that if more rains do come again it won't be such a mess.
that is the joy of doing things in stages by hand. we don't have an easy way to get any equipment back there and by far, in terms of health for my back, the exercise of digging is much better for me. especially when i can take breaks and watch the dragon flies or have fun observing a crayfish try to get the burrow emptied of debris that i've knocked in... amazing creatures that live so far down in the clay, they follow the water table as it goes up and down and when they surface in the winter/spring months the raccoons try to catch them out...
before heading out to dig yesterday i was able to pick another round of dry beans from the plants that have finished up pods lately. those will be drying further inside (as i've found out the chipmunks and mice will raid the box tops once i stack them in the garage. after picking dry beans i enjoyed some nice cherry tomatoes from the vine. they are still going strong with no hard frosts (the golden variety we have planted) but in contrast the sweet 100s gave up weeks ago.
i'm still finding plenty of new varieties/crosses in the dry bean shelling. very interesting this year compared to all of the previous seasons.
the few gardens i managed to get taken care of for the fall are up and sprouted and look nice with some green cover. i'm so not used to grasses, it looks strange, crying out for a haircut. :)
that's about it for news on the gardens, in recent readings i've continued the Biosphere 2 theme and have enjoyed the various perspectives from the different authors. i have been reading them in order of publication date the most recent was _Dreaming the Biosphere: the Theatre of All Possibilities_ by Rebecca Reider.
oh, yes, we've finished the canning for the season. plenty of tomatoes stocked up again and some apple sauce and pickled beets.
whatchu been upto?
songbird
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The garden was so-so this year. An early promise of heat fizzled out, and the garden responded accordingly. I'm still picking tomatoes, and cucumbers, but the peppers never really got the heat that they needed.
Work-wise, the grape harvest was the quickest I've ever experienced. We in the lab stayed on a 5 day schedule with 1 to 2 hours of overtime/day, but the cellar crew got hammered with no days off for 2 weeks, and regularly running 12 hour+ days. Even the cellar master said he didn't want to play anymore, but he immediately recanted, fearful, I'm sure, that the statement may find its way to judgmental ears.
Ah, the joys of agriculture.
--
Palestinian Child Detained
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Billy wrote: ...

hmm, here it is currently running 8-15 degrees above average in the forecast up until at least Tuesday night. a few chances of rain. the earliest being Saturday night, so i'll be out digging as much as i can the next three days. just imagine me being covered in mud (happily so :) ).
my effort to spread the standing water out so that it would soak in looks to have just made the mess even larger. i'll just head further down and scrape it out another layer and see if i can get it to flow all the way out. i guess that would be the price i pay for not running a level string to begin with, but having a level string in the way when digging isn't much fun.
peppers did ok here this year. a few red peppers fermented on the plants and reminded me of tobasco sauce. and i can still say that i consider yellow peppers not worth the space as they had little flavor. we had plenty for both stuffed green peppers and for making salsa.

Ma always says "Feast or phantom." when she really means "Feast or famine." i guess if you are in famine then phantom may not be far behind.
at least he didn't decant. :)
and survival isn't overrated... on to another year. cheers,
songbird
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songbird wrote:

After almost the warmest winter on record I am getting hot inland winds, unseasonable high temperatures and no rain now for over three months. The ground is so hard I cannot push in a pig-tailed picket.

I've been reading the history of the valley where I live. I discovered (among many things) that we had a gold rush in the late 1800s that multiplied the population by a factor of 6 or more and was gone in a few years. They built a whole township including eight pubs (there are only two in town today) but there is nothing to be seen on the site now.

With great regret I have to stop cutting the asparagus :( Not long now for globe artichokes :)
I spend my days dragging round hoses and irrigating to try to get some kind of spring growth on my orchard and gardens. At least the river is still running and I can pump from it. The big subterranean sponge is just about dry, another month of this and my horses will be very hungry. But by then I could be complaining about the mud......
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

i sure hope you'll get some decent rains soon.

not that much of a deposit for them to continue if it only went a few years... sedimentary?
around here the history is mostly natives, logging, and coal mines (underground seams). not much sign of any of that either on the surface. forests reclaim land fairly quickly around here.

with it being so dry did you manage much of an asparagus harvest?

good luck with the rains, i sure hope you'll get some before too long.
songbird
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songbird wrote:

Some alluvial and some in seams, apparently the deposit was quite rich but very localised and when it ran out the miners all headed off to the next big strike elsewhere.

Due to watering it was OK but not great. The fronds are all blowing over in the wind now...
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

leaving behind the bakers, barbers, bankers, bars and a few larger bellies...

i'm not sure how easily it spreads by seeds but so far i've not been able to get "wild" asparagus to take when i've harvested seeds and then scattered them, but then we don't have much prime space for them to grow. purely whimsical and hoping to increase their population.
songbird
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Birds spread the seeds here. Anywhere there is a shrub that the little fruit/seed eating birds hide in there will be asparagus seedlings underneath.
D
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On 10/9/2013 11:19 AM, songbird wrote:

Harvested a lot of chestnuts. So many that I left most for the deer.
Harvested a deer but not one of the ones eating my chestnuts. Looking forward to fried back straps and chestnut soup.
Tomatoes scant due to very wet summer. Very good for the other farmers though.
Wonder if the rain hurt the stinkbug invasion. They seem scant this year. I had quit growing peppers because of them. Maybe next year.
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Frank wrote: ...

do you use the leftovers as garden fertilizer?

ours ripened slowly, but came in well at the end. a few plants are still out there finishing up the last of their crop, some new flowers.

not seen that sort of damage here as of yet. this summer we did have some red peppers ferment on the plant, but the cause was likely some cooler and wetter spells. our harvest was enough but not the usual three or four rounds, but more like two to three rounds.
songbird
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On 10/12/2013 1:16 AM, songbird wrote:

Chestnut husks are tossed in bushes. They can still prick your fingers even a year later. Real PITA. My back yard is semi wild in that neighbors either leave in wild state or infrequently cut grass and never fertilize or kill weeds so I don't have to pick them all up. Shells go in the trash.
Deer leave plenty of fertilizer and can leave back yard looking like a stock yard. You have to clean your shoes when coming in the house and chestnuts need to be washed off.
Stink bugs started in PA and have been moving out. A couple of years ago my peppers were smaller and mottled due to their being pierced by the stinkbugs. Number of stinkbugs appears to be way down and I wonder if natural predators have moved in. There was talk of using a small wasp on them.
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Derald wrote:

i've got tons of fresh pea pods out there, wish i had either energy or time to harvest them. :)

you folks aren't big on tomatoes anyways...
we've had a few plantings like that too. cucumber vine would wax and wane and produce just enough to keep it where it was.

yay for good horse poo! :) it smells so much better than chicken or pig and is almost as good as fresh cow pats for aroma. growing up next to a dairy farm makes me roll the window down when i drive by a well run dairy (when most others will be rolling the windows up). smells like home...

deadheading to prevent the spread of the seeds? which wildflower?

it is getting there. 100ft today is all cleared out and ready for tomorrow morning's final check of the slope before i put down the two drain tubes. muddy work all week, the high water table, springs, kept me dancing to avoid getting stuck. some times it was easier to just use the trowel to move mud instead of scraping it off the shovel and my shoes every few minutes.
good clean mud fun. :) and i got to see more crayfish including one with eggs today and froggies trying to get ready to hibernate for the winter.
the next higher 50ft section will have to wait until next year as it is more important to get the lower part situated and the berm built up before we have winter/spring chances of flooding.
songbird
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Derald wrote:

Ma picked some today and we had them with onions, garlic and shrimpies.

we were sitting in the grass and popping the larger pods open as we picked. i.e. we understand... :) i had to plant more in the middle of summer after the chipmunks suddenly discovered them and cleaned out the patch i had growing. we got this patch first (actually the lawnmower got most of them as they were growing and flopping into the grass). the chipmunks were working instead on the edamame soybeans that were getting dry. i managed to get the last of those soybeans picked yesterday and the day before so now the little buggers are going to have to work harder again to get a meal.
which reminds me i need to check the golden flax plants tomorrow...

:) if you don't use several gallons every once in a while. when Ma cooks it tends to involve quantities larger than a quart or two. it wouldn't be a minor expense.
plus there's a difference between your place and ours as we can't grow winter crops without getting into major expenses.

horse power was invoved in more than one form. :) or you ride horses not the clutch.

i'm not familiar with either plant or what insects tend to visit them. when i get back on-line i'll see if i can check 'em out...
i was very happy to regain a low spot that had been covered with carpeting this past spring. that's a few more square yards of green space returned to some kind of planting. as it is downhill from the primary weed seed generation grassy strip it's not easy to keep clear and it is low so it needs plants that can withstand being submerged from time to time. grasses, clovers and the original planting i liked in there (moneywort or creeping charlie i think it was called) is the mix that i will try to encourage. the space is a really wild challenge as it does get flooded from time to time (as designed) but it also goes fairly dry in the middle of the summer so we need plants that can survive such a wide range of conditions. if i'm lucky i can get some of the moss roses (the decorative kind :) ) to get going in there too. we'll avoid the mint family, oregano or thyme as we have so much of those in other gardens.
the large drainage project is humming along. we have filled most of it back in and the small berm along the field is now being relocated into filling the trench. most of what was used to build up that small berm came from me expanding the capacity of the trench so moving it back to fill is just another round of the usual. :) over the years Ma would pile debris on that small berm and she was commenting on how nice the soil was and how many worms were in there. next, building the new berm...
songbird
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