Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An almost full moon

It would have been a great time for a full moon hike this month. The moon has been glorious - luminous and glowing over the last few evenings.

Tomorrow night, it's full. Temperatures are moderate now, but they could have just as easily been overly cool and chilly. And the nocturnal symphony is largely quiet now, too, making evening hikes not quite as rich.

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Final evening sounds

Coming home from the grocery store this evening, I heard some of the final evening songs of fall -- whether they're crickets or tree frogs, I'm not sure. 

We had a good freeze on Saturday night, so I was surprised to hear them, although the warm temperatures before (and after) have buffered the dip in temperature.

The moon is already luminous in the evening, even though not full until Thursday.  It was low in the sky, so visible -- it would have been a great time to schedule a full moon hike, but who knew it would be so mild?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

late November vegetables

November greens have been a high point of an otherwise quiet gardening period, distracted by dog-sitting and coursework.

The Hakurei turnips continue to amaze me. Even unthinned, they've been remarkably productive (and tasty!)

Without a hard frost, the arugula has continued to flourish -- it's remarkably tasty as a cooked green, which tones down the heat-induced bite of the raw leaves, especially the larger ones.

I've been waiting to harvest much of the kale, since it's one of the cold-hardiest greens, and supposedly tastes better, too, after being subjected to cold weather. 

But probably equally important, it's also really attractive next to the parsley, leeks, and chard!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ginkgo fall colors

a luminous ginkgo
From my study window, the ginkgo under the power line corridor is amazing right now -- both from the study and our bedroom.  We planted it almost 20 years ago, so it's tall now.  And beautiful this year.

view from my study

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hakurei turnips

LW harvesting turnips
I've been ridiculously pleased with the turnips in my raised beds in the mountains.

I'm not sure exactly when I sowed the seeds (my search for blog posts about turnips resulted in this array of disparate thoughts about turnips and other greens), but it was sometime in late summer.

There were at least five (maybe six) weeks that I didn't get back to the mountains at all this fall, between traveling and tending to Woody.

But I've been recently harvesting turnips, for sure.  Amazing.  I didn't do anything for almost six weeks and have harvested huge amounts of Hakurei turnips (Japanese white turnips) and their greens.

Here was a (final) small bunch harvested today from one of the beds (I transplanted Tuscan kale into all of empty spots and am hoping for rain overnight and tomorrow to keep the plants well-hydrated!)  And I still have another block of turnips to harvest, too.  Not thinned, so the turnip roots are modestly-sized, but the tops are lovely.


Turnips are ridiculously easy to grow

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fall's ebb and flow

It was cooler today, and with the time change, it's now dark earlier in the evening.

Happily, in late afternoon, light streams into the living room and dining room, as the sun is lower in the sky as fall progresses, so it was lovely to spend time there late today. 

My study is in shadow by then, as is the kitchen, so it's a joy to be experiencing the light out front, being surrounded by the woodland garden and forest.

view from the side gate
I love the view from our front rooms and porch every year in fall and winter, as the light illuminates the rooms.

Here's a post from 2009 and another along the same lines.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fall greens and peppers

I'd figured that the vegetables in the mountain beds would have been frosted by now (it was supposedly below freezing last week). But an unexpected weekend found flourishing greens (unconsumed by woodchucks or other herbivores) and a final crop of ripe peppers, most 'Pizza' - a favorite thick-walled pepper and a few sweet frying peppers, along with some ripe 'Big Jim.'

Amazingly, the peppers hadn't been affected much by frost, but I went ahead and pulled up the plants, not knowing when frost might hit. Vegetables in the front garden are pretty darn visible in an urban environment!

I was delighted to see robust beds of Japanese turnips, producing heavily in spite of not being thinned. Yum. Delicious at lunch today. Fresh sweet turnips, especially these thin-skinned ones, along with their mild greens are an unexpected treat. Deer selectively ate their way through turnips, broccoli, collards, French sorrel (!), spinach, and lettuce in the Piedmont (roughly in that order), so I was really happy to see the abundance in the mountains. Lots of red chard, beet greens, and arugula are flourishing as well.

Herbivore note: in my experience (so far), woodchucks and deer are not interested in garlic, leeks, peppers, onions or potatoes. In previous years, woodchucks have eaten cilantro and arugula first, then moved on to other greens. We've only had deer 'issues' in the last couple of years, as their populations have built up in the Piedmont (and we live in town). This year, in their drop-by and sporadic visits, they've ignored both arugula and cilantro, bypassing them for French sorrel, which is remarkably tart. They seem to enjoy sorrel, though, as they're coming up right next to the house to enjoy it in the main vegetable garden bed outside the kitchen door.

A flourishing bed of greens and herbs
 

ripe 'Pizza' peppers
 

Japanese turnips
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Interpretation, gardening, and programs

In my trajectory as a garden educator, interpreter, and teacher, I've found a couple of basic truths. (I had a lovely experience this morning doing a program for 20 graduating Master Naturalists).

It's not about the information, rather it's about connection.

It's about engagement, not content.

It's not about what you know, but how you teach.

And taking advantage of teachable moments, where ever they happen is key.

We saw a Cooper's Hawk today in our morning walk, probably attracted by migrants coming through the Garden. I certainly hadn't seen one in the Garden before.  It first sat on a fence rail above the Duck Pond and then swooped below one of the ginkgoes up the slope, trying to nab something beneath a Salvia clump.

We couldn't see if the hawk was successful, but s/he then perched on top of a nearby sign for awhile.

A teachable moment, for sure.  I wouldn't have known that it was a Cooper's Hawk, but a naturalist from a local state park was part of our group (he's one of the regular teachers).
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