Monday, October 31, 2016

Remembering an early snow (and fall greens)

It's hard to imagine in this warm, dry fall that two years ago, on Halloween night, we had an early snow.

It was lovely, to be sure, although unexpected.

This year, faced with increasing drought, and extended warmth, it seems so different.  I don't even want to look at the U.S. Climatic Center's forecast -- I don't think it's good in terms of rain or temperature.

My less-experienced gardening friends are musing about whether they should transplant shrubs, perennials, or sow winter veggies seeds, lulled by the warmth, and the extended season.

It's scary.

Southside Community Garden at the Edington Center, Asheville, NC
But my greens in the raised beds are flourishing, even with low light, and the community garden where I volunteer is filled with winter greens.

part of last Wednesday's harvest


Monday, October 24, 2016

A curious mushroom

Watering seems to have become a normal activity this year, even as temperatures drop.  But I was surprised, even though I WAS watering, to see these mushrooms pop up from the mulch, adjacent to my bean trellises.


Quite curious, although I'm sure mushroom folks will recognize them immediately!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall color

Fall color in the Eastern U.S. is a touchstone of seasonal change. We wait, we watch, and we wonder if it will be a good fall color year.

About a month ago, I posted about some of the factors determining fall color.

Since then, it's continued to be very dry, in the mountains of Western North Carolina --we're actually in severe drought status after only an inch of rain since Sept. 1.

But nevertheless, at higher elevations today, on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain, the fall color was spectacular.  We'd had an email suggesting that this was an outstanding year, and it didn't disappoint.


Here were my buddies admiring the amazing view!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A luminous Japanese maple

Heading off on an after-dinner walk, I noticed our neighbors' Japanese maple has turned a wonderfully brilliant red.

I guess the 40° F-ish lows over the last few nights triggered anthocyanin production, as it certainly wasn't so brilliant in the last few days.

A vibrant Japanese maple

Friday, October 14, 2016

An amazing harvest, so for!

I've been a volunteer at the Southside Community Garden since last spring.  It's been a great experience, although definitely not my sort of small-scale intensive veggie gardening.

Tabulating the harvest so far, we had almost 800 lbs of vegetables, from spring to fall.

Impressive!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Aromatic aster

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Aromatic aster) is a great late-fall flowering plant. It's been a great addition to the pocket meadow, and is looking particularly good this year.

Aromatic aster with Rudbeckia

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Southside Community Garden workday


Saturday, Oct. 8, was a special workday at Southside Community Garden, with a focus on putting in drip irrigation and adding a hoophouse for season extension.  We also planted garlic, spread wood chips (courtesy of the local tree trimmers), and enjoyed a cool overcast day in the garden.

Here's a link to an album with some of my favorite images.



Saturday, October 8, 2016

A lovely work day at a local community garden

There will be more photos linked to this, I'm sure, as soon as I can figure out a way to post multiple images in an album on FB, but there were plantings of garlic, establishment of drip irrigation, and the raising of a hoop house today, all thanks to volunteer efforts.

Mom and son planting garlic

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Growing your own vegetables and abundant food

I live in a country with abundant food, to be sure.

We can buy practically anything that we want to eat, of course, if we have the $$.

And, at least in my food-centric and food-aware community, our regional and local food pantries have plenty of food of various quality, if you have need and can get to the distribution centers, whether they're non-profit fresh food distributors like the YMCA's Healthy Living food pantry and mobile distribution, or directly from Manna (our major regional food bank distributor). 


I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last 6 months, as I've volunteered at a community garden in the Southside of Asheville, a low-wealth community, but one with resilience and promise.

Does a community garden make a difference?  Well, I don't really know.  I hope so!

The non-profit organization that loosely oversees the community garden received a Kresge planning grant last April as part of their FreshLo grant initiative -- a new one, using food, nutrition, arts, and healthy living to promote community.

I've marvelled at how productive this garden is, in its second season.  Scary, really, as we can barely keep harvesting and maintaining the garden with the ~ 6 or so regular volunteers (my friend and I are newbies this season).

But the harvest keeps going into the Southside Kitchen, which serves free/by donation meals 4 times a week, to large groups.

But I'm also mindful that it's hard work harvesting in a production garden, unlike my own small raised garden space (we're hard-pressed to eat everything that it produces, truth be told).

Snipping lettuce mix from long rows, cutting abundant Swiss chard, harvesting okra, etc. has both my hands and hips complaining.  This is not easy work.

Nor will building the hoop house on Saturday, I think.  Picking up supplies today (lots of 2X4's) was heavy work for me, I'm afraid.  Geez, I need to get back to lifting weights, I guess.

But, my thoughts this evening are really around Big Food, as Michael Pollan writes about today in the NYT, vs Small Food, which is the emerging local farms/local growing movement, which is still small, but growing.

These are thoughts which will continue to percolate.

Yes, I can buy a beautiful red bell pepper for $2 at my local supermarket from Mexico (and can't grow anything that looks even close to it, in my warm summer climate), although I can grow nice poblanos, pimentos, etc.  Should I not buy it?

I have a personal initiative about always eating from my garden first, before buying other vegetables, but onions, garlic, mushrooms, and peppers, are frequently extra additions.  Add to that potatoes, rice, wheat flour, etc.

I ground wheat berries into flour recently for some quite delicious muffins, but I didn't grow the wheat -- I wouldn't have had the space.

All musings, to be sure.
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