Sunday, October 23, 2011

We’re not yet ready to say goodbye to the garden. It was a terrible gardening season – too much water in May and June, none in July and part of August, then way, way too much in late August and September…. and by the way, from the squelch of our shoes in the garden, in October also.

By August, the garden was far more “field of weeds” than “field of dreams.” So after I stacked the wood, I began digging weeds. There were enough to fill the second compost bin to way over the top! Then I dug a garden bed three times. Bill decided to dig it a few times, too. I planted a row of lettuce, a row of beets and a row of swiss chard and kale. The lettuce did not do well, but the others did beautifully…

What if we could keep the garden going just a little longer? My friend Sarah and her husband Chris brought their hoop-bender down and helped us – or rather, we helped them – bend ten 10’ lengths of ½ inch electrical conduit. we stuck these in the soil, and we’ll be putting “remay” row covers over it – probably this week, because it’s getting a bit chilly out there. With luck, we’ll have greens into December, maybe longer.

There are videos on the web that show hoop bending and make it look really instant and easy. They’re missing the sound effects, especially the grunts and groans and “oops!” that had Sarah and myself doing a sort of stumbling dance around Chris who kept yelling, “Is it level? I TOLD you to hold it level! Oh… okay.” It wasn’t instant, but it didn’t take a huge amount of time either. As you can tell from the variety of hoop formats, none of us are experts, though Chris is definitely more expert than the rest of us.

I learned a lot. I thought maybe four hoops would be enough for that row, though we had to buy a bundle of 10. We used almost all of them for the row, and then decided to extend it a little to cover some of our arugula… and use as a sort of greenhouse for early planting next spring.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Here’s a news flash – work is NOT interesting, at least, not always. And I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, so I haven’t always had interesting things to write. or at least, not the most interesting to write about here… But today, work took me to one of the most gorgeous spots in the area. I was asked to write about the National Forest. When I talked to one of the foresters I know and like, he mentioned the former Caywood Point Boy Scout camp, which has been taken over by the National Forest. This summer they improved the roads and sort of created a new one. I hadn’t been down there for about 20 years, and Bill said he’d go with me. It was like walking through a piece of heaven.

This is the old “Queen’s Castle” – it was a small, private summer camp for a group of women who came here every year to live in tents in the woods and talk about voting rights for women and other intellectual stuff of interest to ladies… Camping here is currently free, because they haven’t gotten around to “formulating policy” yet – in other words, they were thinking about building the roads and haven’t yet made rules.

If the roof line of the building - and it's really a very, very tiny cottage to be called anything so grand as a castle - looks familiar, it's because one of the small wineries, Shalestone (that's not the one Uncle Andrew worked for but a different one closer to Lodi) copied it for their building.