A Frosty December Morning

I knew that it was a frosty December morning outside. As the sun rose up through the spruce and oak trees, every glistening bit of frost was lit up like tiny lights. More enchanting than snowflakes it seemed. Every moment that went by the sun got a bit higher. It highlighted every leaf, every branch and everything that had been kissed by this frosty morning coating.

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So much to capture before the sun melted all of this thick, natural glitter. The small scalloped leaves leftover on the low growing perennials. The oak leaves left on the lawn. Acorns and beech nuts scattered on the ground. Hydrangea blossoms left on the branches.

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Even what seemed to be weeds in the field turned into diamond studded treasures at dawn.

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Goldenrod in the field.

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The last of the rosebuds still suspended upon the shrubs. Buds that had formed in November when the days were unusually warm. They dried in place, preserved before they could fully open.

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Rosa rugosa…
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‘Heritage’ rose.

Bold red winterberries looked as if they were coated in a sweet, sparkly  coating. So striking against the grey and brown landscape. Some of the only color left around here.

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Winter berries…

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Structural elements in the garden looked beautiful as well. The chicken wire that we used as a pea fence, the trellis and the arbors. All shining in the morning sunlight.

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The farm was aglow with frost too. Fence posts and electric wires dipped in this dazzling December frost. The cows breath was steamy as they reached for their hay through the cold metal bars.

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Every shrub and bush was touched by this frosty morning. As the sun rose, the ice crystals began to melt. I dashed around the garden for a few moments trying to capture the essence of this frosty December morning.

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The field grass appeared to be spun silver. As if one could ball it up like yarn and knit it into a fine metallic cloak. Then, all at once the frost began to disappear into mist.

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The frosty rail.

Just wanted to share this gleaming beauty with all of you this week. The seasons change and with them come endless dramatic phenomena. Since that busy morning that I captured these photos, we have had two storm systems float through. It has really become quite messy. Soon there will be garden planning and seed orders to think about. But, for now there is a welcome rest from gardening outdoors. Until next time…

Hilary|Everlongardener

Fall Tasks For A Better Spring

Don’t hang up your clippers and gardening gloves just yet! By doing some of your fall tasks now, your garden can be all ready for next spring. Yes, spring seems a long way off now but with a few extra fall chores, you may just be getting ready for your best garden yet! After all, the greatest gardens often start in the fall. Let’s look into a few ways to make this happen!

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Save Seeds

Now is the perfect time to collect mature seeds from your favorite garden varieties. The weather has been perfect for keeping those seeds dry. Some seeds to start out with could include beans, kale and nasturtiums. If you have seeds forming from open-pollinated plants, why not give seed saving a try? It’s a great way to save money and keep those special varieties for next year. You will also have some garden seeds to swap with your friends.

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Saving bean seeds.

I’ve got the seed saving basics outlined right here. Get the kids involved. They will love getting the big seeds out of the bean pods once dry. You can make a game out of hunting for the nasturtium seeds that are ready for drying.

Garden Cleanup 

Much of spring garden work can be eliminated by cleaning up as much as possible in the fall. A garden left in tact can be pretty when covered with snow or frost but it’s a huge mess come spring. Why not leave some plants for winter interest and photo ops while cutting down the rest? If you have dealt with disease or pest problems, cleanup is an excellent way to ensure that you get rid of the problem. We deal with tomato blight in our area so my plants need to be bagged up or totally destroyed.

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It’s a messy job!

Garden cleanup can be a hot topic but as a gardener, I love getting the garden put to bed every autumn. It helps with the following spring when things get really busy. I have put together some tips right here for fall cleanup!

Start A Compost Pile

Have you been dreaming about making your own compost? It may be the time to get started. With all of the garden debris from your garden cleanup, you could be on your way to a big start in composting! Most perennial plant matter and spent annuals can go right into the pile. Veggie garden vines and such can go in there too. Add in some fallen leaves and kitchen vegetable scraps for a balanced mix.

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A nice mixture of greens and browns for the compost.

Whether you purchase a contained composting drum or just build a square frame with wire, composting is one of the best ways to deal with garden plant matter. There are endless ideas out there for making your own bin. You can even keep adding stuff over the winter if you have access to it. Maybe this is the time to start that worm composting bin you’ve always wanted.

Season Extension 

How could I not mention season extension? If you planted a fall garden or have greens that are still doing well, give them some protection from the cold. Construct a cold frame or make a mini greenhouse over the plants. Kale, spinach, hardy lettuce or parsley. Many things can be overwinter and even harvested through the winter months. Yes, even in Maine!

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Floating row cover suspended over greens.

To learn all about 4 season growing click here. For some simple season extension tips, check this out. We have been growing in this way for many years and are thrilled with the results!

Plant Some Garlic

Growing your own garlic is fun and rewarding. Fall planted garlic is easy to grow and is super exciting to harvest the following summer. From mild to spicy hot, there’s a garlic variety for every palette. Even if you have a small garden space, a 3×3 area can yield a decent amount of garlic. Many of us use a ton of garlic in the kitchen. Why not try your hand at growing some for yourself?

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Red Russian seed garlic.

Did you grow garlic this past year? Then select some of your larger cloves to replant! You can find out the simple steps to growing garlic here!

Plant Spring Bulbs

What would spring be without the snowdrops, crocus and tulips popping up? Ever wish that you had more color in your spring garden? The stores are full of plump bulbs right now. The bulb catalogs are coming in the mail. You could plant some bright blooms near your doorway. Grab a bushel of sturdy daffodils for an amazing natural display on the edge of the forest.

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Bulbs ready for planting!

The possibilities are endless and only limited by your budget or ambition! Try growing some of the more unusual bulbs such as allium, fritillaria or some bizarre tulips. Frilly tulips, double daffodils or fall blooming crocus. If you do, your garden will be bursting with spring color! You can find more suggestions here.

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Last show before frost!

These are just a few fall tasks that will get you well on your way to garden success in 2018! Get out and enjoy that fabulous fall air. There is still so much beauty to behold! The air is cooler and the ticks are out. Be careful out there as you take in all that fall has to offer. I’ve been taking the greenhouse plants down with a little assistance from my little garden helper. Let’s just say that there is never a dull moment! Until next week…happy gardening!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Beau is always in a tangle!

 

Walking Into October

My father walks every morning around the property. He generally walks in the early morning, shortly after sunup. He says he wants to walk Beau, the new puppy, around the field. I figure that he shouldn’t. The puppy is very strong and he still pulls a lot. He says he wants to leave right them. So, I bargain for 10 more minutes to quickly down my tea and toast. We make our way out the door into the crisp October air.

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My son wants to go but changes his mind when he realizes that his ‘Paw Patrol’ sneakers would get wet. The sun breaks out over the wooded horizon. It fills the fields with golden light, sending each dewdrop into a dazzling display. On morning walks in October you can see the world awaken before your eyes.

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Sun is creeping up…

As we walk, we talk about the old dog. The one we miss so much. The predictable one. We try to remind ourselves that he too was once a puppy. That he too used to be trouble. That he used to scratch at the door and get us up at night. We say what a good dog he was. We wish he was still walking here with us on this October morning.

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Beau!

We mention the good qualities of this dog. He pulls on his leash. He stops in the middle of the path to sniff were the resident skunk dug holes the night before. My father again wants to walk the dog. I say ‘not yet’. There is much more training to be done.

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Stunning leaves!

We are quiet for a while. As we walk under an old rogue apple tree, my father inspects to see how many the deer have taken. Not many of them are missing. The apples are small and yellow. Their scent is sweet under our feet. The pup nibbles on one.

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Apples everywhere.

We walk to the old well to see how much water we have. The water table is so low. Not like when we were inspecting it last spring. Then the water poured out even through the ice. We chat about the drilled well. Thankful that it’s there. Maybe next year the garden will do better. Maybe next year the beans will climb higher. There’s only so much you can really do for a garden. We will keep trying. The puppy urges us onward.

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Asparagus berries.

The brown Queen Anne’s Lace blossoms stand at attention waiting for the next frost. The asparagus berries shimmer in the sunlight. The fallen crimson leaves are bright against the evergreen boughs. The red dogwood branches reach out, they would take over the whole field if allowed. The lilacs are heavy with seeds. As we pass through the orchard the smell of apples is strong. Many of them have scabs, not much for eating. The deer have been at these ones. I check each tree to see how they are doing.

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October sun!

I secretly think about when I was a kid, rambling these side roads on bikes with my friends. Off in the woods playing ‘Robin Hood’ or something. Swinging in my aunt and uncles big barn. Running in the cool afternoon air. Not a care in the world. How I used to think those days would go on forever.

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Here it comes…

I pass the leash to my father. Someday, when Beau has better manners, he can take him out alone. Right now the fall air and the scents of critters are keeping his nose busy. Autumn seems to me such a reflective time of year. A time to close the door on so many warm weather activities and ponder the months ahead. A time to make plans for the things to come.

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Spectacular morning light!

With the warm weather we’ve been having, it’s been an excellent time to get outside. The seasons come and go so fast. I tend to wish October and November would just keep going. I love this time of year! There’s almost too much to do. In the garden, the greens are steadily growing and the larger greens are having a second wind due to cooler weather. Some of the veggies have been pulled out and added to the compost pile. We will gradually be putting the gardens to bed. Just a few Fall ramblings and reflections this week. I hope that all of you will be able to get out to see some of the turning leaves!

Hilary|Everlongardener