Wishetwurra Farm Garden Report, October 2014

Early October. At last our drought has broken somewhat. September threatened to leave us having rained but 0.03″. In the very last days of the month we got a 1.63″ dousing. The last two weeks have given us almost three inches of rain. Grass is greening again. Our trees have gotten a badly needed pre-wintertime drink. Shorter days, cooler temperatures, and longer shadows mean that moisture is persisting.

From the roof of the Goat Barn we again take our “aerial” views of Wishetwurra Farm.

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Brugmansia bushes near greenhouse door are large and blooming profusely. At the arrival of evening, their sweet scent is almost overpowering. To their right the asparagus patch has hints of yellow. The red tote at the far end of the awaits digging of potatoes, which are in the bare earth around it. Our tomatoes seem to be on holiday, not much fruit is coming in right now. Lots of green ones. Also in this area are the last summer squash of the season, plus lots of carrots. That farthest bit, slightly lighter green, is oats and buckwheat on a thick application of horse manure.

Here is that lowest section, where we applied 9″ of horse manure.

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You may remember photographs of this area with the buckwheat and oats just emerging. Now the cover is nice and thick. When cold comes, these plants will lie down dead and make a nice mulch to protect the soil all winter.

Despite dryness, late summer mildew set a lot of our plants back.

Here’s a sample mildewed squash plant.

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Late summer is a tough time for a plant. Now that there’s better moisture, you can see the new leaves in the center of the plant. Those outer leaves, from August and early September, took a beating, didn’t they?

The Middle View…

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To the right of the path, nearest, are the strawberries, which are stooling well and building up energy for next June’s berries. Removing runners has been a repeated chore. Below the strawberries are chard, plantings of other greens, edamame, and some daikon. The bare patch of earth is the winter squash patch, harvested and cleared. Next below that come the fall coles…broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, and kales. The lowest section, where onions grew earlier in the season, is the annual try for fall peas. The plants have just started blooming. With average first frost date only two or three weeks away, this year’s attempt may not work. We shall see. We once had a really mild fall, and had fresh peas on Thanksgiving.

Looking more closely…

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Soil preparation pays off. These healthy, happy broccoli plants are now making heads of florets. Some are about ready to harvest. Notice the repair on the wheelbarrow handle? The barrow is about three years old. The steel pan rusted through after only two years, and this year one of the handles broke. They were some crappy softwood. Two “fish plates” held by epoxy will keep the machine going for a little while longer. I’ve never had a wheelbarrow fail so quickly. (Thanks, Ace Hardware special deal.) Why did I throw away those old wheelbarrow handles??? Remind me to spend more on a better quality tool next time, OK?

The view to the South of the Garden.

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Looking at the far end, there’s not much to add, except to note that the corn has been harvested, the stalks pulled out, and the area (“Mexico”) planted to a winter crop of oats. You can see fall color outside the fence, in the blueberry bushes and the swamp maple.

This looks like a very good year for winter storage carrots.

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We planted our carrots mid-July, watered through the dry times, and kept them well-weeded and thinned. Harvest should yield a few hundred pounds of very pretty roots.

The flowers love this cooler weather.

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Zinnias, marigolds and cosmos have put out hundreds of late-season blossoms.

We’ve had some special visitors over the last couple of weeks.

Monarch butterflies.

It’s sad to see so few of them.

I remember many years ago when we’d see thousands upon thousands of monarchs every fall.

Three years ago we had them, but by the hundreds.

Last year, in the entire summer, we saw but one, down at South Beach, late in the fall.

For the last few weeks there have been several of thse beautiful animals hanging out in and around the flowers.

Here’s a male, feeding on a pink Zinnia.

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Notice the little “blob” on the veins of the under-wings, near the tail end? That’s how you can tell it’s a male.

From the happy farmers of Wishetwurraland —

See you in November!

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2 responses to “Wishetwurra Farm Garden Report, October 2014

  1. Wow, didn’t know you could sex a monarch like that. I’m impressed. And you grew edamame? You would have grown yourself a new friend in me with edamame, but damn why do you live so far away?

  2. Edamame (soybeans) turn out to be really easy to grow. They’re a tough plant. Try them. If you have little room for gardening, you could even do a couple or three plants in a big flower pot. Once in a while japanese beetles or bean beetles nibble on the leaves, and if that happens I just squish ’em. Seed houses charge ridiculous prices for edamame seeds, so I always let a half dozen or a dozen plants mature, and save the seed for the following year (years, actually, since the seeds will remain viable for two to five years, depending on storage conditions).

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