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Believe it or not, there’s still time to garden

Posted: October 17, 2013 - 9:25am

Well, this is awkward. I have not done much in my garden since planting bulbs last week. Nary a weed has been pulled, and there are plenty out there.  I can’t clean my tools because there really is more to do.

The Brussels sprouts are still hanging out. I know, I know they can stay out there all winter. But not mine.  

They need to be in the freezer. Everything needs to be “done.” Needs to be neat and tidy. It’s just my personal compulsion. Pay no mind. Unless, of course, you share my bent and then there is nothing to be done but the job at hand. Get it done.

So, I really am still gardening. Although every instinct tells me this should be over. I haven’t any recollection of a Homer fall that has lasted so long and the forecasts predict even more fall. 

Weeks ago, when it was snowing in Anchorage and the weather warnings were dire, I pulled the tuber begonias out of the window box and set them in the covered porch to begin the process of drying, readying them for storage. Then the weather improved dramatically. There they sit, happy as can be, although a tad dry. 

This led me to take a good look at the window box. Much neglect, very dry, pansies and lobelia looking very sad. So, I decided to resume watering the window box. Why not? I’m giving them two watering cans a day and they are perking up. Stalwarts that they are. 

And this leads me to the greenhouse. I have missed an opportunity. Actually I miss every year. Why haven’t I planted lettuce in there? We could be eating fresh salads but no, I missed. It is an empty space, a wasted space. I don’t need to have the heat on. I should have started seedlings a month ago and set them out every 10 days the way I do starting in the spring and ending — when? — apparently too soon. If not the greenhouse then my underused cold frame. I do so hope I learn from this. I can make all the notes in the journal but what good is it if I don’t follow my own advice? If I don’t read the journal? Rats. 

On the way home we noticed that there has been an ongoing effort to clear the lot at the corner of Kachemak Way and Pioneer Avenue. It would seem the neighbors have noticed subversive activity on the lot and took matters into their own hands (no sense waiting for the Shutstorm government to take action). There it was, an ever so lovely pile of spruce boughs, just waiting for our truck to pull up and haul them away. Which we did. They are now in a pile waiting for the weather to make up its mind. Once it has settled, if it will, either with a good layer of snow or a freeze, then the boughs will cover what few perennials I have out here. 

 If you are of a mind to use mulch may I recommend spruce boughs? We search out live trees that have fallen either in a wind storm or by a chain saw. I have tried straw, which blew to all four corners of the earth with the first gusts of winter, never again. Spruce it is. There were three years that we were thwarted in this because of the dog. 

The dog. Always a dog. In her youth nothing delighted her more than a) dismantling the wood pile and b) pulling off the spruce boughs that had been lovingly placed over the perennial beds. Now that she is 4, and there is nothing I can do about her 73 pounds of energy and paws the size of basketballs, she does understand “Do not pull off the boughs or else I will no longer love you, ever.” It worked with digging up the bulbs so I’m hoping the same tack works with this. Dogs. 

And, somehow, this brings me to apples. Parkland and Norland are the two varieties that will grow outdoors here in the Far North. They are mainly juice apples. Not the kind to eat out of hand. The kind that snap when bitten. The kind that make your heart sing. 

I was standing in front of the apple display at one of our markets. The produce guy asked me if I needed any help (the query itself left me almost speechless). So I said I needed an apple to eat out of hand. An apple from my youth. An apple that matters. Poor guy. So I took home the recommended apple. Once there I took a bite and spit it into the compost bowl (yes, I am still adding to the compost pile). Yuk. 

The apple trees that are being planted in the high tunnels, I wish them luck. What will build their character? How will they be kissed by the sun? Tousled by the wind? Drenched by the rain? Pestered by bees? What will give them soul? Their ‘terroir’ (winemakers do not have exclusive rights to this word), the distinctive taste that the soil imparts? We can only wait and hope for the best. 

So I took four mass-produced tasteless Granny Smiths and added a cupful of just-picked lowbush cranberries from a Homer bog and made a pie. A lovely, soul satisfying, grandchild appreciating, pie. 

All is well.   

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