Monday, November 5, 2018

Harvest Monday - 5 November 2018

Last harvests of the year! Everything must go!

I planted carrots in late April, and we've been picking them all summer. Now it was time to pull the remaining. It made a much larger harvest than I was expecting.

Scarlet Nantes and Danvers Half-long
Also time to pull the few leeks the voles let us have. Too bad, really, because we love leeks and use them a lot. Also found were some spring-planted onions that suddenly decided November was an awesome time to start growing.

King Richard leeks
I tried growing turmeric and ginger for the first time this year. Both were planted in large pots. The ginger failed, but the turmeric grew to a nice plant. I harvested the roots this week, and saved some pieces to replant for next year.

Turmeric root
The dehydrator has been busy, what with the carrots and the apples we picked a few weeks ago. The dried carrots are great for soups and stews and won't take up freezer space (I finally was able to empty the chest freezer in the barn and shut it down). The apples are for adding to oatmeal or Cream of Wheat (my favorite!), and also for fruit leather. The Kitchen Goddess also used the last of her canning jars to make apple pie filling.

In wildlife notes, we had a visit from a bear on Friday night, who knocked down both the front and back bird feeders. "Fortunately" it had been raining hard and the ground was super-saturated, so the poles were only uprooted and not bent beyond hope. He did destroy the suet feeders though. I know, you shouldn't feed birds when bears are active (March to December), but we love watching the birds on the feeders year round.

A visit from Mr. or Ms. Bear
So no more harvests this year, and nothing to show in that department until maple syrup season in late winter. Thanks to all for reading my posts over the months, and to Dave at for hosting Harvest Monday.

I would just like to close by reminding all Americans to vote tomorrow! TKG and I will certainly be doing that, as well as serving once again as town election officials, making sure everyone's vote is counted, and all voters are treated with fairness and respect.

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Big Decision

When we bought this property 8 years ago, there were three 12-foot rows of old grapevines in the fenced garden. Like everything here, they had been sorely neglected and were wandering everywhere. We really had no idea what varieties they were, other than finding some old wine bottle labels in the barn describing a "vintage" of Canadice and Vanessa. By "old" I don't mean very old, probably 1980s or 90s.

We thought we could tame the vines by careful pruning and trellising. This took a lot of time and effort. We even added two more rows of vines, making a total of 60 row-feet. But sad to say, we were defeated. Black rot had taken hold in the vineyard, and it was impossible to control. It has the effect of turning the beautiful fruit clusters into disgusting shriveled mummies, full of the fungus spores.

As I said, we put a lot of work into it. Other tasks included removing excess foliage to encourage air flow, dropping fruit clusters to make the remaining ones more robust, and spraying with a fungicide (which really didn't do much). And the thing was, since there were so many varieties, the fruit had different maturities...some early, some late. This made wine-making a challenge. And you know what? We really weren't crazy about the wine we made.

So we made the big, painful decision...just rip them out. So here's the last glimpses.

It was sad, really, when you think of the decades-old vines in particular. But this is a process commercial wineries go through all the time.

I cut the vines down to the ground, and painted the stumps with an herbicide. Removing the trellis wires was a hassle. Here is how it looks now.

We are not going to replant vines in this space. The chances are too great that the fungus remains in the soil. Instead, I'm going to experiment with Straw Bale Gardening. As the years go on, the southern portion of the fenced garden is getting shadier, making the northern part more desirable for planting. I don't want to go through the effort and expense of building more raised beds and trucking in soil. Straw bale seems like an ideal solution for growing things like peppers and eggplants. It will be fun, I think.

We still want to grow grapes. I'm going to start with three new vines, all the same variety. Probably one of the Niagara-type wine grapes. I'll put them on a fence line away from this space. The fence will serve as a ready-made trellis. Hopefully the fungus has not migrated all over the place.

I'll keep you posted!