Wednesday, November 21, 2018

End of Season Tasks - What Was Done and What Wasn't


The calendar may say it's still the fall but when I look out the window, I'm seeing a very different story.

This doesn't look like November to me...

Today the temps are supposed to go down to -17C/1F ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.  That has got to be a record for this time of year. The season has officially come to an end with a flurry of activity....and most of that was done with winter gloves, coat and boots on, something that I always try to avoid.

Bad days (weather wise) far outnumbered good days and I soon realized that I had to prioritize and resign myself to the fact that some things on my list would have to wait until the spring.

What Got Done

1.  Planting the Garlic - This high priority task was finally done last week & I wrote about both this years harvest and the new planting HERE.  The Golden shallots went into the ground at the same time.  I cut down on the number that I sow (by half) as the over 7 lbs. of Golden shallots I harvested this year is just a 'tad' too much for our needs, especially as I also grow a couple of varieties from seed.  This means that I'll have more space in the bed for other alliums, such as green onions.

Only 2 rows of shallots going in this year

2.  Harvesting the Carrots - This is the first year that harvesting carrots was a two step process.

Step One: Shovel the bed ๐Ÿ™„

Step 2:  Pray that the soil was still soft (which it was)
and the carrots were not frozen (which they weren't) and pull them all up

3.  Cutting Back the Asparagus Ferns - Now that the majority of ferns were brown, it was time to cut them down to the ground.


The ferns are too tough to go directly into the compost so I piled them up beside the mulch and I'll be shredding them come spring.  There were a ton of weeds and encroaching grass in the asparagus beds so I did do a rudimentary weeding as I figured that this may make my job just a bit easier come spring.

The last step was to cover the beds with straw:



4.  Covering the Garlic & Strawberry Beds with Straw - Having lugged out the straw for the asparagus beds, I also got the garlic and strawberry beds covered.

The dolly came in really handy when
lugging the bale to the top of the hill

Topping the beds with straw was more cumbersome than usual as, just like when harvesting the carrots, I had to shovel a foot of snow off the beds before laying down the straw.

5.  Bringing In the Figs - The fig trees were a dismal failure this year with zero harvest, even after repotting them in the spring into larger, light coloured pots (they were previously in black pots that I felt may have been overheating during our summer heat waves).  At this point, I'm not sure if it's something I'm doing wrong or perhaps this generic, no-name variety is simply finicky and not that great a producer.  One thing I did know was that I didn't really feel like lugging them down into the basement cold cellar like I normally do.

Dolly to the rescue once again

Since they are obviously not producing that well anyhow, I figured I would give garage storage a try - what's the worst that can happen?  If I end up losing the trees, I'll replace them with a known variety that hopefully does better in our climate (and I'll know that cold cellar storage is a requirement).

6.  Planting More Bulbs.  Ok, this was not on the priority list - in fact, once I realized that I would have to cut down on my list dramatically in order to get the essentials done, planting bulbs went firmly on the "to do next year" list....until I saw some packets of mixed crocus bulbs on sale for just over $2 at a local hardware store.  Well, that's one bargain I couldn't resist so I grabbed a couple of packets - 40 bulbs in total - and spent less than 20 minutes getting them into the ground.  I haven't had crocuses since my first garden over 20 years ago - I'm so excited to see them come up in the spring!


What Still Needs to be Done

Thankfully there is only one thing on this list:  Cleaning/disinfecting all my seed starting equipment, including all the pots, cell packs & trays.

This task is always at the top of my "procrastination" list.  Each year I say that I'll get to it earlier in the season, while the temperatures are still mild, but it always ends up being one of the last things I do.  Even though most of the cleaning is done in the relative comfort of the garage, I do need to give everything a good spray in the driveway to remove any soil before they get their disinfecting soak.  I'm looking at the long range forecast and see one day coming up that's supposed to be 6C (43F) so I'll be holding off until then.  Not exactly balmy but at least the water won't freeze as I'm spraying!


What Can Wait Until Spring

There were a few things that I had really hoped to get accomplished this year, but these were further down on the priority list so they have been pushed to next year.

1.  Spreading mulch on the hilltop & west border area.  The mulch was moved to both these areas when I had the front walkway done but I was only able to make a start on the hilltop.  Then the sub zero temps hit and I decided that was it for the season.

Mulch pile under a blanket of snow on the hilltop
(beside the cut down asparagus ferns which need to be shredded next spring)

2.  Dealing with the invasives in our front walkway beds.  Now that the walkway has been redone, at the top of the list for next spring is eliminating a couple of invasives in the walkway garden beds using the no-chemical approach of cutting them back, then covering with black plastic topped with mulch & leaving that in place for the season.

3.  Plant more bulbs...as in more tulips, more daffodils, ornamental alliums, plus, plus, plus.  And transplant some overcrowded iris & a bunch of tulips that are in a spot that is much too shady.

4.  Plant a few more shrubs & trees in the west border.  I'm creating a living "fence" and about 3/4 of the woody plant material was put in last fall.  As we all know, shrubs and trees take a few years to establish and size up so the sooner I get the rest of them in the ground, the better.

So those are the main items that, up until early September, I had been optimistic about getting to by the end of the season, but didn't.  Is this a surprise?  Not really.  Each year I think I'll do much more than I actually end up doing.  For some reason, my brain always tells me that I'll have more time and/or things will be "easier" to do and fit into my everyday life in the "future". Our perception of time is funny like that, isn't it?

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

16 comments:

  1. Wow, snow already, and there looks to be a decent amount too. I hope this doesn't mean that it's going to be a longer winter than usual. Mick encountered snow on his drive over the Pennines today, that's very early for us, I just hope it doesn't come anywhere near here for quite some time yet. I'm glad that you got most of the things on your list done and that there's nothing urgent that still needs doing, it's always a relief when you tick the jobs off the list before winter really sets in.

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    1. It did feel good to get those last few tasks ticked off - only the seeding supplies to clean and then I can relax in front of the fire with some seed catalogues :)

      Oh, the snow - I've never seen this much this early in the season. I have my fingers crossed for you but it does seem as if the winter this year is going to be a cold one for both of us...at least our hand knits will keep us warm!

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  2. Yikes - I am going to stop complaining about our cold weather! Yours is much colder. I do feel like we missed autumn this year. Summer lasted longer than usual, than went straight to winter.

    You are ahead of us on asparagus cleanup. Like you, we try and weed when we cut back the ferns in fall. And 7lb of shallots sounds like a lot! I'm still trying to figure out how to grow them here.

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    1. Exactly - all I seemed to do this year was complain about the heat, both at home and when I went away. Now all I'm doing is complaining about the cold! It seems like we never have an extended time of "goldilocks" weather (you know, not too hot, not too cold!). Yes, 7 lbs of shallots is a lot. I'm still trying to figure out how to minimize the number of tiddlers - they are so fiddly to use!

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  3. Your photos make me shiver -17C WOW. We don’t get snow every winter so I am hoping that if we do have snow this year that it won’t be just yet.

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    1. I've heard that it's going to be a bone-chilling winter on both sides of the Atlantic - I've my fingers crossed for both of us that the forecasters are wrong!

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  4. Sometimes I do envy the break from gardening that cold winter climates enforce, but -17ยบC is more than I could take. On the other hand I won't have to shovel snow to harvest some carrots this winter so mild winters do have some benefits. :) And if I really wanted to I could just take the winter off regardless of the weather. I agree, the To Do List is always far longer than the allotted time allowed. I hope your early winter isn't the start of a long cold one. It seems like the more cold and snowy it is for you the dryer and warmer it is for us which maybe sounds great but is disastrous. Let's hope for a "normal" winter this season!

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    1. Normal...boy, that's not a word that used very much nowadays when referring to the weather, is it? Around here, they are predicting a "normal" winter (there's that word again!) with above average snow, so we'll see - they are right about the snow, at least, so far :) Other than not being able to finish what I wanted to in the garden, I don't mind & rather like the yin/yang aspect of winter (cold outside, cozy & warm inside). But -17C (or worse!) is more than even those of us that are used to cold winters can take :)

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  5. You've been much more productive in the garden than I have. Once the cold sets in, my motivation nose-dives! Wow, -17C/1F is really cold! We've been down in the teensF (-7C to -9C). Overall, the temps this November have been much below normal. Your carrot harvest is impressive!

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    1. Oh yes, motivation was definitely lacking...I had to force myself to do most of it. Looks like we are both in the same boat with below seasonal temps this month - I'm just hoping this isn't a preview of what's to come!

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  6. It's hard to believe you have such a blanket of snow already! You should feel very accomplished getting done what you did. We still have some trees to plant and many garden chores to complete before the freeze hits here.

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    1. I know - I can't believe it either! Most years, we haven't even had a good snowfall by Christmas, which I always miss as a brown Christmas just doesn't seem as magical.

      Hope that you are able to get your final bits done before the cold weather hits - I have a feeling you are far more organized on that front than I am!

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  7. My oh my … that's a lot of snow, and it's still November!

    All the best Jan

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    1. It's crazy, isn't it? Normally we don't get this much snow until December at the earliest - some years we even have to wait until January.

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  8. That's a lot of snow! Very impressive all that you've done in the nick of time - especially harvesting the carrots through the snow!

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    1. Ha! That was a first for me :) And just finished up cleaning the seeding equipment - so glad that's finally done!

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