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Everything Was Damp and Gray

December 1st, 2011

Everything was damp and gray in the moment between fall’s rich color and winter’s severe elegance.

Robin Mather from The Feast Nearby

This week has pretty much summed up this quote, it’s been raining, and raining, and raining some more. Then it turned to damp snow and ice, and then more snow. Lots of wet weather to signal that change between fall and winter.

I still love how interesting everything is in the garden this time of year. And now that I’m feeling better I was inspired to throw on my wellies and get out to get a few photos of the garden before the big snows arrive. Here’s what I saw in my garden on Monday.






I can tell that winter is fighting with fall and it will soon win. The air is starting to get the crispness to it and there’s a noticeable lack of smell when you go outside, except for the faint scent of woodsmoke.

Has winter arrived in your garden yet? What weather predominates for you right now?

Still Hanging On

November 18th, 2011

Amazingly, I still have a few things hanging on long after they should be gone. We’ve had frost and temperatures in the high 20′s, but somehow a castor bean that’s still gracing the garden with it’s beautiful tropical looking foliage.

I thought the mustard should have been nipped already, but it’s actually just starting to bloom. I’m glad it’s hung on this long as this is the perfect time to get a cold snap to kill it since it’s a cover crop. It will provide a nice layer of mulch to keep the weeds down next spring. This bed will be planted in potatoes come spring, because mustard does a fabulous job at mitigating the pests/diseases that often plague potatoes.


Other than these plants, nothing much is left in the garden, at least not of the tender plants. I do have some beautiful ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Lacinato’ kale that will stand all winter long providing some much needed greens in our diet. Thankfully the ‘Red Russian’ plants are all volunteers from a plant that went to seed this spring. A light snow is falling as I write this post, the castor beans and mustard won’t last much longer.

Do you have any plants that have lasted longer than usual?

Watch Out For The Little Guys

October 22nd, 2011

It’s fall in the northern parts of the country and that means fallen leaves! The leaves pile up in the flowerbeds and form a natural mulch, which I usually don’t mind. I do however have to remind myself to uncover the tiny groundcovers that are growing in certain areas of the garden.

Sadly I lost a Dwarf Creeping Jenny one year because I forgot to keep the fall leaves off of it. This year I replaced it with Corsican Mint, which is doing well, as long as I can remember to keep it clear. I also have quite a collection of teeny tiny creeping thymes that grow no higher than a quarter to an eighth of an inch, many of them filling in between rocks in one of the front flower beds.

Those fall leaves make great organic mulch for your flowerbeds and I love using them everywhere. They do a fabulous job at smothering weeds, but watch out because they can smother plants too. One way to avoid this is to rake them out, chop them up with a mower, and return them to the flowerbeds. They’ll break down quicker and you’ll have fewer problems with slugs that if you leave them whole.

Do you have any diminutive plants in your garden that you make sure to watch out for this time of year? Have you ever lost a plant from smothering by fall leaves or anything else?

Rain, Rain, Rain

September 29th, 2011

So far this fall has been fairly wet, which we really needed after our dry July and August, however, it makes it really tough to get all the fall gardening chores finished. I have managed to get the new garden area weeded and I’ve been clearing more space, photos on this to come when the rain stops. One great thing about fall and the rain – sunsets.

There’s just something about the sun setting right as the rain moves out. The clouds, the colors, it’s really quite beautiful. This time of year I start to notice the sunset more, just as I do in February. There must be something about the changing seasons, the change in day length and the weather patterns that make them especially spectacular this time of year. Earlier this week, this was the view out my front window right before the sun went fully down.


One of the great benefits of gardening is that you notice the subtle changes in weather more. I notice that the longer I garden, the more I notice those small changes that happen when the seasons change. I really believe, that tending the soil gets you more in tune with the seasons, nature and God.

What are some of the benefits of gardening that you have noticed? What little things do you notice at the the change of the seasons?

And Just Like That….It’s Fall

September 14th, 2011

Monday I spent the day cleaning out the closets, pantry, the floors and doing some general cleaning. It was quite nice outside, warm and sunny in the morning with thunderstorms in the afternoon, but I needed to get a few chores finished inside. By early evening, it was quite breezy while we were out on our evening walk. It felt like a beautiful late summer evening. Tuesday morning we woke up to a cool crisp morning and leaves scattered around the lawn. It no longer felt like late summer, it felt like fall.

It’s funny how that is, one day feels like one season and overnight it changes. There comes that day in spring, when you walk outside and you can smell the earth, winter is gone. A few months later you wake up one morning and it no longer feels like a damp cool spring day, it’s hot and humid, summer has arrived. Summer is replaced with the refreshing coolness of autumn and the winding down of the garden. Winter replaces the musty smell of fall on that day you notice there is no longer any distinguishable scent in the frosty air that burns when you take a breath.

It’s usually a feeling or a smell that triggers the change of seasons for me. It certainly feels like fall here at Chiot’s Run. The mornings are cool, the days are bright and sunny, the dying plants make a very specific rustling sound in the breeze, the air is filling with the smell of damp decay, signaling a time of rest and renewal. The coming of fall is filled with satisfying garden chores: clearing out the gardens, building compost piles, mulching, wrapping hydrangeas, planting cover crops and maybe a few last winter vegetables. I’m happy that it’s fall, even if it’s not “official” yet.

What things signal a change in the season for you?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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