Sunday, November 13, 2011

Late Fall to Early Winter Garden Chores

I was hoping for a few more days of open ground here in central Wisconsin. It appears I am not going to get it. The days are just too short. Given I have just a few more tasks I need to do in the garden, I suppose I will trod along in the cold, damp, or outright wet and get them done.

I didn't get my galic planted. If I don't get it planted yet this fall I will suffer a bit smaller yield, but I will plant it as soon as I have open ground in the spring.

I don't cut back my grapes until I prune them in the spring. I did remove about half the foliage to encourage the sugar content in the grapes in late August. As I have wine grapes and I am in a marginal zone for them, I wanted to leave as much of the plant as I could to help it get through the winter.

Sometime during the winter I will top my dwarf apple tree which now has shoots at 12'. I want to encourage it to set fruit where I can reach it.

I will also use some sort of wrap on my fruit trees to discourage mice, voles, and rabbits from girdling and killing my fruit trees.

Now that I can see the structure of my shrub and hedges I will prune off the "wild hair".

I will net or enclose in some fashion the blueberries. Rabbit and deer love to nibble blueberry shrubs in winter. The growing tips where next years harvest will grow are particularly at risk from this type of foraging over winter. I already collected pine straw from under my pine tree and mulched them with about 6" of the stuff.

I pulled out tomato plants and sent them off-site to compost, but I left a couple of the kale to provide early winter greens. I will be attempting baby salad greens under lights in my grow room this winter, so I need to set some soil aside for this purpose. I have salad greens that I am still haresting next to my deck. Even a topping of snow did not deter these greens.

My brother just cut the last of the broccoli in the family garden. I harvested a couple cabbage and still have broccoli here in the potager. I have a honeydew melon I picked before the frost that just ripened which I sliced up the other day.

The period where the temperatures play along the frost line every couple nights without getting down to a really cold temperature of 23 degrees or so has this year been nearly 60 days this year. Although the days have gotten progressively shorter and Daylight Savings Time has ended, with a cold frame this could have been a very viable season for cold frame grown greens and short season crops. I have several radishes and carrots still in the ground that would make very good eating.

My sister-in-law harvested late summer planted carrots and pureed and froze them for the coming baby. She then used her steam juicer and made carrot juice from the mangled bits left over from her puree. It looked filled with vitamins, and as some of the carrots were purple the resulting juice was also a deep purple.

She also blanched a froze our comparably small parsnip harvest.

I will also harvest the greens from the celery that did not set stalks and dry them for the tasty dried greens with a great color they will provide for soup stocks over the winter.

We have a small bag of sugar beets. After Thanksgiving we are going to give it a go and see if we can extract the sugar.

I also noticed the onions I planted for early spring harvest have sprouted and are over an inch tall. I hope this method will prove itself as a way to get early spring onions and economical sets for the family garden .

We would have liked to have gotten the main rows of the family garden plowed yet this fall, but it looks like that will not happen. On the cultivator notes, my son has taken a small engine class this fall in high school and has torn apart the Mantis tiller and is cleaning it as part of his class. I'd like him to tackle my sister-in-law's tiller next.

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