Winter Begins

Dahlia Bilbao

I’ve been wanting a hard frost to kill off the tops of the dahlias; I want to do some expansion of the bed and add a lot of compost to see if that will help with the poor (purchased) soil that I used to build the beds.  However, mother nature over-acheived.  As I was driving home from work last night what was rain in eastern MA started turning into sleet and then fluffy white stuff as I climbed in elevation near home.  As the temps dropped, it continued and we have a measurable accumulation from overnight.  Weather people are also talking about more of the white stuff this weekend so I will need to dig dahlia tubers quickly. 

Things are actually not looking too bad this morning but when the frozen tissues thaw, that expansion will destroy the plants.  Shots of a deck box and the garden follow.  The Swiss Chard and parsley will probably recover.  Not the nasturtiums. 

Deck boxes
Deck boxes

 

garden beds
garden beds

Lawns and Leaves

Mulching mower
Mulching mower

I purchased a small Toro electric mower this spring and wondered if my lawn was too much for it.  I love its quiet ways, no worries about waking up the neighbors if I want to do an early morning mow.  But, let’s face it, my lawn is not a genteel expanse of grasses.  “Hey lady, is that Bugleweed (Ajuga) in your lawn?”  Why yes, how perceptive of you to have noticed!  I have both purple-leaved and green and n the spring it makes a lovely carpet of blue flowers that the pollinators love. I mow around the thickest spots until the bees abandon them. 

My initial impression of the mower was that it did’t have enough power to pull the grass upright before cutting it but that has not proved to be a problem. Somehow it gets cut.  It’s been doing it’s job all summer and there are no gouged and empty spots like the mowing company left from turning their big equipment in small places.

autumn nasturtium
autumn nasturtium

But this article is about another experiment.  I’m not going to rake the lawn this year.  I am going to try to mow the leaves in.  Although I’d heard it suggested before, a friend sent me this link to a Fine Gardening article that talks about Michigan State researchers who mowed an 18 inch! layer of leaves  into test plots. 

As you can see above, I don’t have much to lose.  So, this is the year I try it with my much lighter layers of leaves.  The season is slow in coming with many trees still green, but you can see my tiny eggbeater of a mower does make a dent in what’s there now. 

Rose Teasing Georgia

Some bonus shots.  The nasturtium are still going strong in the food beds; they keep me company as I clean, fork, and add compost.  They will melt after our first bad frost.

And this only blossom on rose “Teasing Georgia” was hanging about at eye level to cheer on my efforts.

My little soldier

Scarecrow

It works, it really works!  This little guy single handedly defended my garden from the neighborhood deer.  Last year the woods side of my garden took a lot of damage.  This year, when they ate all of my Yogoslavian Red lettuce, just as it was about to form it’s tender, beautiful, small heads, I asked my gardening friends for advice.  We went over many of the things that don’t work too well and I was actually thinking about spending hundreds of dollars for fencing, when one of my garden friends mentioned she’d had success with a motion activated water system, marketed as the Scarecrow.  When it senses something moving in its “line of sight” it sends out a strong jet of water.  The sensitivity and the range of water movement can be controlled.  Mine is made by Contec but I noticed Haveaheart also had their version.  They aren’t too expensive but you probably want to add a dedicated hose and a splitter if you can’t dedicate a water outlet to it. 

Some friends found evidence that deer would lose their fear over time.  So as soon as the summer garden was winding down, I turned it off.  However, it seems the deer haven’t checked back recently as nothing has been eaten.  It may be in neighborhoods like mine where there are few deer, it’s a permanent deterrent.

Now if I could find something just as effective for chipmunks.  In my tightly packed garden, they quickly learned how to stay out of the Scarecrow’s sight.  I ordered Coyote Urine crystals from the same source and only succeeded in ruining my garden shoes.  Stinky!