Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sumac Reds

It was 28 degrees at five this morning. The horizon became a "red-in-the-morning-sky" consistent with the prediction for rain before day's end. As I journeyed out with the dog, last evening's heavy dew had become this morning's frost covered grass, crunching under footsteps, slippery on the wooden walkway. Fall is certainly here.

Owning a nursery is a rewarding opportunity Gail and I enjoy a great deal. We would enjoy it a bunch more if we "only" owned a nursery. Working full time before I can contribute here, caring for two +88 year old seniors in two different homes, being homeschoolers and trying to have a life too brings out the best of time management skills. To a dairy farmer, this would be a piece of cake, but to us it's still a challenge. The company of good friends and neighbors, nice customers and many, many visitors to our gardens, http://vermontflowerfarm.com and this blog make difficult days seem easier.

The rising sun is a pleasant surprise as that means we can squeeze in a few more little jobs and avoid the chill that fall rains bring to outside gardening. I have about 30 hosta which need to be planted. It's not a difficult chore but it takes time. I prepare each hole with the same attention regardless of the eventual size of the hosta I intend to plant. This makes for a better product in years to come.

Yesterday I finished planting the 'Wylde Green Cream'. This is a nice small hosta much in demand here. It's been around for a while but there aren't a lot of places in Vermont which sell a wide assortment of hostas. We can't seem to get ahead of the production schedule and seem to have to buy in more every other year. It's not poor planning, it's better-than- expected sales. Same holds true with 'On Stage'

When the hostas are planted, there's a large bag of mixed daffodils to go in. That doesn't have to happen today but it is almost an annual event and it's better done when the weather is warm. It involves lots of up-and-down work, bending and twisting. Gail was against adding any more daffodils this year as we have too much to do and already have thousands planted in most all the gardens. I just can't push myself away from increasing our collection which makes spring days so much more enjoyable.

A neighbor who used to work for White Flower Farm in days long since passed recommended that daffodils be planted in late August, not October. He said that such planting encourages improved root development and much finer bloom display come spring. I agree with him but time gets confused here.

To plant a lot of bulbs in a short amount of time I once purchased a bulb drill bit for my power drill. They are still available at garden centers and they are worth the money. They require some caution however and the "operator beware" flag should be flying when these are in use. If you have rocky soil as we do, hitting a rock puts the drill bit into a hyper spin. I've had instances when in a nanosecond I had the electric cord wrapped around my wrist and the drill turning fast circles. For this reason I've switched to a cordless drill. It might take two batteries and a couple charges to get through 250 bulbs (a bushel of double nose bulbs) but it's worth it.

If you haven't planted any bulbs yet, get to the store and buy some spring color. Daffodils are good because virtually nothing--deer-mice-voles-moles bothers them. That's not true of tulips, muscari, crocus or hyacinths but they are all inexpensive enough to plant over once in a while. Tulips last about three years here and have to be replanted. Species tulips which are more readily available on the retail market now are longer lasting and a good investment. If you enjoy lilium, keep them separated from tulips or you will lose both over a short period. Tulips carry tulip breaking virus and your lilies will succumb to it too.

With daylilies to trim, some tilling, leaf vacuuming and equipment to clean up and store for the winter, I guess I better get on with today. If you haven't been to a fall farmers market yet, get out today and buy a pumpkin, apples and cider, a couple acorn squash and maybe oh maybe the last purchase of tomatoes or corn on the cob. Garden harvests of any kind can't be beat!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond, where the absence of ravens and their morning calls leaves silence for the impolite blue jays to interrupt.

Enjoy your gardens, the fall red leaves of the sumacs, and enjoy today!

George Africa
http://vermontflowerfarm.com

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