Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Garden Sleeps

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Too early to be awake yet but Karl the Wonder Dog heard something outside and he was possessed to identify the problem. Naturally when the event was over, he returned to slumber in front of the wood stove and I remain wide awake. That can happen with life in rural Vermont where I think most black bears have gone into hibernation this week. Whitetail deer come to the bird feeders many nights to clean up under them and sometimes actually stand on their hind feet and eat the cracked corn and sunflower seed from the platform feeders. 

Regardless of a solstice type confirmation, winter is here. It's 21.3° right now with a 5 mph wind. Yesterday was the lowest temperature of the season and it was 5.1°. We have a small weather change coming that is a bit behind schedule as we expected freezing rain by midnight but it hasn't warmed enough yet. Winds into the 25 mph range will be here by lunch time with temperatures rising to 35° to 40° and we aren't sure of the final outcome as weather forecasts keep changing. 

Our growing season has long been over and fall clean up is essentially finished. No....sort of finished. Of course there is plenty of work to do at the flower farm but not until we clean up all the messes here at the house that resulted from bringing various items back home. I always say it would be nice to have duplicates of everything we need at both places but that's not possible.

Wednesday's snow should be melted down by noon today and I plan to get down to the flower farm and cut some curly willow. I saw a couple really neat  holiday wreaths, one on Pinterest and one on Houzz. I belong to both of those social media sites because they give excellent ideas and good images makes replicating designs that much easier. At some point you might see some of my pictures as I use the same The Vermont Gardener name on my social media interchanges.

One thing I am especially happy with is how well Alex and I managed to get the daylily fields cleaned up this fall. Alex cut down all the old scapes and leaves and pulled as many weeds as he could. Then we rototilled between the rows and spread shredded leaves about 6" deep between them.We were fortunate to receive several truck loads of wood chips from a utility line clean up and we spread them on top of the leaves in some places and directly onto the newly tilled areas in other. Wood chips are not as good to use as they require longer to decompose and that process draws lots of nitrogen out of the soil. Just the same, after three years our clay soil is always better for it and to that end I don't mind adding some fertilizer to compensate for the loss. I have had a logging project going on at the house for a month now and since I have my own tractor and wood chipper, I'll chip lots of  limbs come spring and finalize what we started this fall.

As snows deepen, consider feeding the birds if you have never done this before. It's a great hobby and offers a different understanding of what birds winter in your area. Cornell University has a great website for birding and their 
All About Birds is a place to start.  The Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count starts in a couple weeks and that's another way to encourage yourself to get organized with reference books, websites and binoculars. Vermont winters can seem long at times but birds at the feeders or walks in the woods can shorten the time until spring. It also can teach you what birds eat and what flowers you might consider adding to your gardens next spring to become a more bird friendly gardener. Think about it!

Just heard some noise on the windows and notice the storm has started. The sound annoyed Karl again and he wants to go out so I have to get going. Have a nice Sunday. If you have any gardening questions, send us an email. Remember: We're always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the temperature has risen to 24.5° with the wind still at 5 mph. 

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
On Pinterest as The Vermont Gardener board

#vermont; #gardenchat; #agchat; #birds; #birding; #ChristmasBirdCount; 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Bear Visitors

Wednesday, November 5th, 2015

Almost 4 PM and the sun is fading fast. Although the temperature has been around 48° most of the day, the 4-6 mph wind has kept it feeling much colder. At about 7 this morning I was bundled up and out working at the flower farm trying to finish the fall clean up. It rained on and off a little --just enough each time to put on a rain coat, then take it off again. 

By late morning my coffee was gone and I needed a snack. When I returned to the flower farm, my eye caught a section of fence along Route 2. Something looked odd. As I approached I could see the reason was a bear had climbed up over a 4X4 post and in the process of going down the other side dragged some of the fence with it. 

I tracked the animal through half the daylily garden and came to the picture above. This is not a big bear--perhaps 3-4 years old-- but it would no doubt surprise some by it's size. The print is slightly bigger than my outstretched fingers which spread about 8 inches each way. 

Later in the day when I was rototilling the oppostie end of the 5 acre property I came upon a place close to the northeast corner, again by Route 2, where the bear walked back and forth trying to figure out how to get out of the fence and back across the road. He probably wanted more of friend Carol's bird seed. I rode the perimeter of the property in the golf cart a couple times and found another place where the bear walks in and out through a broken spot. I have no idea what he is finding to eat among the flowers.

Dealing with critters of the woods is something that comes with gardening. When moose go through the fence it makes a mess because they are so big. With deer it's easier to fix and with bear--well, they usually are more careful.

Hope you don't have too many critter problems where you live. There's little native food for the animals this fall and I expect the bears will be into hibernation earlier this year as a result. If you have any animal tales to share, I'm always interested.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Gail and Karl the Wonder Dog just returned from a late afternoon walk. Karl apparenlty senses a cold night as he immediately stretched out in front of the wood stove. Good dog!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as a Like page Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!