Monthly Archives: October 2012

TO MOW OR NOT TO MOW, THAT IS THE…

Cooler weather and moister conditions are keeping the lawn happily lush, and still growing. I figure we’ll need to do one or two more mowings before the season ends. That is, unless you count yourself a member of the anti-lawn movement.

The vendetta against lawns is two-fold. First, those lawn areas could be used for growing food. “Food not lawns” is the calling cry (and the website, www.foodnotlawns.com) for those who have repurposed their front and/or back yards for food production. And second, lawns often are ecological disasters, especially those maintained lush and weed-free no matter what the summer weather. But even a lackadaisical lawn needs regular mowing, or it becomes something other than lawn. One hour of mowing with a gasoline-powered mower spews as much fumes into the air as does driving a couple of hundred miles.

I choose a middle ground, and enjoy the appearance, the …

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FINDING THE RIGHT CURE

“Cure” is a funny sort of word. It means, on the one hand, to relieve from illness, and, on the other hand, to subject to some sort of preservative process. (And, on yet another hand, a few other things.)

The chestnut variety ‘Colossal’

Which brings me to my chestnuts . . .  no, they’re not diseased, but they do need to be cured. We chestnut growers face two opposing goals with our harvested nuts: Good storage versus good eating. A freshly fallen chestnut is rich in starch and moisture and, because it is alive, it’s able to fight off mold and store well if kept near freezing temperatures. But it doesn’t taste good. For best eating, the nuts need to cure, a process whereby some moisture is lost and some of the starch changes to sugars, dramatically improving flavor. But cured nuts …

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KEEP OFF THE SCALE

Shortening days and cooling temperatures have certain potted plants crying out to be brought indoors. Soon, soon. Subtropical plants, such as bay laurel, rosemary, and fig, tolerate — even enjoy — temperatures below freezing, so cold isn’t the threat, for the next few weeks at least. But the later the evergreen plants come indoors, the more chance that I will have fired up the woodstove. The resulting drier air will shock plants if they’ve recently come in from cool, moist outdoor conditions; leaves will yellow and drop.

As for my poinsettia, staghorn fern, orchids, and other tropical plants, temperatures that dip below freezing could do them in.


But nobody’s coming indoors yet. First I have to make sure that no creatures are hitchhiking in with the plants. No, not creatures that would threaten me, but creatures that would threaten the …

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It Ain’t Over — The Fall Garden Begins

If I wasn’t a gardener, I’d look upon the late summer and fall weather as a glorious succession of warm sunny days and crisp nights with intermittent periods of mostly gentle rains. As a gardener, the crisp nights make me a little nervous.

Temperatures so far have only dipped into the low 40s; any night, though, that low could plummet below freezing. Below freezing temperatures would ring the death-knell for okra, peppers, tomatoes, and the any other summer vegetables still braving cooling temperatures. 

Actually, there’s not much oomph left in the okra and tomatoes. Okra doesn’t bear pods except when temperatures are downright hot. And disease, mostly early blight (not the dreaded late blight of a few years ago) has reduced tomatoes to nothing more than bare stems capped by a few green leaves and fruits. So loss of tomatoes …

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