It’s in the air

The last few days have been magnificent fall days.  Yes, I said it.  Fall.  Certainly not Hallowe’en fall but you can sense it.  The air has a different feel.  The leaves are just starting to think about turning. The garden is getting closer to done.

Speaking of the garden, the Early Girl tomatoes are ripening and I have been picking a handful every day.  They are amazing, the meatiest tomatoes I have ever grown.

The Manitoba tomatoes are slower, with just a hint of colour change on a few that catch the most sun.  The plants are HUGE!  So heavy that the wire cages have been bent right over.  

I was speaking to my neighbour the other day and their tomatoes have been done and picked for weeks already.  They grow against the south facing wall of their house, while we grow in beds in a small clearing in the woods.  The extra sun makes a big difference.  Our yard is much cooler and planting wise a few weeks slower than those with full sun.  The trade off is my house is cool even after a week of 34°C summer days without air conditioning. 

Peppers finally appeared but it is apparent that they will still be a bust this year.  Very few bells and no jalapeños.  Very odd since last year I grew the best I ever have in the same dirt.

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Canning Starts

Even though the garden is quite a ways from being ready for salsa the island is continuing to be harvestable.  We picked up a couple cases of peaches on Friday and on Saturday while Kelly was preparing these for jam I went out to one of the many wild blackberry patches we have here.  After a few minutes I acquired a couple pails of berries and left behind the prerequisite amount of blood.  Blackberries bramble extract a fee!!

Jams done we still have a lot of peaches left.  As a trial I made my first ever cobbler.  First time I made it, first time I ate it.  YUM!  Definitely a winner.  We will be packaging up prepared peaches for the freezer so we can have cobbler through the winter.  Delicious.  

Visitors

Cass and Dave and the kids were in town for a few days this week.  We had a wonderful visit including a run up to Coombs and a couple of beach days. 

Coombs has changed a LOT since I was there last.  Granted it has been about 14 years since my last stop there but I have to say I’m not a fan.  The old market was a folksy place with local artisans selling their wares.  Despite keeping the goats  it now it looks like a flea market.  New buildings of glass and stucco with zero aesthetic value full of products which are just more made in SE Asia wares.  It actually reminded Kelly and I both of the last time we were in Los Algodones, everyone selling stuff out of containers from Malaysia and Indonesia.  I suspect it was either sold or has had some capital injection from overseas investors.  I doubt I will go back.

We also ran up to Cathedral Grove the same day.  I’ve been there several time in the last few years.  A nice place to spend a couple hours and if you have never been there it is a must stop.  You have to see what a 1000 year old cedar can look like. 

This was the first time we walked though the newer trails on the north side of the highway.  It is actually the better side.  Far less storm damage from the big wind of 1997,  has some fantastic root features and some very cool hollows.

Back on our little island we finished up with a nice beach day and a visit to the alpaca farm. I hope the kids had a great time, they looked like they did!

Forestry Day 2

Although we didn’t expect to cut down any more trees until September the boys had some sudden spare time and stopped by today.  We had them remove a few additional trees to allow more light into the garden.

Turns out that we were lucky we did.  Take a look at how rotten this one was.

I was originally going to drop these trees myself.  I’m glad I choose not to, that trunk would have made for a sketchy hinge.  Besides, just look at the precision these guys have.

That’s six trees dropped parallel to each other.  Nice work!

Hot

It has been smokin’ hot the last two days…finally.  The locals have been calling this month Junuary as it has been much cooler than normal.

Yesterday working in the yard I was amazed to see how dry it is already, even after cloudy and drizzly days all last week.  The forest floor is VERY crunchy.  I expect the fire chief will be putting us into morning shift any day now, where no power equipment can be used after 12PM.   I still have two fallen trees to buck up for firewood, so I better get to them in the next day or two or they will sit there until October.

The weather is not the only hot thing.  The ongoing gong show we call the USA has been getting hotter too.  Watching MSNBC the other day Kelly and I both had the exact same thought.  Do you?

Forestry day

We’ve been looking suspiciously at a tree beside the driveway for a couple years now, wondering about the wisdom of leaving it there. It is weeping sap all the way up the trunk and has a worrisome lean toward the house.

We decided to remove it and at the same times take down six others to made more room for a couple of fruit trees we are planting. The fallers came today and made fairly quick work of the task.

Sunny Days

The return of the sun means it is once again time to work in the yard. We got a reasonable amount done this weekend. The roof is cleaned and de-mossed. I finished installing the overflow on the cistern and sent in my rebate claim so I can get some of the cost repaid. Burnt the weeds in Muriel’s drive, weeded some of her beds, and got the mower running again. I even managed to cut my own grass, first trim of the year.

Hey, this wasn’t here yesterday!

 

I was taking some composting down to the garden yesterday and as I walked along I saw a tree laying down in the the woods behind the shelter.  “Funny”, I thought, “I don’t remember that tree there.  It is about 100 feet back in the trees and the leaves are just starting to bud out, so it is possible that I just noticed it now with the forest still in its winter thin state.

After investigating I find nope, it’s a new thing.  An 80′ Grand fir blew over in the night and took a second one down with it.  Not normally much of an issue for us.  Trees do periodically fall.  This is the second large one to fall in four years.  First one fell just a month after we bought the house and actually landed on the house.  Luckily this one is far away from any buildings.  Not that there was no damage though.  It managed to take out about 50′ of garden fence.

Just in time

Finished the cistern today, just in time for a half inch of rain if the forecast is correct.  Tomorrow I think we are headed to town, since rainy days are lousy work days.  May as well shop!

Rain Water

Did a little more work on the rainwater cistern this week. Removed a couple trees and levelled the spot it sits on and finished putting facia boards on the shelter. Friday my gutter parts are supposed to arrive so I can finish the project this coming weekend, or I hope so. Sad to have missed the rain this week but you have to think in the long term.

Still trying to decide on the irrigation side of this project. The water is for the garden. I don’t have much elevation change for this to be an effective gravity system and there is no power run down here to run a pump. We are pretty sure we want drip irrigation, so I need to figure a way to get water at low flow and longer times to the drip lines. Thinking about either trenching power ($$$) or maybe a small elevated tank that would act as a water tower. I’m pretty sure I’m not interested in a solar solution. My experience at LaRonge tells me it is more expensive than believed and far less reliable.

Thinking long term again I currently favour trenching power as there are good reasons to have electricity by the garden anyway. We talked about a possible route that would also serve a future shop building that seems to make sense to me. Probably going to be a few thousand though, so might need an interim solution for a while, which could be a simple as running out the garden hoses from the house one more year. If we miss the winter rains I might have to do that anyway.