Heavy November rains have arrived. “Local urban flooding” comes with these rains which means that the fields surrounding town are starting to look like lakes, Fern Hill Road will soon be covered with water and closed for a few days, the yard and garden are totally soaked, and there’s water in our basement (and most basements in the neighborhood). Just the usual Pacific Northwest late Autumn deluge. Tomorrow, if the downpour lets up and it’s not too windy, I’ll venture out to take some flood photos. For now, here’s a photo of our front walkway, completely puddled. It’s nice to spend the afternoon quietly inside, out of the rain, watching movies and being with family.
The cover crops have sprouted in our raised beds! We planted four different types of crops to see how they do this winter and to see what kind of difference they might make with our soil in the spring. We planted Crimson Clover, Hairy Vetch, Austrian Winter Peas, and Buckwheat. A fun experiment!
UPDATE: November 24, 2016… The “Buckwheat” seeds we planted were definitely NOT Buckwheat! The package of seeds must have been mislabeled, and in my inexperience, I didn’t know what buckwheat seeds should look like. Now that the seeds have sprouted, we realized the mistake and think we planted winter rye instead. Here’s a close-up photo of the sprouted seeds…if you know for sure what they are, please let me know!
Many years ago, when we lived on “the Farm,” we had a wonderful Italian Prune tree that gave us loads of plums each September. That was one of the things we missed the most after we moved away! So it is very fitting that we planted a Dwarf Italian Prune tree in our yard this week. We planted it with lots of hopes and memories along with it. May it will do well in the spot we chose for it!
Our neighborhood is called “Old Town.” The trees that shade our streets and houses are very old. The oaks that surround our next door neighbor’s house, and stand tall on our property line, are over 100 years old. Their shade is wonderful in the heat of the summer, but they drop tons of leaves in the Fall. (My neighbor rolled down his window as he drove past us the other day and called out, “Leafageddon, again!”) The sound of leaf blowers (which my husband hates) is deafening on the weekends. We use our big rakes, raking leaves the old-fashioned way, and despite an occasional blister, we enjoy the job. Once each month, October through December, the town’s leaf vacuum truck comes by and vacuums up the huge piles of leaves that are raked or blown to the curb. Watching for the vacuum truck has become a delightful Autumn ritual.
Saturday’s big wind storm is over but the clean-up will take time. In our town, there were four or five trees that blew down, and the biggest and most devastating one was right across the street. So after witnessing the tree falling and calling 911 on Saturday afternoon, we have watched in fascination as the help arrived and started to deal with the aftermath of that 100 year-old-oak falling onto our neighbor’s house.
Three days after the tree fell, the crews are still working to clean up the tree debris. The crews that worked on both Sunday and Monday to cut the tree off the house and remove the huge pieces of trunk were truly amazing to watch at work! My photos will speak for themselves.
Today the tree is gone except for the broken stump. The wires are back up and the neighbor’s house secured. A small clean-up crew from the tree company is back today clearing the last of the debris from the yard and picking up the cut up pieces of trunk that weren’t moved yesterday. Pretty soon it will all be back to “normal,” except for a huge bare and open space that wasn’t there before. And then the house repair/restoration project will start, and that will be another fascinating process to watch. Who needs cable tv when there’s a lot more entertainment and interest right outside our window?
The last 24 hours in our town and especially in our neighborhood have been momentous. A huge storm front driven by a typhoon way out in the Pacific Ocean took aim at the Pacific Northwest and brought devastating winds that hit our town yesterday. A tornado came onshore in Manzanita, Oregon, and did considerable damage there. In our town, 60 miles inland from the coast, numerous trees were blown down, including a 100+ year old Oak across the street. I happened to be standing at the window when it went down and watched in horror as it fell on our neighbor’s house. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the damage is considerable.
We are humbled by Fall’s fury, and nervous about the 100-year-old oaks that tower above our house and our neighbor’s houses in this area. They are all old trees, nearing the end of their life cycle, and can be very dangerous as I witnessed yesterday. Although this area was originally a white oak savannah, these trees that make us nervous were planted by the next door neighbor a hundred years ago. Five of the ten big oaks surrounding that house are hanging over our property line and our house. We already had one very dangerous oak taken down when we first moved here a few years ago. (You can read about that tree here.) Needless to say, we will be having the other 5 carefully evaluated for safety within the next few days/weeks.
This summer I watched a free online gardening class by Stacey Murphy of BK Farmyards. She’s a wonderful teacher and gardener, and I took copious notes as I watched her 4 video lessons. I learned a lot! She opens up these classes every so often, and they are well worth waiting for! She also has a number of very helpful mini-lessons on YouTube. Check them out here.
One thing she discussed in her lessons was that planting in the right place is crucial to your success in growing vegetables and herbs. She suggested drawing a site map (bird’s eye view) of your garden site, and then “observing shadows” so that you can actually see how much sun and shade hits your growing area throughout the year. Her suggestion was to take photos of your garden 4 times a year — on the solstice and equinox days. Take the photos every three hours and then record the shadows on your site drawing using a different colored pencil for each time of year. At the end of the year, you will know exactly what the lighting conditions are of your chosen garden site, and then can choose the vegetables that would grow best in that amount of light. It’s a wonderful idea and an excellent way to help choose your garden site or get to know your existing garden.
So I started this learning process by taking photos of our garden at the Autumnal Equinox a few weeks ago. I used the panorama setting on my phone, and took the photos over 2 days because I wasn’t home all day on the equinox. I will do the same thing in December, and then March and June next year. It should be very interesting to see the actual amount of sunlight on our garden versus what I THINK is the amount of sunlight there. And you can probably tell from the photos below that the reason the last of my tomatoes are having a hard time ripening is because there’s not enough sunlight and warmth left for them!
Between our November rain storms, we hurry outside to work in the yard for a short time. All the plants are grateful for the moisture after our very dry summer! Most of our gardening efforts right now are focused on raking the “millions” of oak leaves that cover everything. We clear an area of leaves, feeling very proud of ourselves, and cart them to the curb for the city truck that comes by once a month at this time of year to clear the streets of leaves. But a very short while later, the ground is once again covered with leaves.