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MV Gardening Corner October, 2013


October has still been a busy month with harvesting and canning and freezing.  We have now had our first (and second and third, etc.) hard frost, so we have gathered as much as we could of any produce that might have been damaged by those cold temperatures.  Earlier in the season, we didn’t think we were going to get too many peppers this year; we had a lot of foliage, but didn’t see too much fruit.  When the frost was looming, Bill went outdoors and picked all the peppers and discovered they had been hiding and brought in almost a bushel of medium to small sized peppers.  So I dug out my “stuffed pepper recipe for freezing” since that stuffs at least 24 large peppers and wound up stuffing 34 of them (see stuffed pepper recipe from last year) before I turned the rest of the smaller ones into pickled peppers (a favorite of one of our daughters).  I had already sliced and chopped multiple bags of peppers for freezing, so this extra bushel was a bonus.
pickled peppers
Bill also picked the rest of the late apples, since we had two varieties that ripened in October and perhaps got another bushel and a half there.  Some of those will make it to apple pies and applesauce, though we have discovered we do like chopped apples in our oatmeal in the morning (see crock pot recipe).  The basil is done and I retrieved enough peppermint to make one batch of peppermint jelly, a favorite of Bill’s, and there were only enough green tomatoes left to make perhaps one jar of mincemeat.  We had red tomatoes on the vine right up until that first frost, but very few green ones this year.  The only herb to temporarily escape the frost was the parsley up against the house.
The horseradish is ready to harvest now that a frost has come, and we will try our hand at making fresh horseradish outdoors.  Apparently, making your own horseradish comes with some warnings, like wear gloves, and keep everything well ventilated or do it outdoors, and don’t inhale!  It sounds like it will be quite pungent and hot, and hopefully very tasty as well.   We still have carrots in the ground and they will be alright probably for another month or so.  Heavily mulching them protects them from a hard, hard frost.
Last month, we had a backyard patio put in (something Bill has wanted to do for years), but decided to keep it a secret from our kids until the first one came to visit.   We had a lot of uneven ground and grass and dandelions and an old tree trunk in the yard, which all became leveled with some nice patio stones, and the best part, according to Bill, was that all the garden furniture fit on it, so he wouldn’t have to move every piece of it every time he mowed the lawn!  
It was over a month before one of our grown children dropped by, but then it was like: “telephone, telegraph, tell a kid…the word and pictures were flying over those phone lines in seconds!   We also repaired the front steps (before someone got hurt) and put in a new walkway there, too, so the kids were amazed that all this was done under their noses.  Moral of the story..…come to visit Mom and Dad more often!  You never know what they’re up to!
In the orchard, the fruit has been picked, but there is more work to be done.  The straw has been delivered, and Bill will be putting the orchard to sleep as well, but he discovered and bit of a problem this month.  We had planted young trees a few years ago and we used white plastic truck guards to keep them protected from little critters who like to munch on young tree trunks.  They are expandable, but it was about time to remove them altogether.  When Bill began to do so, he discovered a sap of sorts, had been deposited along some of the trucks.  We spray the trees during the growing season, but use organic sprays.  The sap, it turns out, means that we have peach tree borers, a nasty little critter, that starts out as a moth, which lays its eggs at the base of the trunk, esp. after it rains and the lower trunk is wet, and when they hatch, the borers bore into the tree and begin to eat it and kill it.  
peach borer
We wish we had noticed this earlier, for they are most active in the summer months, but with the white trunk wraps, we didn’t see them.  Now, it will mean a lot of work to try to rid the trees of these borers before they do any more damage.  Bill noticed them on our peach trees, but the borer also attacks all stone fruit trees, so the plums and apricot trees are in danger, too.  It may mean digging around each trees and getting rid of that soil, and then filling the hole with sand or crushed rock or something that drains rapidly, so the lower part of the trunk does not remain wet for long when it rains or snows.  Then the sap has to be cleared off, any borers extricated from holes and holes plugged with some type of tree sealer.  During the growing season, Bill usually mulches around the trees right up to the trunk, but in the fall and winter when he is applying fresh straw, he pulls it back a bit, making a well of sorts around each trunk.  Mice will also tend to nestle in for the winter with all this straw, even though there are lots of barn cats roaming about, and we don’t want the mice munching on our fruit tree trunks either.  We do enjoy our peaches though, and they were so delicious and plentiful this year, we hope we can keep these trees healthy.
Fall is time for separating roots and planting bulbs, too.  We could separate the rhubarb and make more plants, but we really don’t need more rhubarb this year and had more than enough through the entire summer.  We could also split the peony roots and replant them, but that is a tough job and we have a lot of jobs ahead of that one, so that one may need to wait for another year.  We will not be planting more bulbs this season either.  When the patio and walkway went in, they dug up mounds of earth all over the yard and front lawn, so we tried to put back as many bulbs as we could find.  We will have to wait one more year to see where everything comes up and if it comes up before we add any more.
wood pile 
One more task is on the horizon this month and that will be to gather up some of the fallen leaves and pine needles after Bill cuts the grass one last time this season, and then run the chipper/vacuumer over all of that and make it into mulch or fodder for the compost piles.  If we can get the peach trees cared for and some of the leaves and pine needles made into mulch before the snow flies, that will be good.  Here at MV, we are also anxiously awaiting the birth of one more beautiful grandchild, which could happen any day now.  After that, we can enter into the month of November, celebrating all the saints and pausing to remember all that we are thankful for this year.  Praise God!


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