The first crop I harvest each new season is my Early White and Red Rocombole… really wonderful garlic.. we choose our mother seed for the following year then store the rest in hand woven willow baskets to last us the year. The last crop I finish processing for storing will be the flour corn. It is already harvested but is in the greenhouse drying. Once all the dry beans are processed and all the last peppers processed, I will take down the corn, choose the mother seed….. and then shuck the kernels from the cobs, and place in storage buckets with a little diatomaceous earth to prevent bugs eating it or breeding in there.
See Change of Heart my Cookbook for instructions on nixtamalising and using to make posole and tortillas!
I have just finished weeding, feeding and mulching my entire perennial bed…. 30 m long, I’ve just added the medicinal herb bed. It’s a great time to be dividing things, giving starts away to new neighbours as I am, etc.. I decided I had mo I didn’t need and made the seakale patch a little bigger. I had too many globe artichoke plants and so I took out a few and gave them away and I’m going to try again with strawberries. I gave up on them for a few years because of our sandy soil, but we’ve done a lot of work on that and I think with a thick pine needle mulch, and loads of compost and biochar, they will do well…. I took out a few of my weak asparagus plants and divided a few of my best, and shortened that bed a little to make way for more special flowers. I added dandelions and burdock, arnica, elecampagne and Echinacea to my perennial medicinal herb bed.. and I have yet to take care of my runner beans and culinary herbs… maybe next month!
My entire garden is now in it’s winter cover… heavy feeders and roots and legumes and loads of oats and lupins to make compost with in Spring. All that remains is to make 2 more compost heaps with all the corn stalks and all the other material from clearing the garden, plus biochar we’re making tonight, and chicken compost from the hen house to add extra phosphate, alfalfa, clay, loads of crushed and burned egg shells from the liquid fert barrel I made in Spring, seaweed and iodine. Corn stalks are very high in lignin and these crops high in lignin make slow release compost.. excellent for growing next seasons tomatoes and peppers etc. Once the compost is made I then need to refill my chicken house with carbonaceous material as the base for the next Autumns chicken compost. I only harvest it once a year and leave a little in the bottom of the floor each time to keep the microbe populations high and healthy for the continuing decomposition process. We will add the corn husks, the corn cobs, and many wool fadges of leaves from poplar, linden, oak and maple. I don’t moisten it at all over winter but next summer will moisten a little to begin the composting process, so it is beautiful in Autumn ready for the garden! or my compost heaps.
Falling Leaves…. Recycle the minerals
It is time to suss out all the trees in your neighbourhood that are dropping leaves and see which ones you’d like to collect to enhance your soil and compost.
The best leaves for making compost are those lower in lignin and higher is calcium and nitrogen, they include ash, cherry, elm, linden, maple, poplar and willow. They break down in about the same time as other ingredients in your compost heap.
Leaves – that are higher in lignin and lower in nitrogen and calcium – includes beech, birch, hornbeam, oak, magnolia holly and sweet chestnut. These leaves take 2 or 3 years to break down and so are best used to make leaf mould. Throw them into a circle made of netting, in a shady place and simply leave them until you have incredible leaf mould!
Another pattern language you could use to decide what to do with your leaves is as follows
- Green Leaves – some trees shed green leaves. These can be added in moderate amounts.
- Red or Yellow Leaves – These can be used in small amounts.
- Brown Leaves – Should be avoided but are good for leaf mold.
- Check out our chart as well to see which leaves concentrate the minerals you are missing in your garden!
Avoid the leaves of black walnut and eucalyptus. These plants have natural herbicides that prevent seed from germinating.
I was going to present my potato report this month however as we are in the throws of sorting all the small and not so small glitches on the new website I will give Sheridan some more time to get the potato charts and info ready and it will be in next months blog