Saturday, October 28, 2023

Trick-or-TREAT! The Farm Report 10-30-2023

The Farm Report

Well here we are at the end of another month. Time for a Fall Farm Report. We're pretty much at the end of the gardening season. Irish spuds are yet to be dug, and the turnip crop is mostly still out there. My Dad had a little rhyme that said you should 'plant turnips on the 15th of July, wet or dry; and dig them at the end of October - drunk or sober!' Either way, this is the last of the fall roses for ought 23.

Annie has been on guard watching for mice trying to find a way into a warmer quarters for winter. They don't make it past her if she has it her way. I'm not making this up. She goes out around the house like she's on patrol. Heelers need jobs to do!

We had a hard freeze last night, with another even more brutal one tonight and then into the teens later on next week. Dahlia season is over! After I lick my wounds a little while, I'll get out there and cut off the tops before I dig up the tubers for winter storage.

Just for a reminder how pretty they were this year, here's a little sample of the fun.

Subtle differences, but WOW! what blooms.

This one was stubborn all summer, but it came through in the end.

Trick or treat! Apparently my Head Polisher and Officer in Charge of Organization here at Oakdale Farm thought maybe I needed a little reminder that I have a habit of kicking off my shoes whenever I get the urge. She collected them for me and made a 'set decoration' in the living room as a message. OK, I'll try to do better. I promise! Thanks for keeping me ship shape though!!!

The zinnias have just outdone themselves. They are definitely on the 'to plant again' list for next year. These got shoulder high to me and bloomed themselves silly. I'm thinking a band of them all the way around the field garden next year would be fun. At least it would give the herbicide applicator guys something to look at. Ahem....

Late season gardens get pretty leggy looking, as my Grandmother used to say. See those high weeds over to the left. That is my irish potato row(s). We'll see what grew pretty soon. I know at least one row made it. I leave them in the ground as long as I can every year. I have learned that the weeds keep the ground cool and moist during the awful hottest part of the late summer. So, at least they are serving some purpose. I'll mow 'em off and then hook up Henry Ford with a potato plow and go after the spuds soon. The grass is growling up out of the horse radish crop. Yes, that horse radish crop! The one that came back to volunteer to taunt me. The one that is not supposed to even be there. Next year!

Here's a treat: Fall radishes. They are just delicious. Big, firm crisp and not too hot. Why haven't I been growing fall radishes before now?

Henry Ford to the Rescue. This is the 'AFTER' picture of what I was showing you before. Annie helped a little. She's looking for voles right now in this shot. Voles seem to love sweet potatoes; Annie likes them, too.

Henry Ford and a middle buster plow and we're ready to pick up sweet taters.

Annie really does like them. She's been going out to the garden and digging some for herself in the evenings. And yes, she does eat them.

Bragging rights. This ONE tater weighed in at 15 pounds. That is not a misprint; FIFTEEN POUNDS for one tater. Wow! It is a Georgia Jet for anybody who wants to know.

"Tim, be sure to tell 'em I helped pull the vines off for you." Yep! Annie will actually work beside me pulling the tater vines away from the hills. It sounds like a whole pack of vicious dogs attacking a helpless prey when she does it. She growls and snarls and jumps and hops and shakes and pulls, but we have a great time at it. I capitalized on her instincts when she was a pup. I thought, 'What the heck. If she want to grab and pull, then let's train her to do it in a good way.' All I need to do is say, "Annie. Get it out of here for me." and she's on the job in full throttle. We finished up with 117 pound of George the Tator Man's finest. Half (or so) were Vardaman, and the rest were Georgia Jets. All good.

"You can't fool me, buddy. That is a turnip - and I don't want nuthin to do with no turnips." I've never grown them before either. I do find that I actually like them. I diced some up a few nights ago and added them to a potato/onion/bacon/shrimp chowder. It was delicious.

Trick or treat! The hydroponic strawberries in the tubes are STILL producing strawberries. It has been an interesting year for them. I usually just toss the plants at the end of the season and start fresh in the spring. But...I'm thinking maybe I'll try wintering the plants over and see if they can make it.

Peppers are in the bottom tubes. Peppers really like the hydroponic system I use.

I've been stringing up my extra peppers for drying. Gives me something to do....

Outside, the battens holding the greenhouse plastic in place have rotted out. The greenhouse plastic has also shown me it is time to replace with new. 

I'm switching over from wood to this nifty 'wiggle wire channel' for the new plastic.

You pull the new plastic over the top of this channel and then a 'wiggle wire' snaps in there to hold the plastic in place. More later. Watch this space....

Having teased my boyhood friend and professional painter into painting the front porch floor out here at the Manor, we kept going and just couldn't seem to find a place to stop. Before you knew it, he had painted the entire outside of the old barn. Thank you Randy!!!

If you look carefully, that is Annie on mouse patrol again.

Oakdale Manor is a huge old place, and Randy did the entire thing with one man and his ladder! Well done.

There he is on a slick new metal roof painting away. It made me feel old and feeble - because Randy and I started kindergarten together - and there is no way I could get up there and do that. All done with a ladder (or two) and a heck of a lotta work!

'Tis the season, as they say. The day after Randy was finished, the Asian Beetles came out of the fields in droves. This pic doesn't do it justice. The whole side of the house was covered with them.

Thirty pounds of cabbage in; thirty pounds of homemade sauerkraut out! This year, I decided to vacuum seal it into 2 pound bags and store it in the fridge for later. Isn't that what a 'shop fridge' is for?

Timmy Scientist at work. Inquiring minds want to know, as they say. The pH of my kraut turned out to be 3.0 which is pretty strongly acid. No wonder kraut keeps forever.

Just for a comparison, my favorite seasoned rice wine vinegar came in at 2.5 - a little more acid, but not that far off. The fermentation bacteria in the process of the kraut making actually made its own 'vinegar' for preservation. It's actually lactic acid, but let's not get too technical here. It's kraut.

These peppers are from plants I gave neighbor Ron; he gave 'em back. I have planted these as a 'Giveaway Joke' since the middle 1980's when H.W. Alfrey started selling these from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee by mail order. I put a plant or two into every box of pepper plants I give away. Without telling, of course; and then I wait to see if I get a reaction from anybody. Alfrey's magazine ad just said, 'Peter Peppers. Realistic,' and asked for money and a return envelope. So, of course I sent money and got the seeds!

You already know I'm in Permanent Fifth Grade, so I think this is hilarious. Yep! There they are: H.W. Alfrey's Peter Peppers. Realistic! TRICK OR TREAT!

Happy Halloween. All is well - but silly - here at the farm. \