Monday, November 17, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Fall


It’s been while since I did this, and of course a million things have happened that I could go on and on about. I’m still cleaning up the tail end of my gardens. The other day, I fenced in some of my landscaping trees and bushes to avoid their being eaten to death by bunny rabbits, which almost happened the first year I had them because I thought the rabbits would not be so bold as to come up into the year area and snack on the tree. I was wrong, and I did not exactly lose my fancy Siberian quince bush, but I lost a good portion of it. Luckily, the rabbits went in on top of the deep snow and instead of ringing it at the base, they got the top portion of the tree instead. The rest has been recovering nicely for a couple of seasons now, but I’m still putting wire fence around it this year.

My berry bushes got a little neglected this year. We had a lot of blackberries, but they mostly went to snacking and a lot of them didn’t get picked. The rule of thumb on all kinds of blackberries and raspberries is to cut the spent canes as soon as they bear. I’m not sure if I’m repeating myself about berry bushes, but if I am, bear with me.

Trailing berries like blackberries and raspberries grow in a two year cycle. The first year, the canes are called “primocanes”, and they sprout and grow over the summer. The second year canes I just refer to as the fruiting canes, because I can never remember what they called. I know it’s not “fruitocanes”, though. When the canes bear fruit and are done, they die off. It is very important to trim off the spent canes and dispose of them. “Garden Magic” says by burning. Don’t put them in the compost. Berries are too susceptible to disease, and you should not let spent canes and fruit lay in the patch and decay.

The one exception to this rule is the “everbearing” varieties of raspberries. An everbearing raspberry actually gets a small crop of fruits on the tips of the first year canes, right up until the frost. A lot of books about berries will tell you to plant a patch of traditional berries and a patch of everbearers. Use the traditionals for your summer berries and the everbearers for year fall crop, lop off the canes as soon as they both bear. I think it is sufficient to just trim the tips of the everbearing first year canes in the fall, though. The spent tips should still be burned, but the middle and lower parts of the canes will bear fruit in the summer. I would guess that the same holds true for ever bearing raspberries as it does for strawberries. You get the fruit at two different times, but all added together, the total amount of the harvest is about equivalent to the same as you would get with a traditional plant that bears all at one time.

In the fall, when I trim off the spent blackberry canes, I occasionally notice a few of the new canes that have a lot of thick, bunched up leaves:

Last fall, there were quite a few of these. I trimmed off most of them and experimentally left a few. This year, I have been very aggressive with them, however, since I did find orange rust on some of the canes. The only thing you can do for orange rust is chop out the effected berries and burn them. The crinkly leaf problem is like one of those corollaries: not every plant with crinkly leaves got orange rust, but every plant with orange rust had crinkly leaves. I’m not sure whether the leaves area preliminary of orange rust or the rust took advantage of a weakened plant that had another problem, but pruning back plants is kind of like deciding if you want to have a man around. If you’re not sure, the answer is probably no.

There are still a few more berry patches n the lower part of the yard I think I can fence in. Why am I just sitting inside and typing on the computer when there is all this yard work to be done? Because we are in the midst of our second major lake effect storm of the year. I think the weather has arranged itself to be extra terrible since I have to drive out to Jamestown for work now. This is a picture from our first major storm of the year, which was actually a few days before Halloween:

I have fooled the weather, however, since the first thing I did when I had money from my job was not shop for clothes or buy videogames or even sign up for broadband by satellite internet. I went a got a big truck. With big mud tires. Which of course my mother drives every day while I get stuck in the snow. But, one of these days, I’m going to read the weather report before heading off into the dark, snowy night to listen to people from Hawaii complain that their broadband internet is not broadbandy enough (oh, boy is this definitely not the kind of job that you take home with you and worry that you did well enough!), and I’ll be able to use the truck to get home and actually make it up the hill. It just hasn’t happened yet. Though that night I spent in the parking lot at the public library wasn’t too terrible, considering. And I had a rental car with these crazy performance tires on it that were absolutely impossible on anything but dry road. Because I’ve already hit a deer this year and had my car in the shop for a couple of weeks. I literally have not had to ever do the radiator flush and fill winterizing thing on that car, because the front end has been bashed out by deer twice now.

The same week, we got snowed in for the first time, I also had to have my dog Zora put to sleep. I’ve had her for more than 12 years, which is impossibly old for a Weimaraner. I almost lost her about a year and a half ago when she had a horrible hepatitis. As a younger dog, she was just hell on wheels crazy and lots of fun, too. Since she was about seven, she mellowed out and really got (for her) affectionate and cuddly. In the last few months, she had a little neuropathy in her feet and couldn’t hear very much, but she still went for walks with my mother for miles just about every day. She must have had a stroke overnight, because she was having trouble standing up, and that’s why we decided to call it a day, but even the day before, she was barking and hopping around and picking up my yarn and throwing it at me, so I can’t really complain about that. I’m looking to get one or two Weimaraner puppies to take her place. Right now, some of the garage cats have moved into the house, and I’m about ready to throw them back out again.

I took this picture about a week before Halloween which is when we had to take her to the vet:

I know all about the whole don’t buy from pet stores or breeders, get shelter dogs, they’re just fine thing, but I’m a little shallow about these things, and I want a pretty dog, not some goofy looking stray. Weimaraners are the prettiest dogs, and Zora was the prettiest of the pretty, and someone else can have a bug eyed hound-pit bull-jack russel mix that came to us here at the shelter because it ran away from home and was too dumb to find its way back, thank you very much. I’m getting the one that looks nice and was bred by insane perfectionist Germans to be the all around best dog in the field there is. Weimaraners are miles smarter than labs. They have better stamina, they point and retrieve, and they are physically sounder. Labs are better in the cold, but that is the one advantage. And labs are just not as pretty.

Beyond that, though, I’m going to have to do a couple entries here about using over the counter remedies and first aid tricks for dogs, since, between Zora and her naughty sister Peaches (who was a very pretty yellow lab but so phenomonally stupid she’s now legendary) who ran away into a summer’s night last year never to be seen again, I have a whole arsenal of things to do that can reduce trips to the vet for any number of injuries and incidents.

On a happier note, it is getting around toward holiday time again. Every year, I always come up with whatever the trendy crafty present is and make a ton of them for my nieces and younger cousins. A couple years ago it was those tie ended fleece blankets. I made a pile of those, they were really fun. This year, it is felted “Lucy bags” from “Two Old Bags” yarn patterns. Those are those bit, round purses with a short strap that flips over the long strap and holds it closed. I bought the paper pattern from a local yarn shop, but I know they have a web site, too. Hopefully, the next time I sit down a the computer to type mindlessly, I will have some examples. One is done but not felted, the other, I just started.
Speaking of which, Martha Stewart is on, and I’m going to knit and watch Martha! What else is there to do on a snowy day?

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