Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23rd: Growing Season Ends but not the Gardening

All the tender crops were harvested on Saturday.  Notice the weeds in front,
this is how all the gravel paths looked when I returned from Alaska.
Yesterday I spent the whole day picking tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatillo and basil and composting the plants.  I did manage to pick all the winter squash but left the vines to cleanup later.  I did notice I had some frost damage over Friday night but the frost was much heavier Sunday morning.  The harvest was OK considering that I was not home for 7 weeks during the worst drought in southern Wisconsin since the great depression. 

Someone asked a question on how my garden survived while I was in Alaska.  The answer is one of the neighbors down the street would stop and hook up one of my many soaker hose I setup before I went north.  My water bill for July was $107.00 and August was $160.00.  The city I live in did not put any watering restriction on during the drought.  I ask the clerk at the water department about it and her reply was if it had lasted much long they would have done it.  The local news stations did report that some nearby private wells did go dry this summer.
Another section that needs weeding.
The guy who did the watering kept apologizing for losing some plants and the overall shape of the garden.  I told him that I was grateful just to have a garden due to the drought.  The biggest crop to survive my absent was the weeds.  The weeds thrive extremely well in drought conditions.  I spent most of my time before leaving weeding my gravel paths, patio and driveway.  I wanted to spray herbicide on the driveway before I left but the wind never stopped blowing this May and June.  I try not to use sprays around my vegetables but sometimes it is the only way to control aggressive bugs or weeds.  I spent this last month cutting back the herb and perennial flower gardens.  I also weeded the gravel paths around all the gardens.  The gardens are well mulched and that did keep the weeds downs.  The exception is the perennial bed; I do not mulch that garden because I have bearded iris. The mulch allows the eggs from iris bores to winter over so the weeds took over the bed.  I still have half the patio, area in front of the shed and the driveway to weed.  So far I composted over 20 five-gallon buckets in the community compost since I been back.

The grape arbor by brother and I put up last spring. 
I put down mulch but it is not keeping the grass from invading it.
The vegetable harvest was good considering the summer.  I did get two pickings of green beans, enough tomatoes for eating and to make chili and stuffed peppers, some broccoli, eggplants, a small picking of tomatillos and two heads of purple cauliflower.  There are two crop that did extremely well this year the sweet and hot peppers and winter squash produced the largest crops I ever had.  The winter squashes include 3 Waltham butternuts, an abundance of Delicata and approximately a dozen Table Queen and Forkhook acorn squash.  The Brussels sprouts and red cabbages have been left in the garden because they become sweeten after a few frosting mornings.

Winter Squashes: The three Waltham butternut are in front behind them is Delicata. 
On the right side is the acorn squash; the green colored ones are Table Queen and
the cream ones are Forkhook.
I hope I answered some of your question about the garden.  I still hope to post more on the trip to Alaska when the duties around the house allow it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Going to the Sun

As I was driving down I90 making my way west, I was trying to decide where I should start heading north to Canada.  I found out that there are many National Parks along the I90 corridor.  The first I noticed was the Badlands, the park is just south of the highway.  I kept arguing to myself that I did not have the time to drive through the park but I did take a break in Wall, SD.  Of course I did visited the famous Wall Drugs and stop in the National Grasslands Visitor Center before moving on.

McNanny State Fish Hatchery exit just before crossing into WY
As you drive further west you drive pass Black Hills National Forest and several National Monuments my inner voice kept saying turn, turn but I was good and kept driving west into Wyoming.  Just before crossing the Wyoming border I turn off at an exit for SD McNanny State Fish Hatchery to take some pictures of the rock formation. Wyoming has a new visitor and rest area.  The stop has several nice shaded picnic areas, tourist information, free Wi-Fi, and there is a beautiful bronzed status of a cougar outside the center.

Wyoming Welcome Center
My second day ended in Big Horn Mountain National Forest, I found very nice Forest Service Campground called Tie Hooks off Hwy 16 just west of Buffalo, WY.  I just finished putting up the camp before a short rain shower cooled things off.  The mountains were much cooler than the lower elevations, where the  temperatures were in the high 90’s for the first two days on the road.  The mountain landscape just bring a sense of wonder to me when looking at its beauty.

Wyoming Hwy 16 heading to Tie Hooks Campground. 
The rain show here was heading toward my campsite.
The third day started out stopping at the turnoff into the campground to take pictures of the Big Horn Mountains.  Once back on I90 I start driving toward Montana I decided to crossed the Canadian border near Glacier National Park.  I did several stopped to take some pictures.  Ate lunch in Helena where I stopped to buy a shock cord kit for my tent poles.  On the third travel day the temperatures were between 100 -105 in the plains and hazy due to the huge forest fires in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Big Horn Mountains early in the morning at the entrance to
Tie Hooks Campground.
Well, if you cannot guess from the title I could no longer say no to passing another National Park.  I was hoping to find a campground near or inside Glacier NP for the night.  I ended up spending the night at Buckhouse Inn in Augusta, MT approximately 100 mile south from the park. 

The next post will be about traveling the Going to the Sun Road.