It’s finally happened — the reality of approaching winter. Three nights in a row last week dipped below freezing. I’m still irritated that while I was away for a few weeks it froze hard and I was unable to get all my geraniums and begonias into the back room. I have hauled some in and out for decades. I like to keep them in dark green or black pots and fill in holes in the perennial beds. The dark pots blend with the foliage and make them appear planted.
They always look terrible during the winter. I let them pretty much dry out and cut them hard. Some of the pots are quite large and hold more than one color. People sometimes comment that they dislike geraniums citing their smell and association with little old ladies. Hey! I take issue with the little and lady — the old not so much.
On Sunday, Marie and I continued our end of the season vegetable garden clean up. We drained the hoses. This is an important task as a bit of water left inside will freeze and thaw all winter long taking up some time from its life. I use all rubber. They remain flexible forever. To drain, I lift it over my shoulder for its entire length. It’s remarkable how much water comes out. Finally when a coiled pile is completed I cover with Violet’s wading pool to keep the sun from them. Would that I had a basement or garage. I always covet others.
We continued placing hay on the now empty beds. We are determined to have our spring planting areas at the ready. A truck load of hay has been weathering all summer and is easy to spread.
We weeded our fledgling blueberry bushes. Because of neglect we lost several but plan to replace in the spring. We put a couple of five-gallon buckets of wood chips around each one. As I have mentioned previously, my friend Sharlee is my blueberry mentor. She has used woodchips for years around hers and they produce like crazy.
I was thinking about Suzan Bellincampi’s column at the left side of this page. She spoke about kudzu recently and its invasive qualities. I would like to add phragmites to that list. As we know, they are taking over the wetlands here and will wipe out all the nature such as swamp hibiscus and cattails. I was amazed to see it all up and down the East Coast from my comfortable seat on the Amtrak last month. From Providence all the way to the Chesapeake Bay there were huge stands of it on both sides of the track and into the water.
Last Thursday evening a huge crowd showed up at the Ag Hall for a Slow Food potluck. As usual the choices of food were outstanding. Big plates are a must.
Two young women — Emily Palmer of Scottish Bakehouse garden and Glassworks flowers as well as Kyla Binney of Farm to School — were the speakers. They shared with the group the experiences at Terra Madre, the biennial gathering of Slow Food International in Italy. They did a great job — informative and inspirational. They mentioned a Dec. 10 fundraiser potluck to support 1,000 farms in Africa. Keep an eye for posters concerning the event.
I am finally thinking about getting my wood stoves up and running. Good timing since they are my only source of heat. I had Tim Merriman’s chimney cleaning service over. They do a great job. Luckily I have a dutiful son, Reuben, who helps keep the wood pile full.
Oh! A postscript on the geranium situation. After writing half this column I took a ride to Edgartown. Wouldn’t you know there are lovely geraniums lining Main street in whiskey barrels? Apparently Edgartown has yet to experience frost.
I swore I was taking a year off from bulb planting but last week in the midnight hour, so to speak, I made an order. Thankfully many of my selections were sold out so I have a reasonable amount to toss into the ground this coming week. I have planted them even later in the past. A jackhammer could help getting through the tundra.
I guess the big brouhaha this week is over the airport security methods. I do not concern myself as you couldn’t pay me enough to get on a plane. I do wonder about the health risks of endless Xrays on the poor frequent flyers. I also wonder if in fact terrorists are way ahead of the game by now. I thought we were home of the brave but we sure have a lot of anxiety as a nation. I came across a great quote by Benjamin Franklin: “A great empire like a great cake is most easily diminished at the edges.”