Friday, October 16, 2015

Plant, Harvest, Process, Repeat

50 Chandler Strawberry plants, from Ison's Nursery
It is too late in my area for planting most cool season crops, but this is the month to set garlic and shallots in the garden, and last night I planted a lot of little strawberry plants that had arrived (very well packaged) on Wednesday. There are still about 20 plants that need to be set into the garden, but the ground is mostly prepared for them. 

Planting is a very hope-filled activity, and it usually involves some serious work.

We still are bringing in hilariously large quantities of peppers from the garden, along with the first of  the cool season vegetables.We've brought in bok choy and winter radishes, and the first beets are almost ready to pull. The sweet potatoes, one of the remaining summer crops, will be coming out of the ground this weekend, too. This part of gardening for me is packed with amazement and joy; always, I think "wow! this really awesome food grew in my garden!", even when the day's harvest is just one radish.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Road Trip to Monticello

Me (left), Electa (center), and Susan (right) at Monticello
A couple of weeks ago, I took a Friday off from work and drove with two friends to Monticello for the harvest festival, and Oh My Goodness we had a great time!

Electa had visited there before, but Susan and I hadn't, which is one reason we made the trip. The other is that Electa had some Georgia-heirloom hard-neck garlic that she wanted to share with Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Ira was scheduled to be one of the speakers for the event.

Considering this need, how could we not go?

We arrived early enough that the morning mist hadn't cleared.
The one obstacle that we had a hard time getting past was locating a nearby hotel room. When I was calling around to make a reservation and running into many fully-booked hotels, I was amazed to think how many gardeners were planning to be at the harvest festival!

We later found out that harvest festival weekend was also a football game weekend for Virginia, and that most of the hotel reservations were for sports fans rather than gardeners. To be honest, I was a little disappointed to make that discovery, but the festival would have been pretty crowded if all those football fans had been at Monticello.

I took lots of archeology-related pics for my youngest son.
The good news is that we were able to speak with many other gardeners who actually did attend the event.  We also met seed-savers and sellers we hadn't yet known about, listened to a couple of talks, and, of course, each bought more seeds than we have space to plant.

The festival included many presentations and vendors, but it also featured some Living History people who were demonstrating how things were done/made back in Jefferson's time.

When Susan saw a Living History guy (on loan from Colonial Williamsburg) splitting a long piece of oak tree to make a basket, she was very happy, because, in addition to being a thoughtful gardener, she is a basket maker. She had been at the John Campbell Folk School for awhile this summer to learn more about using native materials in basketry.

She spent enough time watching and asking questions that the guy waited for her to come back from a presentation to let her help split the heartwood of the piece of oak tree he was working with that day. The heartwood is used to make rims and handles.
Susan got to help split the heartwood to make handle and rim.

So ingenious...
While Susan was learning more about making baskets from oak trees, Electa and I were asking people questions about their gardens: what is your soil like; what grows best for you; what are your garden's biggest challenges; which varieties do you choose, and why?

To be honest, we may have gone a little overboard on asking about other gardens, because by the time Susan caught up with us, she had already been asked if she was "part of that Marietta group" (yes, that was us!).

We had arrived at the harvest festival on the first
shuttle from the parking area, and we were among the last to leave. We really enjoyed the gardens, the people, the exhibits, and the presentations. We got the most out of the day that we could, because the very next day we were planning to drive back to Georgia. Electa and Susan are (mostly) retired, but I needed to be back at work on Monday. Luckily, my gardening friends are happy to do a crazy long drive for a one day event!

Banners with plant-related quotations hung from trees.

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