October 20, 2009

Winter is around the corner and it almost feels like we have not had much of a fall in Baldwin. We did build my greenhouse and get the plastic over the top despite the wind and I dug up my garden. Now we'll see what survives the season.

Garden salamander

Salamander II

I found this little salamander when transplanting milkweed. He had buried himself almost a foot into the moist soil. We put him back and hopefully he'll survive.

Greenhouse with plastic

Here is the almost-finished 10x12 greenhouse. Thanks to the wood-working expertise of neighbor and KU prof. Doug Denney, Josh managed to fit the pieces together. Another hard part was pulling the plastic tight. We had to use a lot of staples since the wind kept wrinkling the fabric. Right now the plastic is held down by mulch bags. This building will go through many phases this fall and winter until I figure out works and what won't.

Inside the greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse. First thing I did was to make sure the ground was fairly level. I only had to bring in a bit of dirt to fill in holes at the corners. Next I used our large circular trampolene fabric as the base. It is big enough to cover the floor. Around the inside edges I put flagstone pieces that had chipped off from the large stones. On top of that is a thin layer of bagged cypress mulch. I placed young tomato plants that I sprouted from seed (in my basement) inside black plastic tubs (that are often used as horse troughs) for warmth.

Inside greenhouse II

I also used black planters from Dollar General and black plastic containers I saved from last spring. Anything black will help keep the inside of the house warm. Interspersed among the plants are plastic containers with stone chips.

Water plants in greenhouse.

I filled large tubs halfway with water and put some water lettuce and other floating plants. They were starting to look rather sad outside in the cooler weather. We'll see if they perk up. The water containers also help to hold heat.

My butterfly garden

Bright yellow flowers

My butterfly garden mostly made it through the first light frost.

Butterfly garden in fall

Before the first frost Ari and her friends helped me drain the small pond. We took several dozen frogs to the big pond where they won't have to fight the plastic when digging in for winter. The blue plastic wading pool holds the water plants I pulled from the pond. Some of those are now in the greenhouse.

Snakeskin in cedar branches

Can you spot the snakeskin shed in the branches? It took me a while, but I managed to get it out in one piece. It is almost 5 feet long.

My plowed garden

I pulled all my plants from the large garden and brought home a large pile of compost from Lawrence. Throughout winter I plan to make frames for raised beds. The soil here is mainly clay and the last two years have not been as productive as I would have liked. Raised beds should solve the problem. Here is how I made my beds and I plan to chronicle the construction of the new ones:

Flaming maple leaf

Here is one of my backyard maple leaf trees that turned red the first week of October. The ones in the front yard have not yet started to turn.

Tosh at League

I have to mention the KS State Frontier League 4A cross country meet. Tosh (second from right) and his teammates ended up third. Good news because the varsity team has been plagued with injuries and illness, but they're ready to bounce back for Regionals this Saturday. The Baldwin High School girls have swept almost every race they have run this season. Way to go, ladies!