Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Walkin', Tossin', Gatherin'

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

As I drove down Route 2 towards home and Marshfield tonight, my eye caught Gail's car and then Gail out in the daylilies, spade fork in hand, weeding the second of the 22 plots I got planted with daylilies. I slowed down way in advance of the turn because folks returning home after work are not always as cautious as they should be. I pulled up alongside our car and noticed Alex stretched back in the passenger seat reading his H.P. Lovecraft stories and recovering from his very unfavorable experience of weeding with Gail. Karl the wonder dog was no where to be seen which probably meant he was sound asleep when Gail and Alex left the house and it wasn't worth the trouble waking him.

Already it's been almost two months since I began transplanting daylilies. They look good for the time they have been in the ground and have set in quite well for the winter. Planting in the fall is a good thing but as you work into mid October in Vermont, you need to use care and watch the soil temperature fall. Below 50 degrees and I don't think it's prudent to transplant daylilies because that is a signal that temperatures will fall quickly and soon. This morning was our second hard freeze, this time 22 degrees. I suppose if you wanted to plant and mulch or plant in known micro climates it would be fine but for us, planting for the first time in an open field, caution is the word.

In addition, to a major planting effort, we have made other accomplishments. I have patched up the fence where moose have walked right through. This didn't please me either time but there is no stopping a moose. This time of year there is mating season to contend with when moose are on the move, a controlled moose season is under way, archery season for deer just ended and rifle season is beginning. This puts thousands of hunters into the woods causing moose and deer to move where they may not have gone before. The fence has done well for deer control but stopping moose was already a known factor. In the next couple weeks we'll start work on the gates to Route 2 and the last piece of fence along the Winooski River. I intentionally left that open after watching animal movement there last year. Observations found deer, bear, moose and coyote all using the same corridor.

I made contact with Green Mountain Power and know that the power pole will cost $1200. That is a spring project that I will schedule in February so we are locked in before things get busy for the power company. We also have agreed to a building which we will use for a "pack and ship, sales area, office, take-a-break, get-out-of-the-weather, store equipment, warm up/cool off room".

When we were thinking about buying a prefab building from The Carriage Shed near the VA Hospital in White River, we had a contractor doing a bathroom over here at the house. He's a great person and a super contractor and he knows his stuff. He said he was familiar with the product and he couldn't build the same thing much cheaper if at all. That made us look more seriously at options. This picture isn't what we'll be getting for about $9000 delivered but it should help you visualize where we're at.

We will have a 12 X 28 foot building with the run-in part on the right as this picture shows. "Run-in" is the open area set up in a horse barn style building for animals to come in out of the weather, eat, drink, sleep etc. That's where we'll do pack and ship for Internet sales and all local sales. On the left interior wall of that room will be a full wall and a traditional door and storm door. I'm planning the door where customers and visitors won't be trying to get in, looking for whatever customers and visitors always look for. When I think about how important this is, I always remember the time three years ago when I walked into our house and a lady was wandering around. I asked if I could help and she said she thought our house was a gift shop. Gail will surely be happy not to give up her house anymore.

So you have a more complete concept, the two barn doors pictured to the left of the run-in will be replaced by windows and on the left end there will be another window. I really wanted the four foot overhang shown in this picture but that was going to add another$3400 to the price. The building is built on pressure treated 6 X 6's and is delivered on a tilt bed /flat bed trailer so it can be placed where you want it. It's also moveable if it needs to be relocated. These are all positives to me so if the business for some reason failed, was disbanded, was sold, there would be many options for using the land without having to deal with a building. When I plan a business, I always have contingencies and I recommend any business owner think into the future as much as possible.

Once in place we'll have to install underground electric from the pole. I'll put in 200 amp service with a breaker box in the interior room and circuits for the water pump, general lighting, the computer and technology equipment, and a circuit for any cooking/refrigerating equipment.
During the summer we have had many, many curious visitors and a number of those asked if we had considered solar power. Although we have not studied solar, it is on our list of things to explore this winter. If any readers are knowledgeable about an application such as this one, we'd be pleased to hear your advice.

The building will have to be insulated and next summer it will have a pretty rustic look inside as there's too little time to get everything done to finished quality. We'll get it stained on the outside and I want to get gutters on both sides to get the rain away form the building. During the second year the rain water and water from the plant wash sinks will be diverted to an adjacent rain garden--but that's a story for another time. In the middle of a five acre field a 12 X 28 foot building will look small but it will serve as an energy warehouse for some fine gardens and a business of growing. Let us know if you have questions about the plan. Suggestions are just that "suggestions", but we always like to hear them.

After trying to get Alex to give up Lovecraft and get back to work, I scooted home to change and get back to help Gail. We worked until the sun was fading, picked up all the hose and irrigation equipment we no longer needed and headed home. For two people, we have accomplished a lot this summer while operating our nursery and with me going to work at a regular job every day. Gail has been great to juggle so many things and still keep the nursery and Internet business in operation. Passers-by encourage us to keep it up and about every day, like yesterday at 5:30 AM at the gas station, I met another person who introduced themselves and offered thanks and encouragement....thanks for keeping a piece of Vermont in agriculture.

When I returned home there was just enough time for a quick walk in the gardens. Fall is a time when I try to keep getting one more picture of our gardens filed away in my memory bank for winter. I'm one of those gardeners who can't keep from picking seed heads, tossing seeds around and trying to locate those flowers which just keep blooming. Seeds that I think have promise for next year might even end up in a Mason jar for dry storage. Last week I found another bloom of the daylily 'Miss Amelia'. This walk found me with a hand full of heuchera leaves, batchelors buttons, rose companion, dried astilbe scapes and rudbeckia and echinachea seed heads. The trollius are sparse compared to their summer offering but the fact that they rebloom now is enough for me.

If you have a chance during the next few weeks, pick a warm day and walk your gardens too. Walkin', tossin', and gatherin' are part of gardening.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where small blocks of ice lay coldly on the ground near empty buckets no longer filled with warm colored flowers. The season "Fall" holds tight.

Gardening wishes;

George Africa


Mark said...

Every man should have a shed and that is one impressive one, hope you have a kettle in their for a cup of tea...

Cheers Mark

George Africa said...

Hello Mark;

Nothing to really do with gardens but one time a friend told me that every man needs a shed. It has to be a place to retreat to, a place where only invited folks can enter. He said it could be located any place--outside the back door of a house in the city or far into the deep woods where big deer and unknown monsters walk. I think he was talking about privacy.

This shed will serve many purposes but yes, it will have a stove and a place to warm a kettle. Today was our first snow in this part of Vermont. Not lots, but a reminder of what is coming.

Good garden thoughts,