I woke this Sunday morning to the sound of rain on the roof, an all too familiar sound this time of year. Although the sky was heavy much of the day yesterday, the rain held off until after the party we attended at my fabulous friend Karen and her husband Matt’s farm. It was great fun and we got to meet all of their critters and the wonderful couple – Paul and Ila from whom they are buying the farm and learning all there is to know about farming in Alaska.At the end of our visit, Karen handed Jon a huge bag of produce and shouted at me with a big smile on her face – “You’ll be canning tomorrow!” Their community garden harvest had been yesterday morning and the produce delivery was made to all of the farms. It was her gracious way of saying “thank you” for my help with the party, I suppose, though she knows I would do anything for her.
As I stood at the kitchen window this morning setting up the coffee maker, I realized that the leaves of the wild roses had started to turn yellow, the leaves of the high-bush cranberries are turning bright red and my rhubarb leaves are an odd dark maroon. Even the birch trees are showing a few bright yellow leaves. Sigh. Another of the many things I just can’t get used to here. It’s still August, but summer has fled. The rain is falling, the temperatures are falling, and sadly, so is my mood.
I carried my coffee to the table to sit here at the computer and glanced at the giant thermometer on the deck (giant so that we can see it from the loft in winter and judge how early to pre-start our cars) and it’s 52 degrees. Ugh. 52 and rainy. As I look around at all of the lovely plants on our deck, I realize that it’s time to decide who lives and who dies. Brutal thoughts for such lovely friends that we’ve enjoyed so much these past few months. The frost is coming soon, and they don’t have long. We’ve already done some rearranging and placed the heat-loving tomatoes in less drafty locations where it gets a bit warmer during the day, but all too soon it will be time to bring the lucky ones into the green house while we watch their brethren perish. I suspect that this is the last weekend outside for the lemon trees. As it’s unlikely we’ll be here for another summer, I’ve found them a new home…time to load them into the car and say goodbye.
Today we’ll prepare the greenhouse, rearrange things a bit and try to make the maximum space. My orchids have been sprawled out in there all summer, and I’ll probably have to move them into the house to make room for edibles. Not all of the plants we bring in will spend the entire winter, of course, but we would like to get the last of the veggies if we can. For heaven sake, our eggplant has been such a slow-grower that it has only just started to form its first fruit! It was a really rough year for aphids, so we will want to treat everything heartily before we bring it inside – a tough task when with all of the rain we’ve had lately.
Although we still have more than 12 hours of daylight per day (the sun won’t set until 9:41 tonight) there are so many clouds that we’re not getting enough direct sunlight these days to really heat up the greenhouse. The Toyo stove is running more often and we’ll need to get the greenhouse lights set up. For now, we’ll just have the lights on part of the time, but in the winter, when it’s dark most of the time, the sun is so insufficient even when it’s up that we have the lights on 24/7 or the plants become spindly and grow poorly.
It will be a busy day today, and likely next weekend as well, but well worth the effort when we’re enjoying fresh herbs and veggies and Karen’s wonderful Alaska Grown (R) vegetables a couple of months from now when there’s snow on the ground.