My Gardening Goals for 2018: Fall Edition

It’s fall, and it’s really starting to feel like it. The first signal was when the days became noticeably shorter. Now, temperatures are dropping, and leaves are changing color. Geese are flying high in long Vs, heading south.

After a hectic and scattered summer that kept me away from gardening more than I wanted or expected, I have a lot to do yet this year. Before the snow flies. In two or three months.

Here’s my current list of fall garden projects, which is certainly incomplete:

Task Timing Priority
Removal of invasive barberry using herbicide (need to research too) Oct. Opportunistic
Site visits of a few friend’s gardens (consultations) Sept. Medium
Plant garlic Mid-Sept. Highest
Learn to chainsaw/Help take down trees anytime Opportunistic
Innoculate mushroom logs Sept. Medium
Plan and plant cottage foundation area Sept.-Oct. Medium
Transplant silver maple seedlings to woods Late Sept. Highest
Protect seedlings from deer browse (need to research too) by Nov. High
Soil test in new garden area by Nov. Medium
Get a plastic barrel for winter compost by Dec. High

What’s on your list for this fall?

Escape to Silver Mountain

April has flown by, and I can’t believe that it’s been over a month since I last posted. It’s not like anything too out of the ordinary has happened—there was work travel at the beginning of the month, maple sugaring on the weekends, and a lot of time getting our cottage up and running for spring—but I’ve been pulled in more directions than normal the past month and not able to write.

The weather has been yo-yoing between nice and not-so-nice. We’ll occasionally have a beautiful spring day, which will invariably be followed by days of cold, rainy weather.

When I looked at the weather forecast this week, Tuesday was supposed to be the best day of the week and so I planned to meet Sara at Silver Mountain to go for a hike and deliver some gardening goods. The “mountain” (which is only about 250 feel tall) in only about a half hour from my house, so it’s someplace that I seem to go about once a year. Usually I go there  in the fall to see how the colors are shaping up; I don’t know if I’ve ever been there in the spring.

View from near the top.

It was a gorgeous early spring day, with the temperature warm and near 70 degrees. The trail was pretty dry, and we meandered around the top of the mountain catching up on everything that was new since we last talked in the fall. The scenic views aren’t particularly exciting this time of year since the trees are only just starting to bud out. The real action this time of year is in the forest understory, where plants are just starting to pop up and flower.

Trailing arbutus.

As we walked along, Sara told me how Silver Mountain is amazing because its made out of the lava that used to be the center of a volcano. She told me this repeatedly, and each time we’d stop and try to imagine how where we were standing would have been somewhere inside of a volcano. Later on, we hit an area where the rock was smooth and undulating, almost like waves on water. A small sign tacked on a tree said ‘glacial striations’ to point out this phenomenon. I couldn’t help think that Glacial Striations would be a really good band name, and imagined a group of gray-haired individuals strumming guitars and signing upbeat oldies music

A particularly interesting patch of mosses and lichens.

We kept meandering and found a trail that seemed to lead down the mountain on the south side. Neither of us had ever been that way before, so we decided to go that way since it would be a slower route back and give us more time to be outside. We worked our way down the mountain, from rock outcrop through oak and pine and down to the bottom of the mountain, which is northern hardwood forest.

First trout lily flower of the year.

The spring ephemerals are just starting to come out, which is always exciting. These plants are visible for just a little while, popping up around the end of April or early May and only sticking around for a few weeks. I’ve been seeing wild leeks starting to come up since mid-April, but it’s only now that the other plants are starting to show and flower.

Bloodroot.

The trail we were on wound around the south side of the mountain and then curled northward back toward the parking area. It was not far from the parking area that we encountered a stretch of sheer cliffs. I’d heard that there were some cliffs on the mountain, but never seen them. A friend just recently mentioned that the area is becoming more popular for rock climbing, and I could immediately see why after seeing this clean, rock wall.

The east-ish side of Silver Mountain.

I feel a little silly that I’d never seen this part of the mountain before, even though I’ve probably hiked to the summit about 15 times in as many years and these cliff faces are not more than a quarter mile from the parking area. It’s a good reminder to explore places a bit more and not be in such a rush to get to the top. And, also, to revisit familiar places at different times of the year since a different season will make it a different place.

Weekend Warrior in the Keweenaw

We stayed pretty close to home this summer on account Sexy’s broken ankle (better now!) and getting our very own camp.  We’ve also been especially busy at work the past few weeks. Because we haven’t had a lot of time to play, we decided to head to the Keweenaw for the weekend for a series of small adventures.

We started out by visiting an undisclosed location so that Sexy could see how suitable an area would be for deer hunting, which involved about 3 miles of walking on Saturday morning. It was a gorgeous fall day with bright colors.

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From there, we went up to Copper Harbor and I raced the first day of the Keweenaw Cup—a two-day cyclocross race that’s part of the Upper Peninsula series. I started off way to hard and burned myself out early in the race. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to finish because I was feeling really sick. Once I started feeling a little better, I fell on a tight corner. I scratched up my knee, and I had to fix my chain, which had fallen off my bike. Later, I realized that my front wheel was loose (probably from the fall) and had to stop and fix that. And then later in the race I had to do it again. But I did finish! Continue reading “Weekend Warrior in the Keweenaw”

Field Trip!

Field trips aren’t just for schoolchildren—foresters go on them too. Here are a few highlights from a recent trip to Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts.

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Our group took a tour around the forest, seeing the wide variety of forest research being done across the property.
This hemlock forest is beginning to decline due to damage from hemlock woolly adelgid, which is really sad.
This hemlock forest is beginning to decline due to damage from hemlock woolly adelgid, which is really sad.
This striped maple was teeming with samaras (or,
This striped maple was teeming with samaras. I’m not sure about you, but I called them “helicopter when I was eight.
We climbed this tower to learn about research in and above the forest canopy.
We climbed this tower to learn about research in and above the forest canopy.
Inside, the dioramas show the history of the landscape. They are amazingly detailed and realistic.
Inside, the dioramas show the history of the landscape. They are amazingly detailed.

Blueberry Mini-Adventure (and Muffins!)

We all hated jack pine in college. In forestry school, we spent an entire fall semester alternating our time between cool, moist hardwood forests and the hot, dusty jack pine plains. The hardwoods were comfortable to work in and a lot less likely to harbor nests of vicious hornets. It took me a long time to come around and enjoy being in jack pine.

One reason to like jack pine: blueberries!

Recently we went put to pick blueberries and run the dogs, and this is what it looked like:

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Walking through the j-pine. Watch out for ground-nesting hornets!

Continue reading “Blueberry Mini-Adventure (and Muffins!)”

My Trek to Find a Forest Island

When I visit cities, I like to walk. I will walk until my feet hurt and I get blisters, but I rarely get sick of walking someplace new if there’s ample time and my feet are up for it. 

Washington DC is a great place to walk. It’s clean, it’s pretty, there’s plenty to see, and public transportation is usually nearby  if a trip needs to be cut short. I feel like I’ve walked over enormous swaths of metro DC in past visits there. On this most recent visit, I really wanted to walk someplace I hadn’t managed to visit yet: Theodore Roosevelt Island

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Teddy Roosevelt Island is in the middle of the Potomac River. The island is on the right, Virginia on the left, and Georgetown is across the bridge.

Continue reading “My Trek to Find a Forest Island”