October 30, 2023

Garden Notes: October 2023


  • 12th: 0.55"
  • 14th: 0.33"
  • 16th: 0.01"
  • 20th: 0.31"
  • Total: 1.2 inches
  • range of nighttime lows: 38 to 59°F (3.5 to 15°C)
  • range of daytime highs: 59 to 84°F (15 to 29°C)

Weather Notes

About mid-month the mornings were getting cool enough to switch to my winter work schedule. That means I do my garden and outdoor work in the afternoons. Mornings are indoors. That's when I used to do most of my writing, but now I mostly weave and sew (which I talk about on my other blog).

According to the weather forecast, a cold front will push through any time now. Our first frost looks extremely likely after that. 

Planted (all early in the month)

  • carrots
  • daikons
  • turnips
  • lettuce
  • kale
  • Egyptian walking onions
It's been pretty dry, so many of my seeds sit dormant in the ground. Maybe they'll make for an early spring garden.

  • hazelnuts 
  • chestnuts
These are saplings I traded hopniss tubers for.

  • greens: kale, turnip, daikon
  • turnips
  • cherry tomatoes
  • slicing tomatoes (which don't want to ripen)
  • sweet peppers
  • sweet potatoes
  • first sweet potato squash (the others are still greenish)
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • quince
1st quince

I planted two little Chinese quince trees back in March of 2021. I've kept an eye on them for fruit, but missed this one entirely. I found it on the ground! I have no idea what to do with it yet, but I'm looking forward to learning.

Okra and green bean plants are fading but still manage to put out a few. I'm letting these dry to save the seed for next year.

Salads, of course.

Kale, Swiss chard, daikon greens, cherry tomatoes, green pepper,
and aged goat feta. The dressing is a commercial chickpea dressing.
It's tasty, so I want to experiment with trying to make my own.

Things to do before first frost
  • Harvest sweet potatoes
  • Harvest sweet potato squash
  • Bring my potted ginger indoors
  • Try potting one of my green pepper plants again this year. Last year's didn't make it, but I didn't have a good place to store it. This year, I have the greenhouse, so I'm hoping for success.

Parting shots

Not much fall color this year, but the forsythia bushes never disappoint.

Spotted this little guy on a leaf of one of my potted chestnuts.

October 25, 2023

More Progress on the Greenhouse

Continued from Progress on the Greenhouse.

We had a week of beautiful weather, so Dan was able to make quite a bit of progress on the greenhouse. First up was a cover for the solar vent fan.

He was thinking he'd have to make something, but then he remembered this . . .

That vent cover has been sitting in his workshop for the past eight years! It was the one he removed from the back gable end of the house when he installed our solar attic fan. He washed it off, painted it, and added new hardware cloth as a screen over the back. To install, all he had to do was slip it under the trims and screw it down. It fits perfectly. 

An opening for a rainwater pipe from the gutter will be added after he gets the rain barrels in place. 

Then it was on to finish the gable end at the back.

Unfortunately, it means Katy will lose one of her favorite perches.

But it can't be helped. Since he only bought one piece of the double-walled polycarbonate, Dan did something different in the back. He used a leftover piece from leak proofing the roof

Then he finished up the trimwork on the back.

Still to do: flashing, caulking, sealing, painting.

October 20, 2023

Progress on the Greenhouse

Even though we haven't had a lot of rain in recent weeks, we've had enough to test Dan's roof solution to the little leaks we had. It definitely fixed the problem. The next step was the gable ends (are they half gable ends?). 

This side of the greenhouse gets the afternoon sun, so this side is where we wanted a solar vent fan to exhaust the heat. 

Also, we plan to put a couple of rainwater barrels inside, so a pipe will be needed to collect rain water from the front gutter on the house and run it into the barrels on the inside.

The fan is a solar attic fan, similar to the one we installed in the attic. As you can imagine, the greenhouse holds a lot of heat in summer! I doubt I'll be able to use it for growing anything then, but the heat and humidity need to be vented. It kept my sewing room quite warm last summer!

Dan chose to cover the rest of the opening with double-walled polycarbonate. 

I don't think there was any special reason for this choice, other than price and availability (of which there seems to be less these days.) We originally looked for used triangular windows, but found none that came close to fitting. 

Trims were next.

Then it was on to the side.

There's still the back side to do, and then, we can paint.

Continued here.

October 15, 2023

Around The Homestead

We still don't have a lot of color yet, but the dogwood are beginning to turn.

Not much new to tell. Mostly, we're working on seasonal chores, such as spot planting the pastures with a cool weather seed mix. Dan got the winter wheat planted and a little of that is starting to come up. Few of our fall plantings are doing much sprouting, however, because of our long dry spell. 

Dan has also begun thinning the flocks and continues to work on the greenhouse. I'll have a separate post about that soon.

Outdoors, I've been cleaning up the summer garden beds for their winter rest. We're still getting cherry tomatoes and green beans, so between those and our fall turnips, daikons, and kale, we've got some good eating from the garden. The chickens are moulting, but we still get an occasional egg.

Indoors, canning is about done, except for what I have waiting in the freezer. I think my old Excalibur dehydrator has reached end-of-life, so I'm contemplating replacing it. 

I'm getting the last of my cheese making done.


I start with mozzarella, then work on feta, halloumi, and paneer in whatever order we need them. These are our staple cheeses, all of which I can store in the freezer or in olive oil. I make ricotta from the whey, and with what we don't eat immediately, I make gnocchi (which also freezes well).

I've started working on organizing our office. When we created my studio/ sewing room, we used one end of the sun room for that, and left the other end for the office. I hadn't done anything with it because there is still work to be done on that side of the room, starting with installing a door to the greenhouse. 

Future project: the unfinished side of my studio/sewing room. The greenhouse
door will replace the left window. My computer desk is in the other corner.

What motivated me to make a start, was that the set-up for my table loom wasn't at a comfortable height for weaving. My worktable was too high, so I started looking for alternatives. My old computer desk was a possibility.

Actually a student desk, so lower than a standard table.

But it meant I needed a new desk for my computer. Happily, I had already bought one, but was waiting until that end of the room was finished before assembling it.

My new computer desk.

My old computer desk works very well for the table loom. 

New home for the table loom, which works well with the stool.

After that, one thing led to another and I've been working on finding and organizing our office stuff: paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, etc., plus bills, bank, and budget stuff. This is actually a relief, because I was tired of not being able to find what I needed (funny how you think you'll remember which box something is in, but quickly forget).

Weather wise, we're finally getting some much needed rain, but the temps haven't been cool enough to have our first fire yet. Even so, the house cools off enough at night so that we've appreciated our season's first soup. 

The base for this soup is a jar of frozen summer leftovers and
a pint of bone broth. Plus whatever leftovers are in the fridge.

Any that we don't eat becomes the start of the next batch.

This is our favorite cool weather lunch. I never know what's going to be in the jar, so it's different every day and always delicious. 

We're still in the midst of spider season, and I have a new type to report.

I haven't identified these yet, 

These are particularly fascinating because of their webs. They build a large, intricate maze (like you see at the top of the photo) and then build a more traditional looking web it the middle of that. Then they park themselves in the middle and wait. We have three or four of them around, so I suspect we'll see them next year too. 

I think that catches everything up. Next month will start breeding season for the goats (which they're ll ready for.) Other than that, it's just one day at a time.

October 3, 2023

Leaf Blower Season

October from my Christmas calendar by my daughter-in-law.

The other day while I was hanging up the laundry, I heard a noise in the background. Not a lawn mower. Not a chain saw. When I stopped to listen, I realized it was a leaf blower. Not many of our trees have turned color and started shedding their leaves yet. But a few species are, so someone was getting an early start. 

Dogwood, our earliest fall color

The anticipation of autumn color is a seasonal event in itself. I remember back in the days when TV was free, we would watch the local news. The weather guys would make a color forecast every year. It was either, "the color will be spectacular this year because it's been so dry." Or, "the color will be spectacular this year because it's been so wet." I always wondered if anybody besides me noticed that.

Our temperatures are trending downward, but other than that, we have only hints of autumn. 

  • The shorter days, of course, which required changing the angle of the solar panels.
  • Starlings and Canadian geese are beginning to flock. They don't seem to have departed yet, but they're getting ready.
  • Goldenrod and mistflower blooming.


  • The does are beginning to go into heat and the bucks are rambunctiously ready to accommodate. 
  • Dan's getting ready to start thinning the flocks. 
  • The garden is starting to slow down, although that may be from no rain for weeks. But I'm finishing up with the canning and freezing, and will be glad for the break when it's all done. 

We can expect our first killing frost as early as mid-October or as late as early December. It's never the same from year to year. But we usually have our first fire in the woodstove this month, so I've been collecting kindling to get ready. Dan will clean out the chimneys probably next week. 

Of leaf blowers, they probably won't be revving up regularly until the end of the month. That's when we can expect our best fall color and the beginning of leaf fall.

Parting Shot

Saluda and Minnie, watching the boys' antics.

Leaf Blower Season © October 2023