September survival

A person around here broke a foot bone.

I won’t mention any names but the broken bone didn’t belong to Max or to me. So anyway there was a guy on crutches for a month and the other people here had to help a lot just to get this person to doctor appointments and to keep him from falling down the stairs which doesn’t mean he didn’t insist upon going down from step to step on those crutches so really it is a miracle he didn’t fly off the edge to oblivion and for this I am grateful. Then on Thursday the sweet smart orthopedic surgeon woman studied the new x-rays and then gave approval to walk again on the abused foot so we are back to semi-normal in that regard.

And also it rained, finally.

That endless heat was making me more crazy than usual. I found myself setting an ice-storm image as my laptop screen saver and also checking the weather in Quebec quite a lot. I think I could live in Quebec… But then, at the eleventh hour, someone rational got access to the sky thermostat and now it’s cool and autumnal with occasional rain and I am fine until next August which at least gives me time to plan.

I did not garden much during the horrible heat except to provide daily water to existing beds (our well is not generous enough to consider the grass) although I did plant a ring of little boxwoods around some native oak trees.

boxwood borderI will like them better when they grow together and don’t look quite so much like a circle of avocados standing on end.

The boxwoods frame a bed I have planted in a million ways previously: delphinium, petunias, strawberries and roses have already been pathetic or dead there. I am confident that the boxwood will be fine because it’s been fine in other much worse arrangements and I kind of like how it makes the little oak trees look like a big deal.


I have some catmint in pots and I intend to put in the interior of the boxwood circle…someday.

In other garden news I have finally managed to plant a winter cover crop of crimson clover in the vegetable beds.

crimson clover sproutsI think I planted them too close together…

The clover is a legume, which means it is a plant which miraculously puts nitrogen back into the soil and is also a fun word to say. In addition the roots break up the clumpy clay and then in the spring you just dig them into the soil in place and they are instant compost aka green manure.

Farmers use cover crops a lot to feed the soil but the rumor is that home gardeners are so busy with wheelbarrow loads of compost that they tend to miss this other opportunity. I’ve always wanted to try it, and one other summer I even bought a package of crimson clover seed but then I forgot to plant it in time. So I stored it on top of the door casing inside the chicken-house, which is the little building where I once stored chickens but now I have to store empty pots and a lot of other garden things because I don’t have a proper garden shed. But somehow the chicken-house mice got hold of grappling hooks and ropes and scaled the wall and ate the seed I had stored above the doorway (a place I chose so that mice couldn’t reach it)– and planting an empty bag just isn’t the same.

crimson clover sprouted

Anyway the cover crop plants are highly cute growing all in a brave bunch and looking around, keen and excited to sprout even though winter is coming, and they also make it appear that I am not at fault for failing to grow a winter vegetable garden because I can’t do that and grow this fabulous cover crop at the same time can I? (I have grown winter vegetables in the past and some of them even lived beyond November but mostly they dissolved in the rain.)

grapes in September

We have the usual pears and apples and grapes all ripe now which is handy if you are working outside and get a little hungry.

The dead “lawn” is making a minor comeback as the leaves begin to fall.

Westie in September

The grass became truly comatose during the heat attack of August/September.

That endless Heat Wave, together with the lost vote in Scotland and the new old horrible war in the Middle East– well it was almost too much.  I cast about for distraction and this may have contributed to my sudden irrational need to clean a certain upstairs storage area where I found three giant boxes of mixed up Lego sets from my children’s past.

The tiny Lego people were thrilled to see the light of day.

Lego pirate

What followed is the Great Lego Project, a sorting of all the weird little pieces into the vast sets of space monorail or international airport or pirate ship or etc, endless sets. It is something like a treasure hunt and satisfying to bring order to the chaos — but mostly I just want my dining room back.

too many Legos




About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Max the Westie, vegetable garden and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to September survival

  1. I wonder if it’s really necessary to prick out the seedlings, like you would do with carrots for example. Since “the fruit” of the cover crop is all up above. I’ve never known the answer to that and if someone could enlighten me, I’d be thrilled. I get it why a beet or carrot needs its space! Re: the heat. I thought I was going to commit homicide and then I’d be locked up and really miserable. Thank whomever for the RAIN!!!

    • linniew says:

      Why no Susie, it is entirely not necessary for me to thin the seedlings of the clover. Or anyway if it is necessary then I can see why gardeners do not sow cover crops much. Stay tuned and I will report back on this question, especially if I am right. (Chances are slim on the report back if I am wrong…) So glad you didn’t murder anyone during the dreadful hot weather. Next time we must start a therapy group of some sort maybe. Really I love the rain.

      • I figured! But when you said you thought you might have planted them too close together, I was hoping that the heat hadn’t effected your Gardner’s Executive Function–he he. (I just made that up.) When the rain started, I slept like a happy baby–so relieved was I. Once I stayed in Santa Fe for the spring and I had to sleep with washcloths on my face. I created a little tent-like thing of moisture. We could sell a variation for Oregonians who travel.

  2. Your grape vine looks fantastic, do you make wine? We are going to try and grow a vine but it will have to be in the polytunnel as we don’t get the right amount of heat outside 😦

    • linniew says:

      How I wish I could get you here to make wine from my grapes! They are supposed to be Wine Grapes, and last year I extracted the juice, filled five wine bottles, and let them sit in the basement for weeks. Now this was all per a website that promoted a very simple “old Italian farm” recipe for wine. The juice bubbled up and looked interesting but when I finally sampled it was the worst thing I had ever tasted. Really I expected to die in the ensuing minutes, it was so bad. I hope you get some vines started soon because I know you know how to make real wine from just about all fruits!

  3. Susan says:

    I am a fan of cover crops. I just throw the seed on, throw a light covering of soil on the top, water and that’s it. They grow so well it gives the impression I know what I’m doing which is far from the truth. As in, until I read your post, I forgot all about doing it this year.

    • linniew says:

      Well Susan I am somewhat psychic and in truth I wrote that whole crimson clover part just to remind you that it was time to plant a cover crop. (See you are not the only person pretending to know what she’s doing.)

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I’m so glad that Dances With Crutches is healed and life is back to normal for you! Now that the great lego project is complete, will they go back into storage to await visits of future grandchildren?

    • linniew says:

      At least half those Legos will be shipped to current grandchildren, which is one of the motivations for the effort at all. But you are right Peter, it’s the grandchildren and potential grandchildren who are the excuse. Well that and also Legos are fun…

  5. Chloris says:

    It feels strange for your readers in cooler climes to hear you longing for the end to the heat. We have had quite a good summer this year and a beautiful September but what we never get is really, really hot heat. I would love some of that. OK, I don’ t suppose the garden would enjoy it but I would. Just for a few days.

    • linniew says:

      Yes heat is nice for a few days, maybe on a beach while on vacation. I would have been glad to share some with you! When I was a child Western Oregon would typically see about a week of high temperatures in August. Now we are subject to them from mid July well into September it seems.

  6. sounds like your up to some new tricks. clover and all. planted winter rye once, it grew like two feet a day. Had to bale it. he he.

    • linniew says:

      I check on the clover every day and so far it’s only about an inch tall so I am not looking into balers yet. I hope you had a cow or something to eat all the rye or else that you are a good baker. 🙂

  7. Hannah says:

    I do plant winter vegetables, but I hadn’t thought about a cover crop for all my empty spots that are not vegetable garden I have been weeding for blackberry vines, etc. That might be a good solution, I hope I am not too late to plant Crimson Clover. I located some seed in Portland. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. The heat was relentless, wasn’t it? Day after day of hot afternoons. What was up with that? Ugh! Fortunately I have a lot more shade now that my trees are getting tall but I still couldn’t stand being out there during the afternoon. … Good for you, getting your cover crop in. Will you be planting bulbs? I’ve got a few to get in the ground. I’m sorry “somebody” (who shall apparently remain nameless) broke his foot. Ouch! … Your boxwood Stonehenge looks great. I love boxwood. It is such an easy peasy plant and they always look so tidy. I hope you can get your Lego projects done soon. We’ve still got all our Legos in storage too. They’re too nice to get rid of. Take care and write when you can, my friend.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Gracie! My only bulbs will be garlic, which needs to go in soon. A little rain and now the world is all green again, such a relief. I am really not cut out for hot climate weather… Lovely to hear from you!

  9. Hi Linnie, hope your broken foot person is back running marathons now. I guess all the severe heat will be over, must admit, I think I would have difficulty coping with it, although I wouldn’t mind being able to grow grapes outdoors, even the rubbish wine making ones.

    • linniew says:

      Yes Alistair the foot is healed, the rain has come and gone a couple of times, and I am renewed. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that you have a complete vineyard at your new place, you do such magic with plants.

  10. kate says:

    Hi Linnie,
    Drought and heat have made me very close to hysterical this year -not that you are – anyway, I gave up, I think in about July and gave it all over to my gardening higher power. A sad, sad year for us on the West Coast. Crimson clover is surprisingly beautiful. Let some of it flower before you till it in. It will warm your heart.

    • linniew says:

      Kate! I love ‘gardening higher power’– it makes me feel supported. I am enjoying the winter rain so much, even though the perennials are all brown and moldy out there and need cutting back and generally the garden looks gray and wet and wintry. I find myself dreading summer in fear of that heat again– I hope so much it is not the new norm. But it’s lovely to hear from you Kate and you have made me look forward to the clover flowers! I hope you are doing well and have a lovely holiday. xo L

  11. Alberto says:

    Hello Lady! Long time no hear… somebody could start worrying…
    I felt melancholic today so I went back through my old blog posts and our comments and then I came here and read what I’ve been missing… You never fail to make me laugh.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Alberto!
      Yeah I could worry about you too. Sorry you are melancholy, but it is deepest winter. I expect all your beautiful grasses are dormant… As you can see I have been dormant too, compositionally speaking. Do you have great plans for spring planting? So nice to hear from you!

      • Alberto says:

        Yes actually I have some big plans in my head, as usual, just need to see if they succed or fail… One of those plans is start blogging again. Take care!

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