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Good morning, and may the seasons change in the proper manner!  Welcome to Saturday Morning Garden Blogging.

Well, the forecasters were correct last weekend.  Saturday evening the cold front arrived right on schedule — according to the Weather Channel, the temperature dropped 12° in 11 minutes, starting at about 8:00 p.m.

Sunday morning was cold, cloudy and drippy.  I had to go into the office for a couple of hours, and by the time I left, the rain had turned to large, fluffy flakes of snow.  It only fell for two or three hours and then the skies cleared, but we got about 4" out of it — largely melted by the end of the day.

Sunday night, however, brought the forecasted hard freeze.  Now all the tender plants are dead, and it's time to go out and pull it all out, and pile it all up to eventually — once chopped up — to be added to the compost bin.

After the freeze, we've had true Indian summer: it was in the high 70s on Wednesday, and up past 80 on Thursday.  Just in time for the weekend, though, another cold spell is upon us — today's only going to be in the 50s.  Tomorrow, though, for pumpkin evisceration, we'll be back up in the 60s, so I hope I'll be able to move the mess outside to the veggie patch.  Our neighbors down the way — the ones whose house was pictured in the newspaper last year because of their outstanding display of Christmas lights — also go all out on Halloween decorations, to the point where at night the place puts out such a bright orange glow the unaware might think the place was on fire.

Last Saturday I did get the potato bin pulled apart and emptied.  Alas, I did not get a boatload of potatoes growing up throughout the straw, although I got some very nice purple potatoes at ground level, and a few (very few) French fingerling potatoes.  I did some more googling and found a couple of sites about growing "straw potatoes" that I hadn't found before (indeed, I'd only been able to find very sketchy information; why didn't they have information up before veggie season?).  I think I figured out what I did wrong: I didn't keep the straw wet enough, and I needed to keep it packed down more tightly.  Live and learn (which should, I think, be the official motto of gardeners everywhere).  Next year I'm going go buy two bales of straw, and water generously from the top.  I haven't cooked any of the purple potatoes yet so I don't know how they taste.  As to the French fingerings, there are so few I'm going to keep those in cold storage and use them as seed potatoes next year.

Speaking of cold storage, the arrival colder weather means that the cold storage area in the basement is, indeed, now cold, rather than just cool, storage, so I have all the hyacinth bulbs arrayed in their trays of hydrated polymer gel, ready to start putting out roots.  When I was putting the trays together, I started loading the bulbs in a little too early, before the crystals had hydrated fully and while there was too much free water so the bulbs sank.  I had to remove them and wait awhile.  But, in the process, I saw something on the bulbs that I hadn't noticed before: at the bottom, there's a raised outer ring, and in the center depression, it was dark and dirty looking.  I scraped my fingernail across it, trying to figure out what it was, and a solid disk of something — old roots, perhaps? — just popped off.  I don’t know if that... stuff... might impede the formation of roots, or if, conversely, it acts like a wick to hold moisture next to the rooting area.  In any event, I decided to see if removing the... stuff... would improve or retard the formation of roots on a half-doze bulbs (see above re live and learn).

Yes, the cold season is upon us, and soon the trees will be bare.  The red mountain ash tree across the street has finally donned its autumn leaves — it's one of the last to change color, and then turns rapidly within just a few days.  I really love that tree — but I'm really pissed at what the neighbor did to it.  It ustabe so beautifully symmetrical.  Then the new owner decided the lower branches on the west side were blocking his view, so he pruned them — but only on the west side.  Now the poor thing looks like the leaning tower of Pisa.

That's what's happening here.  What's going on in your gardens?

Originally posted to Franklin's Tower on Sat Oct 27, 2007 at 06:00 AM PDT.

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