Under a heavy sky, we scurry


Under a heavy sky, we scurry to get the jobs of Autumn done before the rains come.

Today we planted a cover crop of clover and rye.

We planted our garlic in neat little rows, six inch neighbours.

We picked apples and huckleberries. (Which Marc has taken to adding a silent “c” to the beginning of huckleberries thus making them cHuckleberries. Quite clever.)

In between, we drank warm mugs of steaming coffee, we ate chips and hummus, we played with kittens.

Now it must be said that until this year I did not know about cover crops, I did not know how to sow cover crops, nor did I understand the purpose. Let me enlighten you, dear reader. Cover crops are fundamental, sustainable tools used to manage soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, disease, diversity and waterlife. It is also referred to as “green manure.” They are spread thickly on ground that is recently plowed. Then they are raked in, stomped on, and let alone. The cover crop grows up and adds fertility and often nitrogen to the soil. Because the purpose of a cover crop is to “fix” the soil (adding nitrogen) the cover crop are often in the legume family. The cover crop also stops soil erosion.

Our hope, where we planted our cover crop, is that it adds nutrients to the soil so that next year, we can plant corn there.


As for the garlic, it must be planted before Hallowe’en. A friend and I were talking yesterday and she said “I thought to myself, October, oh gotta get the garlic in. Whereas last year I thought October, that means Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving. It’s amazing how fast we acclimatize to the seasons.”

I can completely relate to this. This year, everything has been according to what to harvest next, or what to plant next. It is a totally different way of thinking for me. October means plant garlic, plant cover crop, harvest the squash and apples, winterize the bees. Every month now has a set of tasks. Is this farming?

And the apples. Who can forget the apples? We have begun picking. Next will be more picking, dehydrating, making apple sauce, apple juice, apple cider.

To winterize bees, I have to “batten down the hatches” so to speak. I have to make sure they have lots of dry sugar along the tops of the frames, beneath the inner cover. I close them up so that there is not as much air moving through the hive. I reduce the entrances and I will be mouse-proofing two of the hives because those sneaky little guys get in there to keep warm. It’s hard to blame them but the bees do not appreciate sharing their hive. It remains to be seen whether we wrap the hives this year or not. Last year we talked about it because the year before saw heavy losses in the winter from the bees being too cold. Last year it snowed for 3 weeks which is very unusual on the wet west coast. And the hive was not wrapped and it managed fine. It managed by stacking it’s dead at the entrance to stave off the winds. It reminds me of a Monty Python skit in The Holy Grail “Bring out your dead!”

I’ve had a couple people comment to me lately that they cannot relate to my life now. I am woken up by Romeo the Rooster crowing, the collective geriatric sheep bleeting, and I speak of the Harvest. A couple years ago, I could not myself relate to this life. But it is delightful to be here, to be picking tomatoes in October, to be planting garlic, to be stoking the fire to bring water to a boil for tea.

Yes I think this suits me just fine, thank you.

About Amanda

Living a simple quiet life on the Gulf Islands, BC.

4 Thoughts on “Under a heavy sky, we scurry

  1. Uh oh… nobody told me about the “garlic before Halloween” rule! ARG! Apparently you’re only supposed to plant under a waning moon, not a waxing one. LOL Oy, I broke two rules. I’ll be lucky to see garlic at all next year cause I planted mine yesterday. Oh. My. Goodness! The rich goodness of the soil a year after we started lasagna beds. I could have buried my face in it’s glory. If it wasn’t raining. And I wasn’t so cold. haha

    I noticed you have me in your blogroll, thank you fellow Canadian and gardener, and I’m about to go return the favor on my site. Just wanted to point out that I’ve moved all of my 4 blogs (yeah, I’m that obsessed) to http://www.organiquegal.com if you want to update your blogroll so come check it out!! It’s beeeee-yooo-tiful, if I must say so myself. :D You’ll need to update your RSS also…

    Warm hugs on this chilly autumn day. Moi.

    • I think your garlic will still work. Some people swear that planting in January is the best way.

      I have changed my blog roll to your new address. Thanks for letting me know about that!

  2. Thanks… I also added your garlic tip to my garlic post this morning.

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