While it is fall here in Maine and I've been working on getting the garden ready for it's long winter nap the first of my spring gardening catalogs has arrived. I have purchased most of my fruit trees from Fedco Trees in Waterville, Maine. The reason I do is they are grown here in Maine for the most part or somewhere close that has very cold winters. One of the biggest challenges with fruit trees is getting them through winter. I don't have time to baby my trees so I try to order trees that are rated for zone 3 and 4. Fedco has 5 different divisions and their website as well as their catalogs are like reading a text book for the knowledge they contain. I order a lot of my garden seed from them as well since, again, they have great short season varieties.
It was a pretty nice day here today so we went to the apple orchard this morning. I have six different types of apple trees planted here but none are producing yet so we still go to the local orchard for apples to make applesauce. This year they put together a bushel with what they call a "applesauce variety". I think there are six different types of apples in it. I have always in the past used at lease two varieties to make my applesauce because it just gives a more full bodies flavor. I am anxious to see how it turns out this year.
This afternoon was spent down at the garden. I still have more work to do but it is coming along. Since I put the raised beds in this spring I am not tilling any longer. I still have weeds that thrive but that is mostly because I did not get enough wood chipped to get them mulched before the weeds started. Instead of pulling out the weeds and leftover garden plants I'm cutting them off at the ground and leaving the roots in the soil to rot and give nutrition back. After I get all that done in my three raised beds I want to add a generous layer of compost on top and then cover the whole thing with clear plastic. Using clear plastic allows the sun to bake any weed seeds that may still be lurking in the beds. It will also helps to warm the soil in the spring so I might be able to plant a bit earlier as long as I protect everything from frost threats.
I also would like to revive the hoop house that I built about 3 summers ago. The first summer I covered the PVC pipe frame with clear plastic and attempted to build ends for it. It was difficult to keep the ends covered and still be able to enter the hoop house. I took the plastic off for the winter because I was afraid that the snow load would cave in the structure. I am now toying with the idea of using plastic panels for the sides and ends. The house is 12X20 feet so that gives me a lot of working space. I will add raised beds to the inside of this also. It is just so much easier if you are not walking on the planting surface and compacting the soil.
My class on "Getting Started with Chickens" was this last week and several wonderful folks attended. There is nothing like a few chickens and their wonderful eggs.
I'll let you know how the applesauce turns out.