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Date:12/19/2014 8:27:17 AM
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Cleaning Up
The two latest photos include my water sprinkler. The first is from last June. The second is from just the other day. You'd think that I would have gotten around to putting the sprinkler away some time in the last three months but a true gardener would understand. So yesterday was Cleaning Up Day. All life has ceased in my garden. Even a late sprouting sunflower stands frozen in time, still pale green and yellow. The only real green left is a few carrot tops that will be dug up when I need them.

What you see in the second photo is what I used yesterday. A corn knife, (or sickel, as others name it) a potato fork, and a wheelbarrow. Unlike the larger garden down in the valley, I cut off my dead cornstalks and carry them to the refuse piles in my pines. The corn roots I dig up with the fork and wheel them out to the same piles. I do not have room enough in my "home garden" for the previous year's remains. In the "valley garden" eldest brother David disks the corn stalks before plowing the previous garden under. Even so, when I drag the farrow field in the valley each summer I have to climb down from the tractor and pull out the old stalks from the drag.

After the cornstalks, I pull up all the dead vines, tomato, pumpkin, squash and anything else. It usually means two or three more wheelbarrow loads out to the growing piles of organic refuse among the Norways. This year I also pulled up the old pepper plants that Punky had planted last spring. As I had mentioned to her online last week, it was especially sad to remove the plants that she had planted. She had moved out West before being able to harvest most of her peppers. They went to a neighbor who used them in her salsa, (jalapenos and habaneros being too hot for our tastes). I know that even the garden refuse is not wasted. All types of birds, especially the bluejays, will pick the piles over, and the rabbits and deer will visit them each night. I also had a few late pumpkins that were likely to go soft before fully ripening so I carted those to one of David's hunting stands.

As I've mentioned before, each year I am amazed at how quickly a garden can go from just sprouting and needing watering, to being mature and ready to harvest, and then dead and brown. It happens in such a rush that just keeping up with it takes up all a countryman's time so that things such as a yellow sprinkler can lay forgotten until the time for Cleaning Up. -- Gary
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