The 10-day forecast called for nighttime temps in the high 30s one night next week, and while it still feels deliciously warm most days with just the faintest edge of crisp at night, I hauled out the wood-splitter and commenced to doing fall chores. Split a truckload of that seasoned locust we cut and stacked in early summer -- most of it standing deadwood, but some of it gone over to the ants and thrown onto the wagon for the burn pile down in the bottom.
Cleaned out the cucumber bed and pulled dead leaves off the tomatoes, stacked the empty cages and pulled more weeds. I thought the tomatoes would give out entire weeks ago, but we still have a few yet to ripen on the vine. Amazing tomato year -- ate some fried for breakfast this morning.
We're pronouncing the raised bed garden a smashing success. Could be that stuff we added from Jim Harrison's barn. I thanked him for the horse manure and he said something like, "Shoot, that wasn't horse manure, that was mule poop." Well, ok, he didn't exactly say poop. Whatever it was, it made the growing season a great one in our first try with the raised beds. We replanted greens in the boxes that earlier this season produced potatoes, onions and zuchini. Rabbits got the first bunch, but we took anti-rabbit steps that so far have kept the critters back in the tall weeds. We picked some of the new lettuce yesterday as well as a potful of spinach. The broccoli has yet to produce anything other than nice big leaves, but we're keeping an eye on it.
Fall projects are underway. Our son John was here for a few days and we made trusses for the new porch roof over the wide doors to the workshop, and put up a framework to hold them. Ran out of those little twisty hurricane ties, so it's off to the hardware store for more. Killed the rest of a long week by restacking siding meant for the new garden shed and laid over the foundation down by the creek. The family has used the old house in the bottom for storage for years, but it won't last out this decade, I'm thinking. The new shed will have a storage area, a short covered porch for getting out of the rain and a gravity fed outside wooden sink to tidy up the vegetables. We'll use some leftover treated decking for the foundation stringers, if the carpenter ants have left us any usable stuff.
We drove by a fellow's house just yesterday and marveled that his apple tree seemed to be full of something that looks like Golden Delicious fruit. Our old trees here have no sign of the apples that some seasons glow like Christmas lights in the afternoon sun. We think that bad hailstorm back in the spring knocked off the buds and took care of the blueberries, too, but so it goes in these hills. Some years a good apple year, some years a great tomato year. All in all, I'm one happy tomato farmer.