Coupled with that, I've run out of bin space so first job was to put a thick layer of last year's leaf mold on top of the compost piles. In the bottom bin you can see it's black and earthy, it's broken down roughly and is just nicely moist. The weeds are just beginning to regrow under the cover, (top bin) so it seemed a good idea to smother everything under a blanket for the winter.
I've been turning over the grass under the fruit trees and covering it with newspaper, cowmanure, pea straw, wood chips, anything I can get my hands on. The mulch helps retain moisture, feeds the trees, creates a nice medium for other plants (some more welcome than others) and means the lads can go through the property on the ride-on mower to cut the grass without getting their heads clipped as they negotiate around trees. A trailer load of leaves is already waiting for my next lawn annihilation.
I'm gearing up for a new spectacular artichoke season. The boys have been less than enthusiastic but I have seen Julie and Julia and besides, I have the books (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes 1 and 2) with more recipes than I can count on one hand. Success awaits me. So, I've cut back the artichokes for the winter and the promising new shoots for Spring remain. Some are under sacks for the minute until I put hay around them; these ones have pea straw loosely about them, a combination of sacks and hay may be the best protection.
Quite off the topic, there's a substantial grey aphid colony parked on the brussel sprouts. I have been researching whitefly and come back to Kay Baxter 'Keep in mind that if you have a pest problem it is a sign that the plant is not happy and spraying the pests will not make much difference or help.' So therefore it is likely a soil nutrition problem. I'm inclined to agree but have a chilli, garlic, soap spray to try on the symptoms anyway. If nothing else they will be clean.
It looks like a dead stick stuck in the ground. I had to use a crowbar to get this walnut tree out of the forest a couple of years ago where it was languishing amongst the pines. The ground is on a slope so the little rock wall is not a collar around its neck but a dam wall tapering away at the sides to hold in the earth and water.
The tree is already quite old and has a poor structure. It has never bourne any nuts and self sown walnut trees are a lottery with the same poor strike rate. If it gets large enough it will be able to withstand the frosts better which at the moment, strip its leaves in Spring.
Unusual for me but I did a double take; it doesn't have to produce anything, it can be a poor specimen, it's allowed to be cared for even with its poor prognosis. Expectation nil. Enter Nurse Graham, and the old sanitorium has a hospice.