Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Topaz Moon

I tried to get a nice picture of the full moon shining through the clouds and the ash tree in the front, but I don't think my camera knows what to do with that kind of lighting, so it didn't turn out quite the same as it looked to my eyes.

The Phoenix Moon Grove's name for this month's full moon is the Topaz Moon, named after the state gemstone of Texas and November's birth stone. The traditional English name for this moon is the Hunter's Moon, and while the deer are getting their antlers now, I don't think hunting season in Texas comes until later in the winter. The TV weatherman called this moon the Beaver Moon, which is a name I hadn't heard before.

November is the month we usually get our first frost. So far this year we've come close a couple of times, with nights dipping down to 34 or so, but not quite freezing yet.

The weather has been cool, but it's also been dry. We've gotten a little rain, but not much, just drizzles that don't even fill the rain barrels. I'm still having to water regularly. In this picture you can see the peppers wilting again. If I keep them watered, I've been getting a crop of bell peppers and, to my surprise, jalapenos. One of the plants turned out to be a jalapeno that got mixed in there, and not a California Wonder. Because of that, I went ahead and tossed the seeds I had saved since they're likely to be crossed with the jalapeno. Oh well, I can get bell pepper seeds somewhere else.

The peppers and basil are the only plants I nursed through the summer that I got any kind of crop from. It really turned out to be a waste of water trying to keep everything else alive. Something to remember for next summer.
I planted two kinds of peas this winter, Lincoln Shell and Tall Telephone. I got the Lincoln Shell peas in a trade (unasked for), so I went ahead and planted them alongside my Tall Telephones, but I doubt they'll beat TT in a side to side comparison. The description for LS says they're a dwarf variety, and one of my favorite things about Tall Telephone is how big they are.

I planted the peas on the tomato cages Daniel made for me for the last batch of tomatoes, and then alongside the rows of peas I planted root crops: carrots, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, beets, and parsnips. They're all growing well so far except for the parsnips, which doesn't really surprise me. I only had a few parsnip seeds from a trade, and they were a little on the old side. Parsnip seeds don't have a long shelf life, but I went ahead and planted them and so far two have come up.
The brassicas I started in August are looking really good. I planted multiplier onions in the slots where some of them didn't make it, but the rest of them have taken off. The mixture of the different leaf types in the bed looks very pretty, the blue-green smooth collard leaves, the yellow-green curly mustard leaves, and the bright green long thin leaves of the onions.
The Broadleaf Czech garlic is sprouting, which I guess means they have been getting enough water with their weekly sprinklings, but the other kinds haven't shown up yet. I know softnecks tend to sprout before hardnecks, so I'm not worried yet. The other ones should be coming along soon.
I planted some extra Tall Telephone peas along the back fence, even though that puts them in danger of getting eaten by deer. For something different, I tried mulching them with shredded office paper instead of straw. Daniel usually throws away his shredded documents, but I asked him to save them for me instead to use as mulch. It looks kind of weird because it's so bright white out there, but so far it seems to be working.
I planted a second batch of brassicas in another flat, because I still have room in the garden for more. I don't think I can have too many greens! The first batch is almost big enough for me to start harvesting.
I also planted a lot of lettuce, which is almost ready to start planting out in the garden. I got about ten different kids of lettuces in a seed trade, and since lettuce seed doesn't last long, and lettuce doesn't cross-pollinate much, I went ahead and planted all of them to see which kinds I like the best for seed saving. I've got quite a variety of colors and leaf types. I'm going to have to learn to like salads better, I guess!

Finally, I leave you with a picture of a new bird I haven't seen at my house before, a Lesser Goldfinch. They're a very pretty bird, with jet-black on the back and a neon yellow belly. As usual with these bird pictures, the picture does not do him justice. He was trying to drink out of the birdbath, and having a little trouble because he's such a small bird, he had trouble reaching the water level. I've seen him again a couple more times, always at the birdbath. I haven't seen him eating the suet or the sunflower seeds, so I wonder if he doesn't like those. Female goldfinches are a lot duller in color, so I haven't seen any, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

I've also seen some White-crowned Sparrows eating sunflower seeds underneath the feeder, but I couldn't get a good picture of them at all. Winter is kind of an exciting time for birding here, because there are a lot of birds that spend the winter here, so this is the only time I get to see them.

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