Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween!  Mother Nature played her tricks on us this weekend, so we had no ghosts and goblins knocking on our door.  In fact, the only knocking we heard was from our knocking the snow off of the trees and bushes.

This lovely beauty was weighed down to the ground by the heavy October snow.  After a good shaking midway through the storm she straightened up a bit and I am hoping she will survive to bloom another year.  

Her formal name is hydrangea paniculata and she is 8 years old this Fall.  She is a standard - pruned into a tree form - and fills our flower bower with her creamy blossoms in summer which fade to this fabulous tea rose.  I hope that I can get enough blossoms to make a little wreath or flower arrangement for Thanksgiving, but at this point I'm just happy that she lived through the storm.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow Days

When you live in the Northeast, you have to expect snow.  And we do expect snow - just not so much - at the end of October!  It was a bit more than we were prepared for.

This Saturday morning was a beautiful Fall day.  I was out in the garden bringing in the last of the tender plants for overwintering indoors.  Just as I finished up, the first flakes began to fall.  And they kept coming down for the next 12 hours.  After 5 hours of the heavy wet snow, we lost power.  Cell service lasted for another hour, but then the tower went out as well.  Luckily we have the wood stoves for heat and the water stayed on during the entire outage.

Midway through the wintery blast, we went out to do maintenance on the property.  Shaking the snow off of the bushes and trees, checking the outbuildings for snow-load, and running away from the larger trees when we heard the *crack* of a limb breaking and crashing to the ground.

I have to say we were very lucky.  The large limbs from our 150 year old pine trees did not fall on the house.  The black locust limbs that plummeted from hundreds of feet in the air slicing through anything they encountered in their path to the ground only hit gardens - not us!  One of our rescued apple trees was pruned by Mother Nature and seems so sad at half of its' height, but its' roots are snug in the earth.  We were lucky.

Once the snow stopped on Sunday and the roads were clear of emergency vehicles, we shoveled the driveway (the tractor is still set up for mowing - not plowing) and ventured out.  As is usual in the country, we stopped  to move downed trees from the road (sans power lines!).  Our little town was out of gas, so we headed north where we found gas and hot food.  After filling the truck and warming up, we headed back home to our bouncy puppy and another night of monitoring the water lines.  

Our power came back up on Monday, the snow is almost all gone now, but the damage to the gardens is bad.  It could have been worse, though.  Like I said - we were lucky.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hot Pepper Bouquet

A perfectly pleasant pepper parcel makes a pleasing hostess gift.  Don't you think?

Total Time: 5 minutes

Last week I harvested what I thought would be the last of the Fall vegetables.  I guess someone forgot to mention that to the pepper plants.  But, it was a nice surprise and came in handy for a last minute hostess gift.

I left about 1 1/2" of stem on the peppers when I picked them.  That was to make sure they stayed "sealed" and preserve their freshness as long as possible.  I even pulled off a few leaves by accident, but that came in handy.

I took a rubber band to secure the peppers in a bit of a bouquet, wrapping it tightly so the ones inside wouldn't fall out.  Then I tied a piece of ribbon around it to hide the rubber band.  I thought the rust colored ribbon contrasted well with the bright green of the peppers.

There you have it!  A simple bouquet of peppers makes a great hostess gift when you perk it up with a little ribbon.  Much better than a reused shopping bag full of produce, don't you think?

Friday, October 28, 2011


Mums! This is the best part of Fall - okay, maybe not the best (mulled apple cider anyone?), but definitely in the top 3.  The only question is, which color to pick?

We tried white one year, but against the white house it just didn't show up from a distance.  Then we tried mauve.  It really looked washed out and sickly on the gray front porch.  I loved the rust, the burgundy, and mini daisy-like colors.  Orange was too marigold looking, chartreuse was neat, but it looked like weeds were overtaking the place.

What to choose?  What to choose?

Yellow!  Bright cheerful yellow.  It pops!  It cheers!  It embodies happiness!  
Sometimes it's good just to stick with the classics.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hook & Ladder Company 14

This lovely little building sits across from my morning bus stop.  Yes, this is rush hour in Manhattan.  No, there isn't any traffic at the moment.  I was wondering what the story was behind the building.  

The building was built in 1888, designed by Napoleon LeBrun who was the architect for NYC at the time.  Apparently he built a lot of firehouses back then all in similar vein.  The building was declared an historic landmark in 1997, but even that did not save it from the budget chopping black in 2003.

Once in a great while there is activity in the building, but for the most part it just sits there.  I wonder what will happen with it?  Maybe they will convert it into a candle shop?  There was a new Dunkin Donuts shop going in on Broadway a few months ago (maybe a year or so ago?), anyway, they had to take down all of the business signs that had gone up above the first floor over the course of years and when they got down to the brick and mortar the original signage for the building was still there.  It had been a corset shoppe (yes, "pe" was there).  I thought it was pretty funny that a corset shop was now Dunkin Donuts.  I imagined that the women who once shopped there would be either horrified or ecstatic about the change.  Horrified because they knew how much tighter the corset would have to be or ecstatic because they knew the corset would hide the intake of donuts.

I think I would be ecstatic!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who me?

What happens when you take one innocent looking puppy?

And you leave her with one neatly wrapped ball of yarn for a mere 10 seconds?

Of course! A tangled mass of yarn! Argh.  So I ask her - did you do that!?!?!?

Who me? I was just sitting here.  Yep.  Just sitting here admiring the, um, the... Just sitting here.


Note the bit of yarn hanging from her chin.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Red Light

Tonight while I was waiting for the late train (well, the train was on time, I was late - so I guess it would actually be the later train), I noticed that the glow of the taillights from the street 7 stories below was lighting up the architectural detailing on this apartment building next to the tracks.

It doesn't do this every day, so maybe it was the twilight, maybe it was the added traffic from the evening rush hour.  Whatever it was, I thought it looked pretty cool.  Sort of the building telling the trees, "Hey! I can put on a Fall color show too!"

Maybe I should have gotten more sleep.

But seriously - that is an apartment building right next to the train tracks.  Every train coming out of Grand Central passes right by those windows.  Can you imagine the noise!?

Maybe it was really a reflection of the bloodshot eyes of all of its' tenants who must be incredibly sleep deprived.

Monday, October 24, 2011

West Side

A huge storm was moving over the city as I made my way home from work.  The sky had such amazing color!  The clouds stretched all the way across Manhattan, but everything was brightly lit. You can see all the way to Riverside Cathedral on the Upper Westside.

I was standing on the south end of the platform taking this shot across 124th Street.  I really like the way the sidewalk trees lead you right to Marcus Garvey Park and seem to surround the Cathedral's base.  Of course I had to time the shots to allow for the rush hour trains pulling into the station, so it took a bit longer than I thought it would.

The clouds burst open, the rain fell swift and hard.  In less than a minute I was totally drenched.  But I got this fabulous shot.

Worth it, don't you think?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

There's Always Room for More

No matter how sad looking the plant, whenever we get anything with roots, we find a spot for it in the gardens.  This little chrysanthemum isn't supposed to be alive.  It's supposed to have died off during our harsh Northeastern winter.   It shouldn't have survived the lack of watering and feeding and pampering that it had become accustomed to in it's childhood at the greenhouse.  It should be compost.

But!  We dug a hole after Thanksgiving last year and plopped it in.  The spot we selected was on the sheltered side, between a set of stairs and a rock wall, but it got lots of sun.  The soil was - well I don't know if you could even call it soil, it was more of a compacted dust bin really.  No grass would grow there.  Even the dandelions steered clear of the spot.  It was kind of barren and sad which matched the state of this chrysanthemum last November.

We left it alone.  Live or die.  It was up to the plant.  No pressure either way.  If it died, it would add some nice organic components to the soil and its little root system would have done a bit of good for breaking up the compacted dust.  If it lived, it could be a nice little chrysanthemum bush.  We didn't actually expect flowers.

It lived!  And it flowered!  I don't usually notice that area of the gardens, it's more of a blank spot, but while I was out retaking photos of the last flowers and veggies, I saw this little beauty.  There's grass around it now and a few leaves have gotten caught in its' foliage.  It is holding in water for the spot and turning what was not even a piece of dirt into good garden soil.  And it flowered! (Did I mention that it flowered?)

We're going to leave it alone.  It seems happy there and is doing a really good job of growing and thriving where no weed dared to tread.  It feeds the bumblebees and collects it's own mulch from wind blown leaves.  It even has it's own lawn.  Quiet frankly, I don't think it needs us much at all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Puppy vs Soccer Ball

The red ball may be her best friend and favorite toy, but the soccer ball is her sworn mortal enemy!  You never know which way it will go.  A kick to the left? To the right? Tossed high in the air? Rolling by like a freight train? Anything could happen!!!

And that is why one must always keep one's eye on the ball.  You knew I had to say it, didn't you? (insert groan here...)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Morning Train

I love Friday morning's train commute in the Fall.  It's so peaceful, so quiet.  I actually have this car all to myself right now.  It will be about  an hour before any other commuters find their way into my little private railroad haven.

There will be payback, of course.  Friday night commuting during peak foliage season is extremely crowded.  I'll be lucky to get to stand in the car, let alone get a seat.  But I'll take what I can get for now and just enjoy the peace and quiet of my Friday morning train.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lightening Across the River

I happened to glance out the window of my office this afternoon and noticed the lightening storm across the river in New Jersey.  The skyscrapers looked like they were sculpted from ice and the brightness of the sky was a reflection of the lightening strikes.  It sure was beautiful from a distance - a really big, safe distance.

Of course, by the time I was on my way to the cross-town bus, I had totally forgotten about the storm and the lightening and the inevitable rain that would follow.  Which is why I got soaking wet in the downpour that started when I was about a block away from my office.  Storms move.  Who knew?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Morning

Even at this ungodly hour, I couldn't help but be charmed by these grasses at the train station.  The station is right next to a wetlands and the grasses grow up on the edge in the marshy soil.  All summer long the red-winged blackbirds flit (yes, they flit) through the grasses and perch on the tips.  The birds are asleep now, the wind rustles through the grass and the train is just starting to pull into the station.  I gotta run!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Burger & Fries

What's in the bag?

Only the juiciest, hardiest, more delectable, delicious, meatiest, cheeseburger and fries in the neighborhood!

One of the best things about commuting down to the city for work everyday is being able to get my hands on burgers like this.  Even though I live in the country, most of the cows in my neck of the woods are apparently dairy cows, so I don't see burgers like this at home. (Not to mention that by the time I actually *get* home, the sidewalks are all closed up for the night.)

My friend, Corey, and I were supposed to have lunch on Thursday.  But *someone* - and I won't mention who - didn't make it.  Something about having to actually work for a living.  I waited.  I called.  I waited some more.  Finally I couldn't wait any longer.

So, Corey, this one's for you.  See what you missed?  It was really good!

In all fairness, Corey and I have been trying to get together for lunch for about a year now, but invariably one of us has to cancel.  And in fairness, that someone is usually me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival

This past weekend was the big Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival!  My girlfriend, Laurel, and I went last year and had so much fun, we decided to make it a yearly event.  

We started planning our trip over a month ago, bought our tickets online, planned out what we wanted to  buy, which events to see, when to arrive - the whole nine yards.  The night before the festival trip, we were Skyping until late, going over the last minute details.  I backed up my smartphone and emptied it out, charged the batteries to get ready for a day of photos.  Got the food prepped for our breakfast tailgating. Found the comfy camp chairs to lounge in. Reviewed my knitting pattern picks for the coming year, jotting down the yardage requirements,  I was ready to go.

It was a beautiful day!  I got up early and got everything together and dragged it all down to the south driveway to wait for Laurel to arrive.  With extra time on my hands I snapped some photos of the apple tree's last fruit and some of the flowers in bloom around the garden.  A full moon was still peeping out between the trees.  A perfect Fall day was ahead.

Laurel arrived and we headed out to Rhinebeck, about an hour's drive from our neck of the woods.  We took the back roads - past the horse farms, fall foliage covered mountains, ponds full of geese and pastures of cows and sheep.  Perfect!

We arrived early - parking in row 2!!! (Last year we were in the 15th row of the third parking field - about 1/2 hour away from the gate.) We set up our tailgate breakfast and sat down to enjoy.  Laurel brought little tables and she laid out beautiful embroidered linens, napkins with Battenberg lace and china plates and teacups.  Hot coffee was the first order of business. (click, click, click - many photos were taken!)

We served up the hot quiche, fresh tomato slices, feta cheese, olives, mini blueberry muffins, fresh fruit - a veritable feast.  It was wonderful to relax, enjoy our breakfast and look out over the hills surrounding the festival.  

Our tailgating did not go unnoticed!  In addition to the friendly comments from passers-by, we also posed for pictures for a few folks.  We both got a real kick out of it and it added to the cheer of the morning.

A few minutes before the gates opened, we cleaned up, packed up and made our way over.  It wasn't long before we were on our way into the festival!

The first barn we went through had yarn, yarn and more yarn.  Mostly alpaca and merino blends in a rainbow of colors.  The prices went from $12 to $136 a skein (yikes!).  Fortunately I didn't fall in love with anything in the first barn.  The second barn had what I was looking for - icelandic roving (unspun wool fibers).  I found a big fluffy ounce of a beautiful undyed gray roving and quickly snatched it up ($1 - bargain!!!).  Onward to the sheep.  

In the sheep pens, I saw the most beautiful chocolate Leicester sheep.  Their fleece was a subtle red to pure chocolate - gorgeous.  The farmer was kind enough to hop into the pen so I could snap a photo.  This is when I discovered that my smartphone was missing.  ACK!!!!! A careful review of my pockets, purse, shopping bag - no camera.  Laurel handed me the keys to the car and continued to browse the displays - I headed back to the parking lot. (So glad we were close to the gate.)

I checked with the gate - no smartphone there.  I checked the car - going through the truck, seats and even under the darn thing - nothing.  All my morning photos - gone.  Smartphone - gone.  Not good.  The people at the gate suggested I check at the lost and found by the main buildings, so I decided to call and have the phone shut off just in case I had lost it for good.  I was really p.o.'d!  All my careful planning for nothing!!  The day was ruined for me!!!  My life was over!!!!

Okay - this was when I realized that I really needed to just let it go.  There was no point to obsessing to the brink of madness over this.  The phone was off, I still might find it, it was a beautiful day and on top of it all, I wasn't about to ruin Laurel's trip with my stupid stupid stupid smartphone loss.  Besides, I could still get a few photos with my cellphone.  So, what this means to you is - the photo above is a stock photo of a Leicester sheep ( I swear I saw this guy - or at least one of his close relatives at the festival).  And not too many other photos because not only is my cellphone kind of smashed up right now - long story, but basically I fell off the truck when we were moving the watering tank and landed right on the darn thing - added bonus, it also gives me a bit of a shock whenever I use it and then view screen whites out so when you're taking a picture you can't really see what it is.

Before I went back to find Laurel, I took a few moments to Zen-out watching sheep shearing.  I never saw this done in real-life.  It was so cool!

The shearer takes the sheep and flips it onto it's back by grabbing onto it's horns and using his knees to hold it in cradled position.  He needs to make sure the surface that the sheep is resting on is flat or else the sheep thinks that it is going to fall and then it makes every effort imaginable to try to get up and get out of there (the sheep freaks out).  He starts shearing at the neck, goes across the chest and around the legs, then down the belly, around the back legs and finally across the back.  The fleece comes off in one giant greasy dirt and poo-encrusted piece.  The sheep jumps up, looks slightly embarrassed about being naked in front of so many people and tries to run off.  The shearer catches the sheep and holding it by the horn and tail, strongly encourages it to return to the holding pen.  The sheep, not wanting the other sheep to see it is naked, tries to go any other place besides the holding pen.  The shearer calls for backup and together, with his assistant, they convince the sheep that the holding pen isn't a bad place to be - and after all, it is much better than a roasting pan.  The sheep gets the message and trots into the holding pen.

These icelandic sheep were so cute!  Their purebred lineage goes back 1100 years - one of the oldest lines of sheep.  They have naturally docked tails - just like our pup, and mottled coloration - just like our pup.  I wanted to get some to bring home for her, but I settled on just getting the roving instead.  Laurel thought this was a wise choice.

These wensleydales traveled all the way from West Virginia to be at the show.  They are a rare breed so no fleece or roving left for sale(did I mention we were 9th in line to get in to the festival? and they are already sold out?).  The farmer is picking through the fleece to get out the bits of hay (and poo) that are embedded in it.  Since these guys have long curly locks, he can't just have them trimmed a bit for showing, so he has to pick the bits out by hand.  See how he's pressed up against the sheep?  That's so it will stay still for him.  The farmer's say it is to "gentle" the sheep.  I say it's because they don't want the sheep to jump and kick them.  Sheep are not those calm and placid beasts you see in the pictures unless you're using a telephoto lens.  They really don't appreciate being approached and handled by strangers.    They don't see the need to have their fleece sparkly cleaned and primped.  They have more of a "I want to be left alone" kind of attitude.

I'm not sure what breed this little fellow is - he ate his sign, but he was also too cute!  His little ears were like black velvet and the blue/gray fleece was stunning.  He was a petite little thing.  Most adorable.  I thought our pup would have a great time with him since they are about the same size.  Surely my DH wouldn't mind sheep grazing on the lawn - helping with the mowing.   Laurel pointed out that they would eat my flowers too.  Oh well.

After oh-ing and aw-ing over the sheep, we headed back to the display barns to finish shopping.  A quick bite for lunch and then we watched the herding dogs play frisbee.  More shopping in the big buildings (not many bargains there) and before we knew it it was time for the competitions.

The drop spindle competition was first - the competitors had 15 minutes to spin as much as possible.  They spun and chatted and chatted some more - except for this one woman in the corner, she just spun.  Guess who won?  Yup, the woman who just spun.  Good strategy.

Next up was the spinning wheel competition.  Our drop spindle winner competed in this as well.  The wheels ranged from a home-made fly-wheel and pvc contraption to a slick aero-space design.  The rules were the same - 15 minutes to spin all you can.  They spun and spun and spun - and kept spinning because the timer never went off, so they actually went for about 22 minutes before the judges noticed that the timer didn't go off.  The winner? PVC girl.  Her homemade wheel blew the others out of the water.

Finally, the chopstick knitting competition.   2 chopsticks, 20 stitches and a ball of yarn.  15 minutes, knit as much as you can.  This competition had a much larger field.  The chopsticks were handed out and the competitors started sanding off the splinters.  Time was called to cast-on.  They used all types of cast-on methods, but the method used by the serious competitors was a double needle knit-on cast-on.  This made  the first row of knitting looser so you could get going faster.  Smart.  While the remaining contestants were getting it together, the competitors continued to sand and sharpen their chopsticks.  Strategy is everything at the chopstick knitting competition.  Both American and European styles were used, but it became quickly apparent that the European "pick" was outpacing the American "throw" by a long-shot.  The competitors started out chit-chatting, but when the 7 minute mark was called, they all hushed up and got to knitting faster.  And faster. And faster!  Again, a woman in the corner came out 1st.  59 rows in 15 minutes (they fixed the timer problem).

It was late afternoon and Laurel and I had had it.  I needed one more skein of wool and my shopping would be complete.  We stopped back in the Ulster County barn (shop local, shop often!) and I found my skein.  We headed back to the car.

I took one more look around the trunk in hopes of finding my smartphone - nothing.  Laurel did the same - and YES! She found it!! Sitting right there!!!  Black case on a black background.  I don't know how I could have possibly missed that.  I borrowed her charger to give my cellphone some juice, called to get my smartphone reconnected and checked to see if they really had disconnected it.  They had - all of my morning pictures were gone.  But it was okay.  We had a great time and a lot of great memories from the day.  Besides - somewhere out there is a picture of two ladies tailgating at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool festival.

Time to get knitting!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hungry Bee

I recently read somewhere that at the end of summer, the drone bees are unceremoniously kicked out of the hive and left to die off over the winter.  Although I understand that there has to be enough honey to go around for the central players in the hive, somehow this seems really mean!

Needless to say, when I was out picking a bunch of flowers and I saw this guy just trying to grab a bite to eat, I decided that I really didn't need a bunch of flowers inside - and that this guy could have all of the nectar that he wants.  Maybe if he gathers enough of it, they'll let him back in the hive for the winter?

Nah.  But at least he can get in a few good meals until the snows start to fall.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cosmos vs Chrysanthemum

Cosmos. (Cosmos sulphureus 'Bright Lights')

Chrysanthemums. (Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Sheffield Pink')

When my friend, Christine, asked me today just what was the difference between a cosmos and a chrysanthemum, I wasn't really sure how to explain it, so I thought I'd spend a little time researching and sharing what I found out.  Okay, so maybe these aren't the best examples of how these two different varieties of flowers could be thought to be similar, but these are the varieties I have in my gardens, so we'll go with them. (Of course, I couldn't find my picture of cosmos, so the one above is from the seed company catalog.)

According to the scientific classification (you remember that, right?  Linneaus? The guy who would have gone nutso with a p-touch?), these two beauties are the same until you get down to the tribe classification, that's when the split happens.  Not very helpful - right?

Okay, so then I looked at where the plants came from.  Cosmos come from Mexico and South America while chrysanthemums came from China.  That seems pretty clear, but since my flowers don't have labels growing out of them (sorry Linnaeus!) this probably isn't helpful either.

Cosmos and chrysanthemum leaves sort of look the same, lobed like an oak leaf.  Cosmos in my zone are usually reseeding annuals.  Chrysanthemums are perennial bushes.  Cosmos start blooming in summer.  Chrysanthemums start blooming in fall.  Cosmos generally have a single row of about 8-10 flower petals that create a single ring around the center of the flower.  Chrysanthemum generally have anywhere from 2 rows of petals (like a daisy) to a gazillion petals (like a pompom) that create multiple rings around the center of the flower.

And then I noticed this: cosmos flower petals are sort of squared off at the ends, and chrysanthemum petals are pointed.

Cosmos petal - squared off

Chrysanthemum petal - pointed

So when you're walking through the garden and you see one of these beauties, take note of the petals.  If they are squared off, it's probably a cosmos.  If it's pointed, it's probably a chrysanthemum. 

And that's the best non-scientific, non-botanist way I can come up with to explain in 15 seconds or less the difference between a cosmos and a chrysanthemum.

Friday, October 14, 2011


This was a fun shot I took from the train platform on my way home last week.  It's a view of 125th Street in Manhattan facing east towards Long Island.  I wanted to do one of those effects where there is just one spot of color in the photo, and I thought the yellow cab headed down Lexington would be the perfect spot of color for this rush-hour scene.

Total Time: 30 minutes

I used Photoshop.  In image mode, I changed the color to grayscale.  I selected duo-tone and set the tri-tone option to 2 greens.  I cut the taxi out and placed it in a new layer, selected RGB and changed it to that NYC taxi yellow.  Just to conserve download time, I saved it sized for the web.

Here's the original.

I think everything gets all jammed together in the original shot.  Since the yellow taxi in the foreground is so bright, you don't really see the bridge at the end of the horizon.  It feels rather claustrophobic with everything crushed together and the bug bus and truck so near.

When I washed out the color, it gentles the whole picture and lets your eye move around to see all of the pieces.  So much calmer that way.

Please note the bus in the lower right-hand corner - that's not my bus.  Nope, my bus is still about 5 blocks away.  I had to get off and run for it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Dog and Her Ball

Here's our pup saying, "Wanna play now? What about now? Is now good? Now? Now? Now? Come *on*! It's fun!!! Let's play. Now."

Her favorite toy is this red ball.  We found it at the local ag store in with the horse toys.  So far it seems indestructible.  She chews on it, jumps on it, tosses it around and hasn't even dented the rubber.  We love putting her out on the trolley run and throwing her the ball.  She really works up a good head of steam chasing after it and is always just so happy to play! And play some more. And some more. And more...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Overwintering Herbs

The frosts are starting, so this weekend it was time to bring in the herbs for overwintering.  Not all of the herbs will make through the entire winter, but we will be able to extend the season by a few weeks for most of them and the ones that make it through all the way will go back out to the garden next spring.  The most important thing about this fall chore?  This winter we will have fresh herbs to cook with!

Total Time: 4 1/2 hours

You'll need a drip tray for the plants.  I found this great watering pan at the local ag store.  It's big enough to hold all of the herbs I want to save for the winter, no pots scattered all over the place.  The best part about it is that it does not have any seams, it's pressed out of a single piece of metal so there are no places for water to sit and create rust.  I think it will last a few years.

This 5-inch pot is a leftover from spring planting.

I'll be using 7 of them for my herbs.

A brush and some soap will take care of all of the old dirt and plant debris from the pot.  (Should have done this in spring right after planting!)

Scrub the inside of the pot.

Scrub the outside of the pot.

Use a scrub sponge to get those really stuck on bits off.

All clean!

Now I have to sanitize the pots to kill off any microbes or bacteria that have been living off of that old plant matter.  According to Iowa State Horticulture guidelines I should use a 1 part bleach to 9 parts water ratio.

Here's a big bowl to soak the pots in.

I put some water in first and then added the bleach to get my 9:1 ratio.

Since I'm working with bleach here, I put on some gloves.  I dipped each pot into the water mixture.

Then I stacked them loosely together and submerged them.

Since I didn't want to wait around while they soaked for at least 10 minutes, I filled the bleach cup with water and used it as a weight.

Time to get the herbs.  I have a trowel for digging, a claw in case some of the roots are really stuck, gloves and a plastic bag to hold the dug up herbs.

The garden has quite a few leaves filling up the beds and some of the herbs are looking really straggly, but we should be able to find enough for overwintering.

The rosemary is hiding in the middle of the brussels sprouts.

Genovese basil.



Purple basil.


Starting with the parsley.  I located the base of the plant.

I wasn't sure how big the roots would be, so I just gently stuck the trowel in a few inches away from the base of the parsley.  When I didn't feel anything hitting the trowel, I pushed it in the rest of the way at a slight angle going towards the base of the plant.

I used the trowel to pry up the parsley, taking my time and trying to be careful not to rip apart the root ball.

Once I got the parsley roots loose, I pulled the plant up out of the garden bed and shook a little of the dirt off.  I didn't shake it all off because I didn't want the roots to freak out.  Pulling all of the dirt off of the roots seems to me like pulling a teddy bear away from a kid - it's just not nice!

This is the parsley all dug up.  The root ball is about the size of a small baseball.  It has a few thicker roots on it as well as a nice amount of the soft hair-like ones.

The chives were next.  It dug up like a clump of grass.  Their roots are all really soft and are about the size of a  softball.

The sage had a really big root system.  It's got really woody stems with roots popping off of it.  I'll trim off the side stem and leave the main mass for potting up.

The basils roots were pretty shallow considering the heigh of the plant.  I picked basil that still had some light green stems because I think they will have a better chance for new growth once they are potted up.

The rosemary roots are nice and dense.  It looks like there are enough to hold the plant securely in the pot.  They are also about the size of a softball.

Tools for potting up:  drip tray, sanitized pots, trowel, freshly dug herbs (smells great!), a bag of organic potting soil.  I get large bags of organic potting soil from my local greenhouse and use it as a fertilizing boost for planting in the spring as well as for potting up in the fall.

Lay out the pots in the drip tray.

You want to make sure the dirt line for the plant stays the same as it was in the garden.  And don't forget to leave about a 1/2-inch for watering space.  For these pots, I'll fill the dirt up to the first horizontal line in the pot.

Toss a bit of dirt in the bottom of the pot for all of the hair-like roots to nestle in.

Put the plant in and fill the rest of the way with dirt.  Use your fingers or the trowel to shove the dirt in around the roots of the plant.  You don't want to have any air pockets here - just a solid block of dirt and roots in the pot.

Rosemary all potted up.

Purple basil, 





More basil.

All of the herbs are potted up.  I'll water them inside so it will be lighter to carry.

I use old coffee grounds as an insecticide.  I keep a jar of them in the fridge, so I always have some on hand.

First I have to rinse off the plants to get rid of any bugs, slugs or other creepy crawly things.

I sprinkle a few spoons of coffee grounds on top of the pot.

Everything potted up, rinsed, watered and coffeed!

For the next week, I'll just make sure the herbs have enough water and light as they adjust to being inside.  After they have settled a bit and I can see how they are doing, I'll give them all a good haircut.  If they are really stressed, leaves start dropping or turning yellow right away, I will cut them back sooner and add some organic fertilizer to their water.

Time to make dinner...