10 More Days of Winter

Winter is dragging its feet. We have had some days in the 70s, lots of days in the 50s and just to remind us it’s still winter, several nights at or below freezing. The weather pattern has included gusty winds and small to heavy rain showers. We have tarped our pond site to keep all the fresh dirt and clay from washing back into the hole.

A number of fruit trees have buds starting to open up and I’m worried about a dip to 19° on Saturday night. There’s really not much I can do about it except to enjoy the little blooms right now. We have different types of peaches and plums so the later developing trees might fare better.

The late winter vegetable garden is doing well. I sowed some leftover seeds from last year just to see if anything might grow. I believe I will be rewarded with some asian greens, radishes, onions and spinach. I’ll be doing second rows in the beds next weekend so that we can enjoy the early spring vegetables. I’m really hoping to stay on top of the cycle of planting continually so that we always have something fresh from the garden.

Meanwhile the pesty animals have found their way into the garden. I’m feeling pretty much like Farmer McGregor. There was a large hole dug in my French breakfast radish line and two days later, it was filled with new grass and straw. I immediately sent a photo to my trusty wildlife expert / former US Army coworker – and the answer back – rabbit. Some rabbit was creating a nest to give birth to more rabbits (they can produce 40 baby bunnies annually)! Since the nest was not quite complete, I dismantled it, replaced the dirt and the mom-to-be will just have to look somewhere else. Outside of my vegetable garden would be good.

Larry is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to identifying all the wildlife on our farm. Why would I ever look anything up when I can just text a photo and question??? Larry put a game trail camera on our property and we are enjoying seeing what walks by. Our Arlo cameras rarely catch animals, probably too high off the ground. There’s a lot of activity going on when we aren’t looking.

Larry’s camera

I was so excited that I decide to order a game trail camera as well. My results are not so thrilling – the tail end of our Kubota UTV…

Aside from dealing with wildlife, we have finally put in a little experimental tea plantation. Two of the plants did not receive as much water as they should have in the greenhouse, so they might struggle and fail. The rest of the plants look fine and maybe next year I’ll be able to harvest enough leaves and buds for two or three cups of tea. While they are all camellia sinensis, the varieties include Assamica, Taiwan, Sochi, Jinhua, Large leaf and Small leaf. You only harvest the new green leaves or buds, depending on the type of tea you are making. I’m also amazed how different this area looks in nine months. Pond builder did a good job clearing a ton of brambles, undergrowth and dead trees.

Waiting to be planted are some interesting winter squash and gourd seeds. It seems a bit excessive to plant so many but there’s plenty of space on 41 acres. This year I’m trying out japanese kabocha Hokkaido (smooth red-orange skin), Cinderella pumpkin, Delicata (the striped one), Table Queen Acorn squash which we love, a second japanese kabocha (looks like the traditional ones I see in the stores), and a japanese melon. Everything I’m planting tends to be on the sweeter side.

Planting will have to wait until next weekend because I will be at the first big US koi show for 2022. The Central Florida Koi & Goldfish Show is held in Orlando and everyone loves to attend. We are all tired of winter, hoping for a little sunny break, and looking forward to some intensive koi chit chat. Of course global warming is not available this weekend in Orlando. It’s raining and going down to 38° on Saturday. The only bright side is that I’ll have the opportunity to wear my new koi hoodie. It’s a collaboration between Shawn McHenry (Mystic Koi & Water Gardens) and Masato Hoshino (Koda Koi Farm). On top of a competitive show, there are always a lot of vendors – and possibly more cool koi clothing to buy. I’ll have to share photos of this event later this weekend!