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Incoming BYTES
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jack Frost and the Great 2012 Heap Update

Wild grape turning color on Eastern Cedar

It had to happen sooner or later.
That's how summer works, it's hot, dry, it rains, the wind blows, leaves change color, and it all comes to an end.
 It freezes. 

  Three degrees of frost  -3C isn't that cold--but it tends to end the garden season.  Doesn't that figure? Just when things are getting good.  Tomatoes ripening. Swiss chard getting big. Potatoes swelling,  Zucchini proliferating.   Enter Jack Frost.  Garden zip.

What about the famous heap?  This is a one heap of an update. Gadzooks!   Heap technology works.
2012 Heap Gone MAD

We pulled the pumpkins and spaghetti squash from the heap, and a few  odds and ends from the garden too.
Check out the loot from the HEAP.  Isn't this amazing?  One heap, yes, that heap,  the wild one,  the  one and only!

Spaghetti Squash (  102) and three kinds of Pumpkins (76)

Even T.T.T. (Tilly the Tall)  is so impressed she decided to stand guard. Well, sleeping or not, she's hard at it.   See?

T.T.T. guarding the Pumpkins and  Spaghetti Squash from the Heap

See the white pumkins? They're special, they were planted by the little  apple inspector. He hasn't seen them yet, and reportedly,   he has to get his pumpkin inspector's license first.

We even have the decorative type of pumpkins or gourds . See these?  Big, small, and weenie!  Striped and plain.  For comparative purposes only.   Nice desk decorations, but they certainly don't taste good.

 Maybe Uncle Mac over at the shed has some ideas how to magically turn them into some kind of  Unlikely gourmet fast food!

Decorative Gourds and Pumpkins:  Eat Not*
A necessary digression:   These gourd things taste terrible. So much for that idea, but they do look nice, don't they? Maybe we can store bent nails in them instead.
 Planting gourds anywhere in proximity to  pumpkins, squash or cucumbers in your garden is a terrible idea. They can cross-pollinate and your prized pumpkins, et al  can  turn out to be very bitter just like these pretty little things!  Good thing we learned that lesson the  hard way a few years ago --so  no, they were not planted  anywhere near the   Great Heap of 2012!

Now what?   Get ready for winter, of course! The heap is once again bald, all vines having been removed, so it will be modified and set up for next year. More organic stuff shall be buried in it to maintain the excellent soil quality.

Scientific conclusion:   What a great experiment!   Oops...I forgot...about the count.  It was wrong.    
 Come to think of it, truth be known ----...before THIS heap of loot was harvested, we had already given away a dozen or so new  spaghetti squash --and pumpkins too--- and still have  102 spaghetti squash --and 76 pumpkins under T.T.T.'s watchful eye......so yes, we can safely say:                 "Heap technology works! "

*Addendum:  A casual bit of information for  survivalists and anyone interested in  extended food preservation, ---it should be mentioned that in storage,  we still have a dozen spaghetti squash that remain in good condition -- left over from the 2011 growing season.  After a whole year, these squash  are still in good eating condition because they store  well --apparently for a very long time. 

Is that Incoming I hear?


  1. As a city girl, I don't get to see the beauty of nature's heart. Your posts are a great way to get back to the core facts of life and what we have around us and part of us. Love the pics... and the information is very interesting.

    I like the way TTT's staying guard. :P

    1. Hi, Mandy! Yes, people living in the city often miss much of Mother Nature and her beauty--and potential. Most are totally alienated from their own food supply--not a good thing at all. I hope readers do pick up on what is there--what can be done, and how they can become less dependent on the system. I'm glad you enjoy the pics! TTT is doing a fine job isn't she...":)) ~R

    2. A marvel! How do you keep black bears out of your sqashes and pumpkins?

      Gotta love that heap!

    3. Mac, this crop actually is astounding. We were sure surprised at the productivity of this heap. Actually I think there were possibly a couple of visits by a black bear, too thinking about it, it seems there were a couple of pumpkins missing relatively early in the ripening process and some flattened greenery --which even jacks up the count higher, I forgot about those too. Our two pups tour the yard regularly, so it's not a common problem. I certainly won't plant three or four pumpkin plants --or spaghetti squash,on the heap again... we have enough for three years now ":)

  2. And your next (or at least one in the not too distant future) post will be on how to store squash for a year! I'm planting enough to fill my freezer (living in the city like Mandy, I'm afraid). I'm not even sure we'll have that much left over, because we'll be eating like kings for the next 3 seasons. Still, it's amazing what you can do with a decent sized city yard, and I'm determined to do it. Love the organic, fresh picked produce and not readily able to give it up very easily.

    Now I have to ask, do you sell to folks in town or anything? With a farm like yours, it seems reasonable to assume that you at least earn the price of upkeep and all. Just curious...I know I'd probably open my doors and invite people to come and pick fresh even...a seasonal income and "tourist" spot type thing... Happy Sunday, kind sir. Best to you and yours...

    1. Hi M.J., the storage of this squash is simple, just keep it in a cool, dry place! Spaghetti squash is amazing in that respect. If you live in a hot area, it has to go into a basement where the temperature is cooler and even. Other squash varieties and pumpkins will not store as long either. With those, peel them, cut them into pieces, and freeze them directly.
      About selling produce, distance to travel either for customers or for delivery- and 'location, location and location ' applies, I'm afraid.
      We're not in a great location to sell that way--keep that in mind if you ever do decide to get a farm! A 'roadside stand' is the ideal way to go. Thanks for posting, M.J. ! Have a wonderful day! ~R

  3. Wow!! wonderful harvest... Amazing... We grew a few pumpkins a few years back and they are becoming more popular over here.. But Ive never in my life seen so many from a Heap! LOL...
    Jack Frost not arrived Just get Raymond here, but he is lurking waiting to pounce..
    After a Holiday break abroad, I spent most of yesterday morning in the allotment with Hubby clearing and hoeing weeks, while Hubby dug us up some potatoes and he cleared away the peas rows..
    Its looking more ship shape again..

    Great Photos, lovely to see them :-) ~Sue

    1. Hi Sue, yes, this was a wonderful harvest--absolutely unexpected, much, much greater than last year from the same 'heap'. We were astounded. The vines crawled into the grass and kept going,getting more squash and pumpkins as they went! The spaghetti squash produced on this heap was absolutely amazing--and they keep so well. In a milder climate you could clamp them on the ground under a mesh and straw to keep them. Here, I have to bring them in! ":)
      I hope your garden does as well! Weeds love to visit home whilst you're abroad! Have a wonderful day, hope it doesn't freeze TOO early for you! ~R

  4. Replies
    1. haha, Sue, I knew that --although hoeing for weeks is possible in my garden, too--as well as weeds....":))

  5. I want a heap. Can I order one from L.L. Bean?
    (Just kidding.) :)

    1. Hi Wendy, unfortunately they don't get delivered from Canadian Tire either, you have to build one.
      You won't be sorry either, the concept has proven to be very effective and prolific. Warms up early in the spring, high organic content helps keep moisture, mulching protects it from heat--and I believe the healthier, prolific growth deters insects. Kick-start a heap with some topsoil and composted manure--and watch it go! ":) ~R

  6. Frost in the mornings - yes that is the changing of the seasons! Keep the sunshiny thoughts coming Raymond I don't like the cold weather as much!

    1. Yes, Christyb, sunshiny thoughts are better, I don't appreciate the cold weather either, but 'welcome to Canada' and "Christyb smiles and believes in sunshine even when winter is coming"... ":)

  7. Holy fricken moly!That is astounding! I gotta get me a heap like that...or die trying. I bow to the master gardener.

    1. Haha! Funny, Glory, why thank you, you are too kind; thinking about it, I didn't do it, Mother Nature did! Rest assured, you're still the ultimate gardener by far!
      It does appear that heap technology has GREAT potential, looking at it now--third year--and it seems to be getting better! I haven't even added any prepared compost to it to date, just green garden waste, ie. vines, tomato plants, bean plants etc. and burying them... ":))


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