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The First Fall Clean Up Day

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At least the first major clean up. We have been puttering around doing little odd jobs, but today it begins in earnest. I have been researching the long term effects of using pine needles to mulch areas of the plant beds in the back of the house. Today I wanted to gather pine needles to create a winter bed over the rhododendrons and the azaleas. This analysis that I found a while back is what prompted me to look into pine needle mulching in certain areas. We certainly have enough pine needles.

carpet of pine needles

The leaves are just starting to come down. Add to that, the grass under the shrubs and around the raspberry bushes needs its final cutting of the year. We use a clear bag method to collect green material, brown material, and pine needles. Then, using the county rake and take program to be matched to a neighbor we divide the bags to use in our compost piles. Getting that right mix of browns and greens. This is our second year doing rake and take. We get enough from our trees to keep many compost piles going. If you want a way to see your leaves put to good use, consider contacting rake and take.

As for the rest of my clean up I went into my neglected garden to start pulling out the tomato cages, and to bag the tomato plants to take deep into the woods to leave them. They do not get into the compost bins, as they can spread disease from year to year. For example, from late blight. I hadn’t been out there for two weeks, and surprise, there were dozens of green tomatoes all over the garden.

I think I will put these away in a paper bag and let them get close to ripening, then make one last batch of green tomato pasta with pesto.

Tonight dinner will be fairly simple. Although we had to resort to plan B. I had intended to pop a chicken in the crockpot to cook while we were working outside. They don’t make them like they used to. The crockpot gave up the ghost. Would not let me program the temperature and turn on.

As soon as you let up on the button, the lights went out. And, you could not advance it to the longer low cooking times. Thankfully, I never gave up my original crockpot from my first apartment thirty some years ago. You know, one of these antiques.

So, I loaded it up with half a chicken in tomato garlic sauce, over collard greens and onions. Let it go, and soon dinner will be ready. This chicken is falling off the bone, and I started it at 10 am, directly from the freezer. The best way to cook chicken.

Now I need to find a good programmable replacement crockpot as ours gets lots of work making soups, stews and chili. This old one is too small to do brisket, or turkey, which we like to make also. I also like the programmable options not found on my original. I am glad I kept it around though, to save the day today. Off to dinner and to watch Monday night football.


About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

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