Thursday, December 1, 2016

Broomsedge field

Outside the kitchen windows, we can see beyond the ravine forest, to a field filled with broomsedge. Part of a foreclosed property scooped up by an investment company, now owned by Duke Energy (they were hoping to put a sub-station there), it's now simply a spot recovering from clearing (again).

This was part of an urban renewal site, cleared of houses in the mid-60's, I guess; it was still "empty" space when we bought our house here in 2008.  Then, there was talk of mixed-development housing from a company that had quietly bought up most of the small and large plots that had been cleared, and had big dreams, but wasn't able to come up with the federal matching grants and bank funding needed (that was in times of economic downturn), and finally the property was sold at auction for just over $1 million to the investment company.  Duke bought the entire 17 acre plus conglomeration for ~$5.5 million during late recession recovery.  This sounds like an extreme bargain in booming Asheville today.

We benefit from a lovely ravine forest close to downtown, at least for now, buffered by our property and slope requirements, but we keep a wary eye on the future.  What will happen to this space that's remained vacant for so long?  It's smack up to Highway 240, and future changes to I-26 and bridge, so not as desirable as it otherwise would be, close to downtown.

This morning, though, I enjoyed the view of the lovely field in the distance.

view from the far edge of the kitchen

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A lovely afternoon

Amid the smoke for the last weeks, and the first frosts, and hoping for rain, which we finally got overnight and this morning (about a half-inch), it was unexpected to have a lovely clear afternoon.

It was amazingly mild for a late November afternoon.  It was my gardening companion's birthday, and after he'd gone on a welcome mid-day bike ride up Town Mountain, all of us (including Woody) headed to Biltmore Estate, and a walking loop from the Gardener's Shop down and around Bass Pond.  Woody knows that there are biscuits to be had at the end!

Nothing not to like about an excursion to a wonderful place on a beautiful day.  I'm thankful for that to be an opportunity in my life.

Bass Lake view from the bridge

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Last leaves

The cold temperatures (down into the mid-20° F range) have triggered, finally, abscission layers in the last leaves. 

The sugar maple leaves were finally falling in the ravine behind our house.

Coming home after Thanksgiving away, a walk around the neighborhood found the venerable ginkgo on Cumberland shedding leaves as we walked by -- not in the all-at-once mode that's normal, but falling in a way that would have made a perfect video, if I'd had my phone in my pocket.

There was a golden carpet, mixed with green, below this huge old tree.  Beautiful.

Some of the red Japanese maples seem to be the last hold-out.  They're beautifully crimson, but haven't yet dropped their leaves, perhaps being from a colder climate in Asia, genetically-speaking.

Of course, all of the frost-intolerant plants have been zapped, but the greens in my vegetable beds are looking good.  And I'm hoping that the predicted soaking rains will come!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Biltmore hay field

Mist cloaked the end of one of the hay fields at Biltmore on a recent morning visit. 

The iPhone's camera captured the light in an interesting way;  the image became more impressionistic than realistic.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Southside Community Garden

I've been volunteering at the Southside Community Garden for the last growing season. It's a young community vegetable garden, finishing its second year.

It's on the playground site of what used to be an black elementary school (in segregated Asheville), now turned into a vibrant community center in a place that has a rich history. It's a neighborhood faced with challenges, with gentrification edging in, along with homes of long standing and apartments subsidized by the Housing Authority of Asheville.

We'd harvested about 750 pounds of produce, when I tallied amounts last month, with more winter greens to come, most all of the harvests going to the Kitchen Ready's Southside Kitchen, which serves meals free of charge and by donation four days a week, as part of a training program for culinary students in need of career options. Excess produce has gone to local homeless shelters and the YMCA's Healthy Living Pantry.

It's a good project.

Please join me as you're able in supporting a SeedMoney campaign for the Southside Community Garden. We're eligible for a matching grant as part of this, too, but all donations are tax-deductible.…/…/southside-community-garden

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A winter squash

A winter squash from Southside Garden
I'm heartsick about the election, but I've realized that I can't turn my blog into a political rant, nor make my FB posts about that either.  That's crazy-making for me.

It's enough to comment, contribute, and join organizations that I haven't been a part of before. And step up and be present where I can, and continue to do good work.

Teaching a class yesterday about "creative use of color and texture in the garden" seemed frivolous, as I was preparing for it, but turned out to be a lovely class, and encouraging to prepare.

This winter squash, a "leftover" from our final harvesting of warm season crops, seems to me to symbolize where I am. It was an OK squash, quite stringy, and not particularly flavorful.  It was probably a result of the mixed squash plantings (lots of variation there!)

But I'm hopeful for more squash in the future, preparing for the first freeze (I pulled up the final bean vines and eggplants today in my own small garden), and we'll see how the greens fare, with a drop into the mid-20°F.

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