By Diane Lockspeiser

As the weather gets colder, yet still with no frost having arrived, the few remaining vegetables in the garden have slowed down substantially but still produce, just like me. There’s several types of greens, Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, beets, rutabagas, a few strawberries, an abundance of raspberries, and string beans.

The deer is back once again nibbling on the string bean leaves that are on the outside of the fence. It’s just a short matter of time before the first frost destroys the plants. Normally I harvest whatever beans are left immediately after the frost, to be cooked and bagged to go into the freezer, and then remove the dead plants. Normally that would have happened by now, so I decided to do something slightly different.

The deer nibbling on the leaves reminded me that the chickens love them also. Now each time I venture up to the garden with a five gallon bucket of soiled bedding from the chicken coop to use for mulch, I fill the emptied bucket with string bean greens to bring to the hens in their yard. The handful of beans I come across while doing this are mostly either good for snacking on while I work, or gone to seed, in which case I gather them to finish drying indoors. The remaining beans that are in between I chop up to be added to the treats I scatter in the morning to get the chickens to leave the coop so that I can work inside it in peace.

I didn’t protect all the new plants in the newly-made flower garden and something kept digging them up. They didn’t really touch the plants except to toss them aside. What the heck! Then I remembered that I had put some bone meal in the bottom of the holes before putting in the plants. The animal, whatever it was, must have smelled it and thought they were going to get some bones. Lots of mulch with stinky chicken poop in it solved that problem.

The other project I have started is a new mural in the library, this time in the children’s section. Yesterday as I worked, I knocked over my water bottle. I probably should have realized at that point that I was tired, but after cleaning up the spill I went back to the mural. I was starting to paint a beanstalk and could not for the life of me remember what string bean leaves look like! How is that possible after a lifetime of handling them? Then I KNEW I was really tired!

As always, my work is coming along very slowly. It doesn’t matter because, unlike the plants in the garden, I’ve got all Winter.~