About this blog

Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
we want YOU to think...if you dare...


Sunday, October 30, 2011

On the way to BLISTER: Morgidoo's Christmas Carol

There's always something cooking in nature, and so far she has been  happily cooperating by keeping the snow  upstairs for now.  Right.  
Guess what, I saw a snowbird today, so snow is not far behind. 
Cold snow....now don't you wish snow was warm as popcorn?

Here at Incoming Bytes, we are happy to announce that Morgidoo's Christmas Carol,  a new Christmas standard for young and old alike, is on the way to the tiny village of Blister....

Visitors arrive at Blister

A story from the ages for all ages,  Morgidoo's Christmas Carol  spans centuries and generations. The Great Silver Bell rang for generations in the Age of Light, and people sang Christmas songs and celebrated with joy, because they were always happy.

Best of all, Snow was as warm as popcorn ....until early one morning, the  ancient bell-ringer discovers the treasured silver bell is missing....and snow has turned cold. 

The village of Blister.  and  Morgidoo, the boy who searches for the Great Silver Bell both become timeless legends.......

Coming soon to YOU.....

 Morgidoo's Christmas Carol will be available as an eBook very soon......

that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bonsai are Real trees: Grow one, Ready or Not

A lonely  12 y.o.  White Spruce Bonsai waiting to be put to bed for the winter
For some unknown reason, it is often thought that Bonsai are exotic, difficult, and beyond the skill set of the average gardener.

Upon close observation, nothing could be further from the truth --excellent gardeners already know what plants and trees need to survive; soil containing nutrients and moisture.  The only thing missing is the patience required,  the  will to do so --and some basic techniques that make the process not more difficult, but faster, and  more likely to succeed. The white spruce above is about 12 years old and "designed" to some degree.
If you can successfully keep a potted plant alive from year to year, you can grow a bonsai.
10 yr. old Trident Maple Bonsai  (c) r.a.kukkee

The truth is that bonsai can be exotic species, or  made exotic. With formal rules of design, the art can be both difficult and exacting at times, if one insists on starting out with all  formal bonsai rules to the letter--not a smart place to begin, since we do not become NASCAR champions, Olympians, or NHL stars instantly either.

The average gardener CAN, with reasonable effort, grow and maintain a 'bonsai' -- for a bonsai is, with all of the mystery stripped away, "a tree in a pot".  

Ready or not, (and green thumb or not)  the ancient art of Bonsai--can be dabbled in, experimented with, and enjoyed, inexpensively and successfully, --by growing your own using several  methods of propagation.
Don't be fooled by "bonsai kits" offering expensive "bonsai seeds"--for they are little but overpriced, quite ordinary seeds from mature trees.

How about just planting an ordinary tree seed yourself--or   grow a new tree from a twig.   Find a baby sapling and work with it. Use indigenous species to start, --if only because you have lots of material to work with that will  survive in the climate  in your area.

That sounds easier already, doesn't it?  Why "grow" a bonsai?  The preferable question might  be "why NOT  grow a bonsai?"    Mostly because they're beautiful and fascinating.  They also teach one patience and offer an affinity with nature. 

The red leaves displayed above are flaunted by one of my favourite trees,  a trident maple  in full  autumn colour,-- and the leaves are even a bit faded.   It is in an ordinary clay training pot.  Beautiful, isn't it?  I started this one from a mere slip of a twig with a couple of tiny leaves on it--  you got it--about 10 years ago. 

You can grow one too.   Stay tuned, we'll get to that later. This week we're putting our bonsai to 'bed' for the winter using our own method.  Over about 15 years, we've  lost fewer than  a half dozen trees and a couple of soft clay pots from freezing--an excellent record for a climate with severe weather. 

Trident maple,  White Spuce, et al,  good night--for the winter. Sweet dreams.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let's look at Oaks!

Our favourite gardening girl, one Glory Lennon not only has some interesting maple trees, but she has some oak trees too--not big enough to hide Robin Hood and his merry men in, but  Pin oaks.   Interestingly, Glory's oak tree leaves don't seem to want to fall off in the Poconos, --get that?
At Incoming Bytes  we love oak trees like mad, even if the leaves on our oak trees fall off for half of the year.  We have 'Black Oak' OR Swamp White Oak  or Scub Oak  or , um..... 'Quercus something-or-other' oak. 
Well, okay we don't  know exactly  what species they are, so we're happily not pretending to know.

The point is, the leaves turned brown and fell off. These beautiful oaks get acorns like other oaks, the squirrels even steal them and save them to eat.  I've even been known to eat a few. No doubt, they're Quercus-something-or-other.    Maybe they're just neatly hybridized for our NW Ontario climate, but I've seen them along the river-banks  in Southern Manitoba too.

This is what the leaves look like, at this time of year, you'll just  have to imagine they're green and they  do look a lot like swamp White oak.  These are kind of brown and faded too, but still a handsome leaf, don't you think?  The back of the leaf is an even  lighter tan.
 Oak leaf (faded)
If you think the end of the leaf was broken off, look again, here are two more exactly the same, they are flat on the end, unlike some other oaks:
A twin pair of Oak leaves

Is that flat end a detail of hybridization and adaptation to the severe cold here?  No matter what they are, rightly or wrongly,  the local name for these is scrub oak, or  Black Oak.  When wet, the trees are almost black as Ebony.  Ebony the pup, that is.

Gnarly  Oak Twigs

  But how about that gnarly bark and twigs?  The bark is quite unusual. Here's another photo of it.

Amazing  Oak bark
The two oaks we have are about 15 years old and were very slow to start and are slow-growing. With an extremely deep tap root, once they establish themselves, they're difficult  to move without chopping off the tap root. They can get quite big when very old. They don't seem to be good candidates for indigenous-species bonsai either because of the tap root and slow growth pattern. We'll get to bonsai later though.

Here's what a twinned  15 year old  Oak looks like.  It is quite elegant bare, but stunning in full leaf.  The pup, Ebony, is jet black, making the oak bark look lighter gray  even though it is quite dark-coloured.  The puppy,  --except for the white spots,  is so black it's even difficult to take a picture of her in full sunlight, but it's dull and overcast in this picture. She's a real poser too. Notice her two ears are stuck up like the twin trunks?

Here's what the trunk looks like close up:

As you can see, several types of mosses love the thick, rough bark. Even though this bark looks quite beaten up and stressed by life, the tree is absolutely healthy and normal.  Tough stuff !

 If anyone really knows for sure what species this oak is, please tell us.
Why?.......um.....We may be moderately Acer-savvy,  but  we're also definitely  'Quercus-challenged'. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Musings on The Day After

I propose this October 22nd,  the first day after the non-apocalypse-- should be a fair day for musing, a model for all October days. The air is  dry, still and peaceful, the sun is bright, warm, and the air is unusually fresh--perhaps even deceivingly so.
There is not a sound in this neck of the woods other than those we make ourselves. Living half a mile from a highway in the middle of a natural forest brilliantly dressed in autumn colours  can do that, encourage us to appreciate another of the blessings we have.

We sat on the deck just outside the door for a while, gazing into the western sun and watching the pups playing tug-of-war with a colourful but tattered piece of woven rope  It was a dog toy with a wannabe tennis-ball distraction on it originally, but is now simply a remnant,  a survivor, a sun-faded piece of  chewed-up rope with a big knot on each end.

They growl, pull like fury, then fiercely hold stance, holding the rope under tension, motionless, eye-to-eye,  looking serious and dedicated,  almost  as one,  royalty posing for the internal-picture album of the future .  There's the short, black, powerful pup, and the taller, tan, gangly one--different sizes and colours, but equally matched, like two peas in a pod. They were both rescue dogs, survivors of less than perfect conditions when we got them, but  happy as pumpkins today with the tug-of-war and cooler weather .

Maybe after yesterday with the predictions of doom, we are all survivors of less than perfect conditions and just don't know it yet. Maybe we're more like the straggly rope than we realize, being a mere part of a closely woven, tangled rope dangling in the universe, being pulled this way and that.
Anyone get a call to say otherwise?

October poplar leaves are almost as bright today as this sunflower was.....
Bright yellow leaves--almost as bright as sun-bathed sunflower petals in August-- have fallen from the Poplar trees, and are turning brown slowly as if they have been carefully assigned to join the soil itself by camouflage.
They lay patiently, in the still-bright-green grass,  almost as if each has been issued  a specific moment to disappear into oblivion.  Do they have little notes from God scribbled on them too,  each perhaps delivering a special and unique  message to the earth? Are they like human beings, each taking it's turn to return to God, one at a time --if not en masse?

No matter; at Incoming Bytes I prefer to believe our time on this earth, --however long --is a blessing with purpose--and have therefore enjoyed my alotted  October day immensely, survivor or not. 
How about you?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Doomsday never Came

I awoke this morning and cautiously lifted only one eyelid.
I did not really want to see the heavy white frost on the ground outside OR the total destruction of the world with both eyes at once, --that would have been a little much, being tired,  still almost pleasantly dreaming and only one thin eyelid away from snoozing.
With the sun shining brilliantly into the east facing window, reflecting in a wall-mirror and shining down upon my sleepy face, the light was bright enough that I could have believed the rapture was upon me, ---but no, it was not.  At least not yet.
Hopefully we'll see yet another glorious sunrise...
 Clearing the cobwebs from the sleepy mind, I came to the fine conclusion that Doomsday never came, --at least not during the first 8 hours into Harold Camping's Official prediction of an Apocalyptic Doomsday Rapture which "is" to occur today, October 21st.

Another failure on his part is likely,  just like on May 21st earlier this year,  when nothing occurred except the realization of an error of assumption, --and in spite of the 'big political scene',  gardens were happily being planted. 

Not to be too critical or picky,  in recognition of a marginal propensity to err frequently myself,  I offer the observation "there's nothing quite like being wrong",  --doing so often turns the  erring, confused and befuddled  into stand-up beings that eventually come to an indisputable understanding that they, too, are fallible. 

Yes, (Harold & Co) still completely and wholly believe the end is coming today. That is because they fully believe in their own interpretation  and understanding of  translations and predictions made in the bible.  We all make mistakes, who hasn't been there?

Here at Incoming Bytes we're just as happy to go along with the sleepy  earth, stones and bones of Terra Firma --for now, one eye open or not, --grass grows, leaves fall off of trees, children are born, folks pass on --and true to form,  down in Arizona  gardens are sprouting according to M.J. Joachim.  (Yes, that MJ, of "Gum Pets on the Hill")

That would be " sprouting in  glorious optimism" --- and let's stretch that a bit further according to my  old-fashioned and perhaps idiosyncratic way of thinking, especially today, sprouting in glorious optimism with the approval  of God's official plan.
We aren't finished quite yet.
There is  hope offered as we see Harold's  predictions of doom come closer to naught by the hour -- undoubtedly destined to fail as previously, and like May  dire predictions from the past.
 I therefore shall continue to believe not the minds and fabrications of men, and  shall not pretend to know the mind of God either.  Let the cantaloupe sprout in Arizona  right on schedule as per THE plan,  and around here, we'll buckle down  and pray the coming winter isn't too severe up in this neck of the woods.
Coffee time.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adriana Heep: A Young Thinker offers hope...

Perhaps we are blinded by the Obvious
From time to time we are reminded of global  issues deserving of far more attention.  
In this age of the informed, let us be honest; North Americans know we endlessly consume the limited resources of the earth with little concern for the future.
  We are encouraged, yea, lauded by politicians and rich, profitable corporations to spend and enforce the status quo merely because a few individuals offer "jobs", build "corporate interests"   --making not reasonable, but obscene profits in the process. 
Corporate consumer culture brainwashes the very young, grooming potential customers for life. The rich become richer as we  consume everything.  There is always more to consume. Do not think about it, just buy, buy, buy.
Products are designed with limited shelf life,   made of inferior, cheap  and failure-prone materials,  are shoddily produced at the absolute minimum cost, and are specifically engineered with planned obsolescence in mind. Products  built to wear out within a specific period of time make the replacement of that product inevitable, and early. Advertising shames consumers into buying new models of everything, the product itself  usually only superficially changed.  Such a problem in society might be labeled as "deliberate and wasteful consumption by planned obsolescence". 
 Can we resolve that issue? Perhaps we are blinded by the obvious, but is there  hope for a brighter future? 
In overview, resources should be treasured instead of plundered. Clean technology should be used in all facets of production and consumption.   People should understand what is really happening,  and in turn, should educate and feed others, encouraging them also to be aware. We can do this if we try.

Here at Incoming Bytes  I am therefore delighted  to include and feature Adriana Heep, in this post.

   Adriana is a writer and young thinker that offers hope by cutting to the chase with a  direct message for society,  consumers, Corporate North America,  and those in power.  She has clearly thought about our dilemma and offers hope points out solutions in her own words:
" The way our economy works is the most wasteful system. All of our products come from the earth in some way. And the earth only has so many resources to give in x amount of time. It takes an incredibly long time for certain things to form. many gems were formed more than a billion years ago. And in order for companies to continually make profits, they purposely do not make the best product they can. And this has been in the news numerous times on how companies will built a product to break after a certain amount of time so you go back for more. May be good for the rich man, but its horrible on the environment for so many different reasons and on the less fortunate too. The rich people probably won't care until there's absolutely nothing left alive on this earth. 
They'll hoard whats left til they die, but then their children will be stuck in a horrible dying world. In my opinion it's up to us to put the rich people out of power and change how things work to save the Earth. Only problem is getting people to do that.    Most people only act once their personal comfort is taken away, sadly.     
                                                                                                Adriana Heep(c)2011
The implications of Adriana's observations are staggering, and worth repeating;
 "it's up to us to put the rich people out of power and change how things work to save the earth" .
 If change is not forthcoming from those in power, do they even have the moral right to remain in charge of the planet?  In the real world of logic, with wealth and power also comes responsibility and leadership.
 Clearly Adriana is part of a thinking generation that offers hope.  She has carefully observed  the ultimate limitations of  planned obsolescence,  foolish consumption and  irresponsible corporate behaviour.  
      Interestingly, as she astutely observes, "the rich (in power) " do not appear to have made the same simple observation on their own behalf --in spite of the disaster that will be foisted upon their own children.
Do they need to be protected from themselves?   
It seems that the future is not completely dark.   Hope has been offered to us. Clearly Adriana's generation has been paying attention to what is being done to the world around us in the name of profit. 

The question of the day must then be:
  "Why is a mature civilization allowing this obvious and catastrophic abuse of limited world resources? 
 Clearly there is hope if brilliant young thinkers are recognizing the problems and offer solutions.  Where does that leave us?
 It is inevitable that the responsible reader must determine if apathy and the status quo are reasonable or logical. 
 Most noteworthy, in Adriana's words,   
"Most people only act once their personal comfort is taken away, sadly..."  
 Does it really have to come to that extreme? 
One thing for sure, accepting the status quo and a polluted, contaminated and deadly environment is clearly not the solution required for the future. 
 Our fondest hope is that the rest of us somehow get the message.
 Thank you, Adriana.  

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Biography of a young thinker:    Adriana Heep
With an educational background in governmental international studies, Adriana is inspired, among other things, by psychology and the arts. The former was born of a desire to understand people, an aspiration encouraged by her parents who always gave real answers to toddler questions others found exasperating. The latter serves as a channel for expression.
Writing is one vessel that she has nurtured from a young age on. This activity has graduated from private journals to ghostwriting while still in her teens. Hard times have shaped this young thinker to ask questions that adults much older should ponder, but haven’t. According to her parents, her answers and contemplations to these questions show a maturity and wisdom beyond any expectations.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Not again, Harold ! October 21st? Even earlier?

The Profits of Prophets

Guess what?  The world is coming to an end again. October 21st!

  I have it on good authority from some Clever Diabolic Seed Company that also provides cherry pie seeds that magically turn into tomatillos when planted. After all, who needs cherry pie if the world is about to end?   Besides that, Glory Lennon is about to send me an apple pie.  Let us dream on-- but I digress.... 

Yes, the world is ending again. ( not again, Harold !)
 So confirms  Harold Camping, the 80-Million-dollar fund-raising genius and  practicing predictor of gloom, doom and boom,  who offered the total destruction of the world on May 21st earlier this year.  That apocalyptic  event was  supposed to be the BIG one providing  destruction of  mankind's tenure on Terra Firma  with a rapture and  super-destructive earthquakes.

For any survivors, it was supposed to be pure hell.  Imagine that, hell on earth. Some might say that has already happened with fire, floods, earthquakes, famine and other worldwide disasters increasingly taking their toll, but no.   It just didn't happen.  

Should we ignore Harold's predictions again, and just grow a bonsai tree, pull some weeds, spread some mulch  or plan a new garden for spring?  We must leave those important decisions to the individual readers of Incoming Bytes.  We can choose  to panic or not, we can choose to be productive and creative or not. Hope for the future is implied by growing things.
Regardless, for purposes of discussion, let us not divert attention too much attention from Harold Camping and his latest predictions of doom for a moment.

What did happen on May 21st  was the apex of  a huge transfer of a lot of additional cash from Harold's followers into 'corporate piggy-banks or other hands'.  
It also produced a lot of unnecessary fear and trepidation for people seeking an end, ---any end, to solve their problems in this world.

I believe we should give Harold's October 21st plan some genuine thought this time but  NOT be afraid, whilst we smartly do him a favour and hang onto our wallets and purses. Where is the logic of giving money to anyone else if it will be worthless anyway, when  Harold's prediction come true? Why would anyone "in the know" bother collecting cash?

Let's be true believers and accept the fact that the end of the world will likely occur at some time, --but not at the bidding of any slick fundraising effort.
Harold reportedly says he was "right" last time, there was an earthquake or two, or three, and maybe a whole lot of people were practicing "end of the world stuff by storing food,  buying new cars, and hiding in caves --in fact they were doing   anything other than being raptured,  but no matter,

Harold seems to think God simply " changed his mind" about saving souls.
At Incoming Bytes  we think this  is an exceedingly interesting hypothesis. " God changed his mind."    We should keep that in mind  that would be God according to Harold, --who is a truly profitable prophet -- but it is still an interesting idea.  Does God arbitrarily change his mind at any time, or does he follow THE perfect plan?  Good question.

What is wrong with Harold's hypothesis?  The fact is, it implies that 'he'  or even  " elective WE" know the mind of God -- flaunting the  very foundation of human arrogance-- and a guarantee of failure.
Now what are all the other arrogant prophets ---profiteer deceivers or not -- going to say?  What will they be left with as a bargaining chip? Maybe they are "more right" than Harold. Maybe not.

Well, no matter,  we'll listen, we're flexible.   Harold may get raptured on October 21st  if he believes hard enough, I do know that faith does amazing things.   Maybe ordinary folk will just have to wait patiently and see.

The fact is, an earth-shattering event or apocalypse is likely to happen at some point.  Being logical and  of the faith it seems we are indeed to believe in that prediction, but on October 21st?  What time? 
 That's only a few days away, hardly enough time to get the yard cleaned up before snow flies.  Can't we have more time?

Maybe the Mayan calendar and other predictors are right. Maybe the science of  "prophet  mathematics"  is wrong predicting 2012 as "the end" too, even if Elenin and other catastrophic occurrences are all supposedly lined up like peas in a pod, each in turn about to smack us into eternity.  Let us remain calm and rake up the leaves anyway.  Why?

Just how likely is it that Harold is probably wrong about the date again?  Quite.
NOBODY knows when a great Apocalypse shall be upon us, including deceivers raising funds from fools--simply by implying they possess 'knowledge of the mind of God" and thereby insinuating knowledge of God's plans.

I think the level of  human arrogance implied is frightening.
Meantime,  like I did prior to May 21st --which was an uneventful doomsday failure, I'll keep doing what is necessary to solve problems that look me in the eye every day.  I don't have 80 Million dollars so I'll keep on figuring out how to grow food, make the best of things, and retain some semblance of logic.
Our readers might cleverly observe that not one of the propheteer's (yes, let's use that adapted term, it sounds appropriate, does it not? )  revelations has terminated life on the planet as we know it --yet.
Why?   Like the rest of life, it is  totally logical. Simple. "Only the good die young" comes to mind. That suggests that greedy miserable people live longer.   Maybe God gives them extra time to change their mind and become more informed, kinder, more generous of soul, and more civilized.  Using the same model of "God changing his mind", perhaps God has decided  all of humanity needs time, even Harold.

Let's go with that idea. All of humanity needs time to change our minds,  reinvent what we're doing, and the basic process of  how we think, --and why.

If anything in life is logical,  it is this:   Humanity needs to get a lot smarter, a lot faster, and stop being so arrogant .....and with all due respect, Harold  et al...... that  includes you and I.  --Hmmm...maybe before October 21st, too.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Clever Cherry Pie Seed Switch

"To be or not to be, that is the question".  
                             (W.Shakespeare, in Hamlet)

It was a revelation. A hot tip.  Plant some seeds and grow a cherry pie. Stuff that heady dreams are made of. You, too, can grow cherry pie.

Out in the garden of our dreams this season, we were forced into playing  a most diabolical game of "guess what" with a patch of unidentified but prolific and sprawling  plants.  "
"To be or not to be" was the real question.
They were purported to be ground cherries –real cherry pie stuff.--at least when we planted them . 

The elegant  fruiting pattern complete with  huge, deceptively delicate paper lanterns with sticky green marbles inside them --and the huge 1" stems on the plants sprawling every-which-way made it difficult to decide which were what, which were not,  which were ripe, and um....what on earth was it we planted anyway?

A heap of left-over Tomatillo-Ground-Cherry Wannabe's

The dastardly Clever Seed Company complicated the E&S.P. ( exchange & switch plan)  issue by answering our urgent email, saying we were indeed sent seeds for something called "Granny’s ground cherries" or some similar political-style misnomer.
 A switch or replacement, said the clever seed company, was a non-starter in October, so we ended up with "Granny's ground cherries" ,  --"misnomered " or not.

In reality, anyone in Mexico with precise gardening acumen would know the plants are indeed tomatilloes, no matter which brand of seed -babble is flung about by feeble excuse-making purveyors of unidentifiable and non-switchable seeds.

Confusing?  Not really, the plants  are in fact related, reminding one of some obfuscated connection unlike the crystal-clear and easily-understood relationship between coconuts and muskoxen. 

In spite of that clarification, it appears  we ended up with  the  salsa-related, tomatillo-green-tomato-wannabee kind of seed instead of the  sweet and delicious  gold-coloured  Cherry-Flavoured- Pie-Related ground-cherry kind of  seeds  we spotted in the catalog, ordered, paid for, waited for, dreamed of, and planted, watered, weeded and watched--- turn into something else. 

Somehow we don't qualify for a refund from the C. D. S. C.  (Clever Diabolical Seed Company)  either. Something totally irrelevant-- about the seeds already having been planted, sprouted,  grown and harvested already.   I did not like that part much, the seed packet being  $1.89 plus tax or not.

 How diabolical was that anyway?   Shocking and diabolic enough to prevent the making of cherry pie --or getting a refund,  --and that's a pretty powerful pair of critical guidelines  to cross, don't you think?

The  said results attained were clearly "Outside of Any Reasonable Expectations for Cherry Pie".   Maybe we'll include that ominous phrase  in our next threatening legal-official-sounding email to the C.D.S.C.   along with some other promising evil lawyer's tricks.

Believe it or not, legally,  there is an obscure correlation between the following two subjects : Pie,  and No Pie.

 "What is it?" the dedicated Incoming Bytes reader may feel the need to ask, suddenly calmed by the lure and perplexity of an evil, faded Sudoku puzzle in last year’s “Fun Gardening Stuff ”mag. 

The fact is that nothing excites the alert reader faster than the prospect of ground cherry seeds that produce tomatilloes.  The one exception may be the allure of studying and compiling the scientific  flung-dung excuses offered by clever seed companies which clearly  result in the worst possible combination of  results,-- no cherry pie,  and no refund either.

As dedicated gardeners, do you think we should unite, raise funds for that project, and protest or something?
Not me.  I'm too busy checking out the latest gardening hot tips.

Here’s the hottest and newest tomatillo-growing tip for you.

 “ Plant "Granny's Ground Cherries” . No refunds allowed. “

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Observation: Hey Deer, Got a carrot?

Over this  last week, we’ve  been enjoying the brilliantly coloured leaves and amazingly un-October-like weather.  Sunny, pretty warm, and beautiful.  We weren’t exactly schmoozing since  that implies lazy  sun-tanning  and humming obscure tunes  to one’s self. 
In the  final throes of closing down the garden for the year,  we were instead out in the garden, digging  up potatoes and the remaining carrots  in spite of perfect barbequing-camping weather.
That sacrifice ensured  getting it done before the weather turns diabolically wet, ugly, and  the soon-to-be-frozen stone-hard  ground becomes  covered with evil snow.

The fact is, in NW Ontario at this time of year  it has usually already  frozen overnight at least five or six  times, and Canada geese, assorted ducks and robins can be seen flocking south. Our  smart little army of RubyThroated  hummingbird regulars are long gone from the strawberry-red feeders by this time  too,  so I was taking the annual hint from nature -- to get moving.

If not quick on the garden fork, the tardy, careless gardening procrastinator in Northwestern Ontario soon makes two amazing discoveries:
      a)  It’s muddy, cold, wet and ugly later on,  and
      b)  One should have dug the stuff while the weather was nice  instead of waiting until it’s muddy, cold, wet, and ugly later on.

Having learned that lesson  the hard way during blizzards in previous gardening expeditions, I pulled the beets too, dug out piles of evil quack-grass roots to prepare and plant the new,  improved  garlic beds, -- and picked the three remaining and lonely turnips sans tops .

In the process I brilliantly observed that some diabolic 4-legged critters had been surreptitiously  nipping tops off of stuff  little by little.   No wild horses or delinquent cattle are close enough to our remote location to help themselves to organic vegetables,  but it seems the odd trio of  whitetail deer  makes up for it.

At Incoming Bytes we love to analyze problems.  I know what the problem was. The carrots aren't there, but the deer were.   They first tasted some ripe yellow Heyer # 12 apples from a tree close to the garden.  My little 6" grafted baby apple sprout that I am so proud of  is a full-sized producer now, and they're not my favourite eating apples anyway,  --but the deer must like them just fine, because  they came back repeatedly.

Deer are optimists, tasting and testing  things here and there. They cinched off a bunch of handy carrot tops while they were at it.  They undoubtedly enjoyed a few choice and easily-pulled  Nantes at the same time.  How do I know?  I haven’t seen Bugs Bunny around,  but there were cartoon-like  toothless carrot rows in hard evidence.  Missing carrots.  Carrot-free zones where no man or rabbit  has gone before.

Just so you know, the remaining carrot  popped out of the ground easily today too.  Fine carrot isn’t it?

Not a bad Carrot.  

I jest. Not to worry, with some luck and digging topless carrots,  we were left with more than one. We found a few carrots. In organic veggie-land, even a few perfect carrots are wonderful to behold --and far better tasting than the plastic supermarket variety.

Carrot-inventory challenged or not, all was not lost,  for out there in the fresh air and  blazing October sun I  also seemed to be energized  a bit.  I took that rare opportunity to   fling mulch about energetically here and there, covering up any weeds and soil that was bare.
Whilst I was at it --and before I finished with aching back,  I was wishing for more energy.  I ran out of mulch too.

It seems I  need a lot more of both.   I need a lot more mulch, humungous  piles of it; leaves, grass, hay, straw and sawdust. Lesson learned. Never take a huge pile of mulch for granted, the space-time continuum of mulch somehow shrinks exponentially and magically. Maybe that's a good thing when the back is aching enough already.

With the October sun beaming down upon me,  I am now also a firm believer in planting more carrots by accident, -or even by clever planning.  If I’m very lucky in the future, I shall thereby  end up with more carrots  by default, after the deer pry most of them out. 
By extrapolation, I shall also thereby end up with more food energy which is necessary to fling mulch pretty far and save energy.

It's a green thing:
Far-flung mulch = flying mulch = energy saved.

I have also concluded one can never have too many carrots in  or too much mulch on the vegetable patch.
How do I know?  The deer like the improved quality, size and flavour of the stuff.

Not a bad thing to contemplate whilst putzing around, smiling,  and humming obscure tunes  in that warm October sun.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maples ROCK !

We're almost happily climbing  trees now just to see what the leaves really look like.  I have discovered there is no point in waiting until they fall on the ground and get covered up with snow. Time is of the essence this late in the season.

Our friend Julie Helm's Ultimate Blog Post on the Sugar Maple   was much like waving a huge pile of dry red maple leaves in front of leaf-blower --definitely  fun to be had, -- a  red banner  and a glorious October challenge.

Here at Incoming Bytes  I have observed that her ultimate maple blog  needs just one more leaf,  the "Rock Maple".

Maples rock!  This  species of maple tree can be 80 ft. high, and huge--with wood as hard as rock.  The information given on them is somewhat overlapping and conflicting--they are even referred to as  sugar maples.

Ultimately the lucky recipient  of such wonderful information  must decide the veracity of information for themselves. 
In contemplating the current state of maple tree art, and  incessant putzing and diddling around here, there, and everywhere,  I happened to stumble across more valuable  information that might even be relevant.
That was after charging up the old camera-battery --and taking this picture of a Rock Maple Leaf:
Rock Maple leaf ( just starting to turn red  --5" in width)

The ultimate maple blog huh Julie ?  aha!    Well, here 's a link for more information on maples !    http://www.righteouswoods.net/maple.html 
ON this website,  many species of maple are mentioned. They appear to be semi-organized under their common names -as if maples were not confusing enough in species, leaf colour,  tree size, leaf configuration,  formation, number of lobes, and other physical attributes.

It seems that other species may even be implicated in this challenge! Manitoba maples which are box elders, ....and ...and.....

How about that?  Now you, too can see the forest AND the trees--as long as they're all MAPLES.  Maybe maples are so interesting because  it's that time of year,  fall colours glow in the bright October sunshine,  or  because like winter, maples are a Canadian thing.

One thing I know for sure,   Julie at WoolyAcres and Glory, our on-board gardening zeitgeist, will soon conspire to figure it out.

On and upwards--like a growing maple!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sugar Maples turn Red but Maple Trees of all Sorts Wanna be Red Too

Our ongoing discussion on Sugar maples has been elevated another notch, and here at Incoming Bytes  we enjoy clarification of facts, identification of species and other relevant questions that arise,
In  Sugar Maples do Turn Red  I included a couple of photos of leaves from genuine sugar maple trees that offer natural sap almost as  sweet as any corn syrup-- and they obviously turn red upon occasion if conditions are right.

In  the ongoing sugar-maple marathon, ( a sweet debate indeed)     the subject of Trident maples also came up.  Trident maples  have leaves displaying 3 (moderately sharp)  lobes also, see the pic including the muddy gardening-tree guy fingers?
Trident Maple leaf  and Muddy Fingers

Trident Maple Bonsai  in Training Pot

That single  leaf  from the photo is from a Trident, and they do turn red too --or at least they do in our location. 

The Bonsai trident in the second photo  was started from a cutting from  exactly the SAME  Trident maple tree in our yard  --and each year at this time, the bonsai  turns brilliant red.  In this photo,  you can see the colour was spectacular-- in the picture,the leaves  are already in fact-- quite faded!

Note that on the bonsai the tiny leaves (about a half inch long)    are much reduced in size compared to the full-sized tree leaf above, which can be  3" or longer.  If cared for properly the leaves on the bonsai tree --confined to the pot -- will become even smaller,
This species -with the exception of the relatively brittle wood-- is ideal for bonsai and the specimen is about 10 years old.    On the bonsai also  notice the similarity of colour of the bark to that of the REAL sugar maple in the previous post.

The second bonsai  Trident maple following is even smaller--the leaves are even tinier, and although quite faded, even brighter  red in colour.
Trident Maple 8" high  grown from cutting  in hand-made clay  pot
 I wonder if the bonsai trident maples might be persuaded to give very tiny bottles of maple syrup  by boiling very tiny pails of maple sap over very tiny fires?   What a sweet idea!

It seems there are many maples, all wanting to be red....and read about.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sugar-Maple leaves DO turn Red

At Incoming Bytes we always appreciate a great debate.  Win or no-win,  I love to be involved. 
There has been an ongoing question and discussion regarding sugar-maples and their leaves.  Our friend  Julie Helms  at Wooly Acres (Sugar or Red? ) has an unidentified maple tree growing with red leaves. Some readers say it's a sugar-maple, others say it's a red maple. 

I couldn't resist throwing my maple leaves  into this discussion, --because I know I have genuine sugar-maples.

These pictures are leaves from a  confirmed sugar-maple in the middle of the summer. This  tree has sap that is very sweet.  Note the sugar-maple trunks  in the picture.
Sugar-Maple leaves

The following picture is a leaf from the same sugar-maple tree after it turned bright red, fell on the ground, and unfortunately, faded a lot.

Depending on the weather, the same Sugar-Maple leaves turn red
This picture may solve the question about  Julie's tree being a "red maple" or not.
Notice the leaf in this picture is now faded, but the leaves were very bright red before they dropped on the ground.

Sugar-maples DO have the curious characteristic of leaves changing red or not, depending upon the severity of frost, the amount of sugar in their leaves, and perhaps even the micro climate around them.  Even with trees adjacent to one another, one may turn bright red  one year and not the next, and  the other may do the opposite.

Regardless,  it's a sweet discussion, so  grow sugar maples--the  maple syrup from sugar maples is wonderful stuff!

That's my story and I'm sticking to  it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Harvest time Choices

Here at Incoming Bytes  we were optimistically  hoping to resist temptation.  I wanted to digress enough to stick with interesting stuff --and thus be able to ignore following, studying and dissecting the ONTARIO election that just resulted in another Liberal minority anyway.  
My new mantra for this  Ontario election was:
 "Vote but ignore. .... Vote but ignore...."Hold-'yer-nose'-and vote" (in counter-rythm) . ......and Vote-but-ignore....." 

Catchy beat, isn't it? 

To start off with, every farmer knows it was the wrong time for an election, but let us not rant.

Our astute readers also recognize bad timing, bad choices, political lies, attack-dog ads eternal promises , the politics of fear -- and the fraternal and ridiculous  hee-haw-see-saw contest of political  "parties"......period.

Therefore, as a service to our readers, WE happily cut through all of that "flung dung" and ignored it. Tomatoes and carrots are heaps more interesting.
 The fact is, as usual, nothing changed on the political landscape.  Thinking about it, in rural Ontario, there are always more important things to do anyway.

  It's harvest time, a process offering genuine rewards to those who put effort into it , and  there are also more than enough perky diabolical diddlers , deceivers,  and  untruthful whiners at hand already without adding blathering striped politicians to the intense mix. 
So--- hold an election at harvest time, will 'ya??   Well, okay, it's all about harvest-time choices  then...
Don't get me wrong,--- this is serious business, at harvest time  difficult and complex issues can arise too.  Mind-boggling and sterling  choices must be made in good conscience, --such as "which healthy organic vegetables shall we choose to dine upon this evening? 

Keeping that in mind,
  "On October 6th,we voted for vegetables "

That may be a more revealing statement than some may care to admit.

I feel better already.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.