Summer is definitely here, and with it the long days of temperatures in the 90’s, and humidity right there with it. What this means, of course, is that it’s time to think about winter. Not just the wistful, “remember when it was so cold I was longing for it to be this hot? Now I wish it was that cold again…” No, this is the time for thinking constructively about the coming winter–for, to quote the popular television series, “Winter is coming.”
A good place to start is the temperature. Were there parts of your house that were significantly colder than the rest? Can you do anything about insulating them better? Now would be the time to work on that. (We’ve got to replace the insulation in the floor beneath large portions of the house–what’s there is old, not very efficient, and largely falling out from between the joists anyway.) Replacing older windows, especially single-paned ones, will also help. An added benefit:these types of improvement will also help keep the house cooler in the heat.
Speaking of heat, there’s also that aspect to take care of. My heat has been updated already this summer–now, instead of a single wood stove at one end of the house, we have two: one for each end. But we’re still heating with wood, which means taking steps to make sure I have enough seasoned wood split and ready for the winter. (I’m a bit shy of halfway there; I probably need four to six more cords, and I’ll be happy.) While you’re thinking about your fuel supply, have you had your chimneys cleaned lately? It’s generally not terribly expensive, and the peace of mind (no chimney fires!) makes it more than worth the cost.
Then there’s food. We’re now in the early stages of the garden harvest, picking cucumbers and beans like there’s no tomorrow. We’ll be starting a pickling crock in the next few days (naturally fermented sour pickles–yum!), and there are plans afoot to can some of the beans. The tomatoes will be along shortly–they were oddly reticent to grow, this year–and it’s pretty quickly downhill from there.
In the longer term, we’re also looking at what is or isn’t doing well, and thinking about how to improve the garden next year. Our squash is doing poorly, with several of the plants mysteriously suddenly dying, and the Chinese cabbage was a wash. I’ve mentioned the tomatoes. Our peppers (bells, and a sweet banana type) are doing quite well; the beans are out of control, and our two cucumber plants have produced probably six or ten pounds of cukes so far, with at least as many still to come. The melons are doing well, but we need to find another place for them–they’re too close together, and are overrunning their bed. The corn is happy enough, but we probably should have planted more… In other words, it’s an average garden; next year, we’ll expand, and diversify a bit more.
How about you, readers? How are your gardens and/or winter preps coming along?