By Elizabeth Bassett
As summer winds down, oodles of events and activities beckon us outdoors.
If you are winsome about the waning garden season, consider a hands-on workshop at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg. Learn to make a mini-greenhouse cold frame on Sept. 14; it can add weeks to the growing season in both spring and fall. On Oct. 12, create a succulent pumpkin planter that
can live outside in frost-free weather or be a centerpiece or indoor decoration. Information and registration at Red Wagon Plants.
Shelburne Orchards is open for pick-your-own apples. The orchard store is open and always has pre-picked apples. Cider donut production begins on Sept. 7, and the annual apple pie baking contest unfolds on Sept. 29. Oct. 18 and 19 are senior citizen discount days, and the weekend of Oct. 19 and 20 includes Truckload Weekend and Hard Cider Days; fill your pickup with picked apples for $100 or $50 for drops. When the pickup is full, learn about hard-cider making and have a taste of Citizen Cider.
Each weekend this fall Taco Truck All Stars will be selling, well, tacos! Wash them down with donuts and cider—who could ask for more!
Want to do a good deed in the outdoors this fall? There are volunteer options in three categories: gleaning, removing invasive plants, and trail work. Gleaning, a term as old as the Bible, means “reaping after the harvest.” This translates to gathering crops that farmers can’t sell. Worldwide, about one-third of food raised or prepared does not make it to the table. Gleaners volunteer through the Vermont Gleaning Collective to gather produce that would otherwise go to waste. The food is then distributed through the charity food network, i.e., foodshelves and foodbanks.
Bonus: reducing food waste is a powerful tool to combat climate change.
The Nature Conservancy organizes workdays in the fall, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., focused on trail work or invasives removal. Williams Woods is the setting for trail work on Sept. 18 and 27; invasive plant removal at Williams Woods on Oct. 2 and 25, at Raven Ridge Sept. 24 and Oct. 10, and at LaPlatte River on Oct. 14 and 30. More information on the Nature Conservancy website.
Green Mountain Club is gearing up for Vermont’s prime hiking season with volunteer-led offerings at a wide range of locations and levels of difficulty. A sampling in our region includes: Sept. 14, Bird Monitoring at Delta Park, one mile, flat; Sept. 15, South Boquet hike near Essex, NY, great views of the Lake and Green Mountains, 1.6 miles, 600’ elevation; Sept. 21-22, Putnam Pond paddle and hike in the Pharaoh Mountain Wilderness of the Adirondacks; Sept. 22, Hell Brook Trail Loop to Mt. Mansfield, 5 miles, difficult. Other outings include Stowe Pinnacle, Mt. Hunger and Smugglers’ Notch. For a complete list check out the Green Mountain Club website.
Garden guru Charlie Nardozzi recently spoke to a capacity crowd at Vermont Public Radio headquarters in Colchester. Listening to Charlie spool out wisdom is a fun short-cut to success! (I recommend his newsletter, too.) One pearl of wisdom I gleaned: two types of green manure or cover crops improve soil and its structure over winter. For decades I’ve planted winter rye or wheat. By the time the spring garden is finally dry enough to turn under, I’m itching to plant peas, spinach and other early season seeds. But it takes weeks for the green manure to break down enough to plant. At Charlie’s suggestion I’ve just ordered Fall Green Manure Mix from Johnny’s Select Seeds, which leans toward annuals that will die back in winter. The combo includes winter rye, field peas, ryegrass, crimson clover and hairy vetch. Johnny’s assures gardeners that “peas, clover and ryegrass will winter kill to provide organic matter and soil cover.” Stay tuned!
Various hunting seasons in Vermont begin in September and run through the middle of December. If you hike or walk in the woods, wear bright or high-visibility clothing. Don’t forget a vest for your pets. Green Mountain Club advises that you sing, whistle or chat with a companion, real or imaginary.
Whatever your pleasure, stay safe and enjoy this beautiful season.