Our great "burlapping" project continues at the farm.
As many of you know, I've been covering shrubs and hedges with burlap for many years to protect the branches from splaying and even breaking from the weight of snow and ice. Every season, our wrapping methods become easier and more streamlined, giving me peace of mind during the cold weather months.
I feel it is equally important to protect my outdoor garden ornaments from the harsh winter elements. A winter freeze, alternating with thaws, could crack or crumble any kind of stone, or cement, especially if it is antique. During this time, all my outdoor containers, planters, and birdbaths, are drained, and covered in the same burlap used for my live specimens. Here are some photos of this process.
I have many outdoor containers at the farm. These are two smaller planters on my terrace parterre – they’ve been emptied of plant material and soil and are now ready to be fitted with burlap covers.
Because stone and cement are porous and sensitive to harsh elements, the urns are first covered with plastic. Heavy duty trash bags fit perfectly over these smaller vessels.
Wilmer and Carlos unroll the burlap. This is the same burlap we use to cover my boxwood. When we can, we reuse burlap from seasons past; however, it is also available in giant rolls of 40-inches or 60-inches wide.
Carlos cuts enough burlap, so it can be doubled for extra protection. Also called hessian, burlap is made in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India from jute, a tall, grass-like plant grown for its strong fibrous stalks.
Wilmer wraps the burlap around the plastic covered urn.
Then, using the end of a screw driver, he tucks the fabric as far under the container as possible.
Once the burlap is secured underneath, Wilmer begins working on the rest of the urn – pulling the burlap snug around the container.
To sew the burlap, we use jute twine – the same twine we use for so many of our outdoor projects. I love using jute twine around the farm – it is 100-percent bio-degradable and recyclable.
The needles are specially designed for sewing jute. These five-inch long needles have large eyes and bent tips.
Starting at the bottom, Wilmer makes small knots along the opening to hold the burlap together as he sews.
Here is a closer look at one of them – very simple and easy to make. Wilmer is an excellent burlap sewer, and has been covering my urns for several years.
There was a lot of tucking involved, and a lot of knotting.
And, then he began sewing.
Wilmer sews from the base to the top, making sure the burlap fits snug around the container as he goes.
At the top of the urn, Wilmer makes one more knot, and it’s completed.
The same process is done for the other urn. First it is wrapped in plastic, and then in burlap.
Then, the burlap is tucked underneath and several knots are made along the opening to keep it together.
Wilmer sews the opening closed using jute twine and a large needle.
Finally, Wilmer sews the top of the urn, so the entire container is wrapped snug for the cold season ahead.
The burlap nearly conforms to the shape of the urn.
These two urns look like sculptures.
Next was a pair of urns in my back courtyard behind my kitchen.
Plus a large antique birdbath.
This birdbath was covered in the same way as the urns, but because it is so large, it needed special industrial strength plastic sheeting instead of a trash bag.
The plastic was also tied near the top and bottom to keep it secure and to prevent water from seeping inside. Now it is ready for its burlap cover.
Because these urns are also larger than the ones on my terrace, the burlap is draped over the top of each vessel and then sewn on two sides.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it takes just one cracked urn from the elements of winter to learn this lesson. For me, it’s all about precaution.
Wilmer also made sure the burlap protected as much of the bottom of each vessel as possible by carefully stitching one end and then connecting the twine to the other side.
Nice sewing, Wilmer!
And in the end, my outdoor planters and urns are protected from the heavy ice, damaging moisture, and high winds. There are still quite a few to wrap – what should we burlap next? How do you protect your outdoor planters in the winter? Let me know in the comments section below.
Here at my Bedford, New York farm, the outdoor grounds crew is busy "burlapping".
One of the first signs winter is just around the corner is the sight of burlap being wrapped around various shrubs and hedges. Burlap covers protect the tender branches from splaying and breaking from the weight of snow, while shielding the foliage from freezing windburn. It is a practice I've followed for many years, and I think it also provides a cozy and pretty look to the winter landscape. This season, we've been very fortunate - milder autumn temperatures allowed us to get a good start on this great "burlapping" project. Yesterday, however, we woke up to a coating of snow, so winter is fast approaching.
Here are some photos.
Rolls and rolls of burlap are needed to cover my hedges and shrubs each winter. After every season, any burlap still in good condition is saved for use the following year. Here, Chhiring brings out the first roll.
Because the burlap covers are custom fitted for each hedge and shrub, any burlap cover from past seasons is labeled, so it can be reused in the same exact location the following year.
This roll of burlap is for the hedge on the east side of the peony garden. A drawing is added to make it clear.
The burlap is unrolled so it can be placed over the hedge.
The frames are built at least one foot above the hedge so even the heaviest snow doesn’t weigh the burlap down and crush the tender foliage.
The heavy burlap is placed by hand over the frames, one section at a time.
Chhiring carefully covers the end of the hedge and makes sure it is covered equally on all sides.
Shorter stakes are placed at the foot of the row. The burlap will be wrapped on the outside of these stakes, so the entire section is straight and secure.
To make it taut, the burlap is pulled down and attached to the ground stakes with screws, sandwiched between the stake and a wooden strip.
Pete screws strips every two or three feet along the bottom of the hedge.
All the wooden stakes, strips and shims were milled at the farm, and get reused from year to year whenever possible. Even scraps of wood can be repurposed for various projects.
The strips are about six to eight inches long – just long enough to accommodate two or three screws that will keep the burlap secure for the season.
The project also requires rolls and rolls of jute twine.
The needles are specially designed for sewing jute. These five-inch long needles have large eyes and bent tips.
At each end of the hedge, Phurba pulls the extra burlap snug and sews it together, so it is neat and tidy.
Everyone on the crew has developed very good sewing skills.
Here, Chhiring also sews together any areas that appear too loose because of the shape of the hedge.
Here is a view of one of the hedges of the peony bed. Because the hedges are wide, long pieces of burlap are sewn together to accommodate them properly.
Chhiring starts to unroll another section of burlap. Each roll lasts about three seasons. Since this is the second season for this supply of fabric, the covers are already made – making the process a lot easier for the crew.
Chhiring carefully places the burlap over the next hedge.
Pete secures more strips at the base.
More sewing is done to make the burlap structure taut.
Here is another side of the hedge border surrounding my herbaceous peony bed.
As you can see, the burlap still allows the boxwood to “breathe”, and get sunlight, which is important even during the colder months.
Here is the inside of the peony bed after all the burlap is secured.
I’ve been burlapping for many years and find that it is really the most reliable way to protect my hedges and shrubs. With this area complete, the crew can move on to the next one.
A visit to Seattle, Washington is just not complete without a stop at the famous Pike Place Market.
During a recent business trip to the west coast, I dropped by the century-old market to do a little shopping. Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operated year-round public farmers' markets in the United States. It overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle and attracts more than 10-million visitors annually. Pike Place Market houses local farm stands, owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, specialty food stores and so much more. If you haven't already stopped by this bustling marketplace, I encourage you to do so the next time you're in Seattle's historic district - you won't be disappointed. If you have visited Pike Place Market, tell me what you liked best in the comments below.
Here are some photos - enjoy.
Pike Place Market was established in 1907 and contains dozens of farm stalls, more than 200 unique owner-operated shops and more than 80 restaurants.
One of the main attractions is the fish market, where you can find lots of delicious fresh seafood, including these giant Dungeness crabs – some weighing as much as four-pounds each.
And these fancy cooked Alaskan King crab legs
These jumbo lobster tails weigh nearly two pounds each! The fish market attracts up to 10-thousand visitors every day.
It is where mongers are known for throwing the fish. When a customer orders a fish, it is tossed from one monger to another at the ice-covered fish table where it is prepped.
Seafood can also be shipped overnight anywhere in the United States.
Here is wild Alaskan halibut – light and lean, with a wonderfully fresh flavor and delicate texture. Halibut are among the largest fish in the sea and the largest of all the flatfish.
And there is such a variety of seafood – look at all the different oysters!
Some of the freshest you’ll find.
At Pike Place Market, Washington farmers sell their locally grown produce and specialty farm products to shoppers seven days a week, 363 days a year – closed only on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Here is just one of the many fruits and vegetables stands.
Do you know what this is? It’s Romanesco broccoli, also known as Roman cauliflower, Broccolo Romanesco, Romanesque cauliflower or simply Romanesco, an edible flower bud of the species Brassica oleracea. It resembles a cauliflower, but is chartreuse in color and rich in vitamin-C, vitamin-K, dietary fiber, and carotenoids.
At this stall, the vendor took photos of me, as I took photos of the wonderfully fresh pears and artichokes.
There were also lots of apples at Pike Place Market. We did not have a good apple season on the east coast this year – mostly because of one killing frost weekend, and the summer’s drought.
Here is a wide selection of mushrooms. The hedgehog mushroom has orange, yellow or tan-colored caps up to nearly seven inches wide, with a sweet, nutty taste and a crunchy texture.
The Market is built on the edge of a steep hill, and consists of several lower levels located below the main level – each featuring unique shops such as antique dealers, comic book and collectible shops, and small family-owned restaurants. The upper street level contains fishmongers, fresh produce stands and craft stalls.
There is something for everyone here at Pike Place Market.
We stopped by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop at Pike Place Market. Beecher’s also has stores in New York City and in Wisconsin.
At Beecher’s, the cheese is made in full view – from culturing the milk to cutting curds in enormous vats, the entire process of turning fresh milk into finished cheese is seen through large windows.
And, did you catch this on my Instagram feed @MarthaStewart48? This is Joshua. For some reason he tattooed a rather large image of me on his side!
Joshua even asked me to sign it – he wanted to tattoo my signature as well.