Composting is Easy with a Duck Pond

By wordpress - Last updated: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I’ve always read that you’re supposed to have an enclosure, turn the compost over several times a year, water it regularly, blah, blah, blah. I’ve discovered that if you throw the stuff in a pile and walk away, you pretty much get the same result. There is some seriously black dirt under there! Still, I couldn’t help myself; I took a pitchfork and started to turn it over a few times. That’s a little like work, so I quit. I had a strawberry plant the we bought a couple of years ago that we never got around to planting in the ground. I had thrown it in a bucket “until I have time to plant it.” You know how that goes. Or maybe you don’t. We have a bad habit of ging to the store and thinking it would be nice to have some (fill in the blank.) This time it was strawberries. Two years and this thing is not dead yet. Most plants give up on me long before that! So, here we are, one “I’m not going to die” strawberry plant and one big pile of black dirt. I used to work in and around Plant City, Florida, and the farmers there would pile up rows of dirt, cover them with black plastic and they would get beautiful, large strawberries. I thought I would try that. I didn’t have any black plastic handy so I used some weed blocker fabric. I’m not sure if the plant will know the difference. The one plant had about five separate sections that I was able to break apart and plant individually. We’ll see what happens. Speaking of Pumpkins! My pumpkin is starting to actually look like a pumpkin. On days when we have a hard rain, it seems to double in size overnight. I’ve only had one other pumpkin get close to this size. Some bugs got into it and it ended up looking like a zombie pumpkin. But this one is looking pretty good. I haven’t sprayed it with anything but, so far, there are no bugs that look like they have an eye on it. At the other end of the vine there is a new baby pumpkin. It would definitely be cool if I had a couple for Halloween. I’m going to put some of that “black gold” around the base of the plant and see how it does. I’ve had a lot of flowers but, so far ,these are the only two candidates vying for Halloween. About the losing weight thing… This morning, if I stood on the scale just right it said I weighed 279 and 31/32 pounds. I was sure after yesterday’s workout I would wake up weighing 175 pounds. Why is it that if you just look at a cheeseburger (which I haven’t) you gain weight but if you eat cucumbers for supper (which I have) you don’t lose any weight. Still, I feel better than I have in years and I can actually get into those jeans I saved from five years ago. No, I’m not going jogging!

Filed in Uncategorized

I Have Spinach

By wordpress - Last updated: Monday, August 16, 2010

As I blogged before, I meticulously planted spinach in very clearly defined rows. I went as far as to lay the seeds in the furrow so that they were in a perfect line. Lo and behold, the seeds germinated and I was able to tell by the line of seedlings which were spinach and which were not. Maybe these have been coming up all along, but I just thought they were weeds and pulled them. They look like little blades of grass!

People keep telling me it’s too hot to plant spinach, but we’ll see. The plants look healthy for now.

It seems more often than not that I am bringing something in from the garden. It’s so much easier to keep planting something else when you actually harvest something. The cucumbers and squash keep producing a steady supply and the tomatoes are starting to give up one or two. Although it seems something keeps tasting the tomatoes, decides it doesn’t like that one, and moves on to another: so many of the tomatoes have these small holes in them! We eat them anyway–just cut around the hole–but they would be so much more appealing if the hole wasn’t there!

Filed in Gardening

Rant: These Bugs Are Killing Me!

By wordpress - Last updated: Sunday, August 15, 2010

I see a glimpse of daylight; the garden awaits. First, I have to contend with the weeds. Things that I want to grow don’t, things that I don’t want to grow do. That’s a pain, but no real harm done. The bugs, that’s another story altogether. They EAT my plants! My healthiest tomato is suddenly being attacked by several things. The tomatoes have these small holes in them, the leaves are curled up and drying, the tops of the plants have been chewed off and, in general, things aren’t looking so healthy anymore. I wouldn’t mind losing a tomato here and there, but whatever is attacking them seems to have Alzheimers. It bores into a tomato about a quarter of an inch and then decides it doesn’t like tomatoes and moves on. Then a little while later, it sees another tomato and thinks, “I wonder if I would like that?” Same thing; it bores in a little then decides it doesn’t like tomatoes. I find myself yelling at whatever it is,”THEY”RE ALL THE SAME! IF YOU DON”T LIKE ONE, YOU WON”T LIKE ANY OF THEM!!!” Then I realize I’m trying to reason with a worm…or something. That never goes well. I hope no one is watching. I’m no environmentalist, but I do like to limit the amount of pesticides I use. It seems you have to have a complete arsenal of pesticides because each bug has a different preferred method of execution. So now I have to figure out what is causing the problem, look up that bug’s preferred method of death and apply accordingly. What a pain! You organic gardeners who keep up with this must be insane. No wonder we’ve gone to mega farms. One company plants tomatoes and figures out all that can go wrong with a tomato and plants fifty thousand acres of it. Another company takes on carrots, another one squash, and so on. Maybe I need to screen in my garden! When do I get to see some results? While we’re ranting; what’s with this weight thing? I’m still staring at 280 pounds. Better, but I’m ready to see more results. Since I finished clearing the weeds from the garden I haven’t had to work as hard but, still, I’m not exactly in retirement, either. My activity level is way up so I would think I would continue to lose weight. I’ll keep trying! For instance, this morning I cleared out the debris from yesterday’s chainsaw massacre. I had a little help from my sisters, but it was quite a workout. Consider that in the “before” picture you have a split tree with lots of hanging branches and, in the ”after,” it’s all gone. That’s easily a few hours of WORK. It felt more like the days when I was clearing the garden. I think if I do all that, I’m entitled to a twenty pound loss. Okay, that’s a little unrealistic, but surely I deserve to lose at least a few ounces. Back to the bugs. I felt like I spent a fortune getting the garden ready, but now it seems I’m going to have to spend another fortune to keep the bugs out. Just like with computer viruses, it makes you wonder if the guys making the pesticides are the same ones breeding new bugs to make you go out and buy more pesticides. Note to Jaron and Rachael: I haven’t done it yet, I’m just talking about it. If you can give me a better solution I’ll be glad to try it–mostly because I’m cheap, but what do we care what the reason is as long as the result is the same? Fire Ants everywhere! I don’t remember seeing this many fire ant mounds a few years back, but now it seems they’re everywhere. And these hurt! I keep hearing strange remedies but I thought I would try some simple fire ant killer. I’ve tried several methods, but what seems to work best is to sprinkle the mound lightly and then disturb the nest. The ants come out ready to fight, but then see the food and decide to eat instead. We’re probably related. I’ve noticed that if I do this a couple of days in a row, that hill dies. Great, but then new mounds seem to show up close by. Maybe I’m just imagining this, but I think I could spend my mornings doing nothing but spreading fire ant killer and poking nests. I’d like to hear your remedy for fire ants. In spite of the bugs, I am harvesting produce from the garden on a daily basis. That part is so cool. Is this eggplant not the very definition of deferred gratification?

Filed in Visiting Critters

Happy Birthday!

By wordpress - Last updated: Friday, August 13, 2010

The acorn squash has pretty much taken over the center of the garden and, like the pumpkin, there are lots of flowers, very little fruit. Actually, no fruit. Is it called fruit? Probably not, but “very little vegetable” sounds weird. By the way (or BTW for you android types), if you have suggestions on any of this, I’m open. I like to try things, if they make sense. Is this a pumpkin or an onion? I planted pumpkin seeds, the plant looked like a pumpkin, but this is not going to be someone’s first choice for carving a jack-o-lantern. I planted some zucchini and it looks more like the summer squash. I started these from seed in my repurposed egg cartons ( ‘repurposed’: who came up with that term? I only used it for my son Jaron’s sake.) The zucchini is in a race against old man winter but it’s off to a pretty good start. I guess the same can be said for the okra. It started out slow but recently it seems to be picking up speed. I won’t be shocked if it doesn’t produce anything before the first frost.

Filed in Squash

Let’s take a day off!

By wordpress - Last updated: Friday, August 6, 2010

After nearly two months of gardening every day for two to three hours, I took a day off. They say the right exercise schedule is one day on and on day off, but I figure early humans could not do that, and animals can’t do that, so why would it be any different for me? Admittedly, I’m not doing heavy weightlifting and tearing up muscles–although my body might beg to differ. So far, I’m holding at 278 pounds. Up a pound, down a pound, and so on. I am curious to know what my body thinks of all this. I have the feeling I’m really replacing fat with muscle, because my clothes fit better, yet the scales say I’m at the same weight. I dropped a pants size, which is not all that much, but it sure is encouraging. Anyway, right or wrong, I’ll be back at it tomorrow.

Filed in Uncategorized

Why can’t I grow some spinach?

By wordpress - Last updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I had a good old farm boy working for me once and when I told him about my not being able to grow greens he said, “Son, if you can’t grow greens, you can’t grow nuthin’. Just throw some seeds on the ground, kick some dirt over it, and water it. That’s all there is to it.” Yeah, right. Although I will admit that one morning I was running a little late and needed to get to work, so I threw the seeds on the ground, kicked some dirt over it and left. They grew! That was just one time; similar efforts or the lack thereof have not produced the same results. Anyway, this can’t be that hard, but I’m in the process of my third attempt at getting some spinach to grow. I ordered some fresh seeds online and set out to try again. The experts say spinach is a cool weather crop so I’m placing it in a cool spot, if there is such a thing this time of year. I thought I would try a raised bed. So I found a couple of boards and made myself a twenty-four inch by who-knows-what frame. Filled the bottom with some regular clay soil and filled the rest with my endless supply of homemade plant soil. I had filled a large bucket the night before and watered it thoroughly. Didn’t know then what I would be using it for, but opportunity knocked. I marked the three rows I planted, carefully followed directions, and watered the seeds thoroughly. I used a micrometer to make sure it was it was exactly 1/4 inch deep. Yeah, I’m lying about the micrometer, it was a ruler. But really, it was surely close enough. Now if something does come up, I’ll be able to tell if it’s my spinach because it will all be in a straight row about where I marked it. The packet says seven to fourteen days to germination, so we’ll come back then and see. I wonder if the plant store is selling me weeds and not expecting me to figure it out?

Filed in Gardening

Critters Everywhere!

By wordpress - Last updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It’s very strange how many different creatures come to see you in a garden. Or, more likely, to benefit from your production bounty. I was forced to redo the fence because our dogs had no problem with laying on top of the plants I had just planted. But these others I’m not sure about. I guess I’m going to have to do some research to figure out who the bad guys are. If you want to help me along leave me a comment and give me the thumbs up or down. I’ll process the executions. Except the dogs. I think I have them figured out and besides there are some humans around here that would know it was me if anything happened to them. I think the bird is a Wren and I saw one a few weeks back in my shed with a bug in its beak. Hope he/she is a good guy. I like birds. I know the butterfly is probably responsible for some of the caterpillars I have found but who could kill a butterfly. Well, technically I have killed some butterflies but they looked like a fat worm when I did the deed. I’m not real inclined to spray for insects. I’ve always had a feeling that Yellow Butterfly whatever you spray on plants is what you end up eating. I’m going to make an effort to plant enough for me and the bugs and to figure out how to manually kills the bad guys so the good guys can help me kill the bad guys when I’m not there.

Filed in Visiting Critters

I’m declaring war as soon as I find out who the enemy is!

By wordpress - Last updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I’m declaring war. Just as soon as I figure out who the enemy is. I cannot believe I spent a couple of hours yesterday digging holes in my clay/brick, adding lots of top soil to the mix and planting Morning Glories. This morning I go out to see how they’re doing and six of the nine plants are gone! No trace. Well, a couple had tiny stems sticking out where the plant once stood. But, for the most part, gone! What about the chicken wire fence? Obviously I spent a whole morning putting that up for nothing. I have a list of suspects but no real evidence. Chief, the horse, was surely the culprit who took a bite out of my corn, but could he stretch his neck over the fence and five feet down to the ground? Assuming the same crook that bit off the tops of my beans is the same one who ate my Morning Glories, could Chief stretch his neck ten feet to reach the beans without leaving a trace? Probably not, but you’re not off the hook yet, buddy. Some people say it’s slugs. I’m just having a hard time picturing a slug shimmying up that tiny little stem, biting off the top, shimmying back down and completely devouring the plant. Then it would have to slither six feet to get to the next one. Maybe a slug, but really? Maybe these grasshoppers flying all over the place? My mysterious bandits must have gone to finishing school: not a trace of evidence. Could grasshoppers clean up after themselves, sweep the ground where they walked, and fly on to the next plant? Doesn’t seem likely. I’m calling the United Nations and placing everyone under alert. When I catch you, you thieving rascal, we won’t be having a little chat! I’ll have to do a little process of elimination. I surrounded one of the plants with a screen. If I lose that plant, I’ll know it’s got to be something more than a couple of feet tall. I also spread some really fine dirt around the other plants, hoping to see little footprints (or dragging butts, as the case may be. Nothing but a stub left ). Once again, the parallels to life are interesting. Surely you see the problem here, my dear socialist friends. I did the work, I spent the money, and I expect to enjoy the fruits of my labor. This is not fair! I don’t feel like planting any more Morning Glories! Seems to me if you want some flowers, you should go out and plant your own dang garden! Perhaps I need a security system!

Filed in Visiting Critters

Let’s give this Miracle-Gro another try

By wordpress - Last updated: Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The instructions on the Miracle-Gro box say I should fertilize every couple of weeks so I thought I would do just that. I had a smaller bag that said it was for tomato plants so I added that to two of the plants and used regular Miracle-gro to the other two. We’ll see how that works out. While I was at it I decided to go ahead and fertilize everything in sight. I’ve never known what the right amount is but I followed instructions and gave everything about twelve ounces of the water fertilizer mix.

Filed in Gardening

Paint Splat!

By wordpress - Last updated: Monday, August 2, 2010

A few years back I heard a great plan for figuring out who the bad guys are on the road. It went like this: everyone would be given a paintball gun and could shoot anyone who did something stupid or rude. So, instead of honking or flipping the bird, you’d shoot the bad guy’s car with your paint gun. People would only be allowed to clean their car once a month. The guy who drives in the closed right hand lane past everyone and then sneaks back in the left lane like he’s so much more important than the rest of us… Paint Splat! The guy who waits a nano second at the red light and then honks for you to move on… Paint Splat! The guy who comes up behind you going eighty miles an hour and rides your bumper even though you can’t get out of the way… Paint Splat! The guy in the left lane going fifty in a seventy mile an hour zone, forcing everyone to go around him… Paint Splat! Feel free to come up with your own variations on the theme. We all know that, from time to time, we make driving mistakes but, over time, sheer probability would expose the bad guys. Not sure what we’d ultimately do with them, but how cool would it be to know who the bad guys are? Maybe you could only get your car cleaned if you went to remedial training…

Filed in Uncategorized