What were you doing five years ago?

The damage one groundhog did to a garden in a single morning.

I searched through the archives this morning as I waited for the work laptop to install software updates.

Five years ago this month I posted two blog posts. The entire month. Looking back, that may be an average. June is a light month for postings when compared year over year. Except in 2011 — that month 79 blog posts were offered.

Ten years ago to the date I posted the above photo in this blog post. Not mentioned at the time was that a female groundhog had eaten all the young broccoli and greens that had been planted earlier that spring. An expert was called in and he humanely captured the mother and her two pups. He informed me that groundhogs mate in early spring. Female groundhogs have really short pregnancies. So, by June the groundhog in our area was a very busy mother. It was difficult to get angry at the groundhog for eating most of my spring plantings. She was just doing what groundhogs do. Mother and pups were safely relocated to one of the nearest state parks.

Fifteen years ago this month I published a weekly column. I had been invited to contribute a weekly column by another writer. At some point I considered collecting those columns in to a book. But that manuscript, or manuscripts, is probably buried in a junk drawer somewhere in the garage.

Twenty years ago. No blog. No laptop. Just a black cloth hardback sketchbook. I sketched a model sheet for a comic book proposal.

Scratching the earth – otherwise known as a mountain urban garden

North Garden

Mountain urban garden

It’s hard to tell from this image, but there is more than a four foot difference between the top of the garden and the lower portion. It’s still a garden in development using found materials. Most the garden is hand tilled and bordered with limbs and branches and creek stone.

Terraced garden – using found materials

Terraced garden - using found materials

Terraced garden – using found materials

To be honest, I ran out of supplies for gardening. So the tree limbs and branches are salvaged from winter and spring storms. Each garden section (or box) is hand tilled and mixed with compost.

North garden under development

North garden under development

North garden using diy terrace strategy and found materials

Gardening and fireflies

Organic garden — the last weekend in June

And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

(link: Fireflies in the Garden by Robert Frost)

Some evenings, as the sun sets, I water the garden. A two-gallon water can is used and one can of water per garden box seems to be sufficient. The other night while I watered the garden in the evening, the fireflies appeared to come up from the ground and surround me; almost as if the water droplets transformed upon impact and rose into the gathering darkness as luminous creatures. Within an hour or two I could see their light in the tallest oaks and pines surrounding the cottage. But, alas, like Robert Frost offers “they can’t sustain the part” of the stars above.

Like twilight time, the garden is transitioning. The snap peas began to wither a few days ago. I can’t tell if it is due to the lack of rain or the peas have passed their season of growth. I’ll plant kale and shard to replace the pea plants. So far the most produce comes from the chili pepper plant and the lettuce. The zucchini and squash are disappointing. It appears the leaves have some kind of mold; yielding only four vegetables. It’s too early to tell, but it looks like the tomato plants will yield well this year.

Garden project: how to eliminate unwanted slugs

Garden project: garden beds almost complete as of early May.

All six garden beds are in and mostly full. A couple more tomato and pepper plants would be a nice addition. Plus I’m waiting for the kale and chard to mature enough to put them in the ground.

The lettuce leaves are big enough to pull a couple for a sandwich a couple of nights ago.

Only thing that’s a bit annoying is how the slugs seem to attempting to take over the southeastern corner of the garden. Two techniques to organically get rid of unwanted snails include beer and salt. First I’ll try the beer bait first. If the slugs persist, I’ll use salt.

The beer technique works like this:

  1. Fill a small container (like a baby food jar) about a third full of beer and place them in the infested areas of the garden.
  2. Place the slug bait in the garden in the morning or evening. I usually place the beer containers in the garden at dusk and check it the next morning.
  3. Empty the beer containers of the dead slugs and repeat the process.

If this doesn’t curb the invasion, the next phase of attack is salt.

The garden project begins

Mid April Garden

The last couple of years the garden project goals have been simple: spend less than $100 on garden supplies (seeds, plants, etc.), use native or found materials (like creek stones or fallen, dead wood from local trees to make garden borders) and avoid using pesticides or herbicides (with the exception of natural, organic pesticides like cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon & the like).

This year I took the liberty to construct garden boxes with the goal of making raised bed/container gardens. The garden boxes are made from 2″x6″ pine boards and measure four feet square.

I began the garden project in April.

I’m using a variety of sources to put together this year’s garden project. But the primary gardening strategy handbooks I use include Trowel & Error by Sharon Lovejoy and The New Self-sufficient Gardener by John Seymour.