Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Daily Doin's, First Half of September, 2016

I start this on Saturday, September 9.

I feel like I need to get a post published, and I just have a mish-mash of things to talk about.  Some of you love it when I'm like this, others....  probably not so much.  What can I say.  I am but a flawed personality doing the best I can with what I have to work with, and it shows in my writing style. 

This morning we had some rain.  And we had some yesterday.  Not enough accumulation to speak of, but it was fun to watch.  I was in my gardening attire this morning, and planned to start working when the rain was over.  I went out during what turned out to be what we call "a lull", and got rained back in.  But there was plenty of morning left when it was all finished. It was cooler, at least until about noon.  That's when I came in for the day.  I cleaned the kitchen.  Packaged some seeds and put them away.  My dad used to call this kind of thing "piddling".

Right now I'm just trying to get some things in place in preparation for the next gardening year.  The prairie perseveres.  The minute you stop holding the line, it spreads out its carpet of grasses and weeds.  This year we had a new gift from the birds: Portulaca.  This particular variety blooms purple.

The walkways, which only last spring were neatly covered with cardboard and woodchips, are now covered in grass, which Hubs has kindly started mowing.  I watch these gardening shows on TV, and I see their nicely maintained walkways, of either wood chips or pea gravel, and I wonder what they've done to keep it like that.  Do they have people that do nothing but manage the walkways, or do they just spray them with chemicals?  Because it has been my experience that it has to be one or the other, unless they've done something more permanent, like having a cement truck come out and pave their walkways.  If it wasn't so dang expensive, don't think I wouldn't consider it.

I could swear I just heard you say, "O.  M.  G...."

There are still a few things alive in the garden.  Some of the tomato plants survived the summer, some didn't.  Most of the peppers made it through. 

After I cleared out the pumpkin plants, the squash bugs went straight for the cucumber vines.  "We'll  fix HER," they said.  The cucumber vines were dead overnight.  But I have had enough of those.  So allrightie, then, you dang bugs.  See what you can find to eat NOW.  Come into my burn barrel, my darlings.....   BWA-HA-HA........ 

So today I commenced work on the bed that is closest to the east fence.  It has three "pits" of tomato plants, a couple of kale plants, a single row of jalapenos, and two short rows of cheese peppers still growing in it.  There are some zinnias still blooming in the north end.  But what grows best in this bed is Bermuda grass and Bindweed.  I have covered parts of the bed with the big sheets of cardboard Bob brought to me, two thicknesses.  This is only a temporary thing.  Bermuda grass is perfect for prairies because it loves sun and hard-packed soil.  It does not like shade.  The first thing it does when shaded is come up closer to the surface.  This serves my purposes well because then it's easier to pull out.  Especially if the soil has been amended enough so that it no longer packs down into clods of dirt that look and feel like rocks. 

Will I ever get this soil amended enough so that ALL of it is soft and spongy?  It certainly is much easier to work with when it's that way.  But it's so hard to get materials to put in.  Everything has its drawbacks to the point where we are getting afraid to use anything that comes from somewhere else due to our not being able to control whether it's been sprayed with some noxious chemical.  Jill Winger put up a sad post just last week.  The hay she used for mulching this year had been sprayed with a chemical that kills broad-leaf plants.  Consequently, her tomato plants were stunted and she couldn't grow legumes at all. 

Once your garden gets poisoned, all you can do is let the land go fallow and wait several years.  Some people say it helps to rototill regularly, and to plant sunflowers and then burn the stalks when the plants are done. 

Every fall for several years now, we have picked up bagged leaves from the yards of several people that call us to let us know when they are ready.  We're not going to be able to do this anymore because of Oak Mites.  Last year we brought home a lot of them in the leaves.  That made us wonder whether we really wanted to grow oak trees on our land.  I don't think we have but one or two.  Jill's post made me realize that if the homeowner has a lawn service caring for their lawn, and many here do, they don't know WHAT that is that Chem-Lawn (Is the name alone chilling enough for you?) sprays on their lawns out of that big tank.  And therefore, we don't know what's on those leaves we bring home.  Other than Oak Mites, that is.  We certainly know what THEY are.....

Of course, you all know about our friend Kylie, who's been bringing wood chips to us.  But we are even rethinking whether this is a good idea.  As the pile of chips ages, it holds moisture inside the pile, and that breeds fungi.  Hubs and I have both been fighting some mysterious rashes on our shins, and Hubs thinks we need to stop using wood chips.  We've been using wood chips for probably three years, so I'm not sure whether they really are the source of our problem.  We're probably more susceptible to things like this because of our age.  Seems like these days there are a lot of things we're more sensitive to than we have ever been before.  Hubs borrowed Joe's Kubota tractor, scooped up the rest of my wood chip pile and dumped it out in the low places on our North Fourth.   For all we know, the homeowners could've had their trees sprayed with something to kill the oak mites


I think my tomato plants are OK, though.  We might get a fall crop, if the first freeze of the season doesn't come too early.

This is now Sunday, September 11.  Many Americans are spending this day in quiet reflection, as it marks a horrendous event for our country.  Hubs and I know what a blessing it is not to have lost anyone in senseless acts of violence.  I started to say that they had become "all too common during our lifetimes".  But really, when I look back into history, I am reminded that senseless acts of violence have been the norm for the human race, not the exception.  Back in The Wild West, when part of Oklahoma was known as "The Bad Lands", there was a lot that happened that no one ever heard about.  And many things that are illegal today were looked down upon and considered cruel, but when things happened between a man and his woman, or in families, people tended to look the other way.  It was possible for crime to be so well hidden that the truth would never be uncovered.  People had a way of "disappearing", never to be heard from again, back then.  The "why" of it all escapes me.  Maybe there is no "why".  My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have lived through such events, and to those who lost their loved ones.

We had an inch of rain yesterday, I climbed out of my bed at 2:30, having been awakened by the sounds of the rain.  It was blowing such that I couldn't have my coffee on the patio and watch it rain, as I like to do.  But at least our electricity stayed on.

Later on in the morning, I went to the garden and started clearing the grass off the walkway that I showed you earlier.  I have about halfway cleared in that walkway, but oh, so far to go.  Bermuda grass and other things with roots that go on forever went into the burn barrel and that which is easy to pull out was thrown into the compost.  Someday they will feed the very plants they like to choke or shade out.  I'm finding a few grubworms, very close to the surface now since the rain, and they go in a clay pot saucer.  It has high enough edges that the grubs cannot climb out.  The birds know they can often find a little treat there and so they don't last long. 

The walkways in the garden were covered in cardboard and then wood chips last spring.  I ran out of cardboard pretty quickly so then I started throwing down oak leaves instead of cardboard.  They worked as well as the cardboard, and took about the same length of time to decompose as the cardboard does. 

When the grasses have been pulled from a good-sized area, then I go through with the bow rake and before I know it, I have a good big pile of well-composted leaves and wood chips.  So I've been dumping that into the raised bed as I go.  This leaves a nice raked-over area that's perfect for sprinkling Dutch White clover seeds on.  I didn't water them in, but we had a heavy dew early this morning and I'm thinking that did the trick.  After we've had our first frost, I'll yank out the tomato vines and pepper plants and zinnias, and then Hubs can run the rototiller in the bed.  I'll go in after he's finished, and scatter my Annual Ryegrass seed.  That's the plan, anyway.

This is now Wednesday, the 14th.  I'm having such a time trying to get this post finished. 

Every morning, I go out to the garden and get as much done as I can before it starts getting uncomfortably hot.  By then, my hands are sore and I'm tired.  Plenty of reasons there to quit for the day.  There are always things that need doing inside. 
There is cardboard where the grass roots would not pry out.  There is no sense in trying to till in the walkways as there are many rocks under the surface and they make the tiller buck, which is hard for Hubs to handle.  I have plenty of places where I can work instead, and just wait for the cardboard to shade the grass enough that the roots come closer to the surface. 

I am slowly making progress.  Burning the Bermuda grass in the burn barrel just didn't work out.  It made such horrible-smelling thick smoke that I asked Hubs if he thought it would work better if I just let him scatter it out on The North Fourth.  He said he thought that'd be fine.

Where the ground has been exposed, I've scattered Dutch White clover.  When I went out to take these pictures, there was much fluttering of wings in that area.  Yikes.  The birds don't seem interested in the grubworms and have turned their attention to seeds.  I read somewhere that in the fall, a bird's digestive system changes from insects to seeds.  We had some rain this morning, just barely enough to wet the ground, but there's better chances on Thursday and Friday, so I'm hoping that will settle the seeds in.  If not, I'll go out there with the watering can. 

One of the potatoes I planted a week or two ago has come up.

#$%^&^$%#@##&_)+_*!!  We're stuck with these till after the first freeze.  Oh, goody.

We'll be digging sweet potatoes any day now. 

Not much else to report, except that something has gone very wrong with the ginger.  The last time I watered, I noticed that when the water washed the soil off the tops of the ginger roots, they were no longer looking like big, fat shrimps.  They're all dried up and papery!!  Empty inside!!  I have no clue what I did wrong.  It seemed to be coming along so well.  The green fronds are still green, so I just left them in the pot.  I don't know what else to do.  Maybe if I bring the pot into the house when the weather gets cool, it will have grown something by spring.  Not sure.


I ended August and started September being A Bad Girl.  I had Frozen Yogurt In A Waffle Cone.  Twice.  I had chocolate cake.  I had carrot cake.  More than twice.  And that snowballed into cravings and recreational eating.  When I forced myself to weigh, I'd gained four pounds.  I've now lost two of them and trying to get back on track.  At least it doesn't show.  Hubs still calls me "Baggy Britches".  But I did so want to meet my interim goal before now. 

The rash on my leg has healed completely.  It only took two days after I started using my homemade Absorbine Jr. on it.  It contains Artemesia, Calendula, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme and Orange Mint, which, by the way, doesn't taste a thing like orange but it has a very medicinal smell and I suspect contains a lot of Thymol. 

That's about it for this time.  May all who come here be blessed.  Hugs xoxoxo