Saturday, January 30, 2016

More January Garden Stuff

The Peace Of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free.
--Wendell Berry

This is Friday, and I haven't much to write about, but maybe I can share some garden stuff with you and it will be enough to entertain you for awhile. 

We are having some beautiful weather today.  It is possible it will be 70ºF before the day is done.  I have been waiting for a decent day in which to apply dormant spray on my fruit trees, but, as is so often the case, it's already windy, and even our weather people have put us under a "Fire Advisory", meaning some damned fool will probably go out and try to burn off their pasture, or at least a barrel full of trash, and then walk off from it, knowing that, well, yes, indeed, nothing bad is ever going to come from anything THEY do.  (Sarcasm.)

I'm not in a very good mood today (not that you haven't already figured THAT out).  I guess I need to follow Mr. Berry's example.  However, where the still waters and the places where the wild geese gather is not on my property and it'd probably scare the bejeezers out of Jay and Claire if they looked out the window and saw me laying on the ground beside their lake.  I'll spare them that experience.  Plus there's always the risk one of their dogs would come along and drag me off somewhere before I could get up.  But it's a peaceful feeling to read that poem, just the same. 

Our latest aggravation has to do with the rabbits.  I looked out on the patio on Wednesday morning and there were two of them sitting on the patio, just looking around.  I noticed one of our gates was not rabbit-proofed and asked Hubs to do it, which he did, and right after that I walked around the fenced-in area and rousted a good-sized Flopsy, Mopsy or Cottontail out from under the canopy of the Walker's Low Catmint.  I often find one there.  I don't know if they're attracted by the smell or if it's the density of the canopy.  But anyway, this time, after two trips around the yard and garden with me trundling along behind like Chester Goode in an old Gunsmoke episode, the rabbit found the open gate and after a short period of hesitation, finally went bounding out towards the open pasture behind Bob and Sharry's house.  I hoped darkly that Frank or Carl or Rosie or Rat or Chloe or the dog owned by Charles and Geraldine, whose name I do not know, would see it and bound out after, but none of them did.  Frank has taken to sitting, sphinx-like, in Joe and Cathy's driveway, looking towards us, while Chloe lounges around against the foundation of their house where the brick soaks up the warmth of the sun.  But I guess he was not at his post at this particular time.  Then, later on in the day, Hubs scared up another rabbit from the same hiding spot.  It ran toward me.  I told Hubs, "Go open the gate!" because he was closer to it than I was.  He did, and then I managed to get the rabbit going in that general direction.  It, OF COURSE, veered off behind the chicken house, but Hubs ran around the other way and it ran towards the open gate, and just stood there for the longest time, or so it seemed to me.  Neither of us was close enough to chase it out and I knew it was entirely possible that it would take off to the right, make a U-turn in that end of the yard and we'd go the rounds again.  So I started yapping like a dog.  It went on out the fence and was in Bob and Sharry's back yard in less than a minute.  It's amazing how fast they can run.  Bob and Sharry won't care how many rabbits they have.  They don't grow a garden.  Sharry hardly ever even goes outside, as they have an attached garage that they keep their car in, and their garage door can be opened from inside the car.  And nine chances out of ten, a rabbit wouldn't hang around there anyway, because there are not very many hiding places and nothing growing.  Beyond Bob and Sharry's house is an open field, where we saw a coyote headed from the highway.  Maybe one of the coyotes will get a good meal.  At any rate, there are some chances we won't see that particular rabbit again once it runs out in that direction, and that's the goal.  I noticed that Walker's Low Catmint canopy was dry and brittle.  So I cut the dry stuff off and put it in the burn barrel for the next quiet day.  I was afraid I might find a nest with baby rabbits in it but there was nothing there but a shallow hole that might have been meant to be the start of a nest.

When we had the new fence put up around the yard, and connected to the garden fence, I thought a strip of chicken wire along the fence and some rigging on the gates would take care of those rabbits.  But no.  It seems rabbits can dig.  And last year, we began being visited by a little red squirrel who made a nest in the Hackberry tree and spent the summer annoying the Mockingbirds.  I kinda enjoyed that part, because I don't like Mockingbirds.  They destroy the Robins' nests, and if there are fledglings in the nest, they just throw them out onto the ground.  Plus Mockingbirds' song is loud and kinda nerve-wracking, and if they have a nest someplace too close to where you have to walk while you do the things you do, they will actually swoop down upon you and try to peck you. 

Squirrels can pretty effectively strip all the fruit off a fruit tree, because they're not eating it now, they're storing it away somewhere for later.  They'll even pick tomatoes.  You can't keep them out of anywhere because they climb. 

I wish I were a better shot with a slingshot, that's what I wish.

Now the news that there is a new disease that mosquitoes can give you has almost been enough to make me actually feel true despair.  According to the map we saw on TV, there haven't been any cases in Oklahoma but there have been in Texas, and that's our next-door neighbor to the south.  There's nothing like insects to spread disease far and wide.  It's not the meek that are going to inherit the earth.  It's the insects. 

Hubs says he thinks he heard that you can have the Zika virus and not know it.  That being the case, I guess the only barometer we have for whether it's in our state is the birth of a baby that's been affected, and that's nine months after the fact.  So it could have been all OVER the US in August, for all we know now. 

Hubs and I talked about how it probably wouldn't be wise to collect rain water this summer, because the mosquitoes always breed in it while it's being held for use during a dry period.  I know there are things like "mosquito dunks" that we could throw into the tanks, but that's just another poison, and not something I really want to feed to my vegetables.  It's pointless to pump that into the cistern, because it's not holding water again, since Hubs took his hammer down there and banged around.  *Sigh*.  And even if we keep our collection tanks empty, we are surrounded by Jay's Lake, Charlie's Pond, and two ponds on land up closer to the highway.  Today I heard the World Health Organization was having an emergency meeting to talk about what they can do towards developing a Zika serum, and that scares me because I know anything that's developed while under an emergency situation has the potential to be even more dangerous than that which it's been developed to prevent, because the price of hurry is safety. 

Nonetheless, Hubs and I have just been trying to keep on keepin' on.  It was too windy to put the dormant spray on the fruit trees.  Spraying the trees assumes we'll get a fruit crop, which we don't, most years, due to a late frost, and that we can get the fruit picked before the squirrels do.  I've found my pressure sprayer, and the bottle of Volck oil, and I've made myself a measuring cup out of one of Hubs' empty pill bottles, which turns out to be almost exactly the right size.  It calls for ten and two-thirds tablespoons to a gallon of water.  NO WAY am I going to put that stuff in my measuring spoons.  Instead, I measured out that amount of water and then marked where the top line of the water was on the bottle. 

Assuming we'll get to have a garden that will survive the insects and the heat and drought of July and August, Hubs tilled another one of the beds.  It was pretty overgrown with Bermuda grass.  After he was done, the Robins moved in and began working over the newly-tilled soil, hopefully eating bug larvae.  With the roots loosened, I was able to rake up a lot of them and put them in the buggy so I can take them to the compost pile.  I'll try to be vigilant about pulling out the pieces that appear in the spring.  It's all I can do.  Pulling by hand without tilling first would be so labor-intensive I'd never get it all.  And solarizing?  Hah!  I can practically hear the grass laughing and jeering as it tunnels under the ground, where it waits to spring forth.

The soil looks healthy and loose, the product of buried kitchen and canning scraps, numerous bags of hauled-in leaves and all those wood chips Kylie has been bringing us over the past two or maybe three years.  There is that to take comfort in.

My tomato seeds and even  the jalapeno pepper seeds  have germinated and made cotyledons.  Those have been transplanted into Styrofoam cups that I have saved from previous years' usage.  I've written on the outside of the cups so many times that I just decided this time to put a mini-blind marker inside of the cup.  I'll need the marker when I plant them out, anyway, and I'll be pressed for time by then.  Even those are being reused from previous years, so this time, rather than try to scrub off the writing, I just applied a piece of masking tape over it and wrote on that.  I should've done that from the git-go, but I thought the grease pencil would be a lot easier to wipe off than it turned out to be.

My soil mix is compost that I made from weeds, sifted after it was finished, and then baked to kill bug larvae and seeds, mixed with about equal portions of peat moss and Vermiculite, although this year I'm short on the Vermiculite, so less of that than usual.  Into each cup I put about 1/4 teaspoon of worm castings that I bought in a two-quart container at Walmart.  They say you can put your seedlings in 100% worm castings but I decided to be conservative.  I was shocked at how much compost I actually ended up with, just from weeds and grass pulled out of the garden.  Finally, weeds can be made useful in the garden.

Amazon finally notified me that they have shipped my order that includes the supplies I'll need to start my hydroponics experiment, and my spinach seeds have already germinated and are poking their little heads out of the coffee filter.  I sure hope they'll hold till the order arrives. 

The Cheese pepper seeds are only now beginning to show signs of germination.  Joe Parker and Big Jim pepper seed that I saved several years ago have not.  They might be too old, and mostly my only point in the germination of the seed is to either plant them for new seed gathering or, if they don't germinate, to get the seeds out of my stash. 

I examined the red Cockscomb that I brought in last fall.  I don't know where the seed came from, because, to my knowledge, I didn't plant any.  But I thought the plant was pretty.  This is completely dry, now, and I was pleased to see that it retained it's shape and color, and the stalk is sturdy.  They'd be a nice addition to dried flower arrangements or wreaths. 

I thought at first that it didn't make any seed, but I poked around there where it looks dry and brown, and there were a few seeds there.  Round, jet-black, and shiny.

I went ahead and Wintersowed those. 

Caleb Warnock has developed a recipe for a homemade weed killer and HERE is his site.  Note that he's selling the recipe and wants you to sign a statement saying you won't share it with anyone.  He gives a clue in the statement that you could put it on a salad and eat it, if you wanted to.  And so that tells me it's probably vinegar and salt, which I've seen other places given out for free.  However, I did find a recipe that I intend to try, and it's just a gallon of distilled vinegar with two cups Epsom salt and 1/4 cup blue Dawn dishwashing liquid added.  Apparently it works best if you apply on a hot day.  There are other refinements, some people use table salt instead of the Epsom, and I wouldn't recommend that, because table salt will poison the ground and will leach out into surrounding areas.  Epsom salt is not really a salt, and it WILL burn plants if you apply too much, but I think it doesn't poison the soil like table salt will.  If anyone knows different, chime in here.  Some people add orange oil, or they put orange peels into their distilled vinegar several weeks before they plan to strain it and use it in the recipe.  Some people add a tablespoon of citric acid to each cup of vinegar.  Other people say the 5% vinegar we get at the grocery is too weak and they recommend twice that strength, which they say can be ordered on Amazon, but that's very strong and has to be used VERRRRRY carefully because it can burn your skin. 

Some people are sprouting seeds this time of year.  I've recently tried garbanzo beans, lentils, and those little red beans that are supposed to be sweet, but I've been disappointed in them as they taste too "raw" to me.  I've never tried birdseed black oil sunflower, pea, buckwheat, or amaranth.  Might do them as microgreens next.  According to some, they grow fine just at a sunny window.  HERE's a YouTube on that.

Well, that's about all I have for this time.  Have a nice weekend!  Hugs xoxoxo


  1. I've used a similar recipe for that homemade weedkiller but mine also had lemon juice in it (I think). I used it to spray grass and weeds from the cracks of the flagstone off the front deck. At the time, we had new kittens on the front deck and I didn't want them sick. It killed the growth and the area stayed weed-free for about 2 months.

    I know you're not plagued with gophers and moles the way we are here, but I think Mother Nature balanced that with more than enough above-ground critters to be pests!!! Bless your hearts! Rock On! XOXO!!!!

  2. No, the land's too rocky for gophers and moles. But Mom was plagued with them in her backyard garden all the years they lived in Copan. She even caught a mole, froze him in a coffee can, and brought it to us when we lived in Indiana because the kids had told her they'd never seen one. I was really grossed out, but I suppose I have been known to do things that might be considered equally disgusting.

    Love you Paula...

  3. That is a lovely poem! I smiled when you said what your neighbor would think if he saw you lying on the ground.

    I noticed on the map of the U.S. that we have had one case of the Zika virus. I rarely see a mosquito in the summer around our place; we have boxes up for purple martin birds which feed on flying insects.

    Isn't this warm January a real treat!; makes me wonder what is still ahead for us.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Charlotte.

      I don't think we know as much as we need to about that Zika virus. We see lots of mosquitoes here. Even though we have two Martin houses, we don't always have Martins living in them. The houses are Hubs' projects and though he knows what he's supposed to do, he doesn't keep on it, so mostly we end up with sparrows in them.

  4. Great interesting post. I try not to listen to the news because there is nothing I can do about anything anyway. That may be a very simplistic view but so be it!

    I never thought about squirrels and my fruit.....would apples and pears be to heavy....not my crop of Seckels and they all disappeared.
    I need to spray dormant oil too if the wind will let up.

    We are still seeing possums almost nightly.

    The varmints may win. What did our grandparents do? I know they never sprayed anything. Of course they always had a farm dog that would take care of most varmints. After our disaster with the neighbor over the pups we are not getting another dog.

    1. Glenda, I don't think I know what happened with your pups, it seems like I remember you saying they wandered away, or the mother did, I need to go back on your blog and find the post to jog my memory. Do you still have the Emus?

  5. Well, the temp has peaked for today at 30 degrees but it feels colder as we have had gale force winds for days. Thankfully the snow which was predicted for the weekend was just sleet. Laughing at the thought of you lying by the lake - when I first moved here I thought that one of my neighbours had passed on in his garden. He was face down by the fence. I rushed over to find that he was fine but can't do any weeding leaning over as it makes him dizzy. I snigger whenever I see him :-) I wish I could have witnessed you and hubs chasing the rabbit. Try using Avon's Skin-So-Soft dry body oil - it's lovely, smells nice, leaves your skin so-soft and is also a midge repellant - anything that repels the great Scottish midge is bound to be offensive to mozzies as well. Very pleased to hear that all the hard work you have done to improve your soil is showing. Very satisfying. Good luck with your spinach. I love the stuff and 50g in my scrambled eggs for breakfast most mornings. I just chuck it in when cooking the eggs. I put it in just about every main meal that I make. I'll be watching your hydroponics experiment with interest although I don't see me making time to do much gardeny stuff in the near future. The Red Cockscomb is pretty - I had never heard of it so I Googled and turns out it has lots of herbal uses. Another use for Espom Salts - put a pint glass full in a hot bath when you've overdone things physically. It somehow draws the lactic acid out of your muscles and that's what makes you stiff and achy the next day. It's important to keep warm when you get out of the bath. Also cleans the bath quite well ;-) I did Pilates for a while and found it a killer but the teacher told me - he was a ballet dancer and that was their trick. We all know how cruel they are to their bodies! Thanks for the links you emailed - I haven't had a chance to look, but those **** trousers will fit eventually if it kills me. They'll be out of fashion before they're perfect...

    1. Well, thanks for mentioning Cockscomb having medicinal properties because I did not know that! It's related to Amaranth and has a lot of the same properties. Also, the leaves are edible.

      I've tried Epsom salt in a hot bath and it does work. But I've seen where some people say not to use soap in an Epsom salt bath. Not sure why??


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