MaryE's blog

2024 #35 Invasion!
Posted on Jun 19, 2024 7:19 PM

A mild winter contributed greatly to the invasion of mice and other digging and munching critters! They are even eating my rhubarb! The cats and owls can't keep up with them. A couple of days ago I was cleaning around a rhubarb plant and found a whole family of mice running in all directions, confused about where to go and trying to find each other and return to their safe place that wasn't there anymore. As I walk along the edges of the garden I see holes and shallow runways leading to them, and quite often I surprise a mouse! This has got to stop! And so we bought a couple of box traps that will catch multiple mice before I need to empty them. And no, I am NOT relocating mice! In 24 hours I caught 2 mice in one trap and 6 in the other. I call that a success!

My newly planted perennial flowers are also suffering from critters dining on them. It's disappointing to buy beautiful plants and see them being destroyed. I've caught several sage rats and a few pocket gophers. Hopefully I can get this under control before everything is eaten.

When I delivered rhubarb and garlic scapes to my local buyer she said the mice were horrible everywhere this year. And now we are starting to see grasshoppers! They are anywhere from 1/4 inch long to half an inch but they eat and they will grow!

Recently we had two cords of firewood delivered and we got started splitting and stacking it. The gas powered splitter slices through big chunks of tree trunk like they were butter! We have leftover wood for this coming winter, what we are working on now is for the one after that. We like to stay ahead of things! Two years ago we ran completely out of firewood and had to use the furnace. We much prefer the wood heat. My hubby is too old to be working in the woods. Our neighbor who used to cut wood with us has also about reached that point.

Finally after several nights when the temperature was very close to freezing we seem to be in a warming trend and last night it was about 36 if my memory is correct. Not exactly warm but better than 33! Tonight's forecast says 44. It's very welcome!

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2024 #34 Wild roses have started to bloom
Posted on Jun 13, 2024 8:05 PM

We have double white, single yellow, double yellow and some with yellow buds that open to orange flowers. Old roses have such fragrance! All of them were here when we came 30 years ago.

Today I bought more perennials and more petunias. We journeyed out of our local area to the nearest Home Depot. The weather will be in a cooling trend over the next 3 days so it will be a good time to plant them. One, a Russian sage might go into a larger pot while I figure out where to put it. If the ones near a church in town are any indication it could be a very big plant! I spent about 4 times what I took in this week from rhubarb sales, so I hope the rest of the plants keep producing well. Most people think of rhubarb as a spring plant, but with plenty of water and cutting off the bloom stalks they will keep producing for months. Rhubarb is good mixed with blueberries for jam and we all know about strawberry/rhubarb pie!

The small critter trap has caught 3 sage rats in 3 days! I just buried #3 plus another pocket gopher I caught in a trap in a tunnel near the garlic. I put them near a small, struggling rhubarb where something smaller has been digging. That smell of decomposing critters wafting through the soil should make the little digger go somewhere else. Hopefully I buried them deep enough so that I won't smell anything.

Our Canada goose family is enjoying the pond and the pasture surrounding it. Their 3 goslings are about half the size of their parents already. I haven't seen them attempting to fly. We might have more than one owl baby. I need to take the binoculars when I go down the hill again to get a better look. And I had better do it while it is on my mind! I'm easily distracted by interesting things and we are surrounded by them!

It was near 90 here today and the high temperatures will be getting progressively cooler for the next 3 days. Perfect for planting most of what I bought today.

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2024 #33 Vegies and critters
Posted on Jun 11, 2024 9:50 PM

Last week I bought more flowers and over the weekend got them planted. Some of them were fillers for pots and some went into a flower bed I finished weeding this weekend. It looks much better without all of the tall, going to seed weeds. Most of what survived was salvia, so I bought a few more and also blanket flower and gaillardia because I like the purple and gold combinations and those plants are hardy here.

This morning I harvested rhubarb and garlic scapes, took them to my neighbor who resells them in CSA boxes and also has a stand in town that is open 3 days a week. She wants more next week. It's good to have a bit of money coming in to offset some of my garden expenses. This afternoon I weeded all of the onions and hilled up the potatoes. I think I have close to 30 plants with 7 or 8 more just coming up because they were planted later.

The corn is up and is about 2 inches high. I didn't plant the corn in the chick wire fenced area I call the bunny exclusion zone, BEZ for short. Beans are coming up in there and I have tomatoes, several cucumbers and butternut squash and all of the cabbage and broccoli. When I fenced that I also included the old asparagus patch because something was chewing the stalks off at ground level. Two more have popped up just outside that fence but so far so good, the critters haven't discovered them! Speaking of critters, I caught a pocket gopher in the garlic patch and also a sage rat in my small critter trap I had set near the greenhouse where I have seen a few of them. A while ago another sage rat was on top of the trap. I hope he gets curious about the inside and is waiting for me in the morning!

We have a family of Canada geese near the pond. They have three half grown youngsters. Yesterday a lone deer apparently got too close while they were grazing near the pond and decided to make his exit swimming across the pond. Geese can be very protective. Today I saw our young owl perched in a tree below the garden. I was weeding, he was watching.

Our warm days are about to change to cooler ones. The wind is from the north today. My Christmas cactus was moved to the porch for the summer, the living room looks a lot larger without it! We have some nights coming that will be in the low 40's and one night forecast to be 38. Chilly but it won't kill the plant.

This past weekend one of our granddaughters and her family were here. They really enjoyed the Kawasaki mule and spent a lot of time driving it in the big pasture chopping thistles before the buds open. G-son in law also used the weed eater in the young orchard. The grass was tall in there! It looks so much better. We are thankful for the help.

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2024 #32 Can I grow sweet potatoes?
Posted on Jun 2, 2024 9:33 AM

Several months ago a friend who was preparing to move gave me a net bag of organic sweet potatoes that had been "lost" in her pantry. They were sprouting and had grown up through the bag. I carefully snipped the bag away and broke the best ones off the shriveled tubers to root in a glass of water. When they rooted I planted them in little pots in the greenhouse. A few weeks later I up potted them into 4x4 pots. Yesterday I unpotted and planted them in the whiskey barrel planters to provide some filler. Two or three of them had started to grow tubers! And this got me thinking about a gardener in Maine or Vermont who grew sweet potatoes in a long berm of soil covered with black plastic. I might do my own variation of that and grow some in black plastic garbage bags, and so this winter I will buy some organic sweet potatoes and sacrifice a couple of them to grow some sprouts!

Yesterday I planted flowers and the above mentioned sweet potato plants in 5 whiskey barrel planters and in the big plastic tub on the back porch. The porch has several steps and now all of them have Wave petunias and dusty miller. The wave petunias came in 6 packs with one white plant and one almost white with a narrow purple stripe, and then red and purple. I picked out the lighter colors for the pots on the steps, hoping that it will resemble a waterfall in a few weeks. The darker colors went into the group of whisky barrel planters in a spot where we once had a 500 gallon propane tank. The tank was removed when regulations changed to not allow tanks next to buildings.

I still have some planting to do but am now nearly out of plants. What I am definitely not out of is weeds!

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2024 #31 Planting the vegies!
Posted on May 28, 2024 7:06 PM

Most of my vegie plants have been planted. I made an enclosure to protect the cabbages and broccoli from our cottontail bunnies. We often see a full grown bunny hopping around and know there are also some young ones. My enclosure is chick wire. I hope they don't tunnel under the edge of it. We bought another two 25 foot rolls at the farm store, taking advantage of the 10% senior discount on Tuesdays. It saves us quite a bit of money.

Today I weeded, watered newly planted vegies and some that were planted before. More potatoes are up every day and I found a volunteer potato plant when I was planting onions. That one will be a surprise. I see some gopher damage in the garlic, however most of the holes I see were made by other critters. The pocket gophers seldom come up above ground. With the removal of weed cover due to mowing and rototilling, the holes are quite visible to our resident owls who hunt at night when such critters are the most active.

Now with most of the garden mostly planted I have been able to turn my attention back to weeding flower beds, planting my half barrel planters and moving some potted plants outside. It might also be safe to move the Christmas cactus to the porch. I don't see any frost in the forecast although some nights will still be in the middle 30's. There is no rush and it is better to be safe instead of sorry.

The weather guessers were right this time, we did indeed have a thunderstorm this afternoon and got another 1 10th of an inch. It all helps. I had been weeding, carefully avoiding a blackbird nest in a bush about 2 feet off the ground with babies in it. All I could see was some movement under a covering of feathers. Momma and Poppa bird were cussing at me from nearby. My wheelbarrow is heaping full again! Yesterday I cleaned a different flower bed and planted sunflowers. I need some small plants for the edge. Sage does well here and might overwinter. I'll see what I can find later this week. It's still early here for setting out annuals so they will be available for a while.

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