Monday, November 2, 2009

Watching grass grow, part deux....

I guess you could gauge the quality of life by the level of excitement that arises from the observation of certain things that have become cliche'.  But in a way its not quite accurate in this case.  My life is actually quite busy some days and rather relaxed on others, but since i have not decided how personal i will allow this blog to become, some activities won't be posted. Its kind f a safety issue for my kids.  I have only shared this link with a few friends and some family, but it looks as though anyone can read this if they find it.
It all sounds very dramatic and i suppose with all the other very descriptive blogs out there, statistically mine is on the low end of risk, but until i get a feel for things, i'm not going to risk too much right off.

So, back to grass growing!

You can see the green "haze" around ground level....

What is exciting about this is that it means that the money spent on the seed hasn't been wasted and when spring rains arrive after this winter, hopefully, we won't lose a few 100 dollars worth of soil when the road floods and the water goes barreling down the back yard.  It also means that my garden will have some extra goodness in it, because the roots and tops will be tilled in later in the spring.  Rye grass also is said to have a stunting effect on weeds, its a weed inhibitor.  I don't know very much about this, not sure if it is a physical action of literally choking out or shading weeds to their demise or if there is some sort of chemical warfare thing going on. All i know is that its said to not harm or inhibit actual garden crops.

Here a couple pics of what i was gardening in before the addition of the new property. These pics are dated 6/11/08

They are surrounded by standard landscape timbers,  but i'm not sure what the dimensions were.  My stated guesses have been anywhere from 6'x4', 5'x7'...

This one i think was at least 6' long, but only about 3' wide....

I have planted in them since we moved into this house in Spring 2004,  the first year i did flowers on the 'side garden'  and the 'back' garden i had just made.  The flowers did ok,  but it was a struggle since we discovered that we were to be plagued with woodchucks. 
The woodchucks ate my Cosmos and many of my Gazanias.  I love Gazanias and Cosmos and we didn't have a whole lot of money at the time since we had just signed the paperwork for the house, so i was livid when i came home from work and saw my seedling flowers have been mowed down by a fat, hairy ground rat.

Normally i love animals, but there are a few that i can't find any use for... The woodchuck is at the top of that very short list.
Because of them (and local zoning laws prohibiting shotguns),  my selection of food plants has been limited to things that woodchucks won't eat (and things that fit in tiny spaces).  Tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash,  peppers, corn, cucumber and radishes. Woodchucks won't touch basil or rosemary either it seems.  Broccoli, kholrabi, cabbage, cauliflower, peas and beans were simply whistle-pig bait.

Anyway,  out of those things, only so many can fit in that space.  I also had to consider determinate varieties of tomato...and of course the ones that looked really exciting in the catalogs were all indeterminate ... being heirloom type; stemming from a time not so long ago when most people had at least one acre all to themselves and tomatoes could ramble along a stout trellising system.
  I tried  both and had some success with each.  Usually at the expense of something else.  Patio type tomato plants only gave me small fruits, the mid size determinate plants gave regular sized fruits, but were still too big for their spots and the indeterminate types gave me nice tomatoes but took over everything else and competed with each other.

Aside from tomatoes, another problem with small gardens is the effect of over crowding.  I read a little about square-foot gardening (but never bought the books),  and i wonder if they address the problem of what happens when dense growth collides with moist conditions and a bit too much shade.  Add snails and disgusting earwigs to the mix and you get to enjoy the mess i had.

The snails would scrape away at the skins of the vegetables and cause them to look unpalatable if ripe, and would cause them to rot before ripening if they were green.  The earwigs would eat through the walls of the peppers and set up a pantry inside them.  The earwigs would also hang out in the corn stalks and get into the corn silk and eat at the ears.
I'm glad there was no space or time for gardening this year,  so much rain had earwigs coming into the house! I can't imagine the damage they and the snails would have done if i tried to grow food this year. What they did to my perennial flowers was bad enough!

It has been a rough few years of experimenting and losing time and much of what little money has been available. I never seem to have all the right stuff to combat what goes wrong, but i'm not giving up!

I've been grateful for what the gardens have produced,  we have gotten some lovely tomatoes and radishes, plenty of zucchini,  i had lots of  delicious winter squash last year and it has been a learning experience and a good hobby.  The effort has been worth it and i think i have gotten most of my money's worth. I don't think i would have had as much fun if equal money were spent on things like movies at the theater or fast food...


Faith said...

It was a complete exercise in learning this year for us, as well. So much rain made everything far more challenging that I'd wanted it to be.

Can you trap the woodchucks and either take them for a ride or dispatch them? A cage, a pond, or a cage-sized bag affixed to the tailpipe of your car...

I was hoping to get around to planting a tillable green amendment to the garden this fall. I haven't spent any time thinking about it lately. Need to do so, or it will be too late.


icebear said...

the woodchucks around here are crafty, very hard to capture...and there are so many that they replace themselves quickly. we did notice they weren't a big deal this year after we put down rat poison- we suspected rats were present in the NSN neighbors' yard/home and didn't want them coming over here, but the scarcity of the 'chucks may have been just as much because i didn't garden this year and there was nothing for them to destroy.

i'm thinking of surrounding the garden with chicken wire (buried or tucked under & topped with bricks) at least a few feet should be small enough for that.
i really want broccoli and kholrabi and cabbage, but that is woodchuck attractant, so i'll have to find something that works.