Thursday, July 8, 2010

There are things going on, but trying to write something about them isn't all that exciting.  They are little tidbits like:

The globe artichokes are growing very slowly, i wonder why.  Its my first year with them so i have no basis for comparison. Maybe this is normal?


The corn is growing like crazy i need to remember to give them some blood meal and side dress them with some fertilizer which i have yet to buy.

There are a bunch of things i need to do still, like harvest castings from the indoor worm bin.

The roller brush with the hasn't happened yet.

Things i need to complain about, like how Triscuit seems to think they invented some "Home Gardening Movement"....  puhleease....  home gardening has been going on in my family since half my ancestors came over on boats and before that my other ancestors were already here and had things figured out quite well, thank you very much.  Triscuit, who sells a box of crackers for almost $3, made of ingredients that costs them less than 3 cents a box wants to encourage me to 'eat healthy'... Without getting into it too much, i'll just say that a load of manure has more potential nutrition in it than a Triscuit.

Things that i am dreading, like pruning off the clusters of flowers from my Marechal Foch.  I know i have to, i intend to, i prepared myself mentally for the reality that grapes have to be treated in just such a way, especially up here where every bit of energy they gather their first summer must be  used to fortify themselves for the zone 5 winter ahead. But i want to see grapes. I'm also being a bit pessimistic in expecting the winter to kill the vines and this might be the closest i'll get to having grapes.  I want to see the process through.  But i have to follow the instructions on this.  Not anecdotal instructions, but ones that come from people who have worked with grapes for years, pruned plants on the order of millions....
Now i know i seem a little obsessed, but this is my hobby and some things take a certain amount of obsession to be done right.  I really get into things in the beginning, i take in all the information i can find, i think about it, mull it over.  Later, if i find that the information i have collected is good and following it has led me to succeed in that area, i let up on the obsession and let the guidelines i found become second nature.  If i hit a snag, i become obsessive in that one area until i get it solved.
If it wasn't for some of these challenges i think gardening wouldn't be so much fun.  No its not fun to see my prized broccoli and cabbages being decimated by a furry subterranean Houdini...  but researching, trying and failing to deter the creature, constructing, reconstructing, and deconstructing the the defenses gave me a challenge with a deadline.  The deadline was determined by the appetite of my  foe and the growth rate of my vegetables.  The irony is that in the end the solution (to this one single raider- it certainly won't work forever) was the first thing i thought of, but the last thing i expected to work.  This taught me to never leave any options out. 
Oh, did i say how i caught him? I went to a nice Messageboard made up from hunters and trappers in Michigan. I told them of my situation and that i needed a bait that would be more interesting and tempting than my fresh garden vegetables.  I was advised to load up the trap, groundhogs are greedy. A piece or two of store-bought broccoli was not going to be tempting enough, but a whole pile of delicious things would be visibly tempting.  So i used a small plastic plate and loaded it up with chunks of banana, muskmelon, watermelon, the sacrificed stubs of what had been some of my raided plants, peanut butter, fresh sweet corn, both grape and strawberry jelly....  Within 12 hours i had captured my little furry enemy.
I thanked the guys for their help and my garden has been untouched since.
The rule of woodchucks unfortunately is that there are always more where the first one came from, so i won't declare any sort of victory- ever. 
I wonder if my garden would be as interesting to me if Eden-like, it brought forth all manner of unblemished deliciousness.  I have thought about that often and i really think it still would.  Its that seed planting thing. You can plant a million seeds, but each time one germinates and breaks the soil, there is a thrill that does not get old. Even when things go without a hitch, there is always something else to decide, something to change or something to try out. A different plant, method or technique.

Every morning i go to the window and take a peek at my rows.  I normally don't get to escape the house and really take a close look until the little one has begun her nap or the oldest one has gotten up and can watch the little one for me. I often start my mornings with a journal entry here. I'll start at 6:30 and usually by 11 i can get it published.  I type between breakfast and cleanup...cups of coffee. The dog goes out and comes back in. I look out the window a few times and try to remember if i recorded some interesting (to me at least) observation about weather, plants, sky....  first sighting of what insect -friendly or ferocious, what flowers are in bloom- which ones have done extra well this year and which were duds.  I try to remember bare spots, crowded spaces and plans to change it. I look along the areas waiting to be planted and try to remember if i have planned to plant one thing or three things in that exact spot.  I stare at the sun and shade patterns as the season changes and try to decide if there will be enough sun there for the plants i want to grow all season.  I wish there was a way to chart it.  I wish i had time to chart it.  i am almost tempted to get some spray paint and trace the shadows at hourly intervals and then photo it for later reference.  Is that too weird?  Should i care if it is?  It will tell me what i want to know, so why not?
Obsession is only bad if it causes a problem.
I'm a failed perfectionist, i think that is why i feel the need to chart everything....

I did find this interesting webtool:

I may even buy this gadget:

It has good reviews.

I'm also researching the EasyBloom products which are more expensive, but also provide more than just sunlight readings.

So i might buy another gadget to play with.

Another thing i never got to was the pine litter i planned to gather for the blueberry plants. I was going to mulch them under the row cover with the pine to get the soil nicely acidic.  I could probably still do it, but coordinating it might be complicated.  I might simply buy a package of Job's Fertilizer spikes for acid loving plants.  That is if they acidify the soil as well as fertilize.  I'll look it up to be sure.

Its getting close to the time when i have to do something with the Suffolk red grape. I have been putting it off.  If i try making it into a potted plant i will have to find a winter home for it.  Even if it would make it through the winter, it can't stay where it is right now.  It messes up the pattern of plants i have along the fence. Its also in the way because i need to extend the landscape fabric down the line to add in my beach plums, autumn olive, goji and sea-buckthorn, etc.

I did get the cuttings of the porcelainberry vine and the silky dogwood. I don't know if they will root, but i guess it is worth a shot.  I might prune the silky dogwood down to the nubs again in the next couple of days and i just might try digging it up and moving it.  Then i'll have to move the purple smokebush over.  The hydrangea will have to be pruned hard since its getting far too big.  I wanted a short accent plant, not another tree sized hydrangea.

I'm  tempted to use Roundup on the whole area and then start over.  I have some clematis that i don't want to lose though.  And i'd hate to lose my spring bulbs.  When i actually think about it, i relent, and that is why nothing gets done.

Today's weather started out dim, which is probably a good thing. If it was blazing sun the temp would be well over 85 by now.  The sun is just starting to peek out of a hazy sky. This is sunburn weather.  Humidity is 68%.  I will need to water this evening or tomorrow early. I planted two more celery stubs and 4 inches down the soil was a bit dry feeling.

I have been prepping some 2 liter plastic bottles to hold some of the seedlings i have yet to plant anywhere. They can't go into the flowerbeds yet so they are kind of stuck in the seed flats still.  I'll lose them all if i don't plant them into something soon.  I made the bottles into self-watering pots. Ugly but serviceable. There they can stay until later when i have space to put them.  I am still saving milk jugs for Wintersowing,  i'll save them until i use them all up.