Ravenous Beasties

If I haven’t posted any images of the gardens lately, it’s because I can’t stand in one spot long enough to focus the camera. The mosquitoes are the worst I’ve ever seen them out there, and all our mowing the tall weeds and grass has hardly made a dent in their numbers around the gardens.

I headed back out to the farm after selling my cooler full of veggies at the farmers market yesterday afternoon.  Gave a quick (practically running while windmilling our arms) farm tour to my newly-transplanted friends from Wisconsin who serendipitously appeared at the market just before I left.  Maria and Susan–hope you had a safe trip back to your new digs!

One of the best things about this blog is the new and interesting people who contact me through it.  It’s exciting to finally get to meet in person the folks I correspond with via the ‘nets!

After my friends headed out, I quickly donned my grubby, grass-stained and bug repellent-drenched long pants and long-sleeved shirt and got the brush mower going again.  I finished up the mowing in the main part of the gardens by about 7:30 last night, headed back in, cleaned up (again), and H and I headed out for dinner and Ed Johnson’s open stage at Raziel’s (fast-becoming a Thursday night tradition).

We hopped up at a ridiculously early hour (for a Saturday, anyhow)–both of us hoping to accomplish more on our respective projects before the 90% chance of rain materialized.  He headed off for the roofing project; I headed back out to the farm.

I could’ve done more mowing–there’s still plenty to be done–but I didn’t want to exacerbate my growing headache (dehydration? DEET? beer? exhaustion?), so I did some lighter-weight work instead.  Worked up a couple rows in a west garden bed for dinosaur kale, planted that, pulled some more thistles, and then set to hoeing the strawberries in the northeast garden.

I had straw-mulched the aisles in that garden a couple years ago, and the straw is almost completely decomposed now.  After stirrup-hoeing the first bed of berries, I raked what was left of the straw mulch into the bed and around the plants, so I could hoe the weeds making headway in the aisle and then hoe the second row of berries as well.

Once both beds were weed-free, I raked the area I’d mowed last night between the east and northeast gardens and used the pigweed and grass clippings to re-mulch the aisle between the berry rows (and hopefully provide a little nitrogen).  It amazes me how much organic material it takes to cover such a small space–the mowed area (about 20 x 30′) provided just enough material to cover an aisle about 1 1/2 x 25’.

Sometimes I don’t think there’s enough organic material in the entire county to fill my greed–er, need for it. Give me your compost, your manure, your spoiled hay and grasses, preferably weed-free…. Unfortunately, I don’t dare use the mowings from the lower part of the gardens as mulch or even in the compost–too much bindweed in it.

The grass and amaranth mulch will break down fast, I might dig it in a little–and when it dries out, I know the volume will be shockingly less than it is even now.  That’s OK because the plan is to let the strawberry runners simply take over the aisle between the two currently separated beds.

Right now, even more than nitrogen-rich grass and weed trimmings, what I really want is more horse manure. I saw the neighbors running loads of fresh green hay down the road this morning, and I was waving and smiling and thinking how great that stuff’ll be once the horses are done with it.

If you’re a small farmer without the facilities, inclination, or time to raise livestock, seeing how well your neighbors (who graciously provide you with used bedding and manure) treat their animals should make you excited and happy.  I know I got the warm fuzzies seeing that hay go by, and I don’t even like horses all that much.  But I do love what comes out of them!

Once the strawberry upkeep was completed (and I’d donated a few pints of blood to the ravening hoards of flying beasties), I did a quick hoe along the sides of the okra bed.  I’ve already thinned that stand of plants once–having seeded thickly based on my previous years’ experience with poor germination.

This year every okra seed germinated, but the rabbits have done a little thinning of their own.  I haven’t had a huge amount of rabbit damage thusfar (the critter damage prize this year goes to the moles), but then H has taken a few bunnies out of the competition.

As I was finishing up the last of the hoeing, the sprinkles started.  My conflicted self felt bad for the roofers, who’d hoped to finish most, if not all of their project before the rain started, but I was also jumping for joy inside for the labor-free watering.

The first round of rain didn’t last long though–I suppose I could go back out and get even a few more projects completed out there, but I’m rather enjoying the absence of a whining hum in my ears and not having to windmill my arms and slap myself repeatedly. The ravenous flying beasties can torture the deer and ‘coons–I’m staying inside.


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