Monday, February 9, 2009

Taking Advantage of the Loveliness

This weekend was one of those perfect clusters of days of warm sunshine and fresh breeze at the end of winter. You know it will get cold again, but you can revel in the loveliness while it lasts and get some prep work done in the meantime for actual Spring. (As I've been moping around about the bizarre weather, I wonder if Mother Nature is reading my blog!)

Saturday I puttered around the garden, cleaning up bits and pieces of miscellaneous trash that collects in a yard with children. I planted some lettuce and spinach and broccoli seedlings in late January and all are fine, having come through the bitter cold spell with ease. While I was picking some of the greens for a salad (with leftover salmon--yummy AND frugal AND green!), I noticed a yick smell--like a dead animal. But Frodo has occasionally ventured unwelcomed into the garden for a potty break, so I just sort of shrugged it off as puppy poo.

Here's a shot of the broccoli bed:

After a few more hours spent futzing around the garden and planning out the beds with the help of my trusty Vegetable Gardener's Bible, the whole family headed off to the park to do some exploring with Jeffrey's metal detector. This is the park we cleaned last year in preparation for the Earth Day that didn't quite get off the ground. They recently got the paths refurbished and it was so nice. This would be a great place to run. We only found one treasure--a rusted Pepsi can.

Alas. We had a great time anyway, running on the path and spotting Canada geese, a Great Egret, and one confused white duck.

I also thought I saw an alligator:

Sunday was spent much like Saturday was. We were outside almost the whole time. After a lot of messing around, Will brought his iPod outside and we listened to Jupiter Coyote and Jimmy Buffett as I started Winter Sowing Project 2009. Farmer Cathy gave me the idea, and I'm so excited to see if it works. I planted three kinds of tomatoes (Better Boys, Romas, and a grape variety--which I'm pretty sure will be a bust as River "helped" today by shaking the bottle up), some California Wonder peppers, eggplant, summer squash, Boston Pickling and Lemon cucumbers, some cantelope and some Swiss Chard. You will note that a lot of these names sound familiar--I'm using some seeds from last year. Ed Smith from VLB says that most seeds will last a few years, so I'm going to believe him. It seems as if I'm combining two unknowns and hoping for the best, but isn't all gardening like that? After filling up my WS containers, I set them in a nice sunny bed and pulled some of the leaves around the bases. The strip in between I planted with bunching onion seeds, yesterday being the last day the signs were right for planting above ground crops for a few weeks. I think it looked nice and tidy when I was finished, although I will say that I felt a lot like my daddy when I surveyed the reused bits. Daddy is a FAMOUS reuser.

While I was at it, I decided to put in a row of Sugar Snap peas in the broccoli bed. I have terrible luck with sweet peas. Last year, I managed to get the vines going for the first time, but it was too hot for any flowers by that time and so I was pea-less yet again. Starting earlier must be the key, I figured. While I was planting, I noticed, yet again, the dead animal smell. No poo was in sight. Hmmm...As I poked holes for the peas, I also discovered that some creature has been tunneling in my bed. And... as I bent forward to put in a pea, I realized that the dead animal smell was coming from the tunnel. Urk. I figure one of several things is happening. Either I've got a mole or mouse or something which died in there (barf) or I have a snake in there who took over a mouse or mole tunnel (not as barfy, but still not pleasant to consider.) I don't want moles or mice in my garden, although I wouldn't mind a king- or rat snake. They keep away mice and bad snakes, such as the copperheads I REALLY don't want to be tangling with. I'm not sure what to do about this...should I dig the bed up and risk running up on a snake or yicky dead things? This doesn't seem good for gardening...won't it pose a risk to our health? Blah. Maybe I should call the extension agency. Ideas?

Jeffrey got into the spirit of reusing while we were outside and went through the recycling bin until he found an old soda can. He got Will to help him cut out a piece of it and filled it with birdseed for a bird feeder. Will it work? No clue, but it was sweet that he came up with the idea all by himself!

Later that evening, Will and I were discussing the smell. Referring to my habit of tossing kitchen scraps directly into my beds in the wintertime, he said, "Yeah, all that rotting fruit and food seems like the ideal habitat for a snake."

My eyes didn't QUITE roll out of my head at this--um, YEAH, snakes are just MAD for some soggy carrot peelings--, but it was a near thing. I let it go, but I did go out this morning to take shots of our two respective areas of the yard.

Which looks more "snakey?"

My orderly, tidily-leafed garden

or his brush-cluttered, Christmas tree-piled, stacks o' wood-laden man camp?

That's what I thought.

A new kink has come into my plan to turn our yard into a semi-viable homestead--a piece of property at a crazy-low price. I'll be wigging out about it over at I'm Not Hannah later on.

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

Loved the view of your garden, you are far ahead of my part of the country.