Where have all the summer squash leaves gone?

Today I bravely fought the mosquitoes and got a few things done in the backyard. Twice I watered the newly planted grass, a mixture of Kentucky Fescue and Rye, that was sown in the bald patches the yard has developed. I’ll admit that I don’t care for growing or mowing grass, and as long as the yard is green I couldn’t care less if its fescue or dandelions. The problem is that the yard has developed bald spots, which led me to reseed the entire yard.

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The vegetable garden is starting to produce  – tomorrow swiss chard, jalapeño peppers and banana peppers will be picked. The peppers will go to the freezer, the chard into salads and soup. (Can you freeze chard? I need to research this…)

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While mulching and checking on the garlic, i noticed an issue with the squash plants that were put in the ground a few weeks ago. Every leaf is gone. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration – there is one leaf left.  My first thought is that worms ate the leaves, but with no remains its hard to judge that. There is another pest that lays eggs inside the stem, which leads to the leaves drying and falling up, but the stems look fine. I looked for signs of rot, but found none. The plants look great other than the leaves are gone. This leads me to think that a critter ate them (mice, possums, squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons are common) but no other plants were touched. There are loads of green tomatoes, strawberries and beans within feet of the squash. Why would they pass those up?

I’ll continue to research, but at this point I think it was an insect that left and quickly as it came, or my dog, who is adorable, but who ran directly to the squash this morning when I opened the gate. Why would she eat the squash leaves? No clue, but I have caught her chewing on nails and a lightbulb before I’ll admit its possible.

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Rest in Peace, Uncle Joe.

The garden is doing well, and there are cabbage plants waiting to be put in the ground, but this post will be about my uncle, who passed away yesterday.

We are a stubborn group, and for over 10 years our families didn’t really speak.  At another uncles funeral a year or two ago, we started chatting.  Surprisingly, neither of us acted odd, or really seemed to acknowledge that things had been off. My dad ended up speaking with him, and they continued to speak and build up their relationship. They went in the woods together, talked about hunting together and traded gardening tips. Dad and I would send him deer bait and cool flashlights we found on the internet.  I hadn’t talked to him in person since the funeral, but we grew closer via dad, and exchanged items from the garden. My canned peppers and beans went to him in West Virginia and his venison and fresh sausage came to me in Georgia.  Even though we didn’t speak often, he became my closest relative on my dad’s side.  I am grateful that he and dad reconciled their differences, and even became good friends again – in fact, I doubt that dad is closer to anyone else in his family now.

Our family is no stranger to death, and at some time I hardened myself against it, but this one feels like a two-day punch in the gut.  As I get older, I try to be more spiritual and live with less negativity. Instead of being angry at the man that took his life in order to steal his car, I’m praying for his murderer, who is now gone also, the families of both men, and whatever situation led up to yesterday’s events. That’s pretty much all I know to do at this point.

 

About the photo: The mountainous area in West Virginia where the family is from. The flat area is part of the coal mine that most of the men in the family worked at.

Spring Garden – halfway full.

Atlanta’s average last frost is around tax day, but since the weather has been so nice its probably safe to start planting the spring garden. Last fall the garden was enlarged, more than doubling the size. We also added a drainage ditch that cuts across the garden in roughly the spot where the “old” garden ended.  The layout above isn’t pretty, but it worked in helping me prioritize what I want to grow.

So far we have planted:

Nantes Carrots

Swish Chard

Chard (can’t remember the type)

Strawberries

Garlic

Red Onions

White Onions

Potatoes – 1 hill of red and kennebec (i think)

Brussells Sprouts

No beans yet, but I’ve set up the bamboo supports.  Most of the remaining section will be filled with tomatoes and peppers.

How many escaped goats can you fit in the backseat of a police car?

Today was supposed to be about cleaning and gardening, which it was, but ended up being about goats.  This afternoon, a herd of goats and two herding dogs escaped a yard and ate their way around the neighborhood until a group of cops, locals and kids corralled them in a neighbor’s backyard.

It turns out the goats, maybe 30 by my guess,  were escapees, brought in as an environmentally-friendly way of taking care of overgrown yards.  They drop them in the morning and return in the evening after the goats have grazed all day.

Someday I hope to have goats, or a donkey, or ducks, so of course I went to check out the situation. Little did I know I would spend the afternoon helping to corral them. The cops at one point tried putting them in a police car to get them to a safe yard – you can only fit 2 goats in a cop car, and that involves quite a bit of work. By the officers remark and how quickly he rolled down windows they quickly smelled up his ride. One of the goats even went down a toddler slide while waiting to be picked up.

Funny how something so random can lure people out of houses and get them talking to each other. We all got a good laugh out of it all. It was a good day.

The little tomato that could.

Back in the fall, when most of the garden was starting to slow down, this tomato plant started growing in the middle of one of the walkways.  One night, when the temperatures had dropped quite a bit, the little guy was on my mind, so around midnight I grabbed a shovel and dug it up. It had two yellow flowers, and was about 8″ tall.

Three months later, the tomato is about 3 feet tall and is living in my bedroom window. It should be warm enough to put it back outside in a few weeks. Honestly I’m surprised that it made it though the winter, but even more shocking is that it’s slowly produced two tiny tomatoes, that are now ripe. They are smaller than a marble, but still an accomplishment.

Earlier this week I noticed 2 more blooms on it, so I picked up 2 other tomato plants that are blooming in hopes of pollination. We will see how that goes. Either way, I’ve enjoyed having the little guy in the house to care for over the winter.

Checking in on the winter garden: carrots, broccoli & garlic.

Though it’s only January in Georgia, it feels like spring is right around the corner. The forsythia bushes are starting to bloom, and vegetables planted in Fall are starting to grow.

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This was my first attempt at growing over the winter, and I am sold. Carrot seeds, onion sets and young broccoli were planted in late September.  We had some temperatures in the 20’s  but already are seeing highs in the 70’s.

The plants have been left uncovered with the exception leaves from the pecan tree that blew into the garden, which I thought would insulate the plants a bit.  During a week when we had ice and a skip of snow,  I covered them with affordable plastic picked up at Ace Hardware.  Actually now that I think about it, the onions were left uncovered and the broccoli was covered with a wool blanket supported with wooden steaks and pvc pipe – the only option I could find after running out of plastic. If we get any more bad weather, I will cover everything with plastic again since it worked the first time. The carrots have grown tall enough that bigger supports will need to added to keep the weight of snow or ice  on the plastic from crushing or damaging the plants.

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We do have to report that the bug/pollinator hotel fell over after a couple of weeks of hard rain, and will need to be rest deeper and with concrete this time. The bamboo and some of the bark fell out, so once its upright we can add more spaces for the pollinators. This will also give me a chance to add a section made from paint stirrers that *should* attract bees.

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Deciding not to raise quail.

A wise man once talked about the importance of knowing when to hold ’em, and knowing when to fold ’em.  I know the quote, but am usually too stubborn to live by it.

This is the case with my venture with raising quail. It went through many variations, none of which worked out, and this week I made the decision to walk away from the project.  It doesn’t feel like failure, but that there is more energy to invest in other ideas – which I’m never short of.

So I’m shelving the quail idea for a later date, and will see if this quote from “The Gambler” can be useful for decluttering other parts of my life.

You’ve got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em know when to walk away, know when to run.”  The Gambler, Kenny Rogers.