Garden & Book Updates!

Whew! It’s June and I have no clue what happened to May. Or April for that matter.

I was so proud of myself. In late February and March, I actually planted seeds in starter soil and the seeds sprouted and grew into seedlings. My luffa were stupendous, beginning their green creep up a trellis that Carl set up for them. Tomato plants in (over)abundance. A variety of peppers, including anchos (a.k.a. pablanos) and shishitos. Cauliflower, red and white cabbages, Amaranth–how tall they grew! And moonflowers, morning glories, nasturtiums. I watered them and chirped, along with our resident Gray Tree Frog, that life was good because I had finally figured out this gardening thang.

Then came Memorial Day and things got busy. None of the garden beds were ready for planting. Carl and I set to work. Eventually, the potatoes got planted. I think it was on a Biodynamic root day but I consider it a miracle that we actually got the spuds in the ground with or without the appropriate moon and star alignment.

It was the tomatoes turn. I took a couple of flats out and placed them out in the garden to adapt to the weather. Which was warm and sunny but not too warm. I watered and left them to become sturdy and strong in the spring breezes.

The next day, out I skipped to find the chickens had eaten all the leaves off my beautiful tomatoes. Every last leaf. Fortunately, I had dozens more plants inside but I did cast a frankly disgusted look at the girls. But could I blame them? They were only doing what they do: cheerfully shredding everything in sight with their claws and beaks. Thus the fencing put up to protect the plantings from the hens. Little Red and Daisy fly over the fencing daily.

Upon my return inside, Carl greeted me with a worried look and pointed out that all the pepper plants were covered with little, green aphids. Out we whisked the flats to the Tier one garden and left them there until we figured out who eats aphids. The day wizzed by and it was only at day’s end that we realized the wind had been coming quite briskly from the south, not from its usual westerly direction. Every one of the peppers were shocked and limp. But no aphids!

We took the possible dying peppers back inside for overnight–high 30s were forecast. Over the next week, we planted all the brave little plants that I had nurtured–can you believe it!–from seed.

And then yesterday happened. Carl, as ever the one to pay attention, noticed first. He suggested I come out to the annual garden area to see the damage. There I found not one sign of any of the broccolis, cauliflowers, cabbages, or Brussels sprouts. The leeks appeared untouched by whatever hungry critter had destroyed my weeks of TLC.

Thus, likely as not, it was not the chickens who ate my tomatoes. They will get extra mealy worms today. My mea culpa. And with this day’s long overdue and I-hope-there’s-more-to-come-rain-so-that-our-cisterns-refill perhaps Carl and I will find the time to figure out more effective fencing.

Our resident porcupines stand accused. They, who for years we have found to be so cute and waddle-y, if not cuddly. We went so far as to name them. Spike. Porky. Clover. But now we enter the phase we call competition. Because though they might not be the ones who ate our summer vegetable gardens, one of them most certainly climbed our Black Locust and broke its branches. Again. And another I caught red-pawed eating one of our Hazelnut bushes.

We try to plant enough to share. We don’t  need to be greedy. But these wild creatures do not seem to understand that same concept. Chipmunks take solitary bites out of every single strawberry….

I won’t give up. On the contrary, it’s a gauntlet they have tossed down and I pick up. I have begun the book Root Cellaring. I read that July is when to plant one’s fall crops. Ever one to cover my basis, I bought into Tracie’s Farm CSA for the summer. So it’s not too late! I can apply these lessons learned and carry on.

My book will be coming out June 19th-ish. Pre-orders available. And various articles and interviews to come!

At Crossroads With Chickens