Archive: Jun 2012

Squirrels are…

…cute how they leap from branch to branch…

…from branch to fence…

…from fence to deck…

…from deck to pot…

…from pot to plant…

…from plant to fruit…

…from fruit to fruit from fruit to fruit from fruit to fruit…

Man squirrels aren’t cute at all. Maybe squirrels are delicious.

Getting ants-y with my lazy composting

I’ve been lazy composting for years. Tossing leaves, rabbit litter, kitchen scraps, and whatever else into two mounds in my yard for years. I rotate which mound is resting and which mound is active, but I’m a really lazy composter.

It’s not covered.

I don’t turn it.

I just let nature take its not so slow course.

This spring nature took a different route. A large colony of fire ants took over my compost pile. I suspect they migrated from a flower pot I had dumped in there when I decided I wanted to refresh all my container dirt this winter by adding it to my compost.

With all the scraps and all the bugs, the ants thrived in the pile. As the days warmed, I wondered what to do. My plan had been to reclaim the dirt and fresh compost, but with fire ants, that was impossible. Poisoning the ants wasn’t an option as this compost would be used to grow food, so I had to find green solutions.

The internet told me that ants hate their mounds to be disturbed and wet. So I grabbed a garden rake and took to aggravating the ants at least twice a day while adding items to the other mound. I made sure to rake down to where they had their eggs. While I planned to also soak the pile once a day, I never managed to grab the hose during these outings. Less than a week after starting this, I got rid of the ants in my compost.

Now over two months later, they haven’t come back.

As planned, I reclaimed the dirt and planted my summer container garden:

Ennis loves to look at what’s growing.

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Down home farm party

While some of my friends are lucky enough to be able to stop by Trader Joe’s or their local market to buy responsible meat, here deep in the south where you’d think we’d have easier access to agriculture, it can be challenging to live off the McDonald’s-Walmart grid.

Luckily there are some small farmers who are trying to bring options. For the second time, we have found such a farm and have reserved some beef. On a late spring day, the farmer invited us and his other customers over for a potluck party where he cooked burgers and we could explore the farm.

We were early arrivals.

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gardener’s guilt

Normally I allow my garden to function at mostly a natural equilibrium. Fruit that’s some bug has burrowed into just get fed to the chickens. I mean bugs have to eat too, right?

This year, these bugs are different. Cutworms, other caterpillars, and pill bugs have been vexing me. Cutting me where it hurts.

I’ve had too many peppers eaten down to the stalks. Whole crops of okra disappeared starting with the leaves. Who knew pill bugs (rolypolies) ate living plants and not just rotting wood?

At least some caterpillars had the decency to allow me to catch them eating my peppers and basil plants so that I could capture them and feed them to my chickens.

So, I’m using pesticides. Ugh, guilt. I’d rather not have to kill things, but I’d also rather have plants.

I’m blaming this problem on the non-winter we had. Too many bugs survived and now we have to get them back down to a reasonable number.

I guess that’s the trade off of being able to plant in February and March.

Let’s take a peak of what’s growing at our house:

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