Tick Season and preparing for new garden

It is only May 1 and already many ticks have made their way into the house on our bodies or on the pups. Three bites already on me. It is going to be a bad year for them I fear.

There is a mowed path to the bees that will stay mowed as the adjacent hay grows, but sometimes you have to walk through the branches of a cedar tree to brush off any hitchhikers and in spite of pants tucked into socks into boots, the bee jacket, veil, and gloves, they are still finding their way in. I dislike chemical sprays even around my pants legs, much less on upper body, especially since most are from going to the bee yard. I’ve had folks suggest wrapping a dog tick collar around my lower pants legs, but that doesn’t stop them from the cedar branches above the lower legs.

They are disgusting, creepy crawlies, disease carriers. We need Guineas, but doubt they would stick around and they are so noisy, but definitely tick gobblers. This will be a difficult year to wild berry pick because of them.

This week, the last of the tomatoes frozen toward the end of the season last year were finally processed into pasta sauce. That puts 11 pints of pasta sauce on the shelf to start this year. Three from last year, 8 new ones, plus 3 in the freezer, 3 pints of canned tomato puree added this spring. There is still a supply of assorted tomatillo sauces/salsas/jams, and a bag remaining in the freezer, so they won’t go in this year’s garden. There are 8 peppers ready to plant in two weeks, plus another variety started from seed that will be a bit later. One of the Farmer’s Market vendors had several varieties of tomato starts so one each of two varieties were added to my purchase to give me 8 tomato plants, 2 more than originally planned. The huckleberries didn’t come up in the starter flat which gives me some space to accommodate the extras. The corn patch will be half sweet corn and half Bloody Butcher so seed can’t be saved, but extra seed of the dent corn was purchased to use next year. The plan this year has two varieties of beans and two varieties of peas, so again, seed can’t be saved. Already, a plan for next year is in the works to grow only single varieties of heritage vegetables and save seed for future planting. This will be somewhat limiting, but our primary hot pepper use is Jalapenos, primary tomato use is sauces, sweet corn is such a short season, the Bloody Butcher will provide corn meal and roasting ears. Though we enjoy bush beans, young Pinto’s can be eaten green and if enough are planted, dried for winter chili and goulash. With peas, we enjoy both sugar snaps and shelling peas, but if only shelling peas are grown like year’s past, seed can be saved. It will be an interesting experiment to see if the lack of variety bothers us or if the variety will just come from Farmer’s Market purchases. Seminole pumpkins are great for stuffing or pies and will be the third part of the Three Sister’s garden. Spinach will be planted, but I have never tried to save seed from spinach or lettuce. Cucumbers of course will be in the garden to eat fresh and to make pickles. Garlic was not planted for this year, but will be added back in for the fall garden to overwinter and provide bulbs next summer.

Here’s hoping for a great garden season and more putting by for the off seasons. I need to start gathering jars for processing vegetables and later for when honey gathering commences, probably not until next year though.

Morning Song

Last evening as the night chores were being done, the sky had this gorgeous pink swathe in the sky.

As I was planning last evening’s meal, the frozen green vegetables in the freezer did not appeal. I knew I had among the last of this spring’s harvest of asparagus, which I love, but are not favorites of hubby, I remembered that 4 of the plants in the row of spinach I had planted survived the chicken onslaught a few weeks ago. A quick pop over to the garden and the two smaller heads, a handful of pea shoots, and a couple of asparagus that had emerged were harvested and a salad plan was made. Fresh raw spinach with pea shoots and shavings of the most delicious vintage aged cheddar cheese and a mild vinegarette. A nice fresh from the garden addition to dinner.

The morning chores were greeted by the song of the cicadas that have emerged up the hill in the woods. I stopped during my walk yesterday and recorded their sound. In our south woods or in the tall hay, a gobbler was sounding his call. No traffic sounds, no jets like I grew up with, just natures calls and bird songs.

Soon there will be fresh peas, the two beds are full of white blossoms.

The potatoes look like they need topping again. I am excited to have potatoes in the garden again this year, though they aren’t a long keeping variety, they will be enjoyed fresh, maybe a few small ones will be able to be dug from the edges when the bush beans are ready, that is a delightful combination.

On summer mornings, when I go out to turn the hens out, I carry a hoe with me and in the cool of the morning, the weeding is done. More mint was dug and pulled this morning and I realized that I had not put down cardboard around the potato bed and covered it, so that task needs to be undertaken. Though I don’t like plastic in the garden, that feed sack is tucked under the edge of that bed and will have to remain there until the potatoes are dug unless I can tug it out before putting down cardboard and spoiled hay.

More spring flowers were cut last night for the dining table. The Dutch Iris are blooming now that the Bearded Iris are fading, the Coreopsis is blooming and lots of Comfrey flowers.

I am a failure at flower arranging, but love a bouquet of fresh cut flowers on the table during the season.

After chores last night, I finished spinning the second bobbin of the gray Shetland and plied a very full 4 ounce bobbin. There is still about 6 more ounces of the wool, some on the two bobbins that didn’t fit on the plying bobbin, so I will weigh them, subtract the bobbin weight, divide the remaining Shetland so that each of those bobbins end up with 2 ounces and spin and ply another 4 ounces. I think there is plenty now to knit the sweater for me for next winter.

It was spun with a pattern in mind, then I bought this Peacock gradient braid and I think a yoke style sweater with the Peacock at the yoke and the gray below would be stunning, so now I am in a quandry.

This morning is cool enough for a light hoodie, too cool to enjoy my coffee on the deck, so maybe I should take advantage and though I have already spent some time in the garden this morning, I should put down the two paths of cardboard and hay and put a layer of mulch on the asparagus bed that will now be allowed to send up it’s pencil thin ferny shoots to feed the crowns for next year’s harvest. The cycle of life.

“When the power of love, overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendricks

It was short lived

The sun came out, it only dried off a little before it rained again, most of the afternoon, though not as torrential, mostly light drizzle. This morning was thick fog again and it is beginning to rain now and tomorrow. During the brief respite yesterday, I did get most of the catmint dug from under the garden fence line as well as the thick clump of that dreaded grass with the long stolens underground that send it everywhere. A little more weeding inside the fence was begun and then the rain started so I quit again.

Before lunch yesterday we made our weekly trip to get our curbside pickup from the local natural foods store and we always use my car when we go because the lift hatch on the Xterra doesn’t stay up unless someone stands there and holds it. A week or so ago when we went out in my car after a rain, there was a very wet floor mat on the front passenger side and some water in a dash cubbyhole. Early on in the 3 day torrent, I put my car in the garage because of that prior leak, not knowing where it is coming in. Yesterday when I backed the car out to load the garbage on our way to the store, I noticed that the passenger seat, armrest, and floor mat were damp, so obviously I didn’t get it inside in time. I think the seal around the sunroof and/or windshield is leaking. The car is 15 years old and has well over 233,000 miles on it. Not worth having the seal replaced, but maybe the entire sunroof can be sealed shut. I will ask our mechanic the next time it goes in for an oil change.

Daughter had a plumbing flood at her house a couple of months ago and because of the damage, had to pack up lots of books, clothes, and other goods to store until it was repaired. Her house is finally back together and stuff is being unpacked and returned to the home giving me a windfall of empty cardboard to use in the former chicken run around the garden. The entire perimeter is going to finally be covered with cardboard or weed mat and thick spoiled hay to keep the weeds down. With the fence line cleared from the outside, I should be able to get a clean line with the line trimmer around the garden. I really hope that I have created a lower maintenance garden this year. Any extra boxes are going in the walled garden and will be weighted down with more spoiled hay and ultimately compost and soil. I know it is going to get too hot to want to spend a lot of time in the garden soon, so having it lower maintenance will mean I can weed and harvest in the early mornings when it is cooler or at dusk.

This is from the bridge we have to cross over what is usually a calm creek about 15 feet wide to get off of our mountain, taken yesterday morning. There is a road to the left just before the bridge that runs along the creek, sometimes just a few feet above the waterline when the creek is high. That road was closed to all traffic yesterday. There are a few houses in low areas along the creek, I hope they fared well, one of them the residents just got back in their home from where it had to have major repairs done from having a large tree fall across the kitchen end of the house early last spring. We have never seen this creek this flooded before. There are reports and photos from the 1980’s where this bridge would have had water flowing over it, but we weren’t here then. I often wonder the wisdom of building in low areas near a large creek or river.

It looks like it may be Monday before I can get back in the garden.