Sometime between Saturday morning and Sunday at noon, a moose padded through our garden, damaging nothing but a single eggplant which was trampled right in half. The cutting is currently sitting on my kitchen sink, as I attempt to root it and return it to the garden. And even in my frustration, I’m just glad it missed the row of tomato cages that were two feet away from the sad little eggplant. It stepped directly through the peppers, leaving a great footprint in between two young seedlings, straddled the peas and wandered off into the woods.
Yesterday, we planted the last of the tomatoes — seventeen in all. Somehow those little six packs looked a lot less ambitious at the local hardware/garden supply before they were transplanted into peat pots and then – later – staked in the garden. I will admit that I am glad we are past the point of ferrying them in and outside of the house at any sign of good or foul weather.
We’re growing a few varieties – Early Girl (since we live in such a northern climate that sometimes larger tomatoes are hard to come by before the first frost), another variety of large early tomatoes that came unlabeled, and Sugar Sweets (the cherries, which were the last to go in after developing a bad case of aphids). The cherries, which I kept quarantined in the house for an extra week were dosed daily with a mixture of 1 qt. lukewarm water & 2 tsp. of Dawn dish detergent sprayed heavily on the leaves and stems until the offending beasts dropped off. By the time I added them to the garden yesterday, there was nary an aphid left. At last check (circa six a.m.) all of the plants had taken well, protected from cutworms by recycled newspaper collars I made while planting them.
Next year, I hope to do a bit more research on varieties and keep better track of what we actually put in the ground. This year, we were more focused on how nice it was to have company while planning and planting than what we were exactly planning and planting. That’s the only way I can really explain our 20 x 40′ garden, packed tight with two varieties of potatoes, onions, garlic, beans and peas (among other things). We certainly won’t be buying grocery store veggies for a few months once the sun does a bit more work out there.
I imagine that it’s going to be a quiet day on all counts… the rain is just coming in off the mountains and two of the three cats have returned from their morning prowl along the borderlines soaking wet and sour tempered.
After an hour of yoga and a half hour run, I think the dog is more tired than I am, but she still hops to attention when I announce a visit to the chicken tractor and garden. A shepherd by breed, she is surprisingly gentle with our cats and chickens, sitting with her back to the coop and watching the fence line where just weeks ago there was a fox and her litter of kits.
We currently keep four Rhode Island Reds in a modified-A Frame chicken tractor that we designed and built the day before the chickens arrived. In the raised A-Frame, there are roosts and laying boxes, while the rest of the structure remains open, fitted with chicken wire to protect the girls from foxes and coyotes, and anything else that might enjoy a chicken supper. Initially, we designed the tractor with handles, so it could be lifted by two people and moved every morning, but after about a week, the boyfriend and a few of his friends attached wheels to one end, so it can now be rolled like a wheel barrow across our wide, flat side-field.
My project for the next few days is to research and start work on a compost pile/bin/container (design to be determined). I’ll keep you posted.
I love the beginning of summer, the first few quiet, lazy days when the hours stretch long and elegant with late light. This is the first summer when I’ve had the time to devote myself to the garden, to baking and writing enjoying the sun.
A few weeks ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable, Miracle, and it made me really think about the ways in which we get our food out here (primarily by truck, all from far-south). I’d already been planning a garden, but it’s nearly doubled in size, and the chickens that had earlier been an airy conversation became a flesh and feathers reality after a weekend of coop building and research. I have plans to learn how to can and have been researching food dehydrators for favorites like sun-dried tomatoes, in hopes that we can – at least in some small way – provide some of our own sustenance.
This weekend we planted the last of the vegetables that had been ferried in and out of the house for weeks of hardening off (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers). Everything else went in at some point prior… first onions and lettuces and peas, then garlic, beans, and corn. Most recently: pumpkins, butternut squash, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers.
And today, amidst hours of rain that will hopefully help our plants establish strong root systems, I’ve started baking bread again.