Well, I might have edited that one a bit. But if he was here he would endorse it, I'm sure, just as he would understand what I'm up against in my war against creeping charlie.
Now that the garden is pretty much in maintenance mode, I've turned my eye towards more yard related tasks. The heat put a pause in the fence clearing project for a few days. It was just too brutal to work in that heat. I did get 60' cleared and chipped away, the edging in, and mulch added from the box elder stump that I had someone grind out.
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That's about 1/3 done, though not all of the fence line will get edging and mulch. A mix of day lilies and peonies will be planted along that fence line and allowed to take over. The three green clumps are virginia creeper that I want to see take over the chain link fence.
As you can see by that pic, I have a bit of a creeping charlie problem in parts of my yard. I looked into conventional herbicides, but I really don't want to use those because they have active ingredients that persist for six months or more. If I use herbicides I could still compost the grass clippings, I just wouldn't be able to use that compost in my gardens for half a year or more. I don't want that, and I don't want to be paranoid about making sure that herbicides aren't getting into my garden and its produce. So what to do?
If anyone has an idea I would love it if you would share. In the meantime, I'm going to try a couple of experiments.
You see those bare patches along the edging in the pic above? As I was cleaning things up in preparation for the edging and mulch, the hand cultivator and rake I was using pulled up big patches of creeping charlie pretty easily. Well, relatively easily. That got me wondering how effective good old manual labor might be for this issue.
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That's about a 7' x 12' patch where I cleared out most of the creeping charlie with a hand cultivator followed by a heavy rake. It left some bare spots where the heavier infestation killed the grass. I gave it a quick mowing and then a heavy seeding of grass. Even though it's not the greatest time to put down grass seed, since it is right next to the garden it is easy to keep moist. I want to see how it works to rip a bunch of the creeping charlie out of the ground and then turn the tables and choke it back. It took about a half an hour to do that patch.
I think I'll try another patch that has more grass and see how it does just knocking the weeds back and not spreading grass seed. If that works than maybe I'll just try to hammer it back in spots as time permits. I know that might sound a little odd, but twenty minutes or a half hour here and there is not that big of a deal. To tell the truth, I kind of like doing that sort of physical labor these days. And it's kind of satisfying to see the results right away. Something to test out anyway. And like I said, if anyone has a better idea that doesn't involve persistent herbicides I'm all ears.
One thing about the heat and humidity, the bugs are digging it. Yesterday I tried to do one of my lunchtime walks down around Theo Wirth Lake and I got maybe 200' into it before the flies and their friends drove me back to the safety of the parkway. Yeah, this is Mr. Boundary Waters, hike, camp, canoe talking to you. I'm telling you, it was freakishly brutal.
The upside is the garden is definitely going nuts finally. I tied up tomato plants on Saturday and I'm going to need to do it again tomorrow. The peppers are starting to come in now too:
Those will be sweet yellow peppers I think.The green bell peppers are just a week or two behind if just a part of this heat and humidity continues.
I'm going to have tomatoes and peppers coming out of my ears in a couple of weeks.
So this is what a garden looks like after a month of the terrorist bunnies NOT ravaging it(click the pic to enlarge):
Now that's a nicely tended garden if I do say so myself. In the lower right are green onions with radishes finishing out the other half of that row. Next to the left are the carrots with the other half open for another planting of something if I want. Next are the green beans and the other half of the row are peas. Behind that are the pepper and tomato plants which are finally taking off after such a cold start. Behind everything in the back is the sweet corn, 11 plants in seven sets.
Where things stand:
I need wider spaces between rows next year. Not as much for the smaller plants, but definitely for the tomatoes and peppers. The fence and the cages take up more space than I had thought they would and I tried to squeeze too many plants into that space. It will be okay to walk between them for harvesting, but the next weeding action is going to have to be with a long-handled hoe.
I only got 12 sweet corn plants out of 21 kernels planted. It would have been 14 total anyway after thinning, but that seems like a low yield to me. There was only one set where all three seeds germinated.
I'm going to have to figure out something for the peas to climb on. I thought they would just bush out like the green beans. Nope.
I can see that at least some radishes will have bulbs. I'm going to give them a couple more days of watering and then I'm pulling them all and doing a second crop, with maybe some soil adjustment based on how the first batch worked out.
I didn't get a picture, but the hot pepper outside the wire is hanging in there still. It has only got a few leaves at the top, but it will produce if the rabbits let it live. I'm surprised to see it still standing at all.
I'm starting to see lots of little green cherry tomatoes. Hopefully that harvest will start in the next two weeks. I'm seeing little peppers forming also, with lots of flowers on both tomatoes and peppers promising even more of both.
I've figured out what types of wood yield what type of outputs from the wood chipper. Softwoods end up as almost like sawdust that I think will compost well. Hardwoods end up as small chips and shreds that I think will make a good mulch. I'm going to put that around the tomatoes and peppers to keep the weeds down and hold moisture in.
I've seen very little signs of insects and no signs of disease at this point. Knock on wood. I have sprayed the garden twice now with a product called Eight. It seems to be effective to the point where I will only need to do two or maybe three more sprayings and it dissipates to the point where harvest is safe after only a few days. The only other chemical I use is a time release fertilizer that I applied back at the start of June.
The next two weeks should give me some idea how the onions, carrots, green beans and peas are going to work out. I'm cautiously optimistic on all counts. Even if something doesn't go though. I'm sure I'll learn from it.
I think that's enough for now. More good updates to follow soon I hope.
Not very good focus, sorry, but you can see more flowers there on the left. Things should finally get going around here now that the cold and seemingly endless rain pattern has moved on.
This isn't the greatest pic either, but you can see the second compost bin that is now in service and that I also got the drip hoses in place for each row. Less water but going right into the ground near each plant should work pretty slick.
The compost bin on the left is closed to new stuff until its current batch is done cooking. Over the next month or so the one on the right will take all of the lawn clippings and some leaves I've stored up from last year for just this purpose.
Inside the left bin the lawn clippings and shredded leaves have settled down to about 2' deep now. I mixed everything well about two weeks ago and then left the top off so it would get good and wet from all of the rain. I gave it a little bit of a stir to make sure the moisture was even and then I put in three 2" diameter by 2' long pvc pipes that I had drilled holes into every 3" or so. That's to try to keep oxygen available through the pile. I think it's working because a few mornings ago when it was really cool I stuck a pitchfork into it and lifted a little and a nice cloud of steam popped out. It's definitely hot and cooking. I should be able to spread that batch in the gardens by the end of next month.
A little garden update for a Thursday evening(reworked and re-posted). In the photo below, the 1/2 row on the upper right is the radishes. I thinned those out a couple of days ago and that will be the first batch if I can actually get them to form a proper bulb. I failed on that a couple of years ago.
The two half rows on the lower right are carrots and green onions and those are just barely starting to show.
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The next row to the left of the carrots is 1/2 green beans and 1/2 peas. Both have popped up in the last two days and should be ready to thin out this weekend
I decided on small wire hoops to support the peppers. I don't have a lot of experience growing peppers because usually the terrorist bunnies have chowed them down by now. I'm guessing that those hoops will be needed and will work.
The indeterminate tomato plants, the Better Boy and Supersweet 100, got stakes for support. The Celebrity plants, which can be pruned, got taller hoops. And the four La Roma plants(determinate) got the four sided cages. I haven't used hoops and cages before for tomatoes, so I'll be interested to see if they save some hassle of tying plants to stakes. I'm going to pay more attention this year to see if larger and more expensive cages for the indeterminates will be worth the investment.
No bunny damage inside the wire yet. Not even an attempt to dig under the fence.
I got the radish seeds in and some of the chives and marigolds planted around the garden bed this evening. Things are pretty much done on that front(except for the perimeter) until the radishes get thinned out in a few days and the second round of plantings in two or three weeks. I was greeted by two bunnies when I pulled into the driveway late this afternoon, but no sign that they have tried to test the Dave Line yet.
Here's a pic and an explanation of what's what:
The very back row from left to right is sweet corn, seven groups of three that will be culled to two. I'm not all that hopeful that they will amount to much, but it is possible. At a minimum I want them to grow and serve as a support for the wax pole beans that I will start after the corn gets a little head start. The corn stalks will be the support for the pole beans. Some people say it works, hopefully I'll find out for myself.
Yeah, there are too many tomato and pepper plants. There was a little communication breakdown that I take the blame for and I decided to plant the extras instead of just letting them die. So there are 11 tomato plants of four varieties and 10 pepper plants of 4 varieties. There's a hot pepper plant that was a mistake and I put it in the border outside the fence to see what happens with the bunnies. Oops, I forgot: Tucked in between the tomato/pepper rows is a basil and a cilantro plant. I might pick up a few more herb plants to fill some little holes.
The line next to the last row of peppers is 1/2 peas and 1/2 green beans.
The far half of the next row is reserved for a second round of green beans. The other half is carrots.
The last planted row is 1/2 radishes and 1/2 green onions. There's room for one more row after that that I will decide on in two weeks.
In the long run the perimeter will be home to perennials that rabbits really don't like. For now I'll put some marigolds in here and there among the chives to further discourage the bunnies.
Now we see what happens. It has been a fairly wet year up until the last week and there's lots of other food for the rabbits. I don't have any illusions that the garden is 100% varmint proof, the goal is really to simply make my veggies too difficult to bother with given all the other easily accessible foods. If everything survives the week then I'll lay out the soaker hose and use that to water from then on.
Complete the rabbit fence around the vegetable garden.
Get the flowers planted in the revamped raised bed out front.
Get the vegetable garden planted.
Got the first one done with the exception that my first idea for a gate isn't going to work. I'll pick up a couple of hinges and a latch and make one tomorrow. The chicken wire is 6" down, 6" out, and 2' above ground. The green fencing is just outside the chicken wire and goes 6" down and 30" above ground. I left a strip about 8" all around that I'm going to use for planting chives, marigolds, and other plants that rabbits don't like. I think I'll also use some of the border area to plant garlic this fall for next year. I don't think bunnies like garlic either. If I could I would plant little tiny land mines there, but I'll have to settle for plants.
I guess I'll find out if all of this works. You may need to enlarge the pic by clicking it to see everything.
Item #2 was completed late this afternoon:
Tomorrow night will be the new gate for the Dave Line and getting the veggies in. I'm still working on the layout, but I picked up 5 pepper and 5 tomato plants today and a bunch of seeds. I'll work out what I'm finally going to do by tomorrow night I think.
Minneapolis-The Department of Daveland Security announced today that construction of the long awaited anti-terrorist bunny barrier has begun. Secretary Luca Brasi, newly arrived on loan from the underworld, said he was pleased with the results so far and expected the barrier to be completed quickly.
"The excavation work is done and work on the fortifications will commence immediately," said Brasi. "A few of the guys didn't want to work tonight, but we gave them an offer they couldn't refuse. Reminded me of the old days. Heheheheh."
Brasi also revealed that the anti-terrorist bunny fortifications will officially be called the Dave Line, of course.
Reaction was swift and furious from the political wing of Bunnies United for Garden Sneaking. A spokesman for the group who goes by Peter, many bunnies only have one name, called the move "A horrible attempt to take food from the mouths of little bunnies."
Unofficial sources within the Dave E. administration report that the only response to that criticism was a maniacal laugh. More details as the situation develops.
Compost from last year is all tilled in and like the raised bed it's ready to go, with maybe just some slight grading adjustments. If we get rain or a thunderstorm now it won't make much of a difference for planting.
I think I'm going to go ahead with a permanent fence first before I plant anything. I'm 90% sure I can keep the rabbits and most other critters out(deer aren't a problem here). I'm pretty sure what I was planning wouldn't thwart a raccoon though. Yikes! I haven't seen any around here in years, but wouldn't that be just my luck to foil the rabbits only to see the raccoons come back?