The Wigglers have been in their new home for a little over a week and I can report that they have settled in nicely. Bookman puts food scraps in an old margarine container — coffee grounds, potato peels, banana peels, apple bits, carrot bits, broccoli bits, you get the picture — puts a lid on the container and every three or so days I open the wiggler bin and bury the scraps. When I move the bedding aside to put the scraps under it I generally disturb a few wigglers which is the only way I know they are alive. Even Houdini must be happy since he has not tried to make a second escape.

I got a couple more seed catalogs in the mail during the week. One of them was page after page of tomatoes. I had no idea there were so many varieties. It was rather overwhelming. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and tossed it in the recycling bin. We buy tomato plants in the spring, usually heirloom varieties, because it is so much easier. In Minnesota the growing season is not long enough and if I were to start my own tomato plants from seed I would have to do it in the middle of March. I have done it before, many years ago when heirloom varieties were hard to come by, but that has changed, thank goodness. It was during one of those years that I discovered I am very allergic to tomato plant sap. After handling several plants without gloves, potting them up, my hands and arms broke out in hives so badly I had to take steroids for a week and was out sick from work for a couple of days. So now I only handle tomato plants with gloves on, or better yet, let Bookman take care of it.

The other catalog was marvelous. It had all kinds of the usual garden veggies in it but it also had four or five pages of dried beans. I got so excited, I can grow my own garbanzo beans! But really, we use so many of them it isn’t practical. Nor would it be practical to do pinto beans or kidney or white or navy beans or any bean that is easily bought at the market. It’s all those other beans I’ve never heard of before that I was drooling over — painted pony, appaloosa, calypso, Jacob’s cattle, ying and yang — don’t those sound fantastic? I figure I’ll try two, maybe three varieties. I have a few months to mull over which ones those will be.

In thinking about next year’s vegetable garden and what we want the garden to be as a whole, Bookman and I decided that we will make two or three large raised beds for the annual veggies and the rest of the garden will be turned over to mostly perennial edibles and other plants. The reason we decided on this is because the annual veggie beds get dug in so often, disturbing the soil ecosystem, that it is best to keep them contained in a more controlled area instead of spread out all over the garden. In many of the permaculture books I’ve been looking at all the home garden plans have a designated annual vegetable area. So we are going to do it too. The beds will be in a completely different area of the garden than where we have been growing veggies. The raised beds will be closer to the compost pile and the rain barrel, making less work in their upkeep in the long run. We are going to do two, possibly three big beds. Maybe not all next year when we will do at least one, but that is the eventual goal. I am very excited about this as well as the polyculture planting scheme we will be using. But more on that in the spring!

I forgot to mention last week we had an animal visitor to our house. One evening when Bookman was working the closing shift I was curled up reading. I heard a noise in the kitchen and thought the cats were batting around a toy and had run into the dinner table leg or something. But then the noise came again and it sounded like a bucket being tipped over. I got up expecting to see that the cats had gotten into something only to find them both glued to the sliding glass door onto the deck. I looked out the window with them and there, right on the other side of the glass, was a possum! Bookman had left the recycling bucket out on the deck with paper and empty cat food cans in it. The possum must have been out scavenging and, even though the cat food cans are rinsed out, must have smelled them in the bucket. It had knocked the bucket over against the window so it couldn’t get into it and was trying to figure out how to turn it around. I turned on the outdoor light thinking it would scare the possum away but it didn’t even flinch. So the cats and I stood there watching the critter who finally gave up and ambled off into the darkness.

I returned to my book and a few minutes later Bookman arrived home. I heard him in the front yard yelling, “get out of here cat!” And then a sound of surprise. When Bookman came through the door a few seconds later I asked him if he met our possum visitor. Yup. He had seen it in the shadows and thought it was a cat but realized when it didn’t scamper off that it was no cat but a possum. We’ve seen raccoons but not possums around the neighborhood. I don’t know where our possum visitor lives or how far they range in search of dinner, but it has not returned as far as we know. Still, it was an exciting visit!