Calendula

Calendula

It’s been a pretty good week for the garden, warm and sunny but not overly hot with a heavy downpour on Friday to water everything nicely. Everything is growing big including the weeds! It is pretty much the time of the gardening season when everything that is going to be planted is planted and the focus changes to maintenance, also known as weeding.

But there is also time to start other projects too, like building a garden arch out of branches and twigs that have been pruned from trees and shrubs. The base is four four-foot (1.2 m) lengths of rebar with long branches wired to each. We will be adding smaller branches in between and then arched over. Homemade garden art!

There was a garden disaster last Monday night. A raccoon raided Amy Pond, overturned the pot of watercress into the pond, ripped apart the yellow heart and overturned its pot into the pond, and shredded one of the cabbage-looking floating

Twig Arch beginnings

Twig Arch beginnings

plants. Oh, and ate the three goldfish. The yellow heart was a tangled mess and not salvageable so I tossed it onto the compost. The cabbage floaters are okay if a little ragged looking. We drained the pond today and scooped out as much mud as we could before refilling it. We decided to see if we can find a small solar pump/fountain/something to move the water around to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in it. If we can’t find anything in the next day or so then we will get another couple of goldfish and see how long the poor things last this time. I hope the raccoon enjoyed her sushi.

Another garden disappointment. I did a soil ph test on my blueberry beds. About eight weeks ago we added sulfur because the ph wasn’t low enough. I guess we didn’t add enough sulfur because the ph is just barely below 7 and it needs to be at 5. We added more sulfur and were a bit more generous with it this time. I also piled on partially composted leaves to encourage fungal growth in the soil. I had put down shredded cardboard but little by little it was disappearing. I discovered why yesterday: squirrels. In the spring they were stealing cardboard for nests, I thought they would be done with that by now. Guess not. The cardboard shreds that were left are now buried under wet leaves so hopefully they will leave it alone now.

Mushroom bloom

Mushroom bloom

On the happy side of things, I picked a bowl of beans yesterday and we had them for dinner last night. So very tasty! The beans we canned from last year’s garden were good over the winter but picked fresh, can’t beat that.

I was also happy to note my thornless blackberry has flowers on it. We planted it last spring and this is the first time it has bloomed. It is still small and I will get only a handful of berries, if that, but it’s a start! And definitely something to look forward to in the fall.

You know with the heat of summer coming on, you might do well to hug a tree. A recent study found that animals like koalas that are often seen hugging trees aren’t just holding on to keep from falling out. What they are really doing is hugging the tree to regulate their body temperature. The tree helps cool them off. Plus hugging trees just feels good in general.

Did anyone hear about the study released Wednesday that suggests we may be in the midst of another Silent Spring? Instead of DDT it is neonicotinoids, or neonics for short. You may have heard of neonics talked about in relation to bees. It is suspected that this widely used class of pesticide is the main reason for bee population decline. Now, it has been discovered, it affects birds too. The affect on birds is twofold. First, the pesticide kills bugs that birds eat. Second, when birds eat any plants on which neonics have been used, it makes them sick and can kill them.

Neonics are an insidious pesticide. Plant seeds are soaked in it before sowing. Then, when the plant grows, it is infused with the pesticide so that no matter where a bug might attack it is killed. Every bud and branch of the plant becomes toxic. You might also want to note that unless you buy and eat exclusively organic food, you too are consuming neonics. It’s killing bees and birds, but don’t worry, it is perfectly safe say the pesticide companies. Right. Europe is on the right track, there is a movement afoot to ban neonics. President Obama recently expressed concern about neonics and ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a review of the pesticides and recommend actions within 180 days. Of course the big agribusiness and pesticide makers have begun their PR campaigns claiming the pesticide is perfectly safe and they are being vilified for no good reason. These companies are powerful and have gobs of money and their army of lobbyists have descended on Washington to convince politicians that banning the harmless pesticide would be a disaster for farmers.

Fingers crossed that in 180 days the EPA has the courage to recommend banning neonics completely.

So as not to go out on a down note, how about a look at my 100% organic vegetable garden? No making fun of my Minnesota accent and no pointing out that I clearly need to do some weeding. I recorded the video yesterday (Saturday) evening. I tried to make it as short as I could but it still came out at 10 minutes. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, I’ll do a different part of the garden next week.

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