Thursday, September 17, 2020

Local Ladies' Garden Club, Summer Meeting (2020)

My ladies' garden club has only met once this summer due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  We were invited to tour a local private garden.

The homeowners purchased an old farm years ago which they have lovingly restored. The house was beyond repair so they built a new one.  The outbuildings were preserved, embellished with antiques and a magnificent garden has been planted.

The original well house is on top of an underground spring and it still provides their drinking water.  

The stream flows out one side to form a creek.  Inside the water bubbles up to fill a cistern full of cool clear water.


Every direction we looked we saw something interesting. The amount of work and love that went into creating this home is awe-inspiring. I am ready for this pandemic to be over so we can meet again and have more fun!

Links to other meetings

Monday, September 7, 2020

One Sad, Lonely Vulture

We were sitting on the front porch early this morning enjoying the clear, cool (less than sweltering) morning breeze when suddenly, there was a thunderous explosion close to us.  We looked toward the sound and saw flying feathers as a large vulture crash-landed below our front yard power pole. We waited but there was no movement.

I walked out to check on it and discovered a fried bird missing half his feathers.  (Good taste and decorum prevented me from sharing a close-up of the morbid image of the deceased.)

This is the top of the power pole.  I saw nothing amiss which doesn't mean anything since I don't know what it is supposed to look like.  The power inside our house worked even though most of the clocks needed to be reset.

Being curious (nosey), I hired (cooked a meal) an Electrical Engineer (Dustin) to discover what happened.  The unsuspecting vulture probably landed on top of the pole.  One large wing touched the high voltage line on one side as the second wing touched the ground wire on the other side. Together, they created an electrical circuit loop which shot 12,000 volts through him. Ouch!

This is what Dustin really said,  "A relatively conductive body need not touch the electrical source, it just has to reduce the amount of insulating air between the high voltage source and ground, which can cause an arc through the aforementioned body, resulting in a bright flash of light and the thunderclap we heard. The immense amount of electrical current that flowed through the vulture heated its insides at such a rapid pace the flesh flew off more or less explosively."

The sad part was its mate who was perched atop a closeby tree.  It waited patiently for hours for its friend to move. Was it confused, mourning, or lonely? I felt sorry for it.

Eventually, it flew away.  

Or maybe it wasn't sad at all but left to invite new friends to a feast of sun marinated, roasted carcass.  Nature is hard to understand sometimes.

Additional Vulture Posts

Monday, August 31, 2020

August's Garden (2020)

The garden has worked hard and produced magnificently. There has been plenty of rain which is unheard of for the month of August and as a result, the plants have not gone dormant.  I too, have worked hard, produced a magnificent stocked pantry, and now feel like going dormant for the winter!

The first row is a combination of many things. Malabar Spinach is traveling up the shepherd's crook. A volunteer tomato plant is being supported by a fence post. One Blue Curled Kale is still alive from this past winter's hoop house. The Purple Hull Peas on the outside of the short fence are almost all picked. Three volunteer bean sprouts have appeared in with the sugar beet seedlings (the one in the walkway will be removed).  The cucumbers at the far end have died but more have been planted on this upper end and will be trained up the short fence. 

Toward the left is the second row as it appeared on August 6th, before the two rows of beans were harvested.  It was my first time growing Jacob's Cattle Bush beans (on the right) and October Bush Beans (on the left).  The green leaves covering the dead bean vines belong to three Waltham Butternut Squash plants.  

Each row had about ten bean plants and this was the harvest.  I am not impressed with Jacob's Cattle Bush beans on the right.  

Jacob's Cattle tasted like mild pinto beans and were good but the plants did not produce enough beans for the amount of space they used. I will plant the remaining seeds next year but don't plan on buying anymore.

The October Beans looked beautiful when shelled but lost their color when cooked.  Their flavor was unique - a buttery, creamy mild flavor so they will be grown again.

These are the Pink-Eye Purple Hull Cowpeas on the short fence before harvest.  This is the quality of production I expect (demand) from bean plants.

This is the second row today.  The bean plants are gone and the three Waltham Butternut squash plants look anemic.  They were supposed to cover the whole area and produce a bumper crop; however, altogether they only have six average size squash.  Compare them to the Tahitian Butternut plant beside them on the left.  It was planted later, has grown to the end of the row, and is already covered in very large fruit.  The Waltham plants will be removed, the area plowed and winter crops planted.  They did not meet the production quota - they're fired!

The seed for the Tahitian Butternut Squash was planted on the left side of the picture which is the beginning of the row.  It is growing down the row to the right or toward the back of the garden.  The older leaves become diseased, die off and new leaves form as it grows.  The green leaves on the right are the new ones.  There are still a few Detroit Red Beets swallowed by the leaves but I don't know if I can find them now.  This single plant will devour my garden and produce a massive amount of squash.

This year another volunteer squash sprouted in the compost pile in the back corner of the garden and is spreading down the fence.  It looks like a Waltham Butternut squash.  It has three squash fruits on it which are already twice as large as those on the anemic vines.  I don't know if the larger size is due to the rich dirt in the compost pile, or if it has crossed with something else, or if the anemic ones need fertilizer.

The center of the garden looks worn out from producing and is tired (like me).

These empty spots will be plowed this month and will be prepared for the winter hoop houses.

The watermelons and the seedlings from the bag of assorted unknown greens are thriving in the back area. The watermelons haven't been picked because there is no room in the refrigerator.

The crazy trellis in the back of the garden in front of the shed is disappearing under the foliage. 

On the left side are three vining squash - two spaghetti from the seeds of a store-bought squash and a Long of Naples. The spaghetti have climbed up the arch and two have been harvested. They were delicious.

More are forming under the leaves.  When I crawled under it to take a picture, I discovered hidden unpicked Lima Beans - they are sneaky like that.

The Long of Naples vine has not done well at all.  It slowly ran a few feet up the arch but then stalled. I noticed it had roots forming along the stem so I meticulously untangled it out of the bean vines, put it on the ground, and then the vine began to grow better.  I don't know if that made the difference or if it just wanted to be beside the sweet potatoes.

This is the back row of tomatoes closest to the shed.  Behind it is a tightly squeezed row that was designed to efficiently utilize the thin space.

The row behind the tomatoes is the last one in the garden.  It is a few inches in front of the short wire fence, is shaded most of the day, and is squeezed into a small space.  At the beginning of the row is one vining squash - don't remember what it is, just stuck a seed from a bag in my hand into the ground as I walked past.  It is spreading under the taller okra plants and is going toward the field at the far end.

The okra were planted late because the seeds didn't germinate and it was hard to find more.  Now they are at production capacity and must be picked daily.

Further down the row is the tall arch which held the yard-long beans last year.  This view is from the back of the garden with the woods behind me looking toward the house.  Lima Beans are spreading over the arch, okra is under it, a mix of beans are below the okra, and the vining squash plant slithers along hunting empty spaces. The Lima Beans go up, the okra occupies the middle, the bush beans are down low, and the squash grabs what is left so no ground or sunlight is wasted. The beans will be finished before the okra becomes so tall there is no light left and the squash vine will get more sunlight when it reaches the walkway. 

The beans are mixed because it took multiple plantings to get them to sprout in the spring.  Being in the deep shade makes them spindly, they prefer full sun but surprisingly they are producing a few beans.  I would rather get a few beans than a bunch of weeds.

At the far end of the arch looking back toward the woods is a single okra plant.  It was placed between two Lima Bean supports in the original walkway after it was blocked by the short fence.  If I had gotten the okra out earlier, I would have put something under it also.  When an empty spot appears it gets a seed.

The Delitaca Squash from saved seeds was planted at the beginning of the middle row of tomatoes and spread under the tomatoes as planned.  When I said earlier something was wrong because the vine and leaves were too large, I was right.

This is not a tiny, three to six-inch Delicata squash because it has crossed with who knows what.  It looks like a Delicata but is too large.  Obviously, I am not good at saving squash seeds. 

Right now work on the fall and winter garden has begun.  Will a small garden be all we need or will I be feeding the neighborhood when another disaster hits?  Will the world settle down or will the insanity of 2020 continue?  Bill says it will get much worse before it gets better.  I think he is right.  Production quotas are going to be increased.