Thursday, April 30, 2020

April's Garden (2020)

This summer's garden will be no-nonsense:  no experimenting, growing new plants or taking chances.  After seeing my local grocery stores empty and only partially restocked (still no toilet paper), I have been rattled - maybe it is a harbinger of what is to come.  Regardless, the garden is no longer a hobby, but a necessity - it might be all we have to eat. The focus will change from eating fresh, healthy, exotic vegetables, to what can be canned, frozen, and dehydrated for storage. Our (hopefully) last frost was this past week.  Now it is time to focus on getting as much done as possible.  It isn't going to be an easy month. 

Nothing has been done yet in these first two rows.  The sugar beets on the right are still growing from last fall and more will be added to fill in the whole row.  They store and can well.  The row to the left was weeded because I couldn't find the onions.  It will be plowed under after they and the Scarlet Kale are eaten.

Hida Beni Red Turnips, Tokinashi Turnips plus Detroit Red beets are beginning to sprout between the spring onions.

The middle of the garden is still under leaves waiting for my attention.  One self-seeded red poppy is blooming.  Two Swiss Chards and one kale are all that are left from the winter hoop house.

This is the only risk I am taking and it is a big one for me.  All of the stores for miles around ran out of potatoes at the beginning of the panic and weren't restocked until two weeks ago.  The new potatoes are priced twice as high as last year's potatoes.  They are one of Bill's favorite foods. Finding seed potatoes was almost impossible since the seed companies have sold out.  Never before have I succeeded at harvesting enough potatoes to cover the cost of buying the seed potatoes because my hard clay soil won't let them grow larger than a marble. This is a big chance dedicating this much space to them.

Youtube videos abound with suggestions to grow them in hay where they can easily expand.  There is still some left behind in the field that the horses didn't eat.  With Bill's help, we have been hauling it to the garden - not an easy chore.

The horses would never want it because it is beginning to rot; however, it is perfect for my garden.  The dry hay was put over the potatoes and the slime was spread to dry over the walkways.

 "Just throw them on the ground, cover them with hay, and nothing could be easier." claimed the smiling, confident people in the videos.  We "threw" them out at the beginning of the month and they are beginning to sprout.  I hope I'm wrong and they are right.

Toward the end of the garden is the row of assorted unknowns from saved seeds. Tried and true not exotic and risky.

One row of tomatoes has been planted at the far end.  More will be put in the ground when there is absolutely no chance of any more late frosts. 

Lettuce is planted in the empty spaces and will be harvested long before the tomato vines get big.  At either end, vining squash or cucumbers will be planted to spread through the empty spaces under the tomato plants.  

No work has been done yet in the far back of the garden.  The Swiss Chard bed is beginning to bolt and soon the lettuce will all be gone.  This whole area will be plowed and replanted.

The lettuce I planted beside the shed in the rain was worth the effort.  We have shared it with the rabbits but there is still plenty.

No space will be left empty, every inch will be used as I try to squeeze as much out of my garden as possible.  It is time to put all of the knowledge I have acquired from years of mistakes to good use.  This is serious.  Kid gloves off and garden gloves on!

Last Month's March Garden (2020)
Last Year's April Garden (2019)
April's Garden (2018)
April's Garden (2017)

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Walkabout While Still Locked Down

Tennessee is still under the Chinese coronavirus lockdown.  We have cabin fever because there is nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Since it has been a while since I walked the fencerow around our property, Scooter agreed to accompany me on a wild adventure.  Entering into the field is a rare treat for him this time of the year since he gets covered in stick tights, mud, and ticks.

Should I go left, right, or fly?

Wheeeeee! I'm flying!

We entered the tractor gate beside our driveway, turned south, and headed up the hill toward the front of our property.  It is the area beside my flower bed.

The horses left last fall because the land was overgrazed and in poor shape.  Most of it has recovered but their walking trails are still visible and easily followed. This area beside my flower bed is under closely spaced cedar trees which is too tight for a bush hog to mow.  It always is scraggly.

Looking over the fence at my flower bed from the field is a rare view.  It looks like my garden but is backward.  I feel like Alice peering through the looking glass at someone else's garden.

Going around the corner and heading east is the feeding area for the horses.  The fence ahead is beside the driveway and that makes it convenient on muddy days for the tractor to drop large bales of hay over the fence without mirring up in the field.

In the upper southeastern corner sits both watering troughs.  The land is still bare from constant trampling.

The horse trainers would back their truck down the driveway, park the bed up against the fence and let gravity pour water into the troughs.

I turned my back to the troughs, looked north, and could almost see the chicken coop and house through the trees.  This is the spot where the horses enjoyed eating corn and hay. 

Scooter led us west toward the open field.

The treeline on the left (south) and in the far distance (west) is the boundary of our property.  The trees on the right hide the black hole entrance to Scooter's outer space wormhole.  

At the top of the hill is a wet weather spring that flows after it rains.  How water can defy gravity and bubble up to the highest point of the hill is amazing.  One would think it should be at the bottom of the hill; however, I have previously proven water runs uphill in my neighborhood.  We have discussed digging a pond but if we disturbed the spring, it might never fill up.  The last thing we need on our property is another useless, empty hole. 

Immediately after passing the spring, a turkey hen suddenly flew up across my face.  Scooter barked, I screamed, and she flew away as fast as possible. When Scooter wasn't looking, I searched for the nest. It was hidden in the bushy fencerow beside the water. 

A perfect place.

We didn't get a picture due to being surprised, however, every morning she flies over the fence into the flowers and helps herself to bugs in the front yard.

We continued our hike toward the far end of the property and walked under a hated Bodock tree. 

As I turned around to get a picture of the tree, I noticed something different.  It appeared to be leaning to the left.  It wasn't tilting the last time I saw it...or was it?  Is my memory failing?

There is a new hole in the mud beside the tree, the ground has sunk, and a crack has formed in the soil beside the tree.  

When I walked up closer, I realized a sinkhole is forming and is already about six feet deep.  This is dangerous.  This past winter I whined about the constant rain in our area and it seems I might be justified in my complaints. 

We continued our stroll and reached the back southwest corner of the property.  

It doesn't matter how far the distance or how big the cage, one must always stick their nose through the fence and wish to be on the other side.

Turning around at the southwest corner, facing east and looking back out over the field, our house appears to be tiny.

As we changed directions and walked north, we entered my favorite place on the property.  In the fall when the leaves are turning, it is breathtaking.  It looks like it might have been a driveway years ago.  We don't know the truth because there is nothing on the survey plat. It was peaceful when we originally bought the house but then a subdivision was built (and is still being built) on the other side of the fence.  It has been constant noise ever since.

Next, is my least favorite place.  Before we bought the house, someone dumped roofing shingles and bricks in this area. It was an unpleasant surprise when we discovered it sixteen years ago.  At first, we tried to remove them but then realized they might have asbestos so we no longer touch them.  I hate it when people do tacky things like this.

We continued following the western fencerow toward the back of the property.  There isn't a picture of this fence post in the corner because it can't be seen for the brambles.  When the fence was repaired years ago (before our time), rather than removing the old fencing, someone piled it up and left it to rust.  You have to trust me when I say there is a corner fence post here.

As proof, this is the backside of the corner taken while standing in the (noisy) subdivision.  What a tangled mess.

Standing back inside the fence looking east is the backfield.  It runs alongside the driveway in the previous picture.

At the end of the field begins the woods. There is a thick thicket of thorny thorns so I decided to go north into the woods behind the big sinkhole. 

Of course, we entered beside another Bodock tree.  It seems we have a gazillion of these trees.

The sinkhole is still full of water from the last rainstorm.  I should have paused and marveled at the beauty but the mosquitoes were quickly swarming their next meal.

We went east and followed the path deep into the woods behind our house.

It wasn't an easy walk.  The undergrowth has become thick after this past winter's rainstorms knocked down many branches.

At last, we made it to the back corner fence post then headed south toward home.

The back area is rough and full of large boulders.  When the boys were young, this rock was their fort.  Some of their fortifications haven't completely rotted yet.  It was a fun place in the winter when there weren't any bugs.  They would run wild while I burned fallen branches in small bonfires.  At one time, it was cleared and was a fun place to walk.  No more.  It is now out of control.

Finally, we arrived at the front, eastern corner fence post behind our backyard.

The view looking over the fence at the back of the house was welcomed.

We went right (west) and continued to follow the fence across the back of the yard behind the shed and to the garden.

While standing behind the garden I turned around to see the view when working in the garden.  Two paths diverge in a yellow wood and was sorry I could not travel both today.  The path to the right leads to the backfield - the left to the sinkhole.  The horses chose the right path to graze in the field, and the left to the sinkhole when thirsty.

We chose the path less traveled by the weeds at the edge of the woods. And that has made all the difference.

Home sweet home.

Links mentioned above:
Scooter is in Big Trouble  (The horrors of ticks)
The Horses Have Left
Secret Sinkholes
Scooter, Where No Dog has Gone Before (Wormhole to Outer Space)
Water Runs Uphill in My Neighborhood
Timbeeeeeerrrrrr! (Why I hate Bodock trees)