Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gardening woes

Oh, it is a tough year with the garden. The past couple of weeks of very high heat and humidity has taken its toll as the tomatoes are beginning to suffer from bacterial and fungal problems. I had to completely tear out one tomato plant today to try and keep it from spreading. I am doing everything I know to do organically for these problems and just hope that I save some of my tomato plants. I do have several with tomatoes so we will see. The squash vine borers are terrible this year and I have not been able to find any BT to use, so have been making up my own pesticide and treating the plants. These little buggers are tough to get rid of and usually destroy the plant. I have several plants producing so maybe I will save some of them. The pond is experiencing some heavy evaporation, 1" per day. So I have had to do some extra aerating to try to control the algae bloom. We will try to start harvesting some of the fish to cut down on the numbers within the next week or so. Some of them may be smaller than I would like, but I am afraid that if I don't thin the numbers then I will have a fish kill due to the algae and lack of oxygen. With the pond dropping the concentration levels of ammonia and nitrates rise, leading to the algae, which depletes the oxygen. I would like to get a pump for next year, but it is difficult to find one that is affordable for such a large pond. The plus side of the drop in water levels is that it makes it much easier to clean out more of detritus on the bottom of the pond. This material is great to add to the compost pile. Today, as I was facing the frustration of all these things, I thought if it weren't for my honey bee friends and my children that I would just give up and head for the store for some type of chemicals to combat all these things. However, my honey bee friends are hard at work every morning as I water the garden. They flit from plant to plant busy about their morning chores as I am busy about mine. The sound of their buzzing and the site of their hard work brings such joy and peace in those early morning hours that I don't have the heart to wipe them out. Their hive is in the garden and during the heat of the day they can be seen at the entrance to the hive fanning away with their wings trying to keep the hive cool. Of course, they built their hive in one of the worst places that I can think of. Our pond in the center of the garden still has the remnants of what was once a diving board. All that is left is the metal pipe that held the board. The bees chose this pipe to build their hive in. I imagine that pipe gets quite warm on these hot days. Hoever, the bees work very hard to keep things cool inside the hive. The wild rabbits that have made a burrough in the goat pasture have eaten all the sweet potatoes, so I lost that crop. I really can't begrudge them too much as they are a joy to watch in the early morning hours as the young popples come out to play. They have not touched anything else in the garden, just the sweet potatoes. This morning I had a very unusual visitor in the garden....a quail. This little bird was not just on the edge of the garden, it was making its way through the corn rows and then through the remainder of the rows right into the heart of the garden closest to the house. I was a little worried because my cats are usually out hunting early in the morning and I was worried that they would see this precious little piece of nature and decide it would make a good breakfast. It didn't stay long, but maybe it grabbed a few bugs while it was looking around. For those of you who don't live in the southeast, these little birds not so many years ago were very difficult to find because of over hunting and habitat destruction. Since more small farmers became aware of their plight they are becoming more plentiful. I have seen more this year than I have in years and I attribute it to the fact that we have left several spots that are good habitat for the little birds. There is a hunting club behind me so they might be seeking refuge at my place. That is fine with me. The dogs don't bother them and right now the cats are occupied with the field rats (yes rats) and the chipmunks. Speaking of cats, this morning as I was watching the quail taking a stroll among the veggies one of my cats came up from the pasture carrying a field rat as big as the cat. I sure was glad that it was dead being that close to the house. I would hate for it to have gotten loose and into the house or barn. Mice don't bother me as much, but rats as big as a cat will scare the daylights out of me! Things are pretty peaceful around here and we just keep plugging along as the heat allows. Rain would be wonderful and we pray everyday for some. The corn and sunflowers are about the only things truly thriving in the garden this year. I will be better prepared next year and not be late in my planting. I think that because I was late the stress of the heat got to my plants before they had a chance to reach their full growth and strength. So they are stressed and stress brings about trouble in the garden. Fortunately, this year I don't have to totally depend on it for our survival. I will gather what I can and learn from the experience and next year will be better. Maybe the fall crops will be better, we will just have to see. God bless and take care.

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