Update on Rats – and End of Season Reflections

I’m happy to say that – although I will likely not get rid of ALL the rats, I have only seen one or two since I quit using the feeder and went back to feeding the chickens sprouted grains in a dish that I take away when they eat their fill.

As for the yellow jackets, the first period of rain here seems to have dampened their activities and that of the moles as well! Suddenly everything has calmed down, critter-wise. Even the possum who came and dug for worms each evening seems to have moved on.

Also because of a period of cooler rainy weather, the garden has just greened up and looks fresh and abundant again! By mid-September after so many months without rain things can get pretty tired-looking, even if you are watering regularly. Now- with cool moisture in the air and soil – it all looks revived – like the little Resurrection Ferns that grow on the live oak trees in the Florida Panhandle. They would be frizzled and brown and then it would rain and Voila! they pop back into fresh green life!

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Young Persimmon in it’s fall finery!

I even managed to get a few meals for my son and I from the thoroughly mite-attacked Fortex pole beans! I slacked off my diligent water spraying at one point in September and they moved in in such numbers that nothing I did after that helped! It would have been one of my best crops of Fortex beans yet! They are such great beans! They are string-less and hairless and solid and “meaty” and will grow to over a foot long and still be great tasting! You only need three or four beans for a meal at that size! And they are beautifully prolific. So, in spite of the problems with mites, I will continue to grow them – maybe try for earlier in the season next year. I put these in after the peas were finished in late June, using the same trellis. Maybe I’ll try them on the greenhouse wall next year.

I’m also thinking it may be time to start letting a couple beds “rest” each year. I have read – but never lived anywhere long enough to experience it till now – that intensely planted garden soil gets tired and depleted of nutrients after three or four years, and should be give a rest for a year or two. Mine have been going for 9 years! That would give me easy beds to do my “trench” composting in. Maybe I will just grow buckwheat on them for the summer.

All my perennial plants are doing well – the various berry plants – from strawberries to blueberries. The fruit trees look strong and healthy and some are finally beginning to bear. The herbs and kiwis and grapes are happy campers! It’s just some of the annual summer veggies that struggle – especially tomatoes, squash, cucumber and of course, my favorite, the green beans.

Sungold tomatoes still going strong in October!
Sungold tomatoes still going strong in October!

Sungold cherry tomatoes always seem to do well, though, wherever they are in the garden, but the other varieties do poorly. Even our old standby “Fourth of July” didn’t do very well the last two years. I don’t know if the seed stock the tomatoes are grown from is the problem or my garden conditions or the weather? They still gave us our first ripe tomatoes at the end of May this year and very tasty tomatoes up until it got good and hot in August. Most years we had a huge supply of green and partly ripe Fourth of July tomatoes ripening on the window sills until January! Not this year.

I have tried all the heirlooms tomatoes over the years here and not one was worth a second try. In fact each year I try two or three new kinds and none produce well enough to bother doing again! At least none that we LIKED… Other gardening friends in the area can do other varieties successfully. I’m not sure why I can’t.

I’m down to one variety of squash that works passably and that’s Cavili – a very early parthenocapic (no seeds to save) squash from Territorial Seed. It doesn’t need the same sort of pollination as others and so I actually get squash from it! I have given up on zucchini and crookneck because I get so little from them and they take up so much room!

PondJuly2016
Frog and Azolla Pond

After feeling so discouraged last month, a few days of rain have made me look at the garden with fresh eyes and see all the things that are WORKING! The pond and the plantings around it are especially pretty right now. The orchard – with so little input or effort – is looking really good. The new butterfly/pollinator garden needs a little tweaking. Some of the new plants didn’t do especially well. Others thrived. So it will need some adjustments. It’s not getting as much sun as I thought it would, mostly because the Mimosa tree has grown so much in the last couple years! But all the other beds and gardens are doing really well – poor soil, moles, mites and all… I’m grateful that insects have very limited preferences. Although I see mite damage on several different types of plants – wild hazelnuts, clematis, roses and tomatoes, along with the beans – the vast number of plants growing here are untouched by them! It’s the same with the moles. Some plants struggle and die from having tunnels dug under them – but most are un-phased!

OrangeHammock2All in all this was a good garden year! I got lots of hammock time in. Today I am going to take them down for the season. We are moving in to a period of stormy rainy weather, so this will be my last hammock day of the year. Fizzy will miss them too. She seems to enjoy them as much as I do!


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