Garden Notes Mid June ’13

barnGarden480At last, after two plantings of saved heirloom seeds stillborn in the cold soil, a third generation is birthed and growing. Goose Beans have been the staple of our stable of legumes, Tendercrop or some such bush bean making up the balance.

So the thought that I might fail to raise bean one this year has been plaguing my sense of gardening self-worth. Consequently, the mere emergence of those big fat cotyledons above the soil this morning–now finally warm enough this late spring to support life–has given me inordinate hope for harvest, yet.

Sugar Snap vines tied up against the cattle panels with greenbox-found baling twine, have survived the winds that accompany every-other-day storms, and the flowers now sport 1 inch flat fruits. In another week, if we don’t get hail, we’ll eat the rounded pods until we’re sick of them, and take bowl’s full, and some Annie’s dressing, to pot lucks that flourish this time of year in Floyd.

Mortgage Lifter tomatoes are already showing blight, while the first-time for me Celebrity are stout and clear of tell-tale spots, and hopefully will survive and offer seeds to save for next year. Amish Paste and Romas are coming along, and there are even a few frail yellow flowers showing.

I am back to the Gummy Bear “solution” for dealing with moles and voles, the latter more of a problem this year, and I’ve already lost 4 peppers and a tomato to their indiscriminate subterranean tunneling. They do NOT get the red ones.

I have a few hundred pounds of decomposed donkey poo to distribute in unplanted places, along with the rest of last year’s black compost I am putting around new plantings of zucchini, straight neck squash and cucumbers. I don’t know how much nutrition it provides to the young plants, but the dark compost does set the young greenery  strikingly against the ubiquitous gray-green grass-clipping mulch that is anywhere the soil shows through.

Rains have been almost too regular, but the creeks are running bold and boisterous, especially for this time of year. I am pulling creek water into a 35 gallon plastic can to use for spot watering, which includes the 1:20 personal nitrogenous supplement I’ve written about before.

I’m looking now for praying mantis egg cases to tie onto the fence around the garden perimeter. Seems to me they used to be easier to find, but I’m remembering when, as a teacher, I gave extra credit for certain nature-discoveries, the egg cases being one. And if the student could not be convinced to use them in this manner, I’d gladly carry them home for this. Except the one I forgot about in my office until I opened the door one morning to find a hundred tiny prayers climbing all over my office desk at the community college.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m so glad things are looking up. I would love to have some of those sugar snaps! Now where do the red gummy bears go? Loved my visit and I’m ready to come back, in spite of the Atl. Airport!

  2. I loved the link to the baby praying mantises! Having your desk covered with them must have been quite an experience.

  3. They help separate the fishing men from the boys, so you can find
    an excellent guide who really knows what he’s doing. Pay close attention to the mayflies, midges, and stoneflies in the area and try to match your flies to the size and type fish are biting on. Itis one of the most important aspect is that it is very much pleasurable, peaceful, and every so oftenworthwhile also.

  4. Yep, those little prayers on the desk is much cuter picture than the one I remember when opened my dresser drawer where I had recently stuffed an empty yellow jacket nest. Empty, as in apparently no live wasps to deal with, or so I thought…you know, just that round paper nest with all those cool white covered cylinders! Surprise!