My summer-long volunteer, Syndey, arrived last week. She’s a Wisconsin native who has just finished an engineering degree in California. She’ll mainly be focusing on the food situation, maintaining the garden, harvesting and preserving food, etc. We’ve already spent a good amount of time familiarizing her with the garden, the plants, the pests, and the tasks to keep it on track.
We just put up a few cattle panels with t-stakes to act as tomato supports. So far I’ve tried tomato cages and last year I used t-stakes with rope tied between them as supports, but I can already tell that the cattle panels are going to be my favorite so far. They are far more stable than the other two styles, and I think the clean up at the end of the year should be fairly minimal.
The squash bugs made their first appearance several days ago and we’ve been religiously checking for eggs and adults. I think we caught it early and it seems to be under control. I pulled off the straw mulch on the squash beds, so they’ll need to be watered more, but taking away the squash bug shelter is more important. I’ve laid down some boards and pieces of granite in between the plants so we can flip them over in the morning and kill the adults that shelter there. Another trick we’ve started doing is using duct tape to pull the eggs off rather than just pulling the section of the leaf off altogether. It works reasonably well.
A lot of things in the garden are doing well. There’re loads of peaches on the trees, and there’s even a handful of pears and apples ripening. The blueberries are growing ever so slowly, but the gooseberries are loaded down and the thornless blackberries are finding their stride as well. The potatoes are looking phenomenal, and most of the other annual vegetables seem to be kicking into high gear.
The goumi berry harvest has been completed. This morning Sydney, Molly, and I got almost a gallon of berries off one bush. I’d already picked the small goumi plant clean for fresh eating over the last couple weeks since it ripened first. We made juice and fruit leather out of it. I’ll be posting a step-by-step guide on how we did it since there wasn’t a whole lot of useful information, especially on how to separate the seed from the pulp.
I’m noticing that the birds are leaving the berries in the garden alone this year. I’m not sure if that’s because the glut of rain has made earthworms and other sources of food more accessible or if the looping mp3 of predator sounds is discouraging them from staying out in the open. There certainly seems to be fewer birds hanging around the garden. It’s probably some mix of the two. I’ll post the MP3 of sounds I’ve made in the future when I’ve perfected it.
We had a week of very heavy rain since I last reported on the root cellar in the shed leaking and alas, significant amounts of water seeped in again. I’ve finished half of a french drain on the uphill side of the shed, and I should finish the other half later this week. I also put a rain diversion swale in the driveway to redirect water away from the shed as well as laying down some more tarps around the shed. We got .75″ of rain last night and so far nothing in the root cellar.
Eastern Hog Nose
John came across a previously unseen species of snake out here recently. It was right outside his cabin and scared him pretty good as it was an eastern hog nose snake, aka “spreading adder” or “puff adder” as it puffs out it’s neck like a cobra and hisses loudly. It’s not poisonous and will even play dead to avoid predators, but it’s certainly nothing I’d like to mess around with.
I’ve also had the first serious run-in with carpenter bees. They started digging holes in the earthen plaster near the top of the gable wall on the common house. They’re typically good pollinators to have around, but I don’t want them digging holes in the walls so I’ve sprayed them with a pesticide which I loath using but don’t have a suitable recourse at this time.
I’m hopeful that once the finish coat of plaster goes on it will discourage them because it should be significantly smoother and harder. I’ve got my fingers crossed otherwise I’ll have to figure something else out.
I was on the phone making plans to visit my friend Daniel in Hawaii over the winter. He just surfaced from a 7 month tour on a submarine, and we’re planning on doing some sailing around the islands there when I come for a month in December. Anyway, I looked up and I saw Feist perched on the side of a rain barrel having a drink. The lip has to be half an inch wide at most. She sat there for a good 15-20 seconds after I noticed.