Hatching Free Range Ideas

Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

The Summer Garden

In Garden on July 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

The garden guardian now has on a birthday hat. Must take a photo for you. And he has a bird for company. Ah, another photo needed.


Garden and Hope

In Garden on May 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Artichoke budsI’ve written before about the incredible hope that gardens represent. Where you plant tender babies and expose them to heat and cold and a million ravenous critters and still believe with all your heart that those grasses that reseeded themselves prolifically last year in the hellish August sun will be overrun by tomato plants and peppers bearing heavily.

This photo represents the realization of hope. Artichokes love cool weather and water and loads of compost. I had none of that last year and consequently no artichoke buds either. However, I bundled them up through the winter we didn’t really have and now in the Spring they are rewarding me. . . with something. Not in great profusion but still. . . They also provided a haven for ladybugs, who have turned a million ravenous aphids into hollow corpses. Woo-hoo!!!


I have six artichoke plants, now all starting to bud out. So, there you have it. Artichokes in South Texas. Now if I can only stop the stink bugs from covering them as well, I’ll be a happy gardener. Oh. And I’m hoping that I managed to protect the butternut squash from squash borers. I’ll let you know about those nasty destroyers of hope but you see how it works? I had squash borers last year and the year before that and they destroyed my squash plants right when they were at their most beautiful. Hope. Insidious Hope. What would we do without it?

Garden as Playhouse

In Big Fun!, Garden, Wandering on April 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Last year I thought of my garden as a labyrinth, where I slowly, carefully walked each row in sequence. My thoughts, although quiet were garden thoughts, paused only for a brief violence against the grasshoppers. I watched time progress each day, sometimes twice each day as I noted the positive —  new growth, or the negative — grasshopper or earwig cuts. This year, the second year, the garden is more playhouse than labyrinth. Whimsy abounds. Or my own version of whimsy. I wonder if it’s about the second year or about the fact that I have all this fun, funny stuff that hasn’t had a place before. Who knows?

See the open shed in the background of the picture? It’s getting a blue and yellow striped canvas curtain. And I think this year’s big sculpture might need to be a garden god.

Since I was photographing the garden, which has only two tomatoes in it as production at this point so maybe it might as well be a playhouse at least for now, here are some other photos of Texas Spring.

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More Useful Life of Things — What makes for good junk?

In Big Fun!, Celebration, design, Garden, How we learn and think, Make something on April 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

You know how you have stuff sitting around your house that’s not quite junk ’cause you might just have a use for it? And it sits around, sometimes for years until one day the magic happens. Then you don’t have to feel like a guilty hoarder any more because all of that rat holing was justified, ’cause LOOK WHAT I JUST MADE!!!!!

It all seems to make sense at one time. For us, the garden and parties supply a lot of the impetus. First, the garden junk. I bought four bowling pins at a junk store about 3 years ago ’cause they were a dollar and bowling pins are just cool. They found their way to a corner under the house. A year ago, when we were first putting in the garden, a friend had some shoe rods that were too good to throw away. She kept them for me. When I saw them, I concurred. I brought them home and put them in a corner of the garden shed.

This year the two neglected items came together. Who knew that that bowling pins had a hole in the bottom? I widened the hole using Dad’s bit brace and pounded a shoe rod into the bottom. Then we pounded the entire thing into the ground. They are now my new  hose bumpers. And since I have bowling pins in the garden, now adding the bowling ball made sense.

The other coming together was much more rapid. We found cast iron stork legs at the flea market for pretty much nothing. We had a broken ostrich shell which was too good to throw away, even when broken. Ta-da! A Tim Burton Style scarecrow.

Now the party-driven needs.

About 5-7 years ago a round glass patio table that we had for about 12 years met its useful end as a table. Cyrus, our 60 pound dog, leapt on it, collapsing it in a hail of tempered glass. No one was hurt. We put the table ring onto the might be useful someday too big to get in the garbage can pile. Time passed. Actually, quite a bit of time. We moved it around and looked at it but it never found a useful purpose.

This year is Eric’s 60th and we celebrated All Fool’s Eve as clowns are a favorite theme. The celebration required decorations. A happy coincidence that the blue rope lights bought for another purpose fit exactly into the groove of the table ring wrapped twice round. There was a need for a hole filler to fill the middle of what was now a blue lit hole.

I pulled out the canvas scraps that Mom had given me about 9 years ago. One fit. Now Harry stands above the gate to the yard. Although Harry first honored Eric’s birthday, he’s a permanent (or semi-permanent fixture.

What do you think the UPS drivers think when they drive up?

Oh wait, they’ve already seen the scare crow and bowling pins.

Garden pests and perserverance

In Garden on May 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’ve replanted this garden at least once. Completely replanted at least once. In bits and pieces when the plants were brand new babies because the grasshoppers and earwigs cut them off at the knees. And then after the deer ate 2/3 of it because we didn’t think we really needed a gate. Guess what? We have a gate now.

And these are the garden prayer flags. I think they keep the deer out too.

Garden pests come in all sizes. I mean, ALL sizes, from 70 pounds to milligrams. You mostly know the smaller end of the scale if you live in the city (unless you have marauding dogs). I don’t know how farmers make a living! Some of these pests are extremely hard to dissuade. And they wait to watch you harvest the first teeny bit out of the garden, snickering behind their hands, knowing that will be the night they come to raid the place. You have posted the signal. Yes, I think they have hands. And even thumbs.

This is for squirrels [##$!@!!!@$$$!@###], who bite the green peaches, just to check. Then in a fit of pique, they cut 17 others from the tree to rot on the ground. That’s how we know that squirrels live in the moment. They can’t imagine that the peaches will change. Deer on the other hand, deer plot. They bide their time. They hide and wait.

And then there are the teeny pests. GRASSHOPPERS!!!!!!! They hide. I wear flip flops in the garden and sneak up on them one shoe off to swat them . . . DEAD. Even though we haven’t had much from the garden yet, i still get great satisfaction killing even one grasshopper. They won’t let you sneak up on to stomp them, but you can distract them while you take that shoe off. And if you don’t have that shoe, often you can reach out and pinch them between your fingers, especially early in the morning when they’re still sleepy. No. It’s not cruel. No. Neither grasshoppers, nor squirrels, nor deer are cute even with their big eyes. Yes, grasshoppers have big eyes. And I imagine them bugging out as their heads get squished.

But, there’s a way to kill grasshoppers in volume. This recipe is from the Bexar county extension agent, via A&M. If anybody knows how to kill grasshoppers, I trust the Aggies.

We are dividing it into much smaller portions but this is the master recipe.

10 lbs wheat bran or corn meal (the woman at the grocery store asked me if it was good, when she saw me picking the last bags up from the shelves. I told her I hoped so because I was planning to feed it to grasshoppers.  . . with their poison supplement.

1 gallon of water
1 pt vegetable oil
1 pt molasses
This is the good part . . . 1 pt Liquid Sevin

Mix the molasses, water and vegetable oil with 1/2T dish soap (to make the water and oil mix.
Add the Sevin and add everything to the bran. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Make little piles around the edges of the garden.

For those of us who aren’t farming acres, here’s a reduced recipe that’s more like the volumes you will get from the grocery store.

2 10 oz pkgs of wheat bran
1 pt water
4 T. vegetable oil
4 T. molasses
4 T. Liquid Sevin
Squirt of dish soap.

Same rules apply.

I like thinking of the grasshoppers with tummy aches. I sure hope I don’t come back as one.

1-1-11, a little late

In Garden, Uncategorized on January 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm

What a great set of numbers to start a new year on! And so what if I didn’t get around to writing about new beginnings until 1-5-11. I have been thinking about it, however, since I had to write the number on something, the number 2011.

For me, the new beginnings are encapsulated in the concept of GARDEN. I say concept because at this stage, it’s all about Hope and Imagining, a perfect couple for new beginnings. We began the new garden plot on 1-2-11, sectioning off an area and beginning to till. The past few nights I’ve been thumbing through seed catalogs, with one question on the top of my mind “How did they know I needed seed catalogs, and not just one but three so far?” See, we haven’t had a garden in five years or more. I expect a few more to arrive before this is all over.

And after the plot being laid out on the ground and seed catalogs being perused, the next thing is to develop the garden plan. Our plot is 40 x 15, which the seed catalogs call a small garden. I say, “Till it and say that, Pardner.” They do that to shame us all into bigger and bigger gardens. So, I have a BIG sheet of paper and lots of cut outs of pictures and descriptions of the perfect seeds. You know seeds, like all beginnings, are perfect, right? The hope that’s within them has no hint of failure. Failure comes from other things, like grasshoppers and too much clay in the soil and too much alkalai, and not enough water and too much Texas heat and planting with the wrong companions. It’s all something else’s fault. Seeds are faultless. I think that’s why they are so appealing. That and the pretty pictures of what they all have the potential to grow up to be. Tomatoes from beauty contests.

The plan continues to develop as new seed catalogs come in. Right now the varieties are changing but the core stays the same, cherry tomatoes move from Sweet 100s to Sweet Baby Girls, bell peppers from something to Carnivals. And that’s the way it should be ’cause I started inking in the plan. I’ll share it once it’s beautiful. There’s no reason the plan shouldn’t be beautiful, since all things are possible with the plan, as with the seeds.

So, this New Year is about hope and dreaming and faultless potential. I can wait for Summer for reality. Can’t you?