The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Creation Gardening - Bailing Out on Straw Bales

You want a close-up of a slug instead?

Straw bale gardening is all the rage. Lowe's had a semi-trailer 2/3rds empty when I bought mine very early in the spring. We had snow afterwards, so that  was really faux-spring, but a good time to get the bales rotting.

Later I learned that the funny trails across the bales were slug paths - an ill omen indeed. I eventually used beer traps to kill a bunch, and some critter drank all the beer and ate the slugs. That happened in the front yard but not in the back, so it was more likely a dog.

The potatoes began to grow once it warmed up, and the vines looked great. I had some grassy weeds, which later went nuts in the sun as the vines died down.

The results were pathetic, with a few potatoes, mostly found by our helper and his son, who found digging through the bales a bit of fun. The bales turned into soft, dark compost, but the slugs had their way with most of the produce.

Straw bales use too much water to keep their dampness, and their nature is paradise to slugs. As someone said, the end result is a lot of compost, so bales are not all bad, just not my choice for potatoes. I will try potatoes again next year in soil. They are "apples of the earth" in French, not "apples of the straw."

Companion plants get along the same way,
one hugging the other.



Corn Ears Forming
I bewailed the lack of corn two weeks after planting, but the corn sprouted after four weeks. I was pessimistic, but most of the corn made a good showing and ears are forming now in perfect corn weather - blazing hot and humid.

I will plant corn again next year, but later, so the soil is thoroughly warm.

Beans and many early vines were eaten by rabbits. Rabbits - not beans and vines - are all over the place. I squirted water (by accident) on baby bunnies hiding in the front rose garden and Sassy followed one, gently nosing it along to get acquainted. Sassy does not hurt other animals, so her Dale Carnegie nose approach is pretty funny to watch. A pet duckling was equally unimpressed with her, several years ago. Chickens squawk and semi-fly to avoid that cold nose exam.

Mr. Lincoln


Roses Do Not Like Corn Weather
I was anticipating a great bloom cycle in the KnockOut roses, which continue to grow like weeds, but the heat makes the blooms finish up too fast. However, the traditional hybrid tea roses are doing well and producing bouquets to give away almost every day.

The roses are quite varied in how they bloom. The white John Paul II roses are brilliant in the sunshine and fragrant, astonishingly productive. They do not last as long when cut, but they make an interesting contrast with the other colors. No other rose has produced as many flowers so consistently. They were aphid ravaged on the first bloom cycle and almost perfect afterwards, thanks to beneficial insects going to town on the aphids.

Mr. Lincoln is the fastest growing rose with spectacular, fragrant blooms. My latest find was one large cane with three perfect buds. I cut that one for Mrs. Ichabod, who loves Mr. Lincoln almost as much as me.

Peace also came under attack by the aphids and bounced back. They bloomed at once with flowers that reminded me of why it is still one of the all-time favorites.

Veterans Honor is a pure red rose that looks impossibly beautiful in the full sun, like red velvet. The rose is fragrant and lasts long when cut.

I have had a little mildew - no surprise with five inches of rain at a time - and blackspot, which rain brings out of the varieties prone to the fungus. I have not treated either problem, except to prune off blackspot and drop the affected parts in the nearby grass.

This is how I feel with grassy weeds to pull.

Grassy Weeds Galore
Grassy weeds have partied as much as the rabbits this year, rocketing through the mulch in many places. Unlike many gardeners - mere dabblers - who curse weeds, I think of them as green fertilizer aching to be composted on the spot. We have added layers of Jackson Mulch in some spots, like the first rose garden, and started with cardboard on other parts.

The original sunny garden, which went all crabgrass last year, is now covered with soft straw compost. Once that settles down, we will find ways to combine it with newspapers and cardboard to compost into the soil for next year. Slugs will be put in their place by the beneficial bugs.

Strawberries smell great, but I cannot eat them.
Fortunately, every creature loves them.


Tomatoes - Good for Blood Pressure
Cherry tomatoes are very productive and fun to eat. They are high in potassium, which reduces blood pressure. I had a great reading this morning after making them a regular part of the diet, adding bananas and other good things into the mix.

Both of us like ripe garden tomatoes, almost as much as slugs and squirrels. The answer is to pull in the green ones, keep them with bananas, and ripen them in a box of bananas and tomatoes. A paper bag also works, but they are so rare I would have to buy some on Amazon for $1 each. Instead, I use Amazon boxes.

In fact, any cardboard box of any size is bound to stay here rather than get picked up in the recycle bin.

So I open the ripening box, which smells bananish, and pull out ripe tomatoes to eat whenever the urge strikes me. All I have to do is keep putting the green ones in, sometimes waiting for the break when they start to color. Mrs. I got a large, perfect red one from outdoors, solid red with no damage from slugs or tree rats. She said it was delicious.

Stumped? You need more time in the garden,
less time playing Candy Crush.


Paper Training the Rustic Fence
Our helper and Little Helper wanted to do more work, so I gave them all the cardboard to paper train the rustic fence.

We laid out the dead tree parts in a nifty fence with all kinds of branches and irregularities poking up and out for the birds. The concept was dead tree on the ground for soil creatures and toad shelters, branches sticking up for bird perches.

The initial result was a stand of weeds all around the rustic fence, where the mower did not reach. The Jackson Rose Farm staff lifted the pieces of the tree - with some help from me - and placed cardboard over the weedy area. Fence pieces went back on top. That will suppress weeds while adding more compost to the soil.

The rustic fence is the beginning of the Wild Garden, which we will carpet with cardboard and newspaper, the top part covered for compost and autumn leaves. If all goes well, the Wild Garden will feature some berry plants, various beneficial insect and bird plants,  and sections for Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds.

Our helper said, "Less mowing, more trimming, but always a new job to do." That sums it up. Rather than boring grass, we will have many exciting plants and a large collection of interesting plants and creatures.



Selective Diversity
I knew when "Diversity Training" began in various institutions that another agenda was behind it. They really mean Selective Diversity - allowing the Left to determine the only form of expression allowed, since anything else is a hate crime - like the novel 1984, where thought can be a crime.

Selective Diversity has no room for God, the Creation, or diversity of thought. The idea is control, and the results are the same as spraying down the yard with various toxins to achieve the photogenic garden of Photoshopped gardening magazines.

The Founders of our country believed in Creation and in religious freedom. Now that Creation itself is a thought crime, not allowed in science, the schools, or mainline denominations, religious freedom is also being exterminated, one diversity program at a time.