You never know who is going to scamper across your front yard or dawdle and munch in your garden. I took this picture of Stinky, our resident skunk, skipping across our lawn yesterday evening. I’m afraid Stinky is responsible for digging up a gladiola bulb in our new flower bed.
Skunks, however, aren’t the only varmints we contend with in northern Missouri. Armed with a broom, I chase a rabbit every morning from my flowers. I bought a beautiful yellow hibiscus a couple of weeks ago and the deer have eaten half of it. The raccoons wiped out all, except for one ear, of our sweet corn last summer. A gopher ate all of our newly planted peanuts last year. So what is a gardener to do?
I put fences and cages around as many vegetables as possible. My husband built cages to surround our barrels of lettuce and broccoli. He also created a few more portable cages to protect new seedlings of watermelon, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant.
I’ve had mixed results with repellent sprays. The ones I’ve used are a nasty smelling garlic mixture that are expensive and wash off after a rain. Also, it seems that the deer get used to their smell after a while. Fencing off the garden has been the most effective method in keeping the deer away from the vegetables. But not just any old fence will keep a raccoon out of a sweet corn patch. An electric fence is the best “defense” against a raccoon.
But what am I going to do about the skunk? Well, I know I won’t be chasing with a broom like I do with our rabbit! I’ve resorted to using the smelly repellent. But would a bad odor repel a skunk????
The weather finally cooperated enough for me to plant our beans this week. I planted three varieties: Jade (green bean), Peregion and Bumble Bee, both dry bush beans. Trying new plant varieties is one of my gardening pleasures and Peregion and Bumble Bee are both new to me. Peregion is a small, mocha colored bean and Bumble Bee is as large as a Lima and is mostly white with a splotch of brown. Both are very pretty.
The directions on the packages of the dry beans suggested using an inoculant to increase their yield. An inoculant is often used on legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, and clover seeds to add a bacteria that forms on their roots. This bacteria helps the plants convert nitrogen from the air into fertilizer which in turn increases yields. This is the bag of inoculant I purchased at our local hardware store. This small packet is enough to treat 8 lbs of seed. I had less than a pound of seed to treat, so I had plenty.
I put a small amount of the powdery inoculant in a plastic bowl and added just enough non-chlorinated water to make a slurry. I added my seed and mixed it. I wore gloves when I planted the seed.
I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for a good yield!
Would you believe there are blossoms beneath the snow on our poor Bradford pear tree? On May 2nd, the day before the snowstorm, I heard bees working in this tree. I took this picture at about 8:30 am just before the heavy snow and gusty winds began snapping power lines and trees a few miles up the road leaving us without power until 8 pm. We’re grateful the power was restored so quickly.
Our tulips thought the snow was a dirty trick. Miraculously, they came through the snow and wind pretty well. The temperature is back up to 70 degrees today and they are happy again…and so I am. I’m back to weeding and thinning my lettuce.
tomato starts 2013
Our tomato and tomatillo plants are ready for the hardening off process but the weather isn’t even good enough for that right now. As I write, we have a dusting of snow on the ground, the wind chill is 23 degrees and a winter advisory has just been issued as the snow is forecasted to accumulate up to four inches. Somebody didn’t get the memo that it’s May 2nd!
Two days ago when the temperature was in the upper 70’s, I set out six walls of waters. I’m hoping they warmed the soil and will keep the soil warm during this cold snap so I can set out a few tomato plants after the snow melts. It will be interesting to see what the weather does this weekend. It certainly is hard to plant in a snowstorm!