Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Open Garden report and homecoming

The Open Garden on July 10 was a glorious morning. Many new faces had found us from the STAR LEDGER article the day before. There were many questions, but three stand out 11 days later.

What is the soap for? "Irish Spring soap is there to keep away deer. I had one terrible morning last year, and I dug around for what to do. Then Fred went out and bought me an 8-pack, which I put around the garden."

"Does it work?"
"I've not had any deer since, and they are still in Brookdale Park. They've been seen in my front yard." Last week I visited a cousin who is a professor emeritus of biology and he insists that Irish Spring soap deterring deer is just a myth. However, it seems to work for me.

"What about the chemicals others put on the lawns whose grass clippings mulch your vegetable garden?"

"I live in metropolitan New York on planet Earth. Nothing is pure. However, by the time the chemicals sink into the neighbors' lawns, and the grass is cut, and whatever is left goes into my soil, only a bit of which comes up in the vegetables, I think I'm getting much purer food than anything you could buy. The mulch keeps away the weeds, keeps the moisture in the earth by preventing evaporation, and when it decays, it nourishes the garden."

"What is that plant?"
"That's an anti-woodchuck plant. It deters woodchucks."
"Does it work?"
"Maybe somewhat. I've done several things to deter woodchucks this year and have much less damage than last year."
However, I now know its sap stings human skin painfully, and causes a red rash. It is very invasive, but easy to pull in its infancy. I'm cautiously optimistic, but not as enthusiastic as I am about Irish Spring soap.

"What is its name?"
"I don't know its grown-up name. I call it the anti-woodchuck plant."
"It's euphorbia," said Alphonso, a newcomer. Whoopee! A possible grown-up name! I haven't checked it, but that gives those of you who are curious a name to investigate on the web and elsewhere.

Since I arrived home this past Sunday, I have had three woodchuck sightings in my back yard, so it isn't perfect in its efforts, but it may be worth the trouble. One of my collards plant is nibbled suspiciously, and one young zucchini has had most of its leaves eaten. What self-respecting mammal would stoop to ZUCCHINI leaves? Ugh! However, the plant had a blossom this morning, so it hasn't given up.

My first two zucchini plants died this week, earlier than usual, but they also bore fruit much earlier than usual, so I don't fret about that. I still have two younger ones still bearing, and the two I started in June that I hope will bear into the fall.

Monday morning, two days after the open garden, I left for a vacation in New England, culminating in a wonderful wedding. My five-year-old grandson and his parents stopped in here Saturday night on
their way home to Virginia. It was my first opportunity to show Nathaniel my summer garden, and his response to tomato picking was inspiring. The small tomatoes have become somewhat overwhelming, but he showed me how to enjoy it. Each evening since, I have picked a large container of small
tomatoes (about four cups), which serve as our "fruit" these days.

We're between raspberry seasons except for a few stragglers. It's time to cut out the old bushes, a daunting task. I've been spending as much "cool" time as I can cutting them back. I put two (used) lawn bags of raspberry bushes on the curb today that the collectors picked up. I don't choose to compost raspberry bushes, although I'm pretty fanatic about other organic waste.

I'm feeling lawn-clipping-deprived this week. My garden would like more mulch. But I can understand why others would not want to mow their lawns in this season; mine isn't growing very fast either. It has some brown spots, but I'm sure they will green up when the heat is less intense and the rain a bit more abundant. Weren't those thunder storms this week welcome?!


No comments: