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The Dirt on Gardening

by A barefoot gardener

July 2006

August 2006

The Rancho deLuxe Garden

Rancho deLuxe Garden (later)

The monsoons are almost here but the rains continue to evade us and simply go south. In the meanwhile I am watering the garden (I have a well and the water is delicious) and I am discoveriung great wonder and beauty in the garden, as the locusts (grasshoppers) have not destroyed everything and neither have the moles, who only got the expensive strawberries and all of them. So, after I do the mole removal (pouring stinky fish emulsion into their tunnelsd and make sure that the little guys have moved out, I will replant the beds.

The squash blossoms are as large as my hand and today I fed them more manure, and mulched them heavily. Rge bees were thrilled. With the temperature extremes here - most nights are 30 degrees cooler than the daytime highs, and with very little humidity, mulching can make or break tempermental plants. I gave the same treatment to the tomato plants that have survived and low and behold when I was weeding out the thistles and bindweed and other plants, I noticed that the tomatoes are actually laden with fruit, so I staked and manured and heavily watered tham as well.

Put of the old compost heap sprang watermelons, so there are being nurtured, even though they may be a bit late for this years. But that was what I waas hoping for out of the compost piles: food to eat.

Friends in the garden:

In the kitchen we have started the wheat grass production, and we are about 2 days away from harvest and then wheat grass juice, which is a great cleanser and health aid. And a lot chaepaer than doctors. Better to stay healthy than to need a doctor when the dis-ease has already hit.

The work on the shop/studio continues each day. Tables have been built, the sound system is in, the art work/projects are creeping out onto thetables, as are the lighting projects and the furniture repair fun. I also have several hundred feet of hardwood maple tongue 'n groove that I am going to clean up (as in run through the planer to create very beautil finish) and then build some table tops, simple boxes and art work.

The fruit trees have not matured enough yet to produce fruit. They are still establishing roots and stabilizing. One cherry tree that I thought was dead but still watered and manured revived last week and has new growth that comes out almost 2 feet. And the lilacs that I have watered and manured are coming on strong as well. The pear trees had one pear that bugs ate, which is fine. What I do need to do is go out and load up on the various fruits that have hit the ground and spread them under my trees, like what Ma Nature does - for good reason I am sure. The rotten fruit falls not far from the tree.

If I squat next to the corn the corn is knee high.

And I got surprised by garlic this year as well. I love the surprises in the plant kingdom. The micro-ecologies are fasciating to watch and observe (The previous sentence brought to you by the Department of Reundancy Department). In some areas there isn't much growing and the grasshoppers love those areas for breeding - they lay their eggs in the dirt. In the more watered climes, the thistle is the dominant weed - and the type that is growing may be medicinal and worth something, but I do not want to have the entire yard taken over, which happens the more I pull, but I pull anyway. It is very satisfying.

The next step is to pull, till, pull, till and plant something else - grass and/or wild flowers. I prefer to let the plants that grow here as a matter of the seeds that have brought in by the various number of birds that visit the property: magpies, nut hatches, hummingbirds, wrens, robins, hawks, crows, eagles (not right here, but close) and the bees. I wad a pair of jeans hanging on the line for 2 or 3 days - I wanted to make sure that they were dry before bringing them in, and when I finally did, and the got cleaned up and put thenm on, lo and behold, the bee forgot to put up "rented" sign - and as I was buttoning them up, there was a very distinctive and sharp, well, sting, on my left butt. YIKES! Mad scramble to pull those off, brush said bee on to the floor and observe the poor sap as he buzzed in circles and then finally collapsed. Sorry, bub.

Ants have their little homes as well. Then there are crickets (black) and lady bugs, who are very beneficial for gardens. The cats enjoy the garden as well.

Shithead the Cat likes to romp and curl up under various plants depending on where I am working. He loves it out there. All the great smells and the possiblity of mole lunch, and a grass hopper once in a while.

A German Shepherd passes through in the mornings. Seems I am on the loop around the neighborhood.

The strategy for discouraging the grasshoppers is the spray the plants you want to keep with kaelon, which is a potter's clay and makes for gritty eating. A "sand"wich they don't like. The other trap is molasses and water in large pails or turkey roasting pans and the grasshoppers go after the sweet molasses and leap in and then drown.

Grasshoppers do change colors depending on what color the place is where they are sitting. Quite extraordinary. The butterflies are exquisite as well. We have no mosquito's (to dry here) - the mountains have them, particulary around cattle that are grazing on the national forests - but here no. Flies we got.


A major and wonderful thunder storm brought us 1/2+ inch rain yesterday. And this afternoon it is raining more - there may be hope for the few vegies that have survived the drought, the grasshoppers and the moles.

These are the squash, the pumpkins and the tomatoes. The squash is growing a foot a day. In four different directions.

The cherry tree that did not grow earlier this spring has decided that enough of this root only stuff and is throwing up new growth. Ah, the virtue or procrastination! Without procrastination I might have actually dug the tree up and composted it. Procrastinate early and often for tomorrow you may want to have somthing to do.

I also was patient with the apple trees which have had curly leaf syndrome (or the advertising possiblities on that are large) seems to have gone into remission with the addition of horse manure and water to the trees and the new growth displays healthy leaves, although no fruit as yet.

There was one pear this year and it got eaten before it had a chance to go anywhere growth wise.