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Garden Report v3.1 - Coming Back...

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[Originally posted at Go there for more pics.]

If you look at the time stamps on my posts, you'll notice I haven't been here in a while. But now into my third year of gardening, I have definitely learned for myself the wisdom Ron shared as a comment on my last post. There are no failures in my kind of gardening, only learning experiences. If something doesn't quite grow up the way I want it to, I can always come back and try again next year. Or maybe I can try something completely different.

This bit of gardening wisdom, worked hard for and earned, can hopefully be extended to my blog project as well. Sure, I might post here sporadically, and it's been almost an entire year since my last post, but here I am again, giving it another try. This year, no silly promises of how often I will post. In the end, it's definitely more important for me to be in the garden (weeding, most likely) than it is for me to be sitting here posting. More on my lack of failure after the jump.

This past weekend the weather here has been wonderful by most standards, and not that great by my gardening standards. I consider 80 degrees (27 C) to be almost unbearably hot when gardening, and it gets worse when the sun won't stop shining. Sun is great, but at this point in the year at lot of my plants are either tiny seedlings, or still seeds, and they dry out very easily. In fact, I bought and put in a little rhubarb starter this year, and I think it's already fried beyond recovery. Of course, part of that is due to the fact that I have a new addition to the beds this year; behold, the cold frame!

Cold Frame with some rows of black seeded simpson
This was ordered online from with some gift card monies (thank you!). I have to learn to keep better track of opening it in the morning and closing it at night. Hence the fried rhubarb from a hot day when the frame was shut. Unfortunately, as I am a bit behind, the frame isn't exactly going to be extending my growing season at the spring end of things, but hopefully the extension will go on the fall end. In the meantime, I'm just going to float it around and use it as some protection from the little critters who want to eat my food. Hopefully it can guard against little pests as I put out seedlings, and later on in the year, I'm planning to use it to prevent the rabbits from getting my cabbage. Every year I have grown green cabbage, and every year just before it is ready to pick the rabbits chew right down the middle. This year will be different!

Small population, but obviously growing! Check out
the two little eggs in the lower left.
Of course, the cold frame isn't going to be able to prevent all pests, and this year I have a new interloper. At least, I haven't seen them around before. I noticed a small population of asparagus beetles on the asparagus. Where else? So, I have been out murdering beetles and beetle babies today. I try to stay away from any kind of pesticides, so I just go out in gloves and get my hands full of beetle juice. Really, this is just a warm-up for when the Japanese beetles inevitably show up.

It's funny, I read some garden blogs, and different gardening sites around the web, especially when I am trying to identify something ( is great), and so many of them are really hung up on the pest control aspect. I know my feelings would probably be different if I were gardening for my livelihood, or if a failure out there meant I'd have less food in the kitchen, but honestly, I often have thoughts like, well, so what if the bugs get it? They need some food too, right? I have heard suggestions that gardeners should plan a third of their crop for disease, a third for the bugs, and a third for themselves. Or variations thereof. I feel that if I plant a garden that leads to this amazing jam-packed system of life in my back yard, that's a win. It's not as if I don't have some help fighting the bugs anyway, and all that life goes right up the chain.
Mr. Toad in his little home.

I am constantly wondering if toads will eat insects that are already dead. I made a little stone home for him last year (or the year before?) and whenever I go on a bug squishing rampage the remains generally end up as delivery to his front door.

Today after finishing up weeding and straightening the bed edges, I put in carrots (danvers, red-cored chantenay and purple haze), bush beans (jade, blue lake 274, royal burgundy and mellow yellow), swiss chard (just ruby red this year, couldn't find the rainbow lights that I like, and didn't want to pay shipping on a single seed packet), radishes (sparkler white tip) and even some acorn squash (table queen). I'm not wild about squash, and it is a space hog, but we'll give it a shot. The pole beans are starting to come up, but it looked like some of them had dried out as well, so I put in a few more in the gaps and made sure everything got some good water with the sprinkler.

Baby garden spiders!
While getting some compost out of the bin (a post for another time) I also spotted these little beauties on the back of the garage. I just saw the ball out of the corner of my eye, and it took me a second to even recognize them for what they were. As soon as I started snapping pics of them the ball started exploding. I put a finger on the wall a little bit away to steady the cam and even that little bump was enough to send a couple dozen on strings towards the ground. Looking forward to seeing these guys around the garden when they grow up. I'm pretty sure it is this variety, especially since I saw one hanging out in that general vicinity on a couple of sunflowers last year. Another good example of why it is good to learn about the critters out there before indiscriminately spraying everything down with chemicals and destroying it all (yeah, that'll be another post in the future). When they're big, and they can get pretty big for spiders at an inch across, these can look pretty scary. However, not only will they be helpful in killing off my pests (okay, yes, and some good guys too probably), they are generally considered to be harmless to humans. What I have read suggests that you have to be pretty persistently aggressive to even get them to bite you, and even then the bite is just mild discomfort. Not that anyone wants to be bitten, but still.

In any event, though I'm just now starting out, I'm still looking forward to a great year of gardening! I'll leave you with the Batik iris that just bloomed out front.

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