Garden Observations and Predictions

Last weekend, Andrew and I were sitting in the shade, enjoying a drink and resting our backs after a long day of gardening and the conversation turned to what peculiarity or pestilence we might predict for gardening season 2012. While sowing seeds, I’ve noticed a larger than usual population of cutworms, so I’m predicting clear-cutting of seedlings in the vegetable gardens and the flower borders. I’m taking precautions and making sure I have a good supply of paper and aluminum foil collars to put around the base of the plants. I just read that cutworms dislike excessive moisture and will migrate to the surface of the soil seeking higher and drier ground. As I write, it’s pouring out (perfect timing for the all the seeds I’ve just sown) so, if the rain lets up by this evening, I’ll venture out to the garden and police for cutworms. I may even bring along eagle eye, grub and caterpillar gourmande, Benazir, the matriarch hen, as back-up. I’m also predicting a worse than usual Japanese beetle year, as I’ve found more than plenty of the grubs in my digging activities. If you use those beetle traps, stock up on them NOW. Don’t wait till June, when they’re likely to be sold out.

Andrew’s prediction is a greater chipmunk population than last year.That may be so we’ll keep an eye on that. I don’t want to commit an act of hubris, or cast a sort of jinx, so I’ll approach this prediction/observation with delicacy. I’m talking about the pests that I refer to as the Velvet Underground. Have you noticed that there are barely any mole tunnels this year?  My ‘aide memoire’ is that moles are the meateaters and voles, the vegetarian opportunists that use the mole runs to eat the roots of cultivated plants. (Of course they wouldn’t touch a dandelion root or a bit of crabgrass, so common!) It’s quite possible that we may have a bit of reprieve from the Velvet Underground this year. Let me know your thoughts and observations if you are in our New England area.

PS: I just dispatched another cutworm.

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Slate Garden Labels

A rummage around the barn yielded a stash of old roofing slates and I thought they’d make sturdy plant labels. Thus far I’ve only made a few and those are primarily for perennial herbs. I like the idea of making them for all the annual vegetables we grow, and leaving a space beneath the vegetable name to add the specific variety in chalk or wax pencil, something removable that would survive the rain and could be changed from year to year.

image of handpainted slate plant labelsimage of handpainted slate plant labelsimage of handpainted slate plant labelsimage of handpainted slate plant labels