Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Writing is good, it raises little dust and doesn't involve cleaning solutions or rubber gloves.

A rainy day is  perfect for writing, it makes me put off the million things to do outside and face the million things inside that I need to do and wish to avoid. Writing is good, it raises little dust and doesn't involve cleaning solutions or rubber gloves.

Most of my final order of plants came in on Friday.  The dwarf pie cherries and horseradish will be arriving in next week, but the rest came.  The postal delivery person decided that this particular package needed to be stuffed between the black metal mailboxes, out of sight from the house on a warm sunny day.  Usually, she will open the car window and drop the boxes on the walk (if you are sending me something delicate, make sure to use Fedex or UPS, because the last few feet of their journey to my house can be pretty rough on a package).  A neighbor spotted the package jammed between the searing hot mailboxes and was going to leave it until he saw that it was labelled "PLANTS". He kindly brought it to our door.  We'll see how everything fared in the heat in the next few weeks.

I planted the sand cherries right away on Friday, their bed was set up and ready.  Then we planted 75 everbearing strawberries on Saturday, it was a little late for them to go in, but I think they will be okay.
The potatoes and the roses will wait until after the rain.

The pepper plants are one by one popping from their seeds many, many weeks after I planted them.  I have enough hot pepper plants for the year and may have to buy only one or two sweet pepper plants.  One eggplant seed made it.  Now I just have to baby the seedlings.  I bought some Zambia hot peppers too, just to experiment, they came up the best of all.

I am especially glad that a couple of the Aji Limon and Aji Cito seeds have sprouted.  I love the internet, I can find things that I would have never been able to find twenty years ago. I had been given some peppers that I adored from the ethnobotany garden plot at the University of Florida, they had a lemony flavor layer and these two Aji's are my best guesses as to what those peppers were.  I found them on a website called Hell Hot Peppers .
I put the tray of the remaining un-sprouted seeds in the cold frame outside, maybe a couple more will germinate. 

The really good news is a friend looked at the crab apple tree and said that it looked like sap suckers not woodpeckers doing the damage and again, I verified that on-line and it looks like we are going to be able to keep the beautiful tree!!  No bonfire necessary! Yeah!  We bought a very small crab apple tree, it is sitting in a pot waiting for its location, hmmmmmmmmmm.  This crab apple is supposed to be good for cider making, oh the projects that await us in the next few years!

The book Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds was recommended to me after a few of my posts about critters in the yard, luckily the library had it.  I just finished reading it.  The first part of the book was a synthesis of a few books that I read a few years back when I worked at the EcoTarium in Worcester, MA (Many of them are good reads, I'll put a list at the bottom of this post.), discussing suburban expansion, habitat change, habitat fragmentation and habitat succession--basically what happens to all of the critters that were here in pre-Columbian times when the European settlers chopped every thing down and hunted any food or fur bearing critter out of existence.   Then continues about how the abandonment of the farms of the East due to the opening up of better farmland farther west and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution allowed the trees to grow back creating a giant human populated forest.

My favorite quote from that part of the book is from John C. Gordon the former dean of the Yale School of Forestry, " If you looked down on Connecticut from on high in the summer, what you'd see was mostly unbroken forest.  If you did the same thing in late fall after the leaves have fallen from those trees, what you'd see was stockbrokers." Yup.

The next step is the reintroduction and legislation that protects all of these critters that are now over-populating many areas.  There are no predators to control these animals so there are no checks on the population. Leading to widespread Lyme disease, habitat destruction by over-grazing, beavers flooding streets, bears in the dumpsters, etc.

For example, I know that there is a forest corridor that goes directly behind my house through a ravine leading to a stream, I know that deer and other critters follow that corridor.  One more thing I know is that many of these animals do not make it across the street I live on, which has a high speed limit and heavy traffic flow.  All too often the scent of dead deer blows into the yard and gawky vultures circle above (Which was disconcerting when I started jogging two years ago after several years of inactivity-I did laps around the yard with the vultures circling above.  They seemed to be checking me out a bit too much).  When I am leaving the house from dusk to dawn, I am especially vigilant watching the forest edges for movement and the reflective eyes of deer.  I know they are there. I see the foot prints in my lawn. I see their eyes in the backyard. I hear them amble through the ravine as I garden (three in the last week).  I also know that the three lonely apples on the tree in the backyard were not eaten by any member of my family.

There are also fox, hawks, opossums, squirrels, crows, voles, moles and plenty more that I can't see at night.  The voles ate my parsley plant, again.  The park nearby has a huge (50+) black and turkey vulture population, they hang out by the dumpsters and sun themselves on the lawn.  It's kind of gross.

The book proposes some solutions, most of them are controversial in one way or another, depending upon your vantage point.  It was an interesting read.
These are for the vicarious chicken keepers:
Athena is getting an attitude, she doesn't like the fence, so she flaps her way over it.

Ursula has become protective of her eggs, in the coop, outside the fence..

Paisley is the only chick who can't escape the fence, she just can't get the altitude.

Book List:

Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History by Bunker, Nick (Apr 13, 2010)

THOREAU'S COUNTRY by Foster, David R. and Thoreau, Henry David (Jun 30, 2009) 

Forests in Time: The Environmental Consequences of 1,000 Years of Change in New England by Mr. David R. Foster and Mr. John D. Aber (Apr 27, 2006) 

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape by Kunstler, James Howard (Sep 13, 2013) (very readable, time for me to re-read this one--sounds much drier than it is.) 




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