Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gardening Goals

This year, I have some goals I would like to accomplish in my garden and yard. One is to scale back the vegetable portion of my garden, and to concentrate more on creating a small fruit orchard. I’ve found that my family won’t eat much of what I raise, and I can only eat so much veggies. I’m not doing away with veggies, just refocusing a bit on what I raise. Plants I will consider planting this year include:
Hardy kiwi

Vegetables I still plan on growing include:

Tomatoes and peppers
Summer and Winter Squash
Green Beans (pole)
Swiss Chard

I overgrew winter squash last year, and I’ll never get all of it eaten. I plan on one hill of butternut, and that is it. Greens, beets and carrots can be planted together and don’t take up much room, and I’ve had good success with pole beans climbing large tomato cages with some twine added to the ribs. And tomatoes and peppers have got to be part of a home garden. Melons? I'm only succeeding 50% on those. I'll see how much room I've got after I've planted the rest.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Cricket Meter

I admit, that I am different than your traditional gardener. I try to create not only a garden that is asthetically appealing, but useful to critters. Lawn is not of much use to insect diversity. Therefore, I plant large amounts of space devoted to native trees, shrubs and perennials. The result is something that is asthetically pleasing to me, but isn't conducive to someone who has a distate for creepy crawlies.

One measure of success I had in appealing to the invertebrate class this last summer, is something I call "the cricket meter." Crickets chirp (rub their legs together) to call to potential mates. How loud and numerous the chirps, the more crickets you have in or near to your yard. I found it fascinating to go for walks after dark in my neighborhood and listen to how loud the crickets are from house to house. Inevitably, the houses with the most perfect and expansive lawns, the quieter it got. Proudly, my yard was a crescendo of cricket chirps, letting me know, atleast one of my gardening goals had a measure of success.

I once had a former neighbor complain to me about the number of bees in my yard. My response was, "if she planted a few more flowers in hers, maybe they'd stay on her side of the fence." She didn't really like my response. It is amazing to me, that with the voluminous number of pollinators I have in my yard, how infrequent bee/wasp stings are. Stings attributable to our native bumblebees? Zero. A periodic yellow jacket sting is just as likely in our neighbor's yard as it is in ours.

Let's learn to live with nature and appreciate it's amazing diversity and beauty. And if you see a gnarly looking caterpillar crawling on your bush, remember, you can't have butterflies if they don't start out as caterpillars.