The Verdict on the Experiment

I’m ready to pronounce a verdict on one of this years gardening experiments.

As part of our scaling down this year, I wanted to plant a garden that would require very little attention. So I needed something that deer don’t eat and that wouldn’t require irrigation or much weeding. Deer eat almost everything these days, so my options were limited. The plan I settled on was to plant a large garden that was one half eggplant and one half acorn squash. Then I would tend it using an almost-STUN method (Sheer Total Utter Neglect).

Unfortunately, the experiment was a fail.

The acorn squash that survived the squash bugs (which were particularly bad this year) were choked out by weeds. Winter squash is a vining plant, making cultivation nearly impossible.

The eggplant, on the other hand, are producing abundantly. Still, I pronounce that part of the garden a fail too. Why? Because it’s generating way more eggplant than we can use, and way more than we can sell. Eggplant isn’t part of our traditional food culture here and the market for it is very limited. We’ve been giving lots of it to the local food bank (probably generating lots of groans from patrons) but it makes no sense to grow it on that scale, just to give it away. Deer don’t eat it, but neither do chickens or pigs.

So next year I won’t have the eggplant/acorn squash garden.

On the other hand our expanded onion garden was a success. We have our best onion crop ever. So maybe next year I’ll grow even more. Deer don’t eat them, but people in these parts definitely do.

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The Old House

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We have guests in our farm-stay Airbnb this weekend.

Reviews have been good and interest in it is increasing.

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Three generations of my family lived in the house and it has an interesting history. It’s a simple house, but when I was a boy I greatly admired it (even though it was dilapidated). For most of my childhood we lived in a trailer, right next to it. Fixing the place up someday was one of my boyhood dreams.

So it feels good to have seen that dream come true.

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For more about the place, visit our website and Airbnb page:

http://whiteflintfarm.com/the-old-house-farmstay/

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4197292

Midsummer

The days are long now, but not long enough to do all that needs doing.

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It’s a busy time of year. It’s a great time of year. It’s a great time of year to be busy.

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The sweet corn is excellent this year.

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What’s left of it.

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Corn Thief

I could complain about that, but I won’t.

We have nothing to complain about.

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Finishing

It was after 10 when the moon rose, illuminating long rows of hay bales stretching across a field alongside a quiet country road. And me, stacking the bales in the bed of my truck, country music coming softly from the radio into a night air dominated by the songs of ten thousand crickets.

Around 11, the hay was in barn. Not yet in the loft–its ultimate destination–but close enough at the end of a long day. Time then to shower away the itchiness and settle down for a few minutes, with a book and a glass of wine.

 

They’re Everywhere

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When I left home for college in 1978 I had never seen a deer in this community. I suppose there may have been a few around, but they were extremely rare.

Nowadays I see them everyday. They’re a major nuisance to gardeners, to say the least.

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The amount of wildlife here now compared to when I was growing up here is remarkable. Wild turkey were very rare then. Now they’re common. There were no coyotes, bears, herons, geese, or eagles. Now they’re fairly common too.

In my first 18 years here I only saw one hawk. Now I see them daily.

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This big one watched while I bush hogged field, so he could swoop down and grab any unfortunate critter who made a run for it.

Even the wildlife that we did have then is more common now. In the last week I’ve discovered a rabbit in our garage, and one in our hoop house. We used to have to flush them with rabbit dogs.

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A bunny watching me do chores

Squirrels used to run and hide when a human approached. Now they just watch us pass, entirely unconcerned.

We had possums and coons back then, but not nearly as many as we have now.

So why is wildlife so much more abundant now? I suspect it’s partly because there is far less hunting now. It’s also possible that they’re retreating here from areas being developed. A big reason, I believe, is that the environment is less toxic now than it was then.

Whatever the reason, these days, they’re everywhere.

Squash and Onions

Yesterday I spent our 4th of July holiday as I have for the past few years–harvesting onions. We have a beautiful bumper crop this year, the best we’ve ever grown I think. Maybe, for once, we won’t run out before next 4th of July.

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Most of the day was spent with the onions, but I also picked green beans, blueberries, zucchini and squash. I enjoy celebrating that kind of independence.

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We grow yellow squash, but only because we’re market gardeners. We’ve grown lots of different varieties over the years, but if we were only growing for ourselves we’d grow nothing but Zephyr. It’s the tenderest and tastiest squash we’ve eaten. And beautiful, to boot. Highly recommended.

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To my American friends, a belated happy Independence Day! And to all, I hope you had an enjoyable day yesterday, whether you celebrated a holiday or not.