Thursday, July 31, 2014

Playing with Tommie Toes

I say "playing" because a serious gardener wouldn't buy combo packs of plants simply labeled "Heirlooms".  There was a nice posted list of what they *might* be but it was a wait-and-see-what-you -have grab-bag kind of situation.  It got more complicated the minute I decided to buy singles of several plants and then got the labels mixed up. Perish the thought of saving seeds from this motely mix!

But, of course, I did....We'll see if we can even get them to sprout.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wild Blackberry Memories

One of my fondest memories is exploring our land for the very first time way back in July 1997.  We have lovely footage of me working my way through a patch of wild blackberries with our then 10-month old daughter slung on my back.  In the video I'm picking berries and handing them to her over my shoulder.  She's making a valiant attempt to get them into her mouth but every time I get snagged on a thorn, she gets jarred and the berries go flying.   Eventually I notice the berries whizzing past my ears and (in typical oblivious mom fashion) say, "You better hang on to those berries kid 'cause they're kinda like gold."  At that point my amused husband zooms in on our daughter and you see she's got berry mash from ear to ear. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Time to Harvest Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles have moved into my grapevines and begun turning the robust leaves into skeletons.  These little goblins are relatively new to the area and a quick internet search did little to assuage my fears. They will indeed eat the whole plant and move on to the next. (See article Japanese beetles have finally hit KC 7/8/14)

Ever the Polly Positive, I have decided to think of these shiny green beasts creatures as value added extra special chicken treats.  Last night I came up with the following two collection protocols.  


To Harvest for Later
1. Select a beverage of choice from the refrigerator and drink up - you'll want a narrow neck bottle. 
2. Pick the beetles off of the leaves one or two at a time and place them in the bottle.
3. Place the contents of the bottle in a ziplock bag & put the bag in the freezer for a chicken treat next winter.

To Harvest for Immediate Use
1. Place a bucket of water (or filled baby pool for free ranging animals) next to the affected grapevine.
2. Get your hand wet & begin picking off the beetles and putting them in the bucket of water.  I have gone to all out grabbing whole leaves - completely disrupting their little beetle orgies.
3. Either dump the bucket in a shallow container of water inside your run OR call over your birds to chow down.  

Alternately: scoop the wet & immobilized beetles & stick them in a bag in the freezer. They make cool treats for birds on hot hot summer days.

(PS: My oh-so-sensible husband has pointed out it would be less work to collect them at dawn when they are covered in dew. He doesn't realize how satisfying it is to watch our ducks splash around in their their baby pool looking for beetles!  Also, a narrow neck bottle works infinitely better than a coffee cup ;)