Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Scotch in the rocks, please

I've always had a fascination for moss.  I remember my grandmother had a root cellar that we always called the "dairy" that was a really scary concrete building dug back into the hill behind their house.  It was scary because I was a little girl and there were great humongous katydids all over the ceiling and saggy wooden shelves with all the canned vegetables and fruits that my nanny would preserve in the summer. 

Well, on the top of the dairy was my favorite place.  Moss would grow so well up there--I would collect all different kinds from the woods around the house then carry it up there and make different "rooms" in my imaginary house on the roof of the dairy.  I had to sneak up there though because she was afraid I would make ruts in the hillside climbing up there and cause it to wash out.  But I was always real careful (and sneaky). 

That fascination with moss has carried into my adulthood.   I've owned two books on moss, still don't know the names of any of them, but still love it.  When I found this plant at the nursery I was really excited.  It's called "Scotch Moss" and it's not really a moss at all, but a plant that looks like moss.  I don't have gutters on the house so I placed flat stones at the drip line to carry the water away from the house.  On the front of the house I saw the perfect scenario for a Scotch Moss garden. 

 

The Scotch Moss is blooming right now, with teeny tiny white blooms. 

 

The stones at the top of the picture (on the left side of the bed) are actually grinding stones (mortars) with grinding rocks (pestles) that were used by the Indians to grind up acorns, roots, berries, and whatever else they ground up to eat--they make a pretty cool border at the front entrance to the house. 

If you don't have a spot where you can grow moss in the shade then try Scotch Moss, or the other one which is a darker green color, called Irish Moss.

Scotch in the rocks----it's really cool!

 
 

It's Irrigation Time

After the extremely wet season we had last year, I was a little reluctant to install the drip tapes in the garden--seems like when they were installed last year is when the clouds wouldn't quit watering the gardens.  With a year-round creek, small pond, pump, and drip lines, this farm is better equipped for drought than deluge. 

The ground started drying out, new plants needed watering in, so one day last week was devoted to the drip tape project.  All the drip tape has served one life in a nursery before, so the tapes are all lengths and in all kinds of condition, but you can't really tell if it leaks or not until it's all hooked up to the water supply.  It's a pretty tedious, muddy, and frustrating job, to say the least.  I just keep thinking through the whole installation ordeal of how easy it is to turn the valve to water a garden and then go do something else while the plants are quietly being watered right at the soil--oh, and I have one of those handy-dandy fertilizer injectors so the plants can be fed manure tea while they are being watered!

Anyway, I dug through the big basket of "footballs and watermelons" to pick out what looked like good candidates for the tomato patch.  The project started out like this:

 The propane bottle is for a heat source to heat up the 3/4" plastic pipe (the "trunk line", so to speak), ever so slightly, so the fittings will slip in easier.  The big pruners are for cutting the 3/4" pipe, and the handy-dandy aluminun tool box has all the fittings and pieces and parts (well, most of them) to do the irrigation stuff. 

The tomato patch went fairly well.  All three beds got "drip taped" with no major leaks or problems.  Okay, we're on a roll, so I go to another garden, I call it the Pond Garden because it's next to the pond, and I installed tape on 2 beds of peppers and one bed of eggplant then turned on the water.

 

I thought to myself "It's supposed to be drip tape, not a sprinkler system".  After messing around with the leaks, getting really wet and sort of frustrated, I was able to turn it back into drip tape.

Now for the mulch of leaves--the plants will be set for the season!  Drip tape....it's a great way to water :)

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The Perfect Scarecrow

I've seen lots of scarecrows in my gardening life, and sometimes I think the scarecrows are more for us humans than they are to actually scare crows away.  The coolest scarecrow I've seen was named Esmerelda and she had a really neat hand painted gourd head, mardi-gras beads, boobs, cool dress, and I don't know if she scared any crows away but she was way cool.  She lived in a blueberry patch.

 I've just planted the first planting of sweet corn, and as soon as those kernels sprout and head skyward the crows start plucking.  Today I was working in the tomato patch (installing drip tape, yet another blog story) and I heard the crows squawking.  I know the corn hasn't come up yet, but that was my signal to install the scarecrows.

When I first started growing corn here, it was the first time I had actually grown corn (about 3 years ago).  I never really had enough land to grow corn, since it takes quite a bit of space to do well. 

When the corn started sprouting that first year, my neighbor told me he had seen crows eating the sprouts.  I panicked, and immediately thought "oh my gosh, I don't have clothes for a scarecrow, or a hat, and what kind of head do I put on it?" (lol)  He told me the best scarecrow was to simply tie a black garbage bag on a pole and stick it in the ground in the corn patch.  The crows think it's a dead crow on a stick so they don't come near.

I've got these neat plastic fence posts that I've used for everything from flower bed surrounds, chicken lots, dog lots, flower bed protection to tomato supports.....blah, blah, but every spring, several of them don garbage bags and keep the crows away until the corn gets too big for the crows to be interested in messing with it.  Trust me, it works here!   I put them about 30' on center around the corn patch.  Cheap and reliable.

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There's nothing like home grown veggies, and water hoses

Happy Mother's Day!  I went to visit my mom and dad, sisters, brother in laws, nephews, etc., today and we had a wonderful picnic on an absolutely gorgeous spring day. 

There is a bumper crop of bibb lettuce at the farm this year, so I picked a bag for each sister and my parents.  I don't listen to the news, don't have tv, so when I handed them the lettuce and they laughed and jokingly said "does it have e-coli on it", I said "of course not, I grew it and I know how it was grown and picked".   Then they told me about the e-coli recall from several major grocery stores involving fresh green veggies. 

It's getting to be a scary place out there, depending on folks we don't know to provide our food.  I don't grow everything I eat, but if I could, I would.

Yesterday I planted the tomato plants; around 320 of them, assorted heirloom varieties, and several "mainstream" varieties that produce well, taste good, or have good qualities to them.  The garden prep went well, manure spreading, post installation, wire stringing, planting.....then came the watering in of the plants.  I think the initial watering in of a freshly planted plant is as important as colostrum is to a human or animal when it's first born.

Anyway, the garden I planted the tomatoes in is in an area where there is irrigation pipe to the general area for drip tape, but to do the first watering I have to drag water hoses around. 

I don't think there's anyone around who hates water hoses as badly as I do.  I bought 2 that are supposed to be "kink free" but they still kink, although it's easier to get the kink out than a regular water hose.  I had them hooked together and couldn't quite reach the last 1/4 of the beds (you know the story).

A few years ago my son (college, okay) gave me a waterhose during one of his moves.  He said he didn't need it anymore.  It looked like a college kid water hose (cheap), but I took it anyway, being the great mom that I am :)

I haven't used the hose much but I do remember looking at it oddly as it doesn't hang in nice round loops, but rather in a strange accordian fashion. 

Back to the tomatoes.  I needed just a little bit more water hose to get to the end of the beds I had planted so I got the college kid water hose out.  Oh my gosh----it is the water hose from hell.....kink is not the word.  AFTER I had convinced it to straighten out straight (about 15 minutes of messing with it),  I had to hold it gently in my arms to keep it from kinking just from holding the nozzle at the end to spray the plants.  It was worse than worst!  I honestly think I could have carried water in 5-gallon buckets faster than I got that hose to work, but it became a challenge, know what I mean? 

It did not get thrown away though.  I'm somewhat of a packrat of things that might be useful in another life.  I left it laying in the garden, so I know where it is, and it will serve another useful purpose, but I promise it will never have water running through it again!

 
 

Am I losing it?

Today was one of those days when you wake up, know that you've got at least a million things to do, and the weather is cooperating.  I started out by grabbing the weedeater and the mixed gas can, which had only about 1/2 cup in it, and I headed for the blackberry patch.  For some reason, the distance between the three rows of thornless blackberries I have ended up being less than 5 feet, which is how wide the mower is that I pull behind my tractor.  Trying to squeeze as many plants in as I could, I guess. 

Anyway, this is the first time the weedeater has been started this year and I did empty the tank last year and run all the fuel out of the carburetor like a good girl, but when I primed, flipped switches, and pulled the rope, nothing happened----over and over-----you know the sound.  Not even a hit. 

Well, being the non-mechanically-oriented person that I am, I immediately started looking for stuff I thought could be wrong.  I took one cover off and there was a filter, so I put that back on.  The other cover took a really weird looking screwdriver to open it, so I abandoned that option.  Then I saw a really obvious looking rubber plug thingee on the front of the cover and I started picking at that with my pocket knife and voila'---it came off and there was the spark plug.  Well, it looked like a spark plug but I didn't have the appropriate socket to remove it, so I blessed it, put the rubber thingee back on, pulled the rope, and it started!  I don't know why, but I did a happy dance.

While weedeating (before I had to stop and go to the local store to buy more gas) I saw a really big toad flop out on it's back right in front of me.  I felt so bad that I had injured the little guy (this is where I thought I might be losing it).  I stopped the weedeater, stooped down and flipped it over.  The toad was still breathing and I kind of nudged it and it kind of moved, so I felt better and thought maybe I had just addled it.  I noticed on the next pass nearby that it was gone so I felt better about the whole situation. 

Anyway, the thought crossed my mind to kiss it to see if I would get my handsome prince, but I wasn't sure if it was of the "princitonian" type so I didn't want to chance getting a wart on my lip for nothing :)

 
 

Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all?

That's the song I'm listening to as I relax after the first delivery of the season.  Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all? 

All went well; there were several cool weather crops ready for harvest; spinach, bibb lettuce, gourmet salad mix, radishes, beet greens, some swiss chard, and a little arugula. 

The critter singing the song is a Barred Owl.  I don't hear them often where I live, but this one was singing his way around the mountain behind me.  I love music, but I love hearing wildlife sing it best and its a perfect way to end a very busy day :)

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