Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Masked bandits with furry little paws

So let's add raccoons to the list "Animals I am no longer fond of".

As we were preparing for my son's birthday BBQ this weekend, my husband noticed a pile o' poo. After a little investigation, we determined it was a raccoon latrine. Damn.

From my days of being a volunteer and an employee at the Wolf Hollow Wildflie Rehabilitation Center, I knew that this was a serious hazmat situation and my panic button was on.

So here is the 411 on raccoons. They may have cute little faces and furry paws, but they are home to many diseases/parasites that are lethal to humans, particularly little humans. The worst of these is raccoon roundworm(Baylisascaris procyonis).

I will admit that I am a bit of a hypochondriac when it comes to these things, but when a website says "The adult stage of the raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) lives in the raccoon’s intestine and produces microscopic eggs that are shed in the raccoon’s feces. One raccoon roundworm can produce more than 100,000 eggs a day. A raccoon can pass millions of eggs in its feces everyday, depending on how many worms are in its intestines. Once deposited in the environment, the eggs develop into the infectious form in 2-4 weeks, and can survive in the soil for several years." I panic. I panic because I think of feet from outside coming inside. I think about my lil' babe on the floor. I think about her hands and everything else in her mouth. And I panic. I know this may not be rational to most people, but it makes me worry. I worry about my husband cleaning it up because I love him. I worry about my kids because I love them. I worry about my friends' kids because I love them too. I worry.

And so you will see why I married my husband. He went outside (with a mask and gloves on)dug around the offending area and sealed the dirt in a 5 gallon bucket. He then busted out his fire-breathing dragon tool and burned the remaining soil and then put new soil on top and covered it with vinegar (raccoons dislike the smell). Then he threw his clothes to be washed in hot water and a hot dryer. Crisis averted.

So raccoons, you are not on my warm fuzzy list anymore; my husband, most definitely is.

For more info:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New growth

After hemming and hawing a bit, I decided to change my blog around for several reasons:
1) I love change and I can't rearrange my furniture every week due to child duties and the optimistic hope that my husband will stay sane while living in the same house as me.
2) Every time I opened the window of my blog  I found myself longing for fresh tomatoes which I barely planted this year. It is my own personal penance of sorts for planting over 40 plants last year and ending up with barely enough for salads.
3) The red on the screen was blinding me and constantly reminding me of Lightning McQueen. (My life is overrun with "Cars" characters right now. Thank you Disney.)

So. A new look. 

Here is a look at the colors that decided to burst forth with our few days of glorious and long-awaited sunshine.

Parrot tulips  
I had half a dozen hand-delivered to me by my son last week. "Oh thank you sweetheart". *Gasp* *Tears*

Smelling so lovely

Cloche 1 - onions, lots of summer squash, broccoli and more
The beginning and as my fellow blogger commented, the "perfect place for my kiddo to explore". 
Not yet. Not ever, I hope. Fingers crossed.

Cloche 2 - onions, basil, pumpkin, summer squash, leeks, cukes and more.

Pea shoots!!!! Take that Towhee (AKA LB)

 Heirloom lettuce

My little man


More pea shoots
We cannot wait to grab at these!!



Chive flowers
I pulled all of ours last year because it was completely out of control. We HAD to have some growing somewhere. It just didn't feel right.

Ground cover

Love these

Forget -me -nots

Bleeding hearts
These were salvaged from the compost pile. They died. They were thrown to the pile and they came back. So now they live on in a side garden bed. Love them.

Help! I cannot remember the name of these. Momnesia.

Lovely pansies

Wild geraniums
I don't believe these existed in our yard last year. This year, they are EVERYWHERE. Welcome.

How are you making changes in your life? your garden?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weeds or wishmakers?

This pic is of my lil' guy grabbing a dandelion to make a wish. There is something so deeply poetic and dreamy about this concept for me. As adults, we see them as weeds. Children see them as wishmakers. May some of your weeds become wishmakers today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Carpe utcunque humido

According to Wikipedia, 
"In 'Horace', the phrase, Carpe Diem, is part of the longer Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future", and the ode says that the future is unforeseen, and that instead one should scale back one's hopes to a brief future, and drink one's wine."

Well, no kidding Horace. The green stars have not been in alignment for me this gardening season. We have been soggy, we have had pests and more pests, and a wonderful new addition to our family. All of these have created a wonderful playground for blogging ideas, however, they have not been very conducive to effective gardening. Gardening with a little one has been one of the greatest challenges over all. 

My dear partner in gardening, my husband, has more than taken up the slack for me. I got the big beds prepped, but he made the pumpkin / watermelon bed, planted the potatoes and weeded the entire yard. Not a task for the weak at heart (or back). Everything is ready to go and last year I had everything mapped out. Seeds were planted indoors and fragile seedlings were hardened and then planted with love into the the fertile soil. Mounds were made when the temperature was "just perfect" so I could place the seeds into the warming ground where they could germinate into strong, fruit-bearing plants. Each task completed at it's orchestrated time that was designated on my Excel spreadsheet and in my beautiful, new gardening journal. Gardening bliss.

This year, Horace and I came to terms with the reality of a new baby and gardening. Sunday was my day. Sunday. I had about 3 1/2 hours between feedings, 8 seedlings, $150+ in seeds and a bag of complete fertilizer. Did I mention it was raining? Why of course it was! But I had work to do. Polar fleece pants, sweatshirt, baseball cap, rain gear and garden boots, I set out to complete my task. The almost-4-year-old wanted to join me and I thought, "Great!". He gave up after 10 minutes in the rain. "Mom, I am hungry." Whatever, deep sigh. We will have to work on that...later. Right then, I was busy getting things planted and off he trotted to his dad inside the warm, dry house. 

Dirt. (ok, mud)

Time to roll. ‎5 types of pumpkin (one variety says it can grow to 800 lbs, HA!), zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan, lettuce, spinach, marigolds, watermelon, chard, butternut squash, delicata squash, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, carrots, oregano and chives. IN. THE. GROUND. 

So proud.

I know in my little gardener heart, that this isn't the way you are "supposed" to do it. Everything has it's perfect moment to be planted. But this was MY moment that I had. We will see what grows this year. I had to seize the moment because I did not know when this moment would present itself again. So Carpe Diem and more appropriately, Carpe utcunque humido (loosely translated: seize this moment, regardless of how wet it is).

The asparagus bed and potato boxes

big beds with cloches

strawberries working their magic in barrels

the infamous bed of LB (he's back)

Yikes, I might need to weed the raspberries. 
Any suggestions about how to do that with a baby on your back?

The new pumpkin / watermelon bed :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Source: http://www.nps.gov/band/naturescience/year-round-and-winter-birds.htm

This is the bird, the Spotted Towhee, that has turned my gardening world upside down for the last month. And I am pretty sure it is just one bird.

Neil built the framework for our trellis and I stapled the 4" netting to keep the deer out. They have been one of my main concerns lately. I planted two varieties of snap peas. Yum!

Later that afternoon, as I was basking in the warmth of the sun and nursing the babe, all tranquility was lost. A @&$! Towhee jumped right through the trellis like it was the front door to the Las Vegas Hilton. Oh and today there was a FREE All-You-Can-Eat Buffet! Each and every little pea that I had so carefully planted, seed by precious seed, had been scratched up and chewed on. Humph. Round 1 winner - Towhee.

A trip to the hardware store provided me with a chance to get some fine mesh bird netting and some more peas. I bought several packets of each variety.

Mesh in place. Seeds planted. Waiting.

Next morning. Dirt kicked everywhere. Peas unearthed and shelled.
Round 2 goes to the Towhee.

Mesh checked. Corners battened down. Seeds haphazardly planted, but they are in there. This is the first time I have planted something while muttering profanity.

While sitting for a visit with my mom, the little bastard (said with a love and respect for nature) pushed up the bottom of the mesh, hopped right in and started scratching and eating. I now felt he was doing this this with a great sense of arrogance and spite. My blood pressure was rising as I ran out the door, threw on my boots and chased him out. We will call Round 3 a draw.

Apparently, this little mastermind figured out how to get through the bottom of the net. I had to find a way to tuck the net under the trellis. Bit by bit, I tucked every last inch of netting under the trellis and anchored it with plant name tags in the Towhee's favorite places.



Head back and throw some more peas in...literally.

Again while nursing, the little bugger came back. He went to his favorite spot and cockily grabbed the net and flung it up, but it didn't go anywhere. Ha! Then he tried another spot. Foiled again. Ha Ha! Now I am starting to feel a wee bit smug. His movements started to become somewhat frantic as he tried different spots and spastically flitted up and down the mesh netting. He could SEE the newly planted seeds. I am sure he could even smell them. If a bird could drool over a potential meal, I was sure he was. I giggled. Unexpectedly, he FLEW OFF! Victorious!!!

Oh @&$!, he headed to my uncovered bed right next to it. You see, I had come in to nurse since my husband had given me the morning to do my "big planting" and I hadn't covered my freshly planted beds yet. Little Bastard was digging up my basil seeds. My hero, my husband, threw on his shoes and ran outside in the rain to play the part of terrifying scarecrow. He shooed the Towhee away. Safe.

When I returned outside, I checked the peas and was surprised to find 3 little green shoots popping up. Happiness. Round 4 - me. Finally.

When it comes to parenting I always joke that it is like the TV reality show "Survivor" and you have to "out wit, out smart and out last" your kids. This has been taken to a whole new level with this bird. While I am a bird lover, I DO NOT love this bird. I finally took one round, but I will not rest. There is a fear that boils deep inside. We WILL have delicious peas this summer. We will as long as they survive.