You know what I mean. That garden…its all in your head right now. Tiller, lasagna layers, or shoveled up deep wide beds (my favorite)–whatever your preferred method. It’s there, its in your head.
You just have to get dirty.
You know what vegetables you eat–figure out how to grow them. Figure out what the vegetables you eat like to eat and FEED them so they can feed you.
It’s not too bad. The first garden I mean. Give it a whirl and you’ll be surprised at how it all comes together. Seeds are made to grow. Give them what they need–good dirt and sunlight–and they’ll grow and make you some food along the way.
I mean, unless you feel like it never ended.
It was a balmy 35 degrees yesterday and I screened out a batch of finished compost for the winter pansies and moved another compost bin to the garden area. I’ve decided this year to put my compost set up IN the garden instead of out back. This way the nutrients that leach out of the compost will at least stay in the garden. It’s been really cold lately but the spinach I planted back in September or so seems to be doing quite well. At least its not freezing.
I bought some of my start up stuff yesterday and some more seeds.
One of the problems I have with compost is that my kitchen, though it produces a lot of organic waste, doesn’t produce enough to make a hot batch all at once. What ends up happening, then, is that I have to layer it on one bucket at a time. It takes about a month and sometimes I end up with a teaming gob of maggots. The cure for this is to make your compost so hot that it kills the eggs or shoos off the flies. Either way…. You can also leave out meat, which I don’t. I compost everything that comes out of the kitchen.
Anyway, once I get enough ‘stuff’ stored in a bin I then move it and layer it with ‘green’ and ‘brown’ layers to get it to heat up. (This is Rodale’s terminology) It works pretty well–even though it stinks to high heaven. My tomatoes don’t seem to mind either.
As far as the maggots? Well short of lighting a whole batch at a time it may just be something you have to deal with. I have had pretty good luck encasing the batch in grass clippings–top, bottom and sides. (I remove the top layer to add more material.) It seems that a good dense layer of grass will keep the flies out for the most part especially if its green. Just be careful because green clippings which are watered into your compost bin can catch fire.
The story so far:
Fruit Flies grrrr
Fruit Flies grrrr grrrr
Death to the Fruit Flies. No seriously…
The first thing I did was remove my composting bucket from the kitchen proper. We’ve always had fruit flies in the spring and summer but they are particularly bad this year. It’s so bad that I have also noticed swarms of them on my tomato plants in the garden. They’re ‘Super Sweets’ and probably have enough sugar to attract the little buggers. (It’s past time to bust out the neem but that’s another story altogether.)
The reason I removed the bucket was that it was covered with fruit fly maggots. Ick. We eat a lot of fruit this time of the year and even dumping the bucket didn’t deter the flies for long. I’ve put it outside and have suspended composting indefinitely. This was a major step for me as I have not thrown so much as a banana peel into the trash for the last three years. The flies were that bad though.
This removed a great amount of their ready food and as far as I could tell, their primary reproduction site in my house.
The second thing was to get place fruit fly traps. Granted, they are little more than fancy containers of apple cider vinegar but they work well and when you’re done you can toss the mess into the trash. Frankly Ryan’s method of a dish of cider vinegar probably works just as well but the fruit fly traps seem to deliver a knock out punch due mostly to their design. Since I removed the compost bucket and placed the traps (three of them) I have seen a huge reduction in the number of actual flies in my kitchen. For example, the remains of a nectarine now only collects two or three flies while waiting to be disposed of as opposed to fifty like before.
So removed the food and go on trapping/extermination overdrive. I am always leery of spraying pesticides in the kitchen but it seems that cleaning it from top to bottom is a good step. The trick for me has been to make the place as inhospitable as possible.
Having said all of that I have to admit that I have reached the conclusion that it is impossible to get rid of them as long as I continue to bring in large amounts of produce from Walmart. It seems like every time I do so there is an upsurge in the population.
This weekend I harvested probably two bushels of tomatoes from the garden. Big ones, little ones, bumpy heirlooms–and I gave most of them away. I like the idea of the health benefits of lycopene but the little sweet ones are about all I can eat.
I also had to pull about half a dozen head-sized cantaloupe from the cantaloupe patch. The patch has invaded an area of about 600 square feet–paths and all. My black beans and now most of my green beans have been smothered. At what point does a garden plant become a weed again? Oh yes, whenever it does what you don’t want it to do. I think this qualifies.
Purple hull peas are about ready to start picking in earnest. I think I’m going to have a bunch of those this year. We”ll see.
As for the rest, well, I’m hoping for a lot of sweet potatoes and a great deal of Acorn Squash too. All of my zukes are either the size of baseball bats or have rotted on the vine because of all the moisture. Plus, my pepper plants have refused to do anything but sit there and take up space. Wrong variety I think.
I did get a really good crop off of my multiplier onions and hope to plant just about all of them next year as onion sets. They’re all pretty small, but they tasted really good green. Sort of medium mild, I think they’d do well if I could get them to grow some.
A great deal of the outside work I do has nothing to do with gardening. Yesterday I spent several hours with the scythe cleaning up a fenced in area out back. What took several hours with a weed eater probably took one with the scythe. Plus, the birds don’t quite singing when I start up the scythe.
I’ve got pictures I’ll post up later.
One of the other things I’ve been using that help me cut down on fuel consumption is a sawbuck. About two or three years ago I built a sawbuck out of some 4x’s I had lying around and a few ends of 2×6′s. It’s still solid as a rock. I used it about two weeks ago to hold a bunch of brush which I cut with my bow saw. I’ll have to tell you about my method for cutting firewood someday. That in and of itself should cause you to worry about my, er, sanity.
Whats left of it anyway.
I harvested my first ripe cantaloupe yesterday. I also found about twenty more green ones. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of it but a gardeners always got friends this time of year.
So this is what I’ve done.
I think my problem is that I’ve reached sort of a ‘critical mass’ of fruit flies in the kitchen and they are multiplying faster than I can get rid of them. I scored a major victory this afternoon, though. I found my compost bucket, even though recently scrubbed and polished, was full of fruit fly maggots again. Nasty. So I up as many of them as I could with plain dish soap–bad for soft bodied insects.
In the past we’ve used these fruit fly traps from Gardener’s Supply and they’ve worked pretty well. But I’m out for a few days. The hole is about an eighth of an inch in diameter so I made my own with a small Ziploc container and an squishy strawberry. I’ve caught about ten or fifteen of the things. I don’t think its enough.
Yesterday I was so desperate that I got out our little stick vac and hunted them throughout the kitchen. I think I got about fifty or so but it was sort of a catch and release project. Whenever I’d turn it off they come pouring out of the end again.
I’ve stopped short of spraying and I’m looking for a deterrent. We’ll see what happens.
One of the things I detest about composting is the continual presence of fruit flies in the summer. I can’t seem to get rid of the things and this year its particularly bad. Probably because of all the rain.
I’m looking into several options for control so I’ll post them up as soon as I decide on one.
Here’s another must read. Horticultural is one of my favorite gardening blogs. Granted part of that is because I still can’t figure out what a currant is. But it’s in the UK so its probably a little different that OK. I’ve linked to her ‘shed of the week’ post because it made me laugh. There are a jillion little rickety sheds in this part of the country so here we’d have the ‘shed of the minute’.