**I wrote this over a week ago, then didn’t have internet for a bit, so didn’t get it posted. Better late than never!
When I was a small girl, I was a bit enamored by the bunny rabbit. He seemed so sweet and fuzzy, even a bit shy. He even brought jellybeans and chocolates at Easter. Gone are my previous notions of an innocent creature, replaced with schemes a to entrap and do away with said bunny. Let me back up a little. This past week was a great gardening week. We restarted all the eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. After feeling behind schedule during the previous weeks, we were productive! Rows were amended with compost, tilled and transplanted. I put in 180 fennel plants, a row of cauliflower and one of broccoli, swiss chard, lettuces, and beets. My darling plants looked so cute and new, ready to grow up and lead the lives of tasty vegetables. Until..
He hopped down the row and stumbled upon what may be considered by some as a gourmet salad bar. Oh a nibble here, and one there. The sun came up and the farmer came outside and frowned, and away the bunny hopped. The next morning, the bunny came back with friends and ate even more tasty greens. The farmer woke up, came out to the garden and wept small tears of disappointment and shook a bitter fist into the sky.
Needless to say, between the mouse in the greenhouse and these rabbits, I’m feeling a bit discouraged about the garden. I know most would look at the garden and note how much is actually growing (and already, it’s only May!) but I know what could have been. I am concerned that when market starts in June, I won’t have much to speak of, considering half the kale, half the fennel, all of the broccoli, and all of the cauliflower are gone.
This isn’t even counting how half the broccoli, half the cauliflower; half the kale and chard were taken out before they ever sprouted. While we have not yet seen sign of the 13-striped ground squirrel, they did their share of damage last season and I expect no less from them this time.
Enough with the boo-hoo garden news, I’ll try to be more positive now.
- I am officially and completely done buying greens from the grocery store! I have been on a green smoothie kick lately, and happily stopped using store bought kale and spinach in favor of komatsuna, mizuna, red Russian kale, Beira kale, and pac choi from the garden. The difference in flavor and color is remarkable and is a very good reminder to me of why I grow what I grow. While I am grateful that I can get organic greens year round from the store, I feel that what we are growing in the backyard almost deserves a ‘better than organic’ label. Organic requirements help keep pesticides and the like off of organic produce, but nothing says organic needs to have healthy fertile soil. After traveling to agriculture areas of Florida and California and seeing conventional and organic fields alike, I am struck by how dusty and light the soil is in comparison to our dark, rich Midwest soil. All the more reason we need more produce or ‘specialty crop’ as the USDA calls it, grown instead of commodity row crops in the Midwest (and I’ll step off my soapbox now.)
- We really have gotten a lot planted lately. Our good friend Bones (who keeps a low profile of general anonymity) lent a hand in shoveling and transplanting this week.
- The beets and lettuces planted that day have NOT gotten eaten, and the four varieties of potatoes are about half in the ground; the rain chased us away before we could finish. All the leeks and onions are in the ground as well, and the garlic even got weeded! And in the area of rabbit protection, we have uncovered the rows of plants that are well established and covered up (what remains) of the younger rows. The fabric we use is light weight, so light and water still penetrate but provide a barrier against grazing animals and even insect pressure.
- Our honeybees are busy as ever, and the two new hives seem to have taken well to their new homes. They released the their queens from the queen cages and have eaten all the sugar water we fed them to help get them started. I fed them additional sugar water to help them get a start on the comb they are drawing out. My older hives seem to be thriving as well, as I checked and found signs of the queens laying and in those as well. I am a bit concerned with the size of one of the hives, and worried it may swarm. From what I understand, once a hive sets into motion the swarm message, there’s no going back. They filled up one super pretty well, though the queen layed some eggs in the honey super, which, I’d rather she not. They are ready for another super, but we’ve had such rainy weather I haven’t been able to get out to the bees since checking them last week.
- The rain! The garden is quite obviously enjoying the rain, which tastes better than hose water by far.
- Birthdays! We have celebrated birthdays of Nate’s mom and sister this week. In honor of said holidays, I made some Angry Birds, out of watermelon and pineapple. And made everyone giggle for a good long while.