12 May 2020

Garden Report

Proudly going on Day 16 of no bunnies in the raised-bed gardens! But only Day 6 for no mice...

The day I watched two bunnies frolicking in the backyard while I worked, I knew we'd end up with an unplanned pregnancy. I suspected mama would like to hide her young beneath my dahlia bulbs and poppies again. And nibble on the bulbs, same as last year.

I did some research - again - because I couldn't remember what I'd tried last year. I remembered that nothing worked. Perhaps I could find new ideas.

One of the things I had tried before was chili powder and Tabasco sauce. I know this because I still have a bottle of Tabasco sauce and a jar of chili powder near my back door.

Lizard also put three-foot tall chicken wire all the way around the raised-bed garden hosting the baby bunnies after I chased them out. Mama easily jumped over the chicken wire, carrying the babies back in one at a time, within an hour after construction was complete. The chicken wire made the garden a safer place to raise a young family.

This year, I learned cinnamon and black pepper can deter bunnies, as well as grape hyacinths. I didn't know about the grape hyacinths last year, but I doubt they help because I already have some in the raised-bed garden, and my hyacinths in that garden have all been chewed almost all the way to the ground. Because I love grape hyacinths, I will put more in the raised-bed garden, but the hyacinths are pretty much done for this year.

I dug up a pizza box full of grape hyacinths from all over our yard, where they are not supposed to grow but thrive. One of my neighbors down the street had asked if I might ever have any extra bulbs. I forgot to take a photo of the bulbs I left on her doorstep, but I did shoot the second batch I pulled for the raised-bed garden. All have been planted now and seem to be adapting well to their new environment.

In addition to bunnies, I've also seen multiple mice, some very tiny, scampering from the raised-bed garden as I water. No telling what the bulbs under the soil must look like. I did some research on mice deterrents, too.

You probably can guess what the best deterrent for mice could be. I think we definitely have cats in our future.

Dogs are good deterrents for bunnies, as well as deer, so perhaps we're going to have to adopt a couple of those, too. The deer ate all my tulips that had come up before our Easter snow, and I thought the single-digit low that weekend would take out the rest. I'm delighted I have a couple of tulips beginning to blossom! But I know that puts out the dinner bell for the deer again.

Earlier this year, when I wasn't sure if I should be leaving Lizard alone five days a week, I asked him if he'd like a dog as a companion. He was so stressed out by all his PT drills, which take him practically all of his waking hours if he does everything he's told (which he typically does), he said not yet. When I told him bunnies and dogs don't really get along, he began researching dog breeds. So maybe soon...

In the meantime, I tried sprinkling chili powder, cinnamon and black pepper on the garden every single day after watering. You've heard the jokes about sneezing and coughing in this day and age, right? I love the smell of black pepper, but boy, does it do a job on my nose and my lungs!!! I know now to wear my mask while I'm sprinkling!!!

So far, no bunnies in the raised-bed garden, and I am thrilled! But every day, I found a new hole in about the same place, and every day, more mice would scurry as I watered. One of the deterrents is to work the garden every day. I do that! Filling the mouse holes and churning the soil so the spices get in there good. I even planted mint and onions, which supposedly help keep the bunnies at nose-distance. But the mice could not be intimidated. They keep rebuilding their tunnels.

We have a bird feeder above the raised-bed garden, and I'm not willing to remove that potential mouse food source because the birds give me far too much enjoyment. I worry about how cats will factor into that. But I'll cross that bottomless gorge when I get to it.

I did remove all other mice-friendly materials. I've been removing all the self-mulch throughout both the front and back yards for two weeks, and it's still not entirely done. But there are no more potential nesting materials near the raised-bed garden. Just spilled bird seed, which apparently is enough.

Finally, I learned cloves and clove oil can help get rid of mice. I have clove oil I bought several years ago while learning to make soap, and I knew the shelf life was far beyond expired. But I couldn't just throw it out.

Mice won't care about the expiration date, right?

I also have a big, huge bag of every cotton wad I've ever pulled out of a vitamin or pill bottle. I used to use that to stuff amigurumi. Now I use quilt clippings, which are much easier to get into the tight body parts, and they don't smell like medicine or vitamins. (I always worried if I put fruit vitamin-scented cotton into an amigurumi that wound up going to a child that the amigurumi would become child food!) I also have a very old bag of whole cloves leftover from orange ornaments many Christmases ago. I didn't buy the spice to use as food, and the cloves are extremely old now. But mice aren't going to care, right? So I'm hopefully completely stocked for a long mouseless extended Shelter in Place!!!

I soaked cotton wads with clove oil and wrapped them around the chewed hyacinth stalks. I sprinkled whole cloves all through all three raised-bed gardens. I put them near the house where I'd seen the mice hide when I water. I put them all around the back porch. I actually used up the whole bag, so I may have to order more if this works.

Four days later, I had a new mouse hole. I employed fresh cotton and fresh clove oil. I have to re-apply the spices every day, and I have to re-apply the clove oil every three or four days. Today is six days without mouse holes in my raised-bed garden. I could very well be the happiest person on the planet right now.

Well, until my two cheater plants made me the happiest person in the universe.

I plant poppies from seeds every year. California poppies are the only ones that come up.

I plant dahlias from bulbs every year. They don't bloom until August, and sometimes they don't bloom until first snow of autumn.

When I went for paver bricks for our backyard (which I'm finally beginning to try to terrace myself, being as I'm home all the time and we can't ride as much as I'd like), I noticed mature poppies and dahlias. I wanted peppers and tomatoes, but the garden center wasn't as well stocked at the time. We really shouldn't plant until after Mother's Day in Colorado because we get late storms every single year.

I bought a poppy and a dahlia. I couldn't resist. I'm addicted. And they are beautiful.

To top that, the poppy seeds I planted during the winter (you should plant during the fall, but I'm always afraid birds will eat all the seeds) are beginning to come up, also!!! Both indoor and out!!!

I was very naughty and planted corn indoors in empty toilet paper rolls and the last seed cups from seasons gone by stored in my garage. Corn is said to not do well when transplanted. My corn didn't mature the last two years because it snowed too soon in the fall. I decided it would be worth the risk to start the corn indoors, then plant them outside when they were about an inch or two tall. That happened a week before Mother's Day, which is a week too early. I decided to go ahead and plant them outside, then try to cover them if we do get a late freeze.

I've covered the entire early raised-bed garden with fleece on two nights now when the overnight forecast called for less than 30 degrees,

I planted the corn close to the house, hoping they would benefit from radiant heat.

Well, Mother's Day has come and gone, and the forecast still looks promising for the next 10 days. And my corn survived transplanting!!! Perhaps we will have fresh corn this autumn! If I get ears on every stalk I've planted, perhaps I can learn to can, and then we can have my corn all winter long!!!

We're celebrating Christmas in May, too. Boy, oh, boy!!!

For the terracing project, there has been a lot of weed whacking and pulling, mulch and clay elimination, and brick hauling. My back is sore. But the backyard is beginning to look better than it has in at least three years. Again... because I'm home and because we couldn't ride any organized events this year even if they hadn't been cancelled. I have time to work on my garden and my yard. And I don't have to water in the dark before I go to work. That alone is one of the most wonderful benefits of everything we are experiencing right now.

Our poplar tree, though, which came with the house, is not on my friends list right now. We've had to trim branches several years because it scrapes the house. Not until this year have I noticed it sheds branch pieces as if it was a household pet. On Day 1, I filled three large black garbage bags with sticks from that silly tree, and there was still at least one more bag of sticks to be collected. Then we had two straight days of wind, and you can't tell I did anything in the yard now.

The front yard has seen some action, too. We've had solar lights lining the path to the house for many years, and most of them don't survive the winter. They get accidentally shoveled and broken. Or they just stop working.

I can't go to the department store to buy more, so I ordered a box. They are cheap as can be and probably won't last through the next winter, but I've never bought a whole dozen before, only two or three. So I'm pretty excited by how the front yard looks in the evening these days.

I had started lemon trees in a tiny pot at work. The experiment was so successful, some of my co-workers asked if I could start lemon seeds for them, too. None of us took our lemon trees home. I think our minds were elsewhere.

We have a very skeleton crew going in on a rotation basis for a short amount of time each day to check mail and make sure the entire office knows when important mail has been received. They scan it and email important mail to whomever needs it.

A couple of weeks ago, they let me know they had been trying to remember to water plants in the office, but were not able to check every day, and sometimes not even every week. They told me my little trees had not survived. I suppose that means none of the little lemon trees I planted survived.

So I planted more seeds at home, and I keep them close to my computer so I can enjoy them they way I enjoyed their ancestors. My new little lemon trees are coming up! (Along with dwarf lupine in the background.)

Last, but definitely not least, I had to pull a whole grocery bag full of baby sunflowers from the rocks next to our front yard garden. I've let them grow there a bit in the past because I couldn't keep up with pulling them while I was gone almost all day every single day. This year, I noticed not only did I have too many sunflowers everywhere, but they had spread to my neighbor's rocks, too. My neighbors helped with shoveling all winter long because Lizard couldn't do it and my back can only tolerate so much.

Pulling weeds isn't quite as back-breaking for me. So I hesitantly pulled baby sunflowers (and dandelions, salsify, bindweed, grass and wild geraniums) for nearly two full hours. I hate pulling the sunflowers because I never know which of them might be red. It's so hard to get red sunflowers, even when the seed packages say the flowers will be red. But for right now, our rock strips are growth-free, and it looks so much nicer. Plus, if I can keep up this year, we won't have as many seeds where they shouldn't be next year.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for the garden tour. :-) We have cats (only two, because the boy was killed last week during the hay making process). They sure help against the mice. I don't have any in the garden beds but some are in the floors and walls of the house. Sometimes they die so I can smell this particular ugly parfume. Maybe a small not too aggravating dog would be a lovely companion for your husband. Dogs are true friends to humans ... All the best. Regula


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