Garden Adventures

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Home is where the heart is! A healthy sample of our potato crop: little red potatoes, some shaped like hearts.

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Invasion! Colorado Potato Beetle Larva devouring my potato plants!

Yesterday Van and I spent a lovely evening in the garden after dinner. While he fussed over where to put seeds, I pulled weeds, thinned out competing baby plants, and discovered a horde of hideous  larval Colorado Potato Beetles.  Not wanting to touch them, I batted the nasty little buggers off the potato plants and into a plastic bucket.  I must have knocked at least fifty into the bucket in twenty minutes.  Van had recently ordered a kit: lady bugs, praying mantis, lacewings, and beneficial nematodes to eliminate nasty garden pests without the use of pesticides.  They should arrive soon, and I can’t wait to see them in action!

While I was pulling Morning Glory vines away from the rows, something cool and familiar passed with lightning speed over my foot.  I shrieked and Van chuckled.

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Napoleon “posing” for a photo. Isn’t he handsome?

“Did you find Napoleon?’  He asked.  Napoleon is our toad who has lived in our back yard since we moved into the house in 2012.  I named him Napoleon because of the determined and grumpy grimace permanently fixed on his little toad face.  I suspect that he is bent on world domination.  After crossing my foot, Napoleon froze and deigned to have his picture taken.  I hope he eats all the potato beetles that I didn’t find!

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A view of the new rhubarb through a screen of asparagus buds.

The weather yesterday was absolutely perfect, a rare occasion for Kansas.  It was a bit inebriating to be in the warm, welcoming sun, bronzing us ever so slightly as we toiled — not too much, but just enough — to feel vitality running through our veins.  I checked all the plants.  My rosebush had come back triumphantly since being pruned quite aggressively in early Spring.  It could very well have over one hundred buds right now!  Van put in a dried rhubarb rhizome sliver several weeks ago, and we were delighted that a healthy little plant popped out of the soil in the asparagus patch.  Our asparagus, established in 2012, is now available for eating.  We get 3 to 5 spears a week, and they are amazing!  I snap them off and eat them straight out of the garden.

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Our grape vine on its trellis, expected to climb over eight feet tall this summer.

Because of the cool weather and thunder showers, we have many plants doing extraordinarily well.  Potatoes, sunflowers, dill, tomatoes, grapes, roses, raspberries, bleeding hearts, asparagus, hops, rhubarb, and beans have all taken a healthy start to summer.  We worked in the garden until there was nothing else to do, and then Van asked me to sit on the deck and watch the world with him for the rest of the evening.

Napoleon made mooing noises at his garden post, perhaps wooing a Josephine somewhere.  I was so happy that he had come back.  A few weeks ago we had a rather large bull snake in the yard, and I was worried that  such a large predator would scare away more timid pest controllers like my beloved toad.  Ross the Dog scared the snake into the next yard, where it met its demise when it coiled itself under the neighbor’s grill and scared the neighbor half to death.  So, Napoleon has his yard back and is the ruler of his vast domain for now.

I wouldn’t mind more days like yesterday, with immeasurable time to work in the garden followed by a languid night of good, casual conversation with a treasured loved one.  It must be the best cure for any problem.  A little dirt, a splash of sun, a grumpy toad, little green plants, and a lover’s hand.  What could be better?

— G

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Checking potato plants. A healthy little specimen!

 

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