Thursday, April 08, 2010

Suspended Animation

Ramps! Photograph by Scott Supak, click for the big version you can use as free desktop wallpaper!
Going into my second year in upstate NY--where it still gets cold, just not so much anymore--and I'm amazed again at what can survive the winter and just start growing again like all that snow and degrees owed (only got down to -9 once this winter) never happened.

Out there this morning planting peas in earnest (the St. Patty's day peas were a crap out), I came across radicchio, collards, spinach, carrots, and miner's lettuce, all doing just fine, thank you, as if they had been in suspended animation and just, spring, came back to life.

I left the baby carrots to their own spot, but while hoeing a row for peas, adult carrots kept popping out of the ground from a spot I'd forgotten about. I threw the mangled ones up into the woods for the deer, and the rest will be food for us thanks to that free winter storage.

This phenomenon hitherto unknown to this southerner leads me to the assumption that I should be saving myself a lot of work and muddy boots by planting a bunch of cold-tolerant plants late in the fall, so they're just old enough when the warm blanket of snow covers them as they hibernate. I'm starting to see how my lazy Yankee gardener friends think now.

This tactic would allow me to spend my time more wisely in the spring. Because of my disability--lack of back bone cartilage--I only get a little time in the garden each day or I pay severely. So, I could spend more time turning compost and mixing it with horse/steer manure and peat moss to pile on the raised beds before the warm weather plants go in. I could spend more time in the woods harvesting ramps and making sure they're properly cared for so we don't deplete them. I could spend more time sitting in the chair sipping coffee listening to woodpeckers laugh and whatever birds those are that sound like they're playing Marco Polo.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Long Ant War

My friend back in California is still waging war with the invading ants, who apparently are of the sugartee--a militant sect of sugar eating ants that wage guerrilla warfare in a territorial battle for southern California. My friend was asking about aspartame, the sugar substitute in Equal, which kills ants when they eat it. Since I know he doesn't want anything even potentially dangerous around his kid, I shied him away from the faux sugar and pointed him toward some new tactical weapons in the looong war.

Once I threw some chunks of fat (we were battling the fatatee--a meat eating sect in So Cal) into the corners of my property, which I then blocked off with a thick standing infantry of diatomacious earth, after making sure that civilian children could not access the area. This classic misdirection move, followed by a pincer attack of fat bait laced with borax surrounded by diatomacious earth with howitzers of ant chalk laying down circles of indirect fire support in the gaps in our front line. 
They tried to flank us near the barbeque, but I sprayed them with cedar oil there and they beat an angry retreat into the neighbor's yard, where they were probably met with synthetic chemical warfare, which is against the Geneva conventions of insect warfare, to which we are a signatory.

Damn ants. Out there doing their job and taking hell for it...