Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Garden update


Nothing exotic about how I germinated watermelon seeds. Just a pad of newsprint and a paper napkin for a cover.

From left-to-right Wilson Sweet, Wib, Kholodok and Blacktail Mountain
I also planted enough butternut squash seeds to attempt grafting five of each variety and growing five on their own roots.

One of the challenges is to keep the chipmunks and squirrels from digging up and eating the seeds.

I grafted a couple scions of Kanza pecan on the pecan seedling upwind of the driveway. We will see in a few weeks if I was successful.

We had about 0.7 inches of rain last night.

A trip to the cemetery

One of my siblings scouring the algae off of my paternal grandmother's headstone. It was a two-hour drive to get to the cemetery and I enjoyed the chance to catch up with the latest family information.

A view across the cemetery with a bit of magnification

Many more relatives on my father's side are buried in a more rustic cemetery seven miles east of the fancy one.

It is rare to see prickly pear growing in lawns in Michigan but that is exactly what is growing here. The geology is that of an eroded sand dune and it has very sharp drainage.

One of the oddities of this country cemetery is that family plots have very short, rectangular retaining walls placed around them.

Cleaning up ancestral cemetery plots is hungry work. We went to one of the local eating places. Bonus points if anybody recognizes where this sign is posted.

Killing sod

This video is longer than most that I post at 24 minutes. The fact that she is a healthy woman and comes across as serene and confident makes the 24 minutes go quickly. You also get glimpses of the kids helping in the garden.

The key points show up starting at the 1:40 mark where they are stomping down a rye cover crop and then covering it with dark tarps held down with sand-bags to solar-sterilize the the soil.

She has a much longer growing season than I do. Later in the video she is wearing a ball-cap that promotes a Bentonville, Arkansas cabinet builder so I suspect she is gardening in that part of the world.

Later in the video she loses 50% of the tomatoes she planted and she is very honest that she simply had not been paying attention to a very minor detail and it bit her. It is refreshing to see gardening videos where the gardener is not perfect.

Bug Dope

"Icaridin is the active ingredient...I will say this is the best of the non-deet sprays we have tried"
Recommended by a user in northern Canada.
Hat-tip Lucas


  1. Win Schuler’s , Marshall?

    1. No sir. Same cuisine, though so I assume the saying is translated from German.

  2. Man... now THAT is a beautiful woman!

  3. Re. cleaning headstones. My Mom has done all of the stones for her family in a small country cemetery using something called Wet & Forget. Not as fast as a bristle attachment on a cordless drill, but then more time for visiting.

    1. Wet and Forget is great stuff and while it can take a week or 2, it has a residual effect that can last 6 months or more

  4. It is nice that you have a family cemetery of sorts. We do too, at least on my mother's side. So many do not anymore.

  5. The video is ....interesting. "Trying to do production on a hobby farm" comes to mind. Which is fine, if that's what one is interested in, but a small amount of mechanization would produce large benefit, which mostly a "time value equation."


    1. I can relate. I guess I am also trying to gain production results from a hobby farm.
      Currently my neighbor stops by with his tractor and 3pt tiller 2x per year. The remainder I do with hand-tools and copious time with my weed-eater-mounted-tiller. Point to take-away is 90% of my tillage is powered by fossil fuels and modern equipment. Were those to disappear, how would I manage my space?
      I too have tried cover crops in winter, but till them in the spring with 43 horses of Kubota power (and a little bribe of bud light). I cannot assume that will be there next year.
      I like their methodolgy and thinking. Low tech, low power. Things that aren't complicated fail less frequently.

    2. When civilization grinds to a halt, shoulders and shovels will still work; still, the greatest labor saving invention of the past 200 years is a gallon of diesel.

      All that said, some small mechanization is not a virus to be avoided like Covid. Remember the old walk-behind gasoline tractors? Couple companies still make them and they turn "all day" into "a few hours."

      They also have cows. "Cowpower" can pull a single blade plow. Worse case, if they have the pasture, add a mule.

      The point is, she said last year was 600 row feet of corn, this year she planned 400, then decided to extend it. With a very little additional power, that 400 feet could grow to 1000. If you have storage capacity, there's no such thing as "too much food." A lot of people will be learning that over the next 24 months.

      Subsistence farming - which is really what she's doing - requires lots of manual labor, which is (one reason) why families were much larger in the past - they bred their own labor force because they had to. Farming, at any level, is a time-sensitive business and the farmer controls neither the calendar nor clock.

    3. I have all the standard manual garden tools* (multiples of each, which may become crucial – can you supply the tools all those extra hands will need?) but I’ve moved over to using my Chillington Hoes (grubbing hoe, azada) more recently – so much easier.

      Modern versions of push hoes and push plows are available (though expensive) and my Terratek wheeled hoe/plow has been a revelation, and made life so much easier for the (relatively) larger areas I cultivate.

      Yes, I use a rotavator too (two-wheeled powered walk behind tractor, still in quite common usage here in small-holdings in the UK) ‘now’, but the options (courtesy of the developments at the pinnacle of pre-tractor cultivation – still thankfully available. Our ancestors were the smartest cookies, who depended/survived on what they produced themselves, so seeing what their solutions were seems … sensible) to survive without fuel are all still out there (Hoss Tools?).

      My point? Mechanisation (even small scale) is a good idea … ‘if’ you can supply and maintain it ‘yourself’ (indefinitely in the scenario you are planning for). Having intermediate options, before having to resort to basic hand-tools, seems a good idea, to me, too (just in case).

      I just wish I had the land to consider all the horse-drawn options (mostly only eastern european now, sadly) available.

      [* Call me paranoid, or just cheap, but I always gravitate to tools ‘I’ can repair myself, so no ‘new fangled’ fibreglass-handled tools for me thank you].

    4. PS.

      Whilst ‘everybody’ has garden spades, forks, hoes and rakes, why do I suspect that my ‘collection’ of unusual tools – billhooks, sickles, slashers and (Freund and Falci) scythes may become … sought after investments? (I wont mention my one and two handed logging saws, adzes, etc.)

      Think of all the jobs/tasks we exclusively use modern power-tools to accomplish. Now consider, do you have ‘any’ way to do the same without power?

      I find it amusing/depressing (alternating/simultaneously) that we aren’t facing being thrown back to 1900’s tech, we're facing being thrown back to the stone-age, because most of the basic 1900s (ditto 18,17, ...) tech isn’t available to most (who’d rather have a vacation/new boat/fashionable clothes instead).

      The ‘problem’ with reaching the peak, the heights of technological development, is that … we have much, much further to fall.

      (Yeh, I know, preaching to the choir!)

  6. An amazon quote. I need to be more careful with what I send. I thought about it at the time and thought it will not matter. No one pays attention to my emails anyway.

    Algae on a gravestone? It must be lichens to need a grinder.


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