Thursday, March 9, 2023

Garden updates

A belated thanks to my benefactor and fellow food-growing enthusiast who sent me a treasure trove of material to graft. It showed up Saturday in fine shape.

The view out of the barn door.

The hazels are starting to pollinate. The catkins are elongating on about half of the plants and some of the female body-parts are exposing themselves.

I took this picture because the yellow of the catkins glowed as it they were backlit by the sun. That does not show up so much in the image.

You can see that I have a lot of wood and brush staged in the garden.

Fedge update

I have been moving elderberry cuttings, raspberrry bushes, horseradish roots, rugosa roses and American Plum suckers to the fedge along my east property line. Today I will move some willow cuttings. The willow, a male clone of Salix purpurea, the horseradish and the rugosa rose are prime plants for native pollinators and for parasitoid wasps. They shingle in time, in the order listed with Salix purpurea at the front of the parade.


My barn is infested with raccoons.

I am dealing with the situation. I found that the trigger on the live trap is made more sensitive by the judicious application of grease and by just b-a-r-e-l-y engaging the dog of the trigger.

I also found out, completely by accident, that putting the bait (dog food in my case) in a small frying pan with the handle of the frying pan resting on the tread-plate increases the chances of triggering the trap when the raccoon is in it.

Narratives and myths

One of the most charming and enduring bits of Americana is the story of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) being the first person to plant apple orchards on the western frontier, which at that time (1800-1820) included western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

The popular image is of Mr Appleseed walking across a sunny meadow and poking holes in the ground with a pointed stick. Then lovingly pressing a couple of carefully hoarded apple seeds into the warm, moist soil, thus bringing apples to the fruit-starved settlers on the frontier.

The popular image has Mr Appleseed so poor and so oblivious to worldly concerns that he wears a kettle on his head for a hat. 

The reality

Traveling down the Tuscarawas River in the late summer of 1792, McMahon encountered the remains of three abandoned Moravian Delaware setdements (sic) at Schoenbrunn, Gnadenhutten, and Salem. He noted that "peach trees at the three places bore an abundance of peaches, but nearly all the branches had been broken down by bears." At Gnadenhutten, where Scots-Irish frontiersmen had methodically murdered ninety Delaware converts in cold blood just ten years earlier, McMahon discovered "the best apples he had ever tasted."
Two years later, Anthony Wayne would launch the third invasion of the Ohio Country. One week before the decisive Battle of Fallen Timbers, Wayne stopped at the confluence of the Maumee and the Au Glaize rivers to regroup and establish Fort Defiance. The place where these rivers came together was also the site of a large Wyandot Indian village, and Wayne noted that the cornfields planted there seemed to stretch on forever, but also that there were extensive peach and apple orchards at the location.   -Source

Key Point: Mature, producing apple and peach orchards were in central Ohio five years before Chapman was planting seeds.

Historian Paul Aron argues, "Chapman was actually a successful businessman. He bought many of the parcels of land on which he planted his seeds and ultimately accumulated about twelve hundred acres across three states...He wore pauper's clothing by choice and not out of necessity."

Part of me wonders if those sunny meadows Chapman was planting were abandoned Indian settlements and if the trees "he planted" were sprouts from the roots of the trees the Indians had planted.

Maybe his narrative was a means to lay claim to the pre-cleared land for speculative purposes and then to white-wash his activities. Ohio farmland currently runs about $6500 an acre so 1200 acres would be worth $7.8 million today.

Key Point: Popular history is dictated by the lads who can pay the bar-tab of the scribblers.


  1. My 9th grade history teacher taught me that history is written by the victors. My grandparents on my mothers side were German.

  2. coons are said to love marshmallows
    keeps you from catching dogs and cats
    we were taught that the claiming of a homestead for free land from the gov required showing the claimed lands to be under cultivation, thus mr chapman proving cultivation by means of apple trees

    1. They do. That's the bait I used to catch around 8 Raccoons and a few 'Possums in my live trap. I relocated all those critters up into USFS land about 25 miles from my home. The Jet Puff mini marshmallows work best.

  3. What a wonderful treasure trove to get in the mail ERJ!

    Good luck on the raccoons - my ongoing mice wars have been difficult enough; I cannot imagine fighting a larger foe.

    "Johnny" Appleseed - Interesting hypothesis. In terms of victors writing the stories, yes - but as the Irish/Scottish/Welsh would tell you, the losers usually end up with the better and more inspiring songs.

  4. Very possible re Chapman. Good luck with the raccoons! Suppressed .22 is usually the 'better' answer.

  5. I found out that a live-trap can present a real dilemma when you find a skunk in it.

    1. Cover skunk slowly with beach towel, then transport or send to nirvana.
      Worked so far.


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