Thursday, July 12, 2012

Man vs Nature

So far this has been a challenging season in the yard and garden. It The warm winter was a provocative tease. Early spring-like temperatures made it difficult to hold off planting until the officially recommended "last frost" date of May 15. The benefit was that my fall-back position was to read the catalogs, order seeds, and actually get seedlings going indoors, in the sun room, something I've always neglected in years past. That might have been the last time nature cooperated.

We have had plenty of sunshine, but maybe even a bit too much. The warm winter morphed into Summer almost at once, going way too quickly from 70's to 90+. And staying there. Weeks of hot and humid, even at 3500 feet. (It was 106 in Atlanta when we visited there week before last.) The winter squash and tomatoes seem to be loving the heat, but it's also had some negative effects. 

Bugs! In our High Vista Community Garden, potato and cucumber and Japanese beetles galore gnawed away at the earliest zucchini leaves. Corn borers threatened the corn crop with instant demise. Flea beetles turned my eggplant leaves to lace. This week I pulled the first (and hopefully) last well-camoflauged hornworm from a tomato plant. A vole/mole is burrowing under the Cherokee Black Bean poles and a bunny or some other critter has chomped on one or two crook neck squash. Oh well, our garden is large enough to qualify as a small farm, and we can share. 

Beyond the heat and voracious critters, we're now keeping our fingers crossed that four days of rain and much longed-for cooler weather doesn't encourage late tomato blight. We've hand-picked beetles, sprayed with Spinosad against the borers, BT and Pyrethrin against the other bugs, and used Copper Fungicide as a preventative against the blight. And, happily, we have begun to harvest plentiful bush beans and yellow squash, banana peppers, basil, and a few beets and cucumber. Now, if only the hundreds of tomatoes can reach maturity, I'll be a happy farmer.

At home, we've not seen the same quantities of bugs. The challenges to our ample potted deck garden have been larger and faster moving - BEARS! 

Mama bear, on terraces just below our deck

Mama on the move

Cubs up a tree

We've learned from bitter experience that the deer will consume anything planted in the ground, so we grow all our edibles in containers well above their reach. But altitude doesn't discourage bears. They've visited more than once. Once in the middle of the night and this latest (family) encounter at dusk, around 8:30 pm. So far, they've only bent wrought iron bird feeder supports and destroyed the feeders themselves. They timed their visits poorly, too early and too late in the season for the blueberries, so Mike and I got to eat those. For the immediate future we've taken in our feeders, entrusting the birds to the forest and our neighbors' buffets, in the hope that we can keep the bears from discovering the tomatoes, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, chard, lettuce, beans, squash, and parsnips we hope to bring to the table - our own table, that is.

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