Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's Gardening, Not War

This mass of bloom is horseradish (yes... horseradish) blossoms. They are quite fragrant and attracted many tiny butterflies and mini-bees.
The nails have not been a complete success. At least one more cauliflower bit the dust.
So I got some cornmeal, which an old article from Mother Earth News said cutworms love, but cannot digest. They die from gluttony. Appropriate. We scattered cornmeal around the plants. Maybe it's working.
Pretty little butterfly on horseradish blossoms.
It can be difficult to judge such things, since I still found some cutworms, but who knows how many more I would have found if not for the cornmeal.

I've got other tricks up my sleeve if that doesn't work well enough. The cutworms do seem to be slowing down, and one source said that planting later in the season (probably after they've all pupated) will prevent damage. Perhaps they will all be sleeping in their coccoons by the time I set out the tomatoes and peppers.

April has brought April weather. Finally, Spring instead of Summer. Yes, it has been warm, but high temperatures in the 60s and low 70s warm, not as in kissing 90 degrees.
Aronia berry blossoms with a little butterfly.

Lows have been in the low 40s and upper 30s. Although the temperature hasn't fallen to freezing, frost is possible even when the air temperature is a few degrees above freezing -- "Because frost is primarily an event that occurs as the result of radiational cooling, it frequently occurs with a thermometer level temperature in the mid-30s." That is lifted directly from the National Weather Service's glossary.

So I will wait another week or two before planting the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants -- although it was tempting to put them in the ground in March (!!) when summer moved in for a brief visit.

During a recent meeting I attended, all were asked to provide a garden tip and one long-time gardener (even older than me) said, "If it's too early to plant it, don't plant it." Meaning I shouldn't plant tomatoes in March when I usually plant them in late April or early May. Even when the thermometer hits 90 in March.

Bumblebee with its head in a pulmonaria blossom.
"There's always a frost in April," he said.

Some were even fearful of a repeat of 2007, when a warm March (but not THIS warm) was closely followed by a deep, deep freeze. The first weekend of April brought one night of 15 degrees (that's Fahrenheit). Almost no one in this area had tree fruit or berries that year -- except for late-blooming things, such as the elderberries. On the other hand, tree fruit bore exceptionally large crops the following year, after a year of rest.

After finding the cutworm issue, my husband remarked, "It's always something." Every year we must deal with a new challenge brought in by the ever-changing, sometimes fickle nature of Nature. As soon as we figure out one thing, we are beset by another.

The other night someone asked me if I reveled in the intellectual challenge of overcoming things, such as cutworms.

Well, yes, but.... "Not when I keep losing my cauliflower!!!" I replied.
Found this lizard curled in on itself outside my back door.

In spite of my frustration with the cutworms, I refuse to accept an attitude that this is war.

This is not war. Nature is not "out to get me." These things are just trying to survive. They're not doing a very good job of that when they attack my cauliflower and peas (because I dig them out and squish them), but that is their only goal.

It is not war.
It is gardening.
Gardening has challenges.
Challenges I will either meet, or give in to.
It is not my nature to give in -- not easily anyway...

Although, when they just keep taking down the cauliflower, I am almost discouraged enough to surrender.
But it is not war...
There is no surrender...
Only moving on.


Susan said...

I agree! As much as my back will ache after weeding, I have to say, even weeds have a certain beauty and ALL of the garden is to be loved.
I'm glad to have found your blog through Meggie. Love, Susan

Meggie said...

In reading your last two posts, I have to laugh. You are right, gardening is a challenge. It seems it is always something. Just look at me...the first time ever to have catepillars in the greenhouse. They ate most of the new pepper seedlings in just one nite. And now, I already see tiny grasshoppers outside. Both of us seem to carry on....Hope your foot/ankle are doing better.

Sandra M. Siebert said...

Those little caterpillars are ravenous, aren't they. It is surprising how much they eat.
My foot is getting better daily, thank you.

The Harried Homemaker said...

Another lovely post with beautiful photos. I like your philosophy. "Gardening is not war" might become my new mantra.

My dad has already planted his green beans and corn because the hedge apple's leaves are bigger than a squirrel's ear. We remember 2007 and choose to hold off.