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Let the Gardening Begin!

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Bag Balm

In case you haven’t heard: Bag Balm is the gardener’s friend. It saves hands from the roughing up they get when working the soil. Must have smooth hands for sewing and knitting you know!

I just received this pattern in the mail yesterday and had planned to sew it up this week in a wind blocking technical fabric but temperatures are going to be in the 70’s and 80’s for most of the week.

Coverall Pattern

I’ll have to cut another pair of overalls instead. My new brown ones don’t show dirt very much but they will need washing soon. Here’s how they look after a day in the dirt: not too bad. You just can’t beat good quality fabric, that’s my thoughts on the matter 🙂

Work Clothes

The overalls got a good workout yesterday. It was a wonderful day. First, Husband worked just a few hours in the early morning and when he came in we took the dog with us to the Rose Society’s Education Day at a local nursery.

The meeting was incredibly informative and just as I suspected: our area is overrun with dying roses that carry the incurable Rose Rosetta virus. Here’s some more pictures at Fine Gardening

Here’s a wild rose in our neighborhood field that has the disease but is still growing and spreading the mites that carry the virus. The diseased branch is red, while a healthy branch on the same bush is in the background

Rose Rosette Disease on a wild rose

RRD Closeup

RRD Closeup

The virus was introduced originally to kill off the wild roses that can take over whole fields. That was done about 27 years ago and now it’s killing off domesticated roses in wide swathes across the country.

It is potentially devastating for the rose industry but only just now are there studies being done to see what cures might be developed. Turns out that our little local Rose Society is full of incredibly knowledgeable folks and the Society provided the seed money for the first year of such a study, YAY for them! Dr Mark Windham is conducting the investigation. I do hope a prevention or cure can be found.

I have had to remove one whole plant last year when this virus continually sent up shoots from it’s root stock that were afflicted with the disease. The plant itself looked OK but one tiny mite, blown on the winds, can carry the disease to all the other roses. Another of the same species is exhibiting this disease in just one area and I’ll keep pruning those branches and hope that it doesn’t spread to the other roses. Yesterday I learned that if I get all the roots out of the hole from where the infected rose was removed I can plant another rose in that space. That was not the thinking last year. And I learned that I could just continuously prune off the branches that show this disease and perhaps the plant will survive.

Roses are a lot of work and even the disease resistant “Knock-Out Roses” are not as resistant as they have been touted to be. And I had just redone the front landscaping in 2011 with 13 roses. Ahhhhh, what have I done?

I had hoped to prune down hard all the roses with Husband’s help but the advice from the Rose Society’s expert is to wait until the new growth is 3 to 4″ long. Mine is only just over an inch right now. So we’ll wait a week or so to prune. Pruning is not my forte but I do try to do things properly so I’ll study up on it. It’s an annual ritual: re-reading rose pruning techniques.

So now: on to the vegetable garden.

Why do I grow the garden? Simple economics: the more food I grow and put up, the less money is needed to run the house, and the more money is available to pay employee salaries over the winter time, our slow season. I’ll bet I only went to the grocery store 4 times this past winter. And so I work, hard.

In the afternoon we planted peas, spinach, and lettuce.

Pea Fence

The peas will grow up a 4 foot wire fence and shade the spinach and lettuce behind it. They will only get direct sun in the mornings.

This row held tomatoes last year and being the closest to the creek and the wettest part of the garden grounds, proved to be a hotbed of the anthracnose fungi, Colletotrichum coccodes. WARNING: The following photos are not for the faint of heart: My homegrown Anthracnose Colletotrichum coccodes I did a really good job of letting it thrive! Duh.

Boy, that decimated the ‘maters! I had overplanted so I still got a harvest that kept me quite busy. I pulled the most infected plants and doused the ground with vinegar and water but it didn’t really seem to do much. I still had wet spots even though I didn’t allow any more filaments to form. Perhaps the wet spots were a different form of tomato malady. There are so many wilts and fungus that beset tomatoes!

This year I will plant, water only on the ground, lay down a ground cover, prune all but the growing tip and stake the tomatoes. Labor intensive but with this kind of a fungi in the ground I need to provide prophylactic measures.

I will also cover the ground where the peas, lettuce and spinach are going to grow to keep this fungi off their leaves. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to do as much canning and freezing as I did last year.

We also pulled all the collards and I cooked up a big pot this morning, some of which will go into the freezer.

Collard Greens and Country Ham

using this recipe from Men’s Health. It was different than the way I usually do them but quite good. I used a packet of country ham, I just couldn’t go without the ham flavoring.

when I went out to the garden to get the shot of the now dirty overalls I found this:

Who Ate the Cabbage Last Night?

Who ate one of the cabbages last night? Some animal with very sharp, tiny teeth and a big wide bite. I’ll just bet that opossum who checks in on us got hungry for a sweet cabbage dinner! I can’t blame the poor critter. And raccoons eat cabbage, too. So now, I’ve got to figure out how to protect the cabbages from hungry omnivores. One article suggests planting a critter garden. Oh no! That’s more than I can even think about. Don’t know exactly what I’ll do about this. Any suggestions?

With all this garden work I’m facing I would like to applaud this little pot that needed nothing from me all winter: The Italian flat leafed and the triple curly parsley managed to thrive all on their own

Wintered over parsley

When the dog and I went out to the field to get the wild rose shots we crossed over to Cane Creek and Gaely investigated an animal trail down by the water

Investigating An Animal Path to the Water

and did her usual trick of getting a drink of water while wading

Getting a Drink

The field was full of field pansies AKA Johnny Jump-Ups. From the leaves I’d say they are Viola Bi-Color

Field Pansies AKA Johnny Jump-Ups

I do miss living up on the mountain where wild diversity was so much richer than here in this settled, cultivated valley. But I take pleasure in the wilds where ever I can.


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

6 responses »

  1. My dogs love cabbage. I’m just saying.

    • Oh boy. That’s trouble! I don’t think this was a dog theft, tho. My old lady dog’s teeth are bigger than the tiny pinpricks tooth marks on the leaves but I’ll keep a watch out for her “grazing”. Thanks

  2. Looks like Chupacabra got your cabbage! I’ve never heard of Bag Balm so I’ll try it. Thanks!

  3. What a lovely post, you make it seem like summer is just around the corner. We have had such bad and cold weather in England, that we are all crying out for a bit of sunshine. Hope you find a way of protecting those cabbages, they look like beauts.

  4. That rose virus looks awful. Good thing that you can be on the lookout and know what to do to nip it in the bud.

    My dogs were little omnivores, too. Generally they started on the ripe tomatoes, then went on to the green ones, then green beans, whatever else was available. It wasn’t until I had a fenced-off area that I could really try vegetable gardening. Would love to see your beautiful big garden in the flesh!


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