Hurricane Sandy comes to Ohio

And Hurricane Ohio Edison comes to my backyard.

We don’t normally get hurricanes in Ohio. But, as we continue to resist the realities of climate change, extreme weather and severe storms have become more common. After Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast, she headed west through Pennsylvania and Ohio. I was going to tell the whole drawn-out story, but I’ll sum it up quickly like this: a neighbor’s tree fell perfectly into the V of another tree, but was hanging precariously over some power lines. So, the power company sent some contractors to take care of the tree. That didn’t solve the problem – destroying nature rarely does – so Ohio Edison came and hacked through our yard once again. Power was restored late Wednesday night. We’re still not sure what the trellis had to do with anything, but we’re all glad the tree didn’t fall in any other direction. It would have hit someone’s house, or greenhouse, or fence.

Terra's Birthday, 2012

This is just the top. The bulk of the tree is along the fence.

At first, it’s kind of fun to dig out the wind-up flashlights and find your way around the house in the dark. By the second night, it’s just boring. Then, the fridge starts smelling funny. We felt very cut off from the world. Now that we’re back, I feel moved to give.

Hey, if you are wearing clean and warm undies right now, give some money to the Red Cross today and pay it forward!  – Paula Pell

One thing I tried to learn from the situation is that the garden was destroyed whether I was sad, angry, or indifferent. It did me no good to be unhappy or happy. The yard won’t get cleaned up if I’m moping. So for me, it’s best to just accept the reality of the situation and get to work. Others faced much greater devastation, and their journey is more difficult, but the best we can do is accept the situation and help each other.

I hope you’re safe!

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Winding down in the garden

Now that our hot, hot summer has departed and the cooler temperatures of fall are setting in, we’re shifting things around in the garden. The tomatoes are still growing like wild (I will try to buy 5 tomato plants next year, not 9!) and the peppers are still giving it their all.

October 2012

greenhouse

We’ve cleaned out the cucumbers and melons, and planted radishes, beets, leeks, parsnips, and onions. The radishes look good, but there are no parsnips and just one beet. Any suggestions? Those are my favorite root vegetables, so I would really love for them to succeed.

Certainly, we’ll have freezing temperatures soon, and we’ll have to give in and pull up the remaining tomatoes and pepper plants. I can’t wait to see how long the greens last in the garden. Plus, I planted a bunch of seeds in the little greenhouse – kale, bok choy, arugula, and lettuce. Cross your fingers!

Lemon in the garden

Lemon thinks he likes greens, and he definitely loves to explore new places. He won’t run away, so we take him out in the garden sometimes. We don’t allow him to eat the plants, but he does it anyway.

Lemon in the garden

We’ve had a good crop of tomatoes and cucumbers so far, and one kabocha squash. I hope we get more squash. They’ve sure spread out enough!

Garden

cherry tomatoes

Garden

kabocha squash

Pollinators in trouble

Scientists continue to warn us about how pollinators are in trouble, and how our food supply is in danger too. Some species of bees have declined by 96% in some areas.

In California alone, researchers reported last year in the journal Rangelands [sub. req.] that native species pollinate more than one-third of the state’s crops, making them a multi-billion-dollar contributor to its rural economy.

Garden

The problem

Colony collapse is a real problem, and supposedly still mysterious. There are a few potential problems, and they’re all preventable. We all know that pesticides are affecting the bees. Most pesticides that kill bad bugs kill the good ones too. Certainly, it’s a challenge to keep a vegetable garden from getting destroyed by insects, but without bees, there is no garden. Pesticides are causing a bigger problem than they’re solving. The other potential cause is that bees need to eat their honey throughout the winter. Well, instead of letting them eat the honey, beekeepers are harvesting the honey and feeding the bees high fructose corn syrup. What?! Yes, they’re taking the bee’s natural honey and giving them a processed food instead.

How we can help

I don’t like all the doom and gloom… I want to know how to help. Check out this TED Talk about urban and city bee farmers and how they can help solve the problem. If you don’t have room for a beehive (which, regrettably, I don’t), you can plant a pollinator garden to give the bees and their friends lots of options and variety. Additionally, some countries have banned the use of the pesticides that are killing bees. Maybe we could encourage our country to do the same.

bees

Sources

Garlic

Last October, I learned that we can grow garlic, right here in Ohio! It’s the easiest thing ever. You just take one clove (not the whole bulb) and plant it a few inches deep, with the pointy end up. Wait about 6-8 months and you’ll have a whole bulb of garlic. If you buy locally grown organic garlic, you could have your own healthy, local garlic all year round.

garlic

I planted 6 garlic bulbs in October, and a few weeks ago, they were ready to harvest. You know they’re ready when 1/2 of the leaves are brown, and 1/2 are still green. Harvesting was easy. We just dug them up. You can hang them in a cool, shady place to dry, or keep them in the fridge and use them within 2 weeks.

garlic

Part of our CSA program requires that we work for 3 hours at the farm. That’s it. Just 3 hours for the whole summer. What a deal!

garlic at Crown Point

Our 3-hour commitment came up last Sunday when they were harvesting garlic. It was the day after the week-long, intense heat wave and we are so glad it broke! We had such a pleasant morning in the field, listening to the birds chirping as we dug and tied hundreds of bunches of garlic. Crown Point will dry it for us and we’ll see it in our share later this year.

garlic at Crown Point

Crown Point Ecology Center, our local CSA

1/2 share of fresh veggies

We’ve been trying for years to join our local Community Supported Agriculture program at Crown Point Ecology Center, and this is finally the year. We opted for the bi-weekly share, which we split with Britt and her husband. Every other week, we get more than enough fresh, local food. So far, it’s been mainly greens, but this week we also got garlic and beets. Ooh! I can’t wait to roast those beets.

We also get a e-newsletter each week that tells us about how our veggies are growing. Like all of us in NE Ohio, Crown Point is in desperate need of rain. They use a pond to irrigate the fields, and the pond is almost dry! Also, they’re spending more time irrigating and less time focusing on new growth. It’s so interesting to see what goes into the growing of our food.

If you have a local CSA, give them a try. You’ll pay up front, to help cover the cost of seeds and supplies, and then you’ll get delicious, healthy food throughout the growing season.

Lemon inspects the share. He thinks he likes to eat greens.

1/2 share of fresh veggies

Healers in your backyard

One of the great things I learned when I was in Nelsonville a few weekends ago was how many natural healers can be found in our backyard. Everything that grows has a purpose. Sure, there are some we don’t like, but others are very beneficial. Here are a few of my recent favorites.

Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle is a weed that grows in Ohio. Auntie Mame wrote a great post about the benefits of nettle. I haven’t found any in my yard (and I’m not that confident that I could identify it), so I buy nettle tea. But, if you have some, you can dry it and make your own nettle tea. Nettle tea is great for allergies! I drink some every day and it has definitely helped my allergies more than pills do (especially since nearly all allergy pills contain lactose). Mr drinks it and feels immediate allergy relief. It’s also good for the metabolism and creating energy.

jewelweed

jewelweed

Jewelweed

This is a healer. It can heal mosquito bites and sunburns. When I got a sunburn and we didn’t have any aloe nearby, I mashed up some jewelweed and spread it on my burns like aloe. It definitely provided some relief. I’m going to try it on mosquito bites too. Jewelweed grows in our metro parks, and in my backyard. It’s invasive, but it pulls out pretty easily. The flowers remind me of irises.

Mint

Ok, so you may have planted mint, but it grows like a weed. I love mint in milkshakes. It’s also very cooling and healing. Of course, you can use mint as a breath freshener, but it’s also good for digestion, relieving headaches, and more. Organicfacts breaks it down.

Slugs!

slugOur garden is full of slugs. Full! I found one in the vegetable garden and tons of them in the front yard… the flower garden. So sad. Yesterday, I found at least 5 in the seed starter that I lazily left in the greenhouse. There goes $30, as I’m not about to pick the slugs out. I just threw the whole thing away. Yuck! I’ve got to get rid of these plant-eating pests, but how?

Pesticides may be effective, but then birds will eat the slugs and be harmed by the pesticides. No can do. Here are some more natural ways to get rid of slugs. I’ll try a few and let you know how it goes.

  • Pick them off and throw them in some soapy water
  • Sprinkle salt on them (this seems cruel so I’m not doing to do this)
  • Bury a container filled 3/4 with beer near where the slugs hang out. They’ll climb in to drink it, and they won’t climb out. (sure, they’ll die, but they’ll be drunk and happy when they go) I might try this water bottle slug trap.
  • Pour coffee grounds around the plants slugs like. Or spray the plants with coffee. I’ve been using the Mr’s coffee grounds, but if you ask, Starbucks will give  you their coffee grounds!
  • Lay a plank of wood (or sugar-water soaked newspaper) on the garden at night. Flip it over in the morning and slide the slugs into the trash.
  • Place citrus rinds around the garden at night. Slugs will crawl in and you can dispose of them in the morning.
  • frog

    Toad? I hope he’s a slug-eating toad!

    Attract toads like that little cutie to the right.

  • Don’t kill rove beetles or lightning bugs. They eat slugs and slug eggs.
  • Ducks! Ducks eat slugs.
  • Water the garden in the morning.
  • Put some cornmeal in a jar and lay it on its side. The slugs will crawl in to eat, but they won’t crawl out, if you know what I mean.
  • Spread playground sand around plants that slugs like. They don’t like the sand. (sand isn’t great for a garden, but it’s not too bad either)
  • Plant things with red leaves. Slugs don’t like red leaves. Huh.

Be sure you set your traps and bait at night when the slugs come out. Then harvest the slimy beasts in the morning. Ew. I’m not looking forward to that part.

Thanks Gardensalive.com, How to get rid of things, Wikihow, Instructibles. And of course, Lifehacker.