Tag Archives: deer

A New Year…A New Home…

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Happy New Year! Quite a bit of snow fell during December.

Sending everyone New Year greetings, whether Gregorian or Asian!  It’s been a wild few months of fall 2016, having gone through the process of sorting, packing, and moving my belongings from my beloved home of 18 years; also, the source of all my previous postings for High Vibe Bounty.  It was a prolonged process I wouldn’t care to repeat very soon.  Hard to believe the planning started in June, but not a lot could be done without any storage units available in this college town, until classes started in late September.  I could only pack so many boxes, before being stuck with no place to put them.

That led to a bit of stall in being able to show my place for rental purposes, but it all came together relatively easily; it just seemed to be a never-ending process to get through the needed repairs and improvements.  Naturally, I said my good-byes to the yard, and harvested the CG bounty for the last time.  I think neighbors were feeling little incentive to harvest, knowing I would be leaving, but I did put out a request for help in weeding and removing the last of the tomatoes!  Deer netting is still up for protect any weeds that are enjoying our winter…lol.  What my renter decides to do with that space is her choice!

Meanwhile, I have a new home and new roommate, who won over my heart (and apparently vice-versa).  I may have mentioned earlier that his yard is a more challenging scenario, given some years of neglect (not his priority or forte), but I have been rehabilitatinging his old blueberry bushes for 3 years, and they are doing great.  This year will require more thought on how much old wood to actually leave, now that many younger stems have filled in my previous thinnings. It might mean a temporary decrease in fruit this year, but we’re still stuffed to the freezer limits with last year’s stash!

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Blueberries biding their time through rain and snow! That irksome jack-in-pulpit ground cover thought our warm fall was just prime for re-emergence before winter, and wasn’t phased by any snow!

Unlike my own property project, which was essentially a clean slate of lawn that could be covered over and established as I liked, my new yard is overwhelmed with ancient shrubs, overgrown with English Ivy from neighbors’ yards, and a plethora of weeds/lawn.  There is a nice patch of area for putting in a veggie garden, yet it does not produce as prolifically as mine did, given clayier soil, more shade from gigantic trees on south and west property lines, a the house itself on its sunny eastern side.  Last summer we removed two giant sweetgum trees that had become a nuisance to the house foundation, so there is more eastern light in the morning, which is great inside the house, and for the newly planted landscape mounds in front of the house.

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Giant sweetgum no more, making way for more sun, and a new perennials bed project out of the ground stumps/earth, thereby letting me move a few favorites from my yard. Deer proof/resistant necessary on the open street size.

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Randall showing his new expertise, gardening and computer-tasking, both at the same time…not! Pleased with a new front yard that should be relatively drought tolerant in a couple of years.

The concept of “sharing the bounty as a community garden” is now not the priority topic at my new home, since we have no community garden out front here; it’s all in the large BACK yard.  Still, this will be a project of continuing the high vibes of gardening with both food and flowers.

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It’s a big area to redevelop, especially when the left side floods!

 

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Kwan Yin keeping an eye on things from her temporary abode. Like all those planters? Uprooted, and moved from various places, mostly my old yard. But, where to put them?

One of the dilemmas of how to salvage this backyard space is how much time, effort, and money, we want to actually invest in this, since we need professional help to remove and restore things.  We attempted to control the invasive ivy and jack-in-the-pulpit ourselves last summer,using mechanical and chemical means (in order to stay sane), but it hasn’t apparently had much effect, at least on the “pulpit” invaders.  And they love root disturbance, just as do blackberries (a few of those as well).  I can compromise with patches of weeds in proper places, but I have little tolerance for them around edible plants, so there’s a considerable amount eradication needed.  And, with neighboring rentals that aren’t really interested in maintaining weeds, there is always a source for re-invasion, hence continual vigilance and maintenance (though that in itself is nothing new for any garden).  And, in the long run, how long will we stay here?  The neighborhood, so close to campus, is prone to noisy parties and more problems that don’t delight my sense of security.  We already had a nice teak removed from the front porch while on vacation in December, even with someone coming to the house twice daily to feed Juni and Aspen.  Still, we will expand the veggie planting area, and hope for more successful tomatoes and squash this year.

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Aarg! Jack-pulpit, blackberries, ivy, and holly bushes make this garden maintenance a challenge in the long run.

I do love that the backyard is essentially deer-proof!  There are a few that have been spotted on occasion, but they tend to stay in neighborhoods 5 blocks away, where they have more front yard options to browse.  I have found one in a nearby yard, but he couldn’t get into ours.  And with so many large old trees surrounding us, there is a consistently larger diversity of birds: flickers, woodpeckers, chickadees, juncos, red finches, goldfinches, bushtits, nuthatches, western tanagers, scrub jays, and the obligatory always-quarreling starlings and crows, who raucously knock the suet feeders off the hooks.  A grey squirrel comes many days to pick up discards under the sunflower seed feeder.  It is quite the menagerie to watch on a given day, viewed from the kitchen window.  Our hummingbird feeder just under the front porch eave is visited by a female and a couple of males, with no more than 20 minutes’ absence between them on their rotations.  Life is good!

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Keeping Anna’s hummers fed and zippy!

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It’s a boy!…Monarch that is…

 

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Beautiful male Monarch on my Asclepias!  The spot, circled in yellow, is mirror-imaged on the other wing, and indicates this to be a male.  Photo courtesy of neighbor, Jamie Simmons, who also watched this specimen flitting in his yard.

We’ve been blessed with the presence of an authentic Monarch butterfly in the garden this last week, following my sighting of 3 more out in some pasture lands on the outskirts of town.  The Monarch is a relatively rare butterfly to see in this area, and I can’t remember the last time I saw one: with the overall decline in their populations over the last decade, I was surprised and delighted to see these, especially in a short amount of time!  Almost didn’t trust my eyes! I grew up with them as very commonplace yard visitors, and missed their numbers up here in western Oregon.  Even though I’ve grown a type of milkweed for many years (a non-invasive cultivar), it hasn’t hosted very many caterpillars in its lifetime, nor is it the favorite of the monarch.  However, more people are planting various types of milkweed in the area, and perhaps it is paying off.

He is not always present on a daily basis, but one afternoon and evening he was a visitor for several hours, flitting about, around to neighbors, and back, and alighting on the butterfly bush, which is loves for nectar.  The frequently visiting Swallowtail was also cruising through the yard, and there were some near collisions at the Buddleia bush.  Jujubes have shown up, too, jumping and whirling themselves about in little frenzies, which didn’t phase Mr. Monarch.  Such a delight and blessing to see them all active and energetic.  I did have to remind little Juni-cat that she should not even think about trying to capture our visitor! She has caught a Swallowtail before…grrr.

Our first bounty of beautiful yellow crookneck squash was picked a couple of weeks ago, and a ripening tomato can be seen from certain viewpoints in the yard.  However, most of the tomatoes are green; our intermittent pattern of 3-days cooler than average, then 3 days normal summer heat, is not conducive to speedy tomato ripening.  There might be green tomatoes at season’s end this year, depending.

Spaghetti squash is being true to form and pumping out its fruit, (with bees’ help, of course), and at last count last weekend, I saw about twelve softball-sized squash.  Five days later, some of them are now almost full-grown for this variety, like a good-sized canteloupe.

We’ve had very, very, very, very bad deer this year, in spite of extra netting.  They have learned to walk on netting and bite through it for their highly-desired bean leaf sprouts, and then they won’t leave them alone.  There will be absolutely no bean harvest this year; I leave the stems to torment them!  Always one day (no, one night!) ahead of me, they demolished over half the lettuce crop.  It appears we might get some lettuce re-growing though as summer cools off a bit.  And they harass some of the melon and cucumber seedlings, too, when least expected, so we’ll see how those do.  Tomatoes are protected enough now that they can’t do too much damage.

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Early July deer damage.  Forget any bean harvest this season, and only a bit of lettuce escaped sabatoge.  The day after this photo shot, they munched the rest of the lettuce, and proceed to keep it mowed.

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That’s what happens when you leave town for a few days…all of a sudden it is a massive crookneck jungle! May have to do some disciplining/removal so the hidden melon plant can see more sun!

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Spaghetti squash interloping with tomatoes. At least deer don’t like the prickly leaves at this point.

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Squash fruits galore, running all over the place.

 

Early is the name of the game

Mature and harvested spaghetti and delicata squash (background) giving more room for other squash and melons to roam. Deer deterrent that has worked best is the upside down chair, preventing his landing attempt! Basil is lushly growing, immune to browsing.

Mature, harvested spaghetti and delicata squash (background) giving more room for other squash and melons to roam. Deer deterrent that has worked best is the upside down chair, preventing his landing attempt! Basil is growing lushly, immune to browsing.

Early to bloom, early to ripen, early demise.  On the calendar that is!  Our “endless summer” has mitigated its heat wave temporarily, so plants look a bit more refreshed.  As observed over the last couple of weeks, some squash leaves signaled their fatigue and resignation to powdery mildew, as the fruits of their efforts came into maturity.  Spaghetti squash and delicata bushes were harvested and removed, providing some more freed crawling space for the little margarita and chanterai-type melons.  It seems so early for all this, but then again summer weather started very early.  Our first tomato pickings, too, and now they are moving into more continual ripening.  Zucchinis and yellow summer squash are still very active, and the cucumbers come in little waves.  I haven’t dared to peek under the acorn squash yet; and it is still quite mildew-free, so there’s a bit of time to catch the breath before doing more work.

The hidden gems of min-canteloupes and other melons coming into maturity. Mildew helping move along the bush lifespan more quickly than usual!

The hidden gems of mini-canteloupes and other melons coming into maturity. Mildew helping move along the bush lifespan more quickly than usual!

As much as I’d like to start planting more lettuce, it is still too early, given the soil and air temperatures are too warm; must be patient till at least mid-to-late August.  It is amazing how well beets will hold up if they can keep their roots shaded from too much light.  And, it is always amazing how beans will recuperate from moderate deer browsing, to push forth more flowers again.  Seems like we might have the deer stymied for the time being, although he does come by to see what vines he can possibly nibble on that might escape the protection of netting.

I have been watching for the signs of summer fatigue in the landscape and forest trees this last week, after another 4-day marathon of 100-degree heat.  Whereas the subtle shift of green to green-gold comes in mid-late August, there are some trees that have flat-out protested the whole summer, with leaves turning brown, curling up, and are blowing off this week.  I had a brief glimpse of fall there, then realized these were severely heat-stressed!  Lavenders have recuperated a bit, and providing plenty of nectar for the bees and butterflies.  Life is good!

Step carefully…

The July jungle is now in full swing!  Evidently our watering regime is working well despite an ongoing drought, and waves of very hot days replaced by cooler, more “normal” temperatures, with heat spikes in between.  We simply use soaker hoses for 10 to 15 minutes daily on everything but the tomatoes, which may be on an every other day schedule, temperature dependent.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The bounty is coming in! Mostly summer squash and the oldest planting of bush beans, with a few extra pounds making their their way to a local food bank. The winter squash are prolific, too, just not ready!  And while scouting around the squash some mini-canteloupes and margarita melons showed themselves!  Always such a thrill to find the hidden gems!  Thinning the prolilfic tomato vegetation is allowing the tomatoes to see the sun and a few are just blushing.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started.  Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started. Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

The dilemma of outwitting our browsing buck continues.  Almost a game in a way; one week we are “safe” from damage, and the next week he lets us know he is smarter, or more desperate, probably both!  While we now have extra netting stretched over plants within the already-netted perimeter, our nemesis continues to jump in and scout around, browsing anything that might poke through the netting.  Damage control is tolerable under the usual circumstances, but now he has earned the reputation of  being “bad, bad, bad, really bad” by succeeding in wiping out the beans that had just recuperated from a setback 2 weeks ago.  Apparently this was achieved by literally walking on the netting!  Maybe I should start tally marks on an extra zucchini.  Deer wins this week’s round.

Netting on netting.  Ambushed! Now the deer doesn't mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

Ambushed! Now the deer doesn’t mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

 

Come Together…CG 2015 is underway

It’s always a great feeling when all the seeding and planting is finished, and can announce that the CG is “open as usual.”  This year it has been hard to assign the right time to put everything in, given the incredibly warm and dry spring we’ve had.  March, April, and May have seemed to be intertwining months, with no real differentiation in their feel of time.  In April it felt like it was almost time to plant, but the calendar reminded me that tomatoes are best not put in before mid-May.  And so it is, and the tomatoes have their red spring jackets on.  Because, inevitably it may be warm for weeks, but when you get ready to plant tomatoes, the temperatures cool down a bit.  Variability is the name of the game.

Finally underway!

Finally underway!

As of today, the spaghetti squash once again wins the race for first emergence of all the squash, melons, and cukes!

Since our precipitation has come primarily in the form of spitting drizzle, it was necessary to wet down the soil with an oscillating sprinkler a few days ahead of planting.  We were rewarded with more ease of fertilizaer and soil preparation, and the emergence of tiny lettuce, beet, and radish seedlings in record time.  The cooler weather has actually been a boon for transplanting, but is deceiving in that the breezy, dry conditions require more watering than thought.

Neighbor's artistic use of bamboo at back of our property to confuse deer.

Neighbor’s artistic use of bamboo at back of our property to confuse and deter the deer; at over 8 feet high, we are hoping it works!

While awaiting the sprouting of squash, cucumber, and melon seeds, it’s time to contemplate the next phase of deer defense, as they have found their way into the house yard through the few open spots of the back area.

In spite of our overcast, cool, yet very dry weather, the bees are actively buzzing amidst the Spanish lavender!

In spite of our overcast, cool, yet very dry weather, the bees are actively buzzing amidst the Spanish lavender!

Hope your gardens are emerging and growing well, wherever you are!

No deer here!

This is what we like…”invisible” fencing that deer really don’t like because it is so hard for them to see.

The "super-guys" modestly not showing off their muscles after post-digging.   Nice netting...can hardly see it!

The “super-guys” modestly not showing off their muscles after post-digging. Nice netting…can hardly see it!

Finally protected, just in time to remove all covers and jackets on the CG inhabitants.  With gratitude to the generosity of best friends with muscle power, the fencing got put up in a couple of hours, and looks great.  It is so much easier being able to walk inside freely instead of pulling back netting.

Yep, still level-headed after pounding posts!

Yep, still level-headed after pounding posts!

But these 4-leggeds are persistent in browsing, and decided if they can’t have lettuce or beans, then they’ll nibble some dogwood tips a few feet away.  They still manage to wind their way in from the neighbor’s garden when our barriers are not perfectly intact, and continue to harass my roses. and apples in the house yard.  Perhaps I will still see some small rosebuds this fall.

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Still no roses this year. The browsers escape into the garden through neighbor’s hedge on occasion.

Young lavender are playing sentinels for the recent melon sprouts in the pots.

Lavender seedling sentinels for the sprouting melons.  Keep those deer browsers out!

Lavender seedling sentinels for the sprouting melons. Keep those deer browsers out!

In between the gaps…a gallery

A glimpse into the menagerie of the community garden and general house yard through fall and winter 2013/2014.

Always like to show off what our browsers can do when they put their minds to it.  Push down that netting to get the delectable bean leaf tips! They've developed finesse so they don't get their teeth caught in the netting...

Always like to show off what our browsers can do when they put their minds to it. Push down that netting to get the delectable bean leaf tips! They’ve developed finesse so they don’t get their teeth caught in the netting…

Apologies to our beautiful praying Mantis, who is probably eyeing an insect or two under the netting.  What a beaut!

Apologies to our beautiful praying Mantis, who is probably eyeing an insect or two under the netting. What a beaut!

Tasty greens sprouting for fall crop.  Mature beets further right even overwintered well under the snow pack.

Tasty greens sprouting for fall crop. Mature beets further right even overwintered well under the snow pack.

The typical way we keep the squash, melon, and tomato harvest aired and dry during the mild, not-too-rainy days of fall....stored under my eaves.

The typical way we keep the squash, melon, and tomato harvest aired and dry during the mild, not-too-rainy days of fall….stored under my eaves.

A record-setting snow-then-freeze episode the very first weekend of December 2013, followed by a record-setting snowfall in early February 2014, made us very aware of how little we can predict anything anymore, or when our gardens are tested to the maximum adaptability, and how miraculously resilient plants can be.  The witnessing of when a healthy, mature plant “decides” it will not struggle to survive the next year, but yield to the new energies of the next generation of seedlings.

Where's the bench seat?!

Where’s the bench seat?!

How Deep? 020814

14″ AFTER the snow has packed down for 3 days…

The birds had to learn to eat snow on their feeder for a few days.  Thank goodness for seeds on the old flower stalks, although the snow buried a lot of those.

The birds had to learn to eat snow on their feeder for a few days. Thank goodness for seeds on the old flower stalks, although the snow buried a lot of those.

And spring brings the energy of renewal…

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Kwan Yin being sheltered by a bower of the Siberian kiwi vine.