Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pretty Flower

Pretty FlowerLook at the pretty flower. It’ll be even prettier in a couple of days when it turns into an Okra pod!

This feels like a cool August to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve moved so far north (five whole miles). As I type this it’s 11:00 AM and the temperature has only just reached 80° F (27 C). And it has been cloudy all morning.

BreakI’m aware that I haven’t posted for two weeks but I have the world’s best excuse—laziness! I guess it’s time to update what’s been going on in the garden – which isn’t much. I’ve been doing routine maintenance, of course: lawn mowing and a little weeding.

After I’d finished my post two weeks ago (that would make it Sunday, the 11th) I broke open compost pile number one – which is almost 100% Oak leaves. The pile temperature had dropped to ambient so I knew it wasn’t rotting very fast. As you can see from the pictures it isn’t thoroughly rotted – more of a leaf mold than a true compost. But I figured it would make good mulch for the Moldveggies.

Before mulching I added some worm castings to the garden. This should prevent nitrogen starvation (that’s where the mulch takes up nitrogen from the soil in order to continue rotting, temporarily depriving the plants of a needed nutrient).

Since the sweet potatoes had pretty much covered their beds I added Shovelcompost by simply dumping it on top of the plants. The leaves bent down and shed the compost; it ended up mostly on the soil. With all the heavy rains we’ve been having I figured that was good enough – the rain would wash it down the rest of the way. It worked.

Last weekend (August 17 and 18) I didn’t work on any projects at all. It was a lazy time of watching a couple of movies on Amazon prime and thinking about this and that.

 

Mulch

Later on today I hope to talk about what I did this weekend.

Ciao,

Rick

 

Armadillo

The ten-day “drought” finally broke last Sunday. There was a light rain (less than 1/2 inch) in the evening. Since then I’ve gotten at least another 6 inches – spread over three storms. Hereabouts, the average total rainfall for August is 8 inches. I’d say we’re on track.

9-banded-armadilloYesterday evening (late afternoon to some of you) it was so wet and cloudy that an armadillo became confused. Normally they’re nocturnal but this one came out foraging a little early. I took several pictures but I think my camera automatically focused on the rain. They’re all blurry (the photo to the right is by Jerry Segraves). I walked out in the yard to take a closer look, speaking aloud the whole time. The armadillo was completely oblivious and didn’t notice me until I was about 4 feet away. Then he (or she—how can you tell?) jumped straight up in the air, spun around, and ran off to hide. They’re a lot faster than you might think.

Armadillos are not Florida natives so they may be killed with impunity. Or with a big stick. Warning: snowbirds, though not native, are a protected species – so don’t even think about it! I was thinking about this (armadillos, not snowbirds) as I watched it rooting around next to my garden. Would it eat my veggies? Time for a little research. Here’s the University of Florida extension service website. Armadillos mostly eat insects with an occasional side dish of berries or mushrooms. Their nuisance value lies in their digging – both for access to said insects and to make their burrows. Since this one wasn’t bothering my garden I decided to live and let live.

Should I decide to get rid of my not-so-furry friend, UF lists four methods of control. Three of these methods are allotted one paragraph apiece while the other gets five paragraphs and an illustration. We’ll come back to that.

Here are my options:

I can make my yard/garden less attractive by making it drier and less fertile. That’s out.

A fence will make sure it stays in the neighbor’s yard. But my yard is fenced! Oh, that’s right, armadillos are burrowing animals. The fence has to go at least 18 inches below ground. That sounds like work – more than I have time for.

The last option listed is shooting (where legal). They recommend a shotgun – number four birdshot minimum, BB shot maximum – or a small-caliber rifle. Hmm.

The option to which they give the most space is live trapping. They list several different methods. Then they mention that it is illegal and environmentally unsound to transport or release armadillos. So, once you’ve live trapped it, you should kill it. The web site never comes right out and says this, of course.

Here’s a few more fun facts about armadillos. Yes, they can carry leprosy. But if you live in Florida don’t worry. There’s never been a case here (of 2500 animals tested). There’s also never been a known case of rabies among armadillos in Florida. In fact, “compared to other common mammals such as raccoon and opossum, armadillos are remarkably free of parasites.”

UF’s website also mentions that they are edible, “with proper preparation.” Not surprisingly, they fail to specify the proper preparation method. Cooking? Note that armadillo meat has only 26% of its calories from fat as opposed to rabbit or chicken breast, both 37%. As a survival food, that’s not ideal.  Better stock up on lard or beef tallow to cook it in.

Not that I plan on bothering “my” armadillo. He can join the moles and ibises in keeping down the insect population.

Happy eating,

Rick

First Okra

WiltThe last ten days have been rainless—except for a few light sprinkles. I hand-watered the garden yesterday morning.

Notice that the plants look slightly wilted. That’s not from lack of water, it’s normal Florida summertime wilt. The mid-day sun is so bright that many plants (even habaneros*) wilt in self-defense. They perk right back up in the evening.

PodsI picked my first okra just before making supper. There were only three pods but this is really an experiment. I’ve never cared for okra when I’ve had it in the past, and not because I disliked the flavor!

I ate one of the smaller pods raw and found it very pleasant. The other two I chopped up and added to a stir fry. The cutting board was slimy after the chopping but the stir-fried chunks were not. The largest pod was a bit tough. Must pick them when they’re smaller.Rocks

I’m beginning to think I should have planted more. Live and learn.

In other news: the folks who lived here long ago loved decorative rock mulches—which I’m slowly removing. At least it’s easy to sift rocks out of sand.

God bless,

Rick

*This is the correct (Spanish) spelling.