My ”“it’s time to begin working in the garden” alarm clock are rows of fruit trees down below my house. When they begin to bud, I haul out my tiller, garden tools and soil testing kits and start thinking about what I”ll plant in the coming six months.
This year the alarm went off two weeks ago.but I decided to wait until the snooze sounded- when my row of mixed Mongolian and Moorpark apricots erupted in flowers one week after my avalon peaches.
i enjoy my time gardening. But sometimes I think there’s a conspiracy tp give me false hope. Like this year when my normally temperamental Mantis two stroke tiller screamed to life on the first pull. and then settled into a fast idle as I set it in the dirt.
Dirt flying, my little mantis churned through my first 4-foot square plot. then it fouled on a three-month-old rock that was growing 18 inches under the soil. I cleared the rock from the tines and surprising me no end, my Mantis roared back to life. but just as I finished the next four foot square, a furry vole popped up from the edge of the plot. Too bad. Voles don’ slow the mantis down very much and clean up with a high pressure nozzle is easy. And their little furry remains provide good sources of organic nitrogen and calcium, both of which are important for the 20-plus tomato vies I’m planting over the next two weeks.
I am absolutely convinced there’s a vole the size of the creature in the movie “Alien” bunkered down under my driveway producing hundreds of voles that every year infest my garden and orchard.
In years past I've tried to eliminate marauding voles using dry ice, blood thinning baits, and by getting my chihuahua to pee on their mounds.ultimately, the most effective method is my scoped Beeman pellet rifle. a competition steel pellet zipping along at 800 feet per second will catch your basic tough little vole by surprise and end his days destroying your tasty vegetables.
Like most southern California gardeners I’m plagued by soil that’s slightly alkaloid. This year I treated my garden with 70 pounds of an organic compound similar to Dolomite and have my soil chemistry back towards neutral Ph 7 readings the on area of my garden that I’ve moved more towards the acid side of the PH scale are: a 10-foot by 40 foot strip that’s dedicated to growing my yearly Sequoia and Ozark strawberries; and, six mounds in the garden where I grow my two yearly crops of Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes.
By the first of June I’ll have my initial crops of strawberries. tomatoes spuds and zucchini. And as those crops come in, I refresh my soil and replant my gardens.
For the last three years I’ve also grown Havana and Virginia broad leaf tobacco. It makes a fine insect barrier, stopping white fly and aphids. I've been surprised at how easy it is to grow tobacco and I've reached the point where I now use my own seed stock.
I spend about two hours a day in my two gardens and have come to appreciate the activity as part of my stroke rehabilitation, because it forces me to use my impaired left hand and work on my balance. But most of all, I like the produce from my garden.
I’m surprised at how much I enjoy gardening.The local burrowing rodents, however, probably don’t appreciate that I'm a pretty capable marksman, but then if they stayed out of my garden and orchard. they'd only have to worry about the local weasels, coyotes and raptors.-Jim Forbes on 02/15/2011.