Thursday, August 27, 2020


We opened our Wilderness garden one decade ago so that garlic could be planted in soil free of pathogens from the deadly disease that nearly destroyed our entire crop.  Written references  to that situation indicated that our garden near home would always carry the seeds of that illness.  New garlic was purchased and we have been able to grow healthy garlic here ever since.

Eight planting beds were planned but two of them remain undeveloped.  It seems that more than can be completed is always part of the plan.  The soil near the house contains many broken stones that can be used to build decent safe paths but here the soil was more finely ground by the glaciers with the desired small flat stones mostly missing.  With planting beds needing attention this central path was more of a stone dump than a safe place to walk.

Earlier this year Becky attempted to enter the garden crossing the weed filled jumble of stones that filled this area them.  A stone of some size caught the end of her foot throwing her toward the ground.  A steel pipe had been driven into the ground to mark the edge of the planting bed.  Becky fell  heading directly toward that pipe.  Some combination of luck and skill resulted in the pipe end barely grazing the side of her head.  No blood was drawn and we will not mention the contents of my pants as I stood behind her helplessly.  The pipe was pulled that day and this proper end of the path was built yesterday.  A load of junk stone has been removed but small flat stones are still needed to finish this job.  For now the end stones have been solidly placed with absolutely no wiggle.  Small flat stones will be placed on top of the path as they become available.  No steel rods now reach for the sky and they will always be removed before I leave the job.  The white plastic pipe near the fence serves as the hinge for the gate.  It is totally encased by the bent fence and is a hazard to no one.

Here we see the boundary between a bed that has been fallow but weed filled.  Believe it or not these weeds are rather small since this bed has been already cleared this year.  The adjacent bed has been repeatedly covered with grass clippings and the weeds are removable using only hand tools.  As of today the planting bed is totally free of weeds from end to end.  Screened manure would have been spread here today had the early morning lightening and rain not altered our plans.  This ground will be frequently enriched and hand tilled between now and mid-October when the garlic is returned to the ground.

Here are our tools of choice.  All of the weeds on the pile in the background were carried there using the purple trug.  The American made Cobra Head hand cultivator follows the spade that only loosens the weeds.  Gloves protect Becky's hands with an ample supply of water close by.

This wild location at the base of a wooded slope is developing as planned.  In response to reading two sentences written by John Burroughs describing his search for the seldom seen in this area Cardinal Flower, I have spent many years trying to find a location that will support this plant without further help from me.  The raised road to the gravel bank traps the water that moves down the hill in the background.  Cardinal Flower needs generous amounts of water in order to survive.  This hill slopes toward he north delaying the early plant growth that so often freezes out both here and in Burrough's Catskills.  Lingering snow cover protects the tender green growth that has been under the snow for the entire winter.  Our garden plants have been severely hammered by this year's drought.  Short stems bearing few flowers are all that we find in our there.  Many early spring visits will be made here to check the progress of these plants next year.

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