Saturday, October 11, 2014

Moles, Out, Out, Out...Get Out of my Garden

I wonder if any of you have any idea how many different types of plants the moles find delicious.  I had no idea how many veggies could become victims of their habits.  We have about 1/3 of an acre in garden and this is one big battle.

My first loss this spring was the walking onions.  They ate almost all my plants.  I plant a row in the garden each year for harvesting in the spring, I dehydrate the stems and have green onions to add to soups and many dry mixes I make.  This spring was a total loss.  No onions, as I went to harvest my tops I found the tops wilted, I pulled and there were only tops with no roots.  Some of the tops had been pulled down into the holes where the onion had been.  There were a few plants in the herb garden and I am now working on growing lots of sets.  My big decision is to start growing onions in gutters,  I have talked with a roofing and gutter man, he is going to keep me on the list for used guttering.  I plan to bury the gutters in the garden and plant my onion sets in the gutters.  Mr. Bootsie will drill drain holes in the bottoms of the gutters.  In the meantime, I will be planting in flower pots.  We did have an old freezer we had used for grain storage, that has been moved to the garden, filled with good soil and now has become a home for my winter onions.  I have had another thought but I need to check and see how costly effective this will be.  I thought about the bag on a roll which is just one long bag.  I could cut one side and hopefully they would not be able to invade from the bottom.

Time to harvest the peas, oh well, this was just wishful thinking.  The vines were blooming and all of sudden they started to wilt.  What is going on?  Start from the ground up and what do I find but the vine is cut at the ground level, mole has eaten the root of the peas.  I plant pole beans after the peas and they climb on the same wire.  It was time for me to put some thought into how this was going to be handled.  I lost some of the pole beans last year, so I had been thinking about this  through the winter.  All of my pole beans were planted in 6 inch pots.  I manure the pot to about 3/4's full, add good soil and plant my pole beans (2 beans) in the pot.  I was adding yard long beans this year, the same method was used for these beans except one hill, I went out one day to water, found one hill of beans wilting, realized this hill was planted directly into the ground and had been attack by the mole.

Bush beans, I plant contender snaps and they do produce.  I had been picking beans and canned 14 quarts only to find in the row the bean plants roots were being eaten.  There was an excellent harvest of green bush beans; however, I do try to leave a number of them to harvest as dried beans.  This was a major loss as the mole had a picnic eating the roots of the green beans.  I plant too many green beans to try and do something with them, so I will just be taking my chances.

Root veggies do not stand a chance around here, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beets all are mole food, I do harvest a few turnips and radishes.  Last year, we tried parsnips only to realize they would have to be planted in pots.  I am quite fortunate to have a number of large pots and even some huge pots as I am a pack rat for pots.  There are, also, those horrible blue barrels in our garden.

The blue barrels have been effective in my war against the stink bugs on my squash plants.  I plant early in the spring and my plants do not reach the ground, I am able to control the stink bugs because of this method of planting.  Well, it worked this year, 2 years ago there was war fighting the squash bug.

I am sharing this with you because I need help, suggestions and someone to send me boxes of tissues as I cry over my efforts to feed us going down into the soil as I can  see the top of my plants as they disappear.  I know there has to be someone having this problem beside me.  Now that I have cried on your shoulder I have one more to share with you.  Those moles are eating my strawberry plants.

           THIS IS WAR!!!
              (once again)

                            A few pictures of our tunnel during the summer and winter.

During the summer, the tunnel is covered with climbing plants.

This is the inside before I start adding the cool weather crops.

Snow load on top, plants inside, we were able to harvest all winter.

Here is a picture of our planting beds

All of our beds are constructed from wood, mostly logs.  I prefer for them to be close to the ground as this will reduce watering.  Beds are 4 feet wide and various lengths.

As I ponder how to handle my mole problem, I shall move forward.  The garden is moving into the tunnel for the winter, Swiss chard, lettuces, onions, beets, kale, peas, broccoli are all being planted in pots.  Holland greens are a direct seed as I did not have a major problem last year.  Garlic was planted in the soil, it seems to do well.  I like having some garlic in the tunnel as it is ready to harvest a little earlier than those grown in the garden.

Your thoughts are welcome.  I would love to hear how you handle problems in your garden.  Comment here or on the Happy Hallow Facebook page, please.  Link at the top right.  

I must run along as no one has dropped by wanting to feed the pasture animals so I am off do some chores.  Maybe a cup of warm tea would be nice first, shall I make a cup of tea for you?  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Peking Ducks


This year I hatched my first duck eggs, I remember Momma always hatching ducks eggs under one of her setting hens.  I took the easy road, the eggs were hatched in an incubator.  I really did enjoy watching the eggs come to life.  The only problem was trying to explain to Momma Duck these are your babies.  We did use fertile eggs from our farm so this is a second generation of our ducks.  They started out being  little yellow balls of fluff, which are so cute.  The growing process began, the feathers started coming in, when they were about 2 months old I began the introduction of Momma Duck and her babies.  She was not interested in these little ones taking over her run.  When the other ducks were out of the run I would let the babies take a swim in the pond and for a short while they had the run of the duck run.  Most of their days were spent with little chickens in the chicken tractor.

I noticed Momma Duck was not doing real good, there was a change in her eggs, she has laid every day for over 2 years and all of sudden the shell of her egg is soft and most of the eggs are broken while being laid.  Concerned I chatted with the farmer and she suggested I feel her sunflower seeds, Momma duck would have nothing to do with the whole sunflower seeds,  off to the kitchen to blend the sunflower seeds.  New problem, now she would not eat her grains with the ground sunflower seeds in them.  It was like she was saying to me, "I do not like the taste of sunflowers seeds and I do not care if you make meal out of them, I am not eating them."  Seems she was acting just like any 2 year old who does't enjoy something you feel it is important for them to eat.

Momma Duck has a real special place in my heart and I really think she has laid enough eggs so I took some time, pondering my next decision.  I love this girl, she is beautiful, doesn't bother anyone so what the heck, if her egg is soft, that is okay.  She took the little ones under her wing, and raised them, teaching them all the tricks of the trade and showing them how to be as sweet as she is.  Now the 2 little ones are laying.  Momma Duck is laying, once in a while there is a good egg with a shell that is strong enough for me to move the egg and bring to the house,  These eggs always give me a little hope.  As I add oyster shell to the bowl in their coop I think maybe she will never be 100 precent again but she is an excellent duck. and this is fine with me.  One morning,  this week I found a treat 3 strong eggs in the nest.  A surprise like this always puts a smile on my face and reminds me, you did the right thing allowing Momma Duck to stay with you on the farm.

We have a kiddie pond for them to swim in, but when I was cleaning out this spring I found some very large plant dripper trays, put one in the chicken run because they like to walk through the cool water during the summer,  one day, when all the runs were opened, the ducks took over the tray.  I knew there was one more and now it is the duck run, they get so excited when this tray is filled and often I find all 3 of my girls in this tray having a wonderful time.

We are so pleased with the behavior of our girls, if I had to make a choice and have only one type of bird it would be ducks.  They are so easy to take care of  and their eggs are delicious.  I always try to use a duck egg in anything I bake.  The richness comes through and makes me so pleased there are ducks  on Triple Creek Farm.