Removing the floating row cover from the broccoli and cauliflower this morning, I gasped in dismay at the sight of my poor ravaged little plants. Hogdemort the groundhog had screwed up enough courage to sneak under the loose cover and let loose his incisors on my poor plants. Looking further, I noticed the rainbow chard had also received an unwanted pruning. Clearly, my defenses were lacking.
First, the plants needed a gentle weeding and a side-dressing of good organic fertilizer. Then we mulched heavily with organic chopped straw. The straw is from a fellow in town building a timber-frame straw bale house -- after the bales go in, the excess straw is chopped off with weed whackers. We collected a huge pile just from the garage but Dave tells us there will be more in a few weeks when the house walls go up.
After spreading the straw, we sprinkled Sluggo organic slug control about liberally, then replaced the floating row covers, this time, pinning them to the ground on all sides. It isn't pretty, but the broccoli and cauliflower are worth it. The chickens, whose run backs up the broccoli patch, apparently are not very good about scaring off Hogdemort --perhaps they need training?-- but they were very curious about the whole process today, and got very excited about the area right next to the pen where I weeded, and the soil was all stirred up. They pecked and scratched away at the soil, looking for bugs. Yay chickens!
Too bad the chickens are not closer to the lily bed, because later this afternoon, I found 3 more lily leaf beetles, 1 munching away, 2 of them busy creating new beetles. (See them on the right in the photo, the single bug shows more clearly, the other two are on the leaf above.) Well, I hope the beetles enjoyed their last moments, because I had my rubber coated gardening gloves on, also know as my bug crushers, and believe me, those beetles won't be eating another bite of my lilies.
With all the straw off our freestanding deck (where it had been temporarily stored) we were at last able to clean it off, and prepare it for staining. Late this afternoon we rented a power washer. Being 1) powered by a 6 horsepower Honda motor, and 2) loud, naturally, Dan was in heaven. He washed the deck really well, and then used the washer to scrape the flaking paint off one side of the barn, preparing that for painting.
We've outsourced the barn painting task to our friend Karen's son Antonio, who is busily earning cash for college -- this fall he'll be heading off to the University of Southern Maine. Antonio scraped paint for a couple of hours today, I'm sure he'll be pleased to see the progress we made with 20 minutes of pressure washing. There is a place for power tools in my world, especially in the hands of my man Dan.