March 10th, 2012 by Marc Opperman
My rain barrels are full again! Not too surprising, really, but I had emptied them in preparation for this rain event. I made 10 gallons of compost tea with some of my stored water. Two 5-gallon buckets with a few ounces blackstrap molasses each, a shovel of freshly-dug compost each, and daily stirring. Hopefully, the vegetables enjoyed the foliar feeding they got just before the rain.
Oh, and I added a couple teaspoons each of bacillus thuringiensis v. kurstaki for the rampant worms that have been devouring my plants nightly. As early as the last week of February, I was seeing nasty cutworms. The last couple years, these have caused a lot of damage to my vegetable crops, and seem indiscriminate as to what they’ll eat… onion greens, broccoli, carrot greens, potato shoots, strawberry leaves. This year they seem even more numerous. And I’m seeing them as nocturnal pests, with two different behaviors: some cut the stems of plants, and leave the fallen plant. Others climb into the foliage and eat leaves. I can usually pick off the leaf-eaters, but the stem-cutters are harder to find. Sometimes I can poke around the base of cut plants and find a cutworm. Helps to have a good headlamp.
So, I’m trying the kurstaki. I read the caterpillars eat the microbe, which then releases crystallin toxins as the microbes multiply in the caterpillar’s gut. Sounds nasty. And fitting.
I finally finished removing the fire pit and replaced it with a sizable full-sun raised bed. I used spare cedar lumber, a few logs of cut juniper, and a block of sandstone to make it. My brand of economy leads to such eclecticism.
I had good help:
I filled the bottom with freshly-dug compost, and covered that with Natural Gardener Lady Bug soil. In one end, I planted three tomato transplants from my parents, Heinz, Ace and a large cherry. The other half will get cantaloupes, I think. I still want to plant a few more tomatoes, mainly indeterminate Romas or the Viva Italias I had last year.
Probably not much gardening this weekend… rain, and CAMN training. Tomorrow is spiders, insects and birds. Taught at Hornsby Bend. I’ve never been there, but I hear good things.