I Got The Leaf Rake Out

I got the leaf rake out of the greenhouse to clean up a hill with mulch scattered on it and ended up raking the whole garden. A little breeze is nice, but wind strong enough to blow your mulch around is annoying. It turns out I like the look of freshly raked compost and soil, and the little lines the rake leaves behind. The whole garden looks ready for planting now, and when the sun comes out it feels like spring. The temperature is rising and the soil is drying, but I know better than to think winter weather is over. While raking I realized that I won’t be covering my wire tunnels with plastic this year because I enjoy watching the plants grow. Having to lift each tunnel every time is tedious. Getting an early harvest is no longer a top priority for me. Each moment of seeing the plants is now priceless. Every walk down the paths may be my last. I will be different tomorrow than I am today so cherish this day.

I pulled up the overwintered Brussels sprouts because they were the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. They had been growing in the marsh side of the garden, where puddles last the longest, and water gushes up out of the ground when you walk on it, so they didn’t get noticed very often. They were assorted shades of purple and green, stunted and spindly, an embarrassment to the terrain. They had gotten planted in an old pathway because the fall garden was so full, and I had forgotten that it used to be made up of decomposed granite. The roots got inhibited by the compacted layer and then drowned by the rains. Surprisingly one of the six plants produced 15 one inch, tightly formed heads and 7 three quarter inch heads. All of the rest of the plants had pea sized heads. Brussels sprouts are the most contrarian plants in the garden, but I keep growing them anyway. I’ve got two six packs started and plan to plant them on opposite sides of the garden. Then I can spend all summer watching them mock me 🙂

There was another juvenile rat in the squirrel trap, and a drowned one in the water trough. It must be the year of the rat. We’ve never had them before but now they are the predominant pest. They can have 10-12 offspring per litter, and 3-4 litters a year. Yikes, that’s a lot of rats. If the cats were left out at night they would be taking care of the problem because rats are nocturnal. Regrettably so are coyotes, and coyotes prefer eating cats to eating rats. Chewed Brussels sprout stalks on the opposite side of the garden from the trap indicates the adult that I’ve failed to trap may have wandered away from his family and is living away from the nest. (Went out for a smoke one night and never came back ) :).One year I trapped six juvenile possums in about six consecutive nights after trapping one adult. The same thing happened with a family of mice. Trapping is the most exciting aspect of winter gardening, so always reset your traps.

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