Monthly Archives: August 2011

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Privet is a lowly hedge, as far as hedges grow. It’s common, it’s mundane, it’s white flowers give off a sickly aroma in June, its even banned in certain areas because it can be invasive. As implied by the last mentioned feature, it is very easy to grow, and that’s why I planted a 60 foot row of it about 15 years ago.

I planted the privet as a divider between my property and that of my neighbor’s. At only 3 feet high, the hedge is a friendly divider. My neighbor moved and sold the property to me about 8 years ago; the divider stays. Treated with care, privet is a very nice plant.

Neglected, my hedge would grow into a towering behemoth 15 feet high, with a similar spread, a behemoth that would flower profusely to spew its fetid “breath” and spread its seed. At 3 feet high, it never grows …

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At last week’s Northeast Permaculture Convergence, I gave a lecture and had the opportunity to attend a lecture, the latter by the diva of dirt, or, at least, of compost tea, specifically aerated compost tea (ACT), Dr. Elaine Ingham. You’ve never heard of ACT!? It’s been the hot, new thing for the past few years, an alleged cure for poor soil and plant diseases. I’ve been skeptical and thought that hearing and speaking to Dr. Ingham in person could entice me into the fold.

Dr. Ingham showed myriad images of fungi, nematodes, and other creatures that you might find in compost piles and teas. We saw many “bad guys” that lurk in poorly aerated composts and teas. The “bad guys” are bad, she asserted, because they release toxins into the soil and puff away as gas valuable nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus as, respectively, ammonia (not true, the release would be as …

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Hot weather and rampant plant growth prompt me to add a word to the traditional English round, “Sumer is icumen in, Lhude sing cuccu!” My new version is “Sumer weeds is icumen in, Lhude sing cuccu!” (“Summer weeds have arrived, Loudly sing, Cuckoo!”)

Almost overnight, big clumps of barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli) have appeared in joints of the flagstone path leading up to my front door. It seems that just a week ago, a combination of hand pulling, weed whacking, and vinegar sprays had those joints free of everything except for a bit of moss. Today I had to cut clumps out with a bread knife that was useless on bread but has proved very useful for in the garden.

Besides being unsightly, those clumps of barnyard grass are unwelcome because they’re spreading. The stems prostrate stems root wherever they touch bare ground. And the emerging seed heads are prolific seed producers …

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Growing winter squashes and melons has always been an iffy proposition for me. I try to keep my vegetable garden intensively planted and neat, so the question is where to direct these plants’ long, wandering vines.

In the past, I’ve grown squashes inside the garden along the fence, up which the vines could climb. That’s if they wanted to. Some stems would invariable make a break away from the fence and scoot into the garden proper. Other stems would start the climb and then poke through the fence to start running along the ground outside the fence. I would grab some of the delinquent stems and tie them up to the fence, along with well-behaved stems that just needed help in their upward climb. Other delinquent stems just got lopped back.

Nature always wins, and the squashes usually got the better of me, overrunning their corner inside and outside …

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