Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moving Day

It's the end of the growing season here on The Edge of the Arctic Hinterlands and that means anything that needs to be moved will need to be moved now.

I'm not great at planning the garden.  I buy stuff, go "oh this will look good here" and then, a disturbingly short time later decided that it should be somewhere else.  It's too tall, too wide, or doesn't go with the other plants in the area.

So The Husband grabbed the shovel and we got moving.

This is a large clump of Shasta daisies (var overgrowusfastus).  It got too large in the first place I planted it.  Then I moved it and it got even larger and started to hide the Russian Sage (Perovskia).  I like the Russian Sage and want to be able to see it.  So I decided to move it again.   Now it's in the backyard with the shrubs.  I think it should be able to stand up to the dogs.

When I was first working on the garden I planted some grasses as temporary fillers.  These two clumps of Panicum virgatum (Heavy Metal) got to be moved because the plants in the area started to get big enough they didn't need the fillers.

Not shown are the dozen or so Gaura seedlings (some Whirling Butterflies, some Siskiyou Pink, some crosses).  I've transplanted them before and the same thing happens every time.  I don't get much root structure.  The green parts die back after transplanting but then, a few weeks later, new leaves start to appear from the roots.  I'm starting to see new green.  Even if they don't all survive most of the plants had seeds on them so the seeds will have a chance in this new area.

We didn't get to everything.  I have a Caryopteris (Dark Knight) that needs to get out from under the neighboring Buddleia but it's blooming.  So I'll make a note in my garden journal and move it in the spring.

Next project:  Bulbs!

I hope I didn't order too many.  ;)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Compost confessions

I've been religiously composting all of our kitchen waste since we moved to The Edge (and before).  The yard waste either goes in the compost bin or into a pile in the woods if it might be full of seeds.  Early this year I got out the shovel and started spreading the compost around.  I used it quite successfully in my outdoor potted plants (all heavy feeding annuals).

It was a pain in the back.  

Shoveling the compost that is.

During the winter we have several feet of snow on the ground.  The compost bin is at the far side of our backyard.  We've been putting a large plastic trash can (with lid) on the deck for winter compost.

We carried it out to the compost bin this spring.  The smell lingered for days.  Ugh.

The Husband and I are busy, active people.  We aren't good at taking the kitchen waste out every day.

We get those little flies all over the kitchen during the summer.

They're annoying.

They lay eggs in the compost bin.

When it's really hot the eggs hatch before we carry the compost out and we get maggots.

In the kitchen.


Seriously Gross.
Then came the Great Skunk Event of 2011.

Skunks (and raccoons and opossums and rodents) are all attracted to kitchen scraps.

One of our dogs is a real Predator and will attack and kill anything he finds in the yard.  Squirrels, opossums, skunks, rodents.   He's even caught and killed (and eaten) birds.

So composting kitchen waste wasn't working too well for us.

[composting leaves from the fall works spectacularly well, on the other hand]

I swallowed my environmentalism.  Decided that I can buy compost from the local garden center when I need it and started throwing out kitchen scraps.


I'm such a Bad Girl.

[Don't hate me.]
But I no longer have flies (and maggots) in my kitchen because The Husband and I both forgot to take out the compost.

The chances that a critter will be in the yard trying to get into the compost bin when we let the dogs out at night have gone down.

I'm still a supporter of the idea of composting but it just hasn't been working well for us.

Maybe in the future.
I really wish our town picked up kitchen waste and composted it.

Now here's a pretty picture of Sweet Autumn Clematis on our back deck.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Minor Tragedy on The Edge

Well, minor for us.  Major for one wild animal.  Spoiler alert:  This does not end well.

One of our dogs started out life on the mean streets.  A free dog.  No home to call his own.  No people to keep him in check.  No regular source of food.  He is a very effective P

redator.  He has caught and killed all manor of animals in the backyard.  Birds.  Squirrels.  Small mammals and such he usually eats before I can identify them.

Last night, after dark, The Husband let the dogs out. 

A few minutes later I jumped up off my chair and yelled at him to bring the dogs back inside.


The same reason I immediately began closing windows.


Of course by the time I could smell it, it was too late.  The odor was inside and Our Predator had taken a face full.

He's such a Predator that the spray didn't stop him.

Here's the tragedy.  He killed the skunk.

He doesn't look that tough, does he?

By the time I had the windows closed and was out the back door Our Predator was parading the dead skunk around the yard, pausing to rub his face all over the ground, then picking up the body to parade some more.

What does a biologist do with a dead skunk and a stinky dog?

The Predator had to wait outside while The Husband drove to get de-skunking supplies and I grabbed a flashlight and the body.  I hauled the carcass well back into the woods behind our neighborhood.  Hopefully it's far enough back there that we won't have to smell it for the next month.  It's hard to tell how far you've gone in the wood after dark.

So what does a biologist use to deal with the odor?  Here's the recipe:  1 quart of fresh hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1 tablespoon dish detergent (preferably Dawn - it's the one brand I am completely confident is safe for use on animals).  It must be mixed fresh so that's what we did.  Poor Predator got his face scrubbed and then got water dumped on him.

The leftover de-skunk solution got dumped roughly where we think the spraying actually occurred.  It can be hard to tell once your sense of smell is overloaded by skunk odor.

The smell inside?  It's hard to actually remove the odor from the air (despite what the "air freshener" commercials tell you) - the best thing is to open all the windows and let the smell disperse with the breeze.  That wasn't good enough so I also put a small pan on the stove with a little bit of water and some cinnamon sticks.  Yum.  Much better than the smell of the skunk.

So I think we've all learned a lesson.  When the dogs go out after dark we'd better make enough noise that any animals inside the fence get out.
The Predator learned that when he kills a skunk he gets a rude bath outside in the yard and then gets taken to a professional groomer the next day.

I doubt that will stop him.