Groundhog Love

The Snarky Gardener discusses not his love for groundhogs, but what groundhogs love to eat from his garden.

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For the garden, groundhogs are very destructive. They have great appetites and can wipe out a whole season’s productivity. Fencing does help, although groundhogs are known for going under or over to get at the buffet the Snarky Gardener has provided. After seasons of experience, the SG has developed a strategy to mitigate vegetable loss. Below is a list of groundhog favorites and another list of those that have never been touched. Some of the “groundhog safe” plants have even been grown outside the fence with no munching, including garlic, onions, turnips, and various herbs. Going forward, more of these will be planted outside the fencing and efforts will be redoubled (more fencing!) to keep these little guys out of the good stuff.

Groundhogs have never munched on:
Turnips
Garlic
Onions
Leeks
Herbs (lemon balm, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary)
Tomatoes
Potatoes
Peppers
Zucchini (bush)

What groundhogs really love (in order):
Broccoli
Carrot tops
Sunchokes
Peas
Beans
Cucumber leaves
Kale
Spinach
Lettuce
Corn (pulled down the stalks to eat the cobs!)
Pumpkins (the outside of the fruit).

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Yum! Broccoli

Kent Food Not Lawns – August Food Swap

Kent Food Not Lawns is hosting a food swap

Where:  Kent Social Services – 1066 S Water St, Kent, OH

When:  August 13, 2014 – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

A food swap is an event where people meet to share homemade, homegrown, and foraged foods (including plant starts and seeds).  No money changes hands but instead attendees bring items they wish to swap for other’s produce.  Packaging and labeling does help.  Value of each item for trade should be around $5.

Each unique item will have a sheet placed in front of it.  During the “walking around” phase, swappers will write down what they are willing to trade for a given item (sheets will be provided).  For example, if you have jars of jelly and you want a loaf of bread, you put down your name and “jars of jelly” on the bread sheet.  During the swap phase, you find people who want your products and whose produce you want.  Sometimes you can get someone to trade even if they didn’t write down a bid on your sheet, but this is usually only if they have extra they don’t want to have to take home.

Here’s some advice on how to succeed at your first food swap.

Schedule:

6:30-7:00   Sign in and set up

7:00-7:30   Walk around, sample, and bid

7:30-8:00   Swap!

Sign up here:

For additional questions, please contact kentfoodnotlawns@gmail.com

 

Abundance

The Snarky Gardener writes an abundance of words about abundance.  Imagine that.
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Too many snow peas? I think not.

To the Snarky Gardener, abundance means having plenty (even too much) of a thing. Often people are concerned with what they can’t grow or what’s not doing well because of pests, lack of sunlight, or poor soil. But if you take this “problem” and turn it on its head with abundance, your mindset totally changes. The question, “What can I grow a boat load of?”, offers up all kinds of possibilities. I believe food growers should build upon their successes, with new and experimental plants taking only a small amount of total resources, and removal of those that produce poorly. At Snarky Acres, that means growing more sunchokes, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peas, kale, garlic, onions, greens, zucchini, corn, Swiss chard, comfrey, and herbs (especially perennials like mint, lemon balm, oregano, and sage). It also means growing less (or no) broccoli, watermelon, peppers, eggplant, spinach, and beets. It’s hard to stop trying with those fruits and vegetables we love to eat, but not everything grows well everywhere, even in the same relative climate.

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Too much mint or not enough mojitos?
How to create abundance:

1. Grow a lot more of what grows well.
2. Look for alternative resources (weeds, trees, native species)
3. Create environments where abundance happens naturally (perennials and self-seeding plants)
4. Save seeds, plant extra starts (tomatoes, etc), and start new plants from cuttings.
5. Grow in non-optimal spaces (shade, poor soil)
6. “Invasive” also means “Abundance”

How to utilize abundance:

1. Find trading partners (food swaps, seed swaps, time banks, neighborhood barter systems)
2. Learn to preserve (canning, freezing, drying)
3. Find other uses (dynamic accumulators, medicinal)
4. Learn to create products from your produce (extracts, salves, pesto)

You Had Me At Shiitake

The Snarky Gardener is looking forward to Shiitake and Chicken-of-the-Woods mushrooms in 2015
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The Snarky Gardener had to cut down a maple tree for inoculation.  Notice the lack of safety goggles or ear plugs – very professional.

The Snarky Gardener read a TimeBank ad for mushroom inoculation and jumped at the chance. For only 2 Time Credits (equals two hours of my time somewhere else), a mushroom expert came to Snarky Acres and put on a demonstration. I read up online to get the basic idea. First, I had to have fresh wood – 3 weeks or less old. And the wood had to be a hardwood like oak, maple, or black cherry. The timing was perfect as I’ve been wanting to cut up a pile of pine logs near my garden for a year or so. So I found a local tool rental place and rented me the biggest chainsaw they had (24″ inches) as the logs were quite big. Of course this was only the second time I’d ever used a chainsaw, so the Snarky Girlfriend watched to make sure I didn’t cut anything off my body (and to apparently make fun of me). As you can see by the photo, I’m not using ear or eye protection, but I was sure to wear the traditional lumberjack polo shirt. Fortunately, the logs and a six inch wide maple tree were cut without any injury to the Snarky Gardener or his ego.

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Tom (aka the Mushroom Expert) is putting wax on top of inoculation holes

On inoculation day, process went like this :
1.  Use fresh wood that’s been cut between fall and late spring (for nutritional reasons).
2.  Drill holes into the wood.
3.  Insert pre-treated plugs into the holes.
4.  Wax the holes to protectively seal them.
5.  Wait until next spring, keeping the logs in the shade and moist.
6.  Eat mushrooms for the next 5 years or so.

So now we just have to wait nearly a year before mushrooms will be eaten.

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The finished product

Kent Food Not Lawns – July Food Swap

Kent Food Not Lawns is hosting a food swap

Where:  Kent Social Services – 1066 S Water St, Kent, OH

When:  July 9, 2014 – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

A food swap is an event where people meet to share homemade, homegrown, and foraged foods (including plant starts and seeds).  No money changes hands but instead attendees bring items they wish to swap for other’s produce.  Packaging and labeling does help.

Each unique item will have a sheet placed in front of it.  During the “walking around” phase, swappers will write down what they are willing to trade for a given item (sheets will be provided).  For example, if you have jars of jelly and you want a loaf of bread, you put down your name and “jars of jelly” on the bread sheet.  During the swap phase, you find people who want your products and whose produce you want.  Sometimes you can get someone to trade even if they didn’t write down a bid on your sheet, but this is usually only if they have extra they don’t want to have to take home.

Schedule:

6:30-7:00   Sign in and set up

7:00-7:30   Walk around, sample, and bid

7:30-8:00   Swap!

Sign up here:

For additional questions, please contact kentfoodnotlawns@gmail.com

Top Late Planted Garden Crops for Northeastern Ohio

The Snarky Gardener lists the top vegetables to plant in July and August

Just because you didn’t get around to planting a garden in May and June doesn’t mean you have to go without for the rest of year.  The secret to planting in summer is knowing that the first frost of the year (usually in early October here in NEO) is your limiting factor.  So you need either vegetables that will be done fruiting by then or that can handle a little cold.  I’ve kept this list to direct seeded plants as it’s hard to get starts by the time summer starts.  Seeds can be obtained online, garden stores, and from friends.

Here’s my list:

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1.  Bush Green Beans

Many green beans are bush varieties, meaning you don’t have to have a pole (or corn) for them to go up.  The bush bean will usually produce within 60 days of planting but will only have beans for two weeks before the plants die off.

2.  Carrots

Carrots are a good choice as they can be planted through out the year and can handle frost.  Make sure to keep them watered until they germinate.

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3.  Short season corn

Believe it or not, there are short season varieties of corn which give you ears with 62 days of planting (like Early Sunglow).  Just make sure you get them in by the first of August to assure they have time to develop before it gets cold.

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4.  Zucchini

Bush zucchinis (like Burpee’s Sure Thing) are great for a short season with days to maturity in the 48 to 60 day range.  Just plant them in mounds and let them go.

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5.  Kale

Kale, which is related cabbage and broccoli, is a versatile plant that loves the cold but will grow will in the summer also.

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6.  Peas

Peas are a spring and fall crop, so it’s best to avoid growing them during the hot months of the summer.  To get them going in August, you’ll need to shade and water them diligently until temps cool down.  Starting them inside first and then transplanting them in September is also a possibility.

As you have noticed in this list, bush varieties of vegetables are the way to go for a short season garden.  Just remember to read the number of days to maturity and count forward to your first expected frost.

 

 

 

Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns – June Food Swap

Kent Food Not Lawns is hosting a food swap

Where:  Kent Social Services – 1066 S Water St, Kent, OH

When:  June 10, 2014 – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

A food swap is an event where people meet to share homemade, homegrown, and foraged foods (including plant starts and seeds).  No money changes hands but instead attendees bring items they wish to swap for other’s produce.  Packaging and labeling does help.

Each unique item will have a sheet placed in front of it.  During the “walking around” phase, swappers will write down what they are willing to trade for a given item (sheets will be provided).  For example, if you have jars of jelly and you want a loaf of bread, you put down your name and “jars of jelly” on the bread sheet.  During the swap phase, you find people who want your products and whose produce you want.  Sometimes you can get someone to trade even if they didn’t write down a bid on your sheet, but this is usually only if they have extra they don’t want to have to take home.

Schedule:

6:30-7:00   Sign in and set up

7:00-7:30   Walk around, sample, and bid

7:30-8:00   Swap!

Sign up here:

For additional questions, please contact kentfoodnotlawns@gmail.com

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