April 4: Firing Up the Composter

I brought my composter out of the basement and out into the yard sometime last October to give it a good clean. And then…I forgot about it. Winter rolled in, the worms disappeared, and it kind of just sat there, in a corner, neglected.

But now that I’ve caught the gardening bug again, it’s time to fire that composter back up. My plants LOVED the nutrient-filled worm castings last summer, and I don’t want to go without them again. We don’t have the space for a traditional composting heap, so this vermicompost box my sister gave me is a great way to enrich my soil.

Today I opened up the box and caught sight of a couple of little worms–hanger-ons who made it through our mild winter. I’ve ordered more Red Wigglers (one of the best composting worms) from Uncle Jim’s  and added a yummy “salad” for the little wormies I still have from last year to munch on until their new friends arrived.


April 1: Cucumbers & Compost

Mixed some fresh composed into Planters #2, 3 and 4 (a blend of mushroom, shrimp, cow and forest). Finally potted the herbs I picked up at King’s County last week (basil, cilantro, rosemary and lavender).

Peas and carrots sowed on March 14 are coming along. I almost gave up hope on the kale and cabbage I started that day, but they’ve finally started to peak out from the soil.

And a few of the French Breakfast radish seeds I dropped in on March 25 are coming up.

The indoor tomatoes and peppers are doing well. I started some cucumbers inside, too.

Cucumbers – Parisian Pickling  (5)
Lavender – Fern Lavender (5)

There’s lots to do this week. I’m want to order some Bacsac planters to put peppers, herbs and a few other things that won’t fit in my 5 in-ground planters. They’re kind of pricey though. I’m behind on the beets and the parsnips, but hope to get them in the ground in the next few days.

March 25: Radishes, Carrots, Kale and More

Carrots and peas sowed on March 14 are starting to sprout. So is the Humming Bird Wild Flower Mix I tossed around the flower borders.

Sowed radishes, carrots, cabbage, arugula, kale, peas and bush beans (might be a little early for the beans, but it’s been so warm lately!).  Here’s the full list: 

Planter #1
Radishes – French Breakfast (18)
Beans – Green Bush (9)
Peas – Tall Telephone (3)
Carrots – Cosmic Purple (8), Little Finger (8), Danvers (8), Atomic Red (8)

Planter #5
Kale – Tuscan (12)
Arugula (Two 1-foot squares)
Rocky Top Lettuce Mix (Two 1-foot squares)
Cabbage – Savory (8)

March 19: New Sprouts!

We’re back from Santa Fe. The daffodils are looking great.

And the tomatoes and peppers have sprouted!

March 14: Peas and Carrots

So much to do. The winter that wasn’t is finally gone. It’s been really warm this week – the crocuses and daffodils are bursting to life. Some of the kale and cabbage I panted last November is STILL growing, but they’re covered in aphids which I can’t seem to get rid of (even after spraying them with a ginger/soap solution) so I yanked the plants out right after I took this photo.

Then I sowed a few seeds outdoors – carrots, peas and more kale and cabbage – and planted my tomatoes and peppers under grow lights in the basement.  Last year I started those March 1st, but I think it may have been too early. I had to re-pot them twice before I planted them in the ground, and I don’t think the extra head start made much of a difference.

Planter #1
Carrots –  Cosmic Purple (8), Little Finger (8), Atomic Red (8), Danvers (8)
Peas –  Tall Telephone (3)

Planter #5
Kale –  Tuscan (6)
Cabbage –  Savoy (3)

Two Five-Gallon Containers
Lettuce Assorted (Rocky Mt. Mix)
Lettuce Assorted (Rocky Mt. Mix)

Inside (Grow Lights)
Tomatoes –  Carbon (6), San Marzano (6), Ananas Noire (6), Black Elephant (6), Chadwick Cherry (6)
Peppers –  Spanish Mammoth (6), Italian Pepperoncini (6), Long Thin Cayenne (6), Red Mini Bell (6)

I’m Back!

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Yes! In fact, it is. As it turns out, a Word Press blog doesn’t evaporate into Internet ether after you abandon it. Instead, it languishes in web purgatory as a haunting, sometimes embarrassing, reminder of your once earnest effort to fashion something meaningful out of your life. Who knew?

So where were we? Oh yeah, it was July 2011 and a feral cat died in my garden and I had to scoop it out with a shovel and stuff it in a plastic bag all by myself. Then I got side tracked, and while my garden continued to flourish, my garden blog took a turn for the worse.

But now I’m back On Linden Hill…and so excited to get started again. There’s so much to keep track of, I thought I’d resurrect this blog as a convenient way to organize my planning and plantings.

Stay tuned for more updates to come.

Dead Cat Chronicles

Dead Cat
Look closely at this otherwise bucolic garden photo and you will see a haunting and disturbing site. There in the middle, nestled in between my potted tomatoes and peppers, lies the carcass of a cat.

Yes, a cat. And until it shuffled off this mortal coil on Thursday, it was one of the 13+ feral cats living in my neighbor’s backyard. The cat colony was here long before we were, and had already designated our property as their communal toilet. Over the past year and a half, despite my screams and frequent garden hose sprays, they have continued to breeze in and out freely as before, with a haughty saunter and glaring look that says, “Excuse me, but who said you could grow tomatoes in our bathroom?”

Full disclosure: I hate cats. Every cat I have ever met has been a creep, except for one Maine Coon cat who hung out at the laundry mat I frequented in college. So imagine my horror when I woke up on Thursday anticipating a few peaceful moments in my garden before work and instead was confronted – face to tail – with the body of a dead feline.

I screamed, jumped up and down, ran in place and then bolted upstairs just in time to find my boyfriend getting into a car to go to the airport. I was on my own with this one. Unless I wanted to leave the rotting, festering carcass there for three days until he came home, I would need to find a way to remove and dispose of it.

So I channeled my inner pioneer woman, put on my rubber boots and gloves, tied a handkerchief around my face to ward off any airborne disease, and scooped his (or her – I didn’t bother to check) body into an ultra-thick trash bag. Then I disinfected the entire area with Lysol and bleach.

“How did the cat die?” my boyfriend later asked, as if I had performed an autopsy. Who knows how it died? But he made a good point. What if it was poisoned? I know other neighbors have been frustrated – especially as the old woman who feeds the cats has adamantly refused to stop. What if one of them tried to kill the cats? So far, though, none of the other kitties have passed on. I’m hopeful this one died of natural causes.

After this incident, I can truly say that I’m at my wit’s end with these gross little beasts. I’ve called 311, Animal Care & Control, the Department of Health and 911 (What if it had rabies? The dispatcher thought it unlikely.), and no one has been able to help. The best response I got was from the Department of Sanitation, who was willing to arrange for a special off-schedule pick-up to remove the dead body.

My neighbor’s behavior is not illegal, explained each of the aforementioned agencies. The only other way to get rid of the cats – besides starvation – appears to be TNR (Trap Neuter and Release), which sounds, frankly, like a giant P.I.T.A. I simply don’t have the time to take a class on cat trapping, capture 13+ nasty wild cats, ferry them off to get spayed and neutered, bring them home, care for them for a couple of days, and then release them back into my neighbor’s yard so they can continue to shit in mine.

It might be the humane thing to do, but, sorry – it’s just not going to happen.

Our plan all along has been to build a tall fence and run a border of Prikka-Strip along the top, but that’s still a year or two away. In in the meantime, I am going to buy some netting – something spiky – and make a fortress. It will look ugly, but it will be worth it.

Kittens The saddest part is that these cats continue to reproduce every six months. I’ll admit that the kittens are adorable, but now that they’re full-sized and staring me down and hissing, I just want them gone.

And the fact that this woman, our neighbor, keeps feeding them is driving me insane. Doesn’t she realize she is doing more harm than good? We’ve tried talking to her, but it hasn’t worked. She continues to toss cat food out of her window like she’s throwing rice at a wedding.

Even though I hate cats, I don’t want them to suffer. I wish I could send them to a cat sanctuary. Or it would be great if there was a TNR company that I could hire to fix the cats. Combined with my new fortress fence, this would be the most effective strategy.

The New York City Feral Cat Initiative is holding a workshop at the Ridgewood Library on August 10th. I probably should attend…

Mystery Compost Plant

Mystery PlantThis mystery plant has sprouted up next to one of my pepper plants. While it might be a weed, I think it’s from a fruit or vegetable seed left over in the worm castings I used as fertilizer.

I wonder what it could be? The flowers dangle in the same way that pepper flowers do, except they are yellow, not white. The leaves are pocked with holes and the stalk is not as woody as the pepper plant stem. Hmm…

UPDATE – 7-10-11: It’s a tomatillo plant!  I am certain. Looks just like this guy here. And it makes perfect sense. I always buy tomatillos from the Associated on Seneca because they look so cute with their little paper coats. Then I bring them home and have no idea of what to do with them. They stay in fridge a couple of weeks (or more) and then go right into the compost. I’ll have to study up on some recipes in advance so my home growns don’t go to waste.

Happy 4th!

Rooftop Fireworks Ridgewood Queens View from our roof…

Ridgewood Queens Rooftop View

Garden Update

A bad summer cold has kept me out of the garden this week. But things are really growing! I felt slightly better today and took some photos. If only my sore throat would go away so I could start eating real food. Each day there is more and more to pick. The above cabbage looks ready for harvesting.

Tomato ForestThe tomato plants are finally making tomatoes.

These are either Ananas Noire or Black Elephant.

Rotten Tomato
Two have blossom end rot!  I’ve read that it may be due to a calcium deficiency. Also infrequent watering, which I am definitely guilty of this week. I must find a cure.

The beets were a real disappointment. Maybe it was too hot? I pulled them out of the ground since their leaves were starting to shrivel and brown. I think I’ll plant another batch for fall.

The Cayenne peppers are doing great – except the leaves on some of the plants are a little yellow. According to this forum on Garden Web, it might mean that they’re getting too much water.

String Beans
I have string beans! Purple and green. Some are nearly 6 inches long.

Atomic Purple CarrotHere is a baby Atomic Purple carrot. I couldn’t resist pulling it out to take a peak. My throat can only handle ice pops and chicken soup right now, so I gave it to my boyfriend and he reported back that it’s delicious.

Sugar Baby WatermelonThis is a tiny Sugar Baby Watermelon. The vines are growing 4-5 inches a day and have already reached the top of our trellises.

And here is my giant cucumber. I have a few others that have started to grow, but this one is by far the largest. Like the melon vines, the cucumbers have already climbed over the trellises and are starting to work their way across to the other side.

BeesThe bees are definitely to thank for all of this melon-cucumber activity. (Thank you, bees!) I’m no apiologist, but I think I’ve spotted at least four different species buzzing around.