Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nematoded! When bad things happen to good carrots.

Imagine my surprise as I began to pull out mature carrots and discovered these alien creatures. I knew something had gone horribly wrong, but had no idea what happened. Luckily, Uncle J was there to school me on... NEMATODES. 

Nematodes are microscopic worms that live in soil. Bad nematodes do weird things to your veggies. However, there are good nematodes that kill the bad nematodes. So, I've purchased some good nematodes to spray over the entire backyard, which should prevent this problem from happening next year. Let the great Nematode War begin!

In the mean time, we're eating the carrots. That's right... we're consuming these weird little beasts. They taste alright and make for an excellent stir fry. I've decided one thing about the garden that is universally true- most things that look strange or odd are usually benign.

Take this oddity for example:

"What the eff is that thing?", you're asking yourself. Well, it's the shell of a cicada. Apparently, it's hatching time for cicadas or at least it was a few weeks ago. We got part of the cedar fence up just in time for cicada bugs to crawl out of the ground, up the fence, and metamorphose from a brown wingless insect to a green winged beast.

So, my dad and I were working on the fence when Jim came around the corner and said, "A cicada just emerged from its shell." Intrigued, I went to check it out and found this:

The brown thing is literally a shell of an insect and the green object is what used to be inside the brown thing. What the what? Nature is fascinating and strange and creepy and cool...

... and smart. We unknowingly provided the perfect place for the cicada to hide while it was drying out or recovering from its transformation or whatever else it was doing before flying away and making a bunch of noise. Later, I found two more insect shells in the same area, but I was too afraid to touch them. Completely illogical, but true.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


The following images are the views of my backyard when I first bought the house. If you look closely, you can see a 3 ft high chain link fence at the back of the yard,

the same chain link on the side of the yard that faces the highway,

my neighbor's, well, ugly looking fence on the other side, 

and the shed with the rotted out foundation.

You may also notice that my back yard is absolutely ginormous. Ever since I bought the house, I knew I wanted to have a wood privacy fence. It would improve the view while I spent time in my yard and, hopefully, muffle some of the noise from the highway. However, I thought the building of the fence would be a long way off.

My Uncle J had planned to visit and put in some shelves in my reading/craft room. At some point, he told my dad that I wanted to build a fence. Then, it was all over. My dad and uncle decided to help me build a most awesome fence.

Here is stage one:

Already a huge improvement over the chain link.

As I write this, the fence is almost finished. My dad came down one weekend and helped get the majority of it done. I learned about leveling.

My uncle has been spending more time building gates and working on the highway side of the fence, which he curved to make a greater wind barrier. It also adds some aesthetic appeal, which we will enhance with landscaping.

Next project: prepare a pad for the new shed. Next next project: apply compost to entire backyard. Oh, did I mention? The entire back yard will be a garden next year. I plan to grow everything from wheat to garlic. Also, there is talk of varying my livestock from composting worms to bees. BEES! I'm so freaking excited for next year.