Well, I’ll get to the bad news first. Our square foot garden is not doing as well as it did last year. The hearty plants like cabbage, tomatoes and peppers seem to be doing fine. However, the lettuce, kale and broccoli seem to be taking their sweet time growing. The main culprit, just like last year, is lack of sunlight. The secondary culprit is the one two punch of chipmunks and squirrels. Now that they know the bed is there they have turned it into their dumping grounds!
In a last bid effort to salvage something of nutritional value from the garden I’ve planted green beans and sowed loose leaf lettuce. We’ll see if anything happens. This will be the last year growing in that bed. At the end of this season I plan to relocate the bed to a section of the yard that gets full sunlight.
In the meantime my hope has shifted to the row crop garden. As you may recall we had to replant after several cold snaps and excessive rain resulted in seeds not germinating. Since the replant the plants have made outstanding progress. Everything has emerged from the soil and in some cases started to display flower buds. The warmer weather and rain showers have definitely helped the recovery. In an effort to ride the wave of progress Zachary and I planted two rows of green beans.
So far the tender plants haven’t fallen to rabbits or deer but fresh deer tracks imply this may not be the case for long. I guess we’ll see.
Last week after work my son and I canoed the Flint River. Instead of floating down river we opted to float up river, yep, against the current. Given the depth of the water it wasn’t too much of a chore. As we paddled up the river we chatted about things going on in his life as well as his plan for preparing for the upcoming football season. We took advantage of the shallow spots by getting out of the canoe and making a few casts along fallen trees and rock structure. All in all we only caught one bream but fishing was the tertiary objective. Spending one on one quality time with my son was the primary objective. And spend time we did.
After more than two hours on the river we turned around and headed toward the put in/take out spot. Along the way we saw a guy standing knee deep in the water wade fishing. As we introduced ourselves to each other and it didn’t take long to realize that we’ve communicated before.
A couple weeks ago I received a call from a gentleman requesting information about our hunting club. After playing phone tag I replied back with a text message providing the requested information. That was the last time I heard from him, until this day. It turns out the gentleman wade fishing was the same guy. He recognized my last name and asked if I was the guy he requested information from. I quickly put two and two together and the next thing you know Shane and I were chatting it up like old pals. As the conversation developed I learned that he lives in our subdivision and shares a common passion for the outdoors. Talk about ironic! Needless to say it didn’t take long before we were planning our first fishing trip.
After wishing Shane luck Zachary and I spent the remainder of time enjoying the relaxing float down river.
Since planting our gardens we’ve noticed good growth in the square foot garden. However, the initial assessment of the row crop garden is not as glowing. Only seven or eight stalks of corn, one mound of watermelons and three squash plants have shown signs of life. Why the lack of progress? The only thing I can come up with is a.) Frosty nights b.) Wildlife (deer tracks run along the edge of the garden) or c.) Poor soil conditions.
Whatever the reason we needed a quick recovery so Zachary and I made a trip to address the problem. As we scanned the garden we noted the plush green plants. The only problem with the picture was a small percentage of the greenery was actually crop plants. Everything else weeds! Knowing what had to be done Zachary got the hoe and we chopped the entire garden only leaving the standing corn, two rows of onions, row of carrots, and standing squash. Everything else was a fair target. As we chopped special care was made to discard weeds and their root balls. Afterwards we replanted the corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, squash, and cucumbers.
The following day we stopped at the local general store to pick up a few Homestead heirloom tomato and sweet banana pepper plants. We then made the short drive to dad’s, worked the soil and planted the four tomato and four pepper plants. With everything planted a 3’x8’ section of unplanted ground remained. The space was planted with mixed greens. The mixture consisted of mustard green, turnip greens and for good measure kale.
After this latest fiasco I’ve learned a couple of lessons. The first lesson learned was to be a little more patient. Instead of trying to gain two weeks of growing time wait until the threat of frost has passed before expending resources. The second lesson learned was to spend at least two days a week working the garden. Since this is the first year growing our row crop garden the soil needs to be worked more to promote aeration, better nutrient absorption and weed control.
With the first, second, third and fourth frost behind us hopefully the seeds will germinate in no time. I guess we’ll see in seven to ten days.
Between work, turkey hunting and spring cleaning I’ve finally made time to plant our 2013 square foot garden. Realizing the bed does not receive full sunlight all day long we made a few changes to the layout. This year we planted little gem lettuce, roman delight lettuce, radish, spinach, kale, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, spinach, heirloom tomatoes and lemon tomatoes. Realizing last year’s sunlight pattern we opted to plant lettuce and radish in the shaded part of the bed while the remaining plants were planted in areas that receive sufficient sunlight. Like last year we used a whiskey barrel planter to plant the pepper plants. Two jalapeno pepper plants and one banana pepper plant round out the peppers for the year.
Honestly, I’m not holding my breath but I’ll admit my fingers are crossed. Below is a layout for the garden this year. If, for some reason, things don’t work out the fallback plan is the traditional row crop garden planted at my dad’s place. Assuming deer, rabbits and any other garden wrecking critter doesn’t demolish it first. If the square foot garden plants do well I’m sure there will be a bit of crowding but that’s a problem we can live with.
Saturday I decided to take the day off from the woods. Instead I chose to get caught up around the house. All throughout the day the desire to hunt tugged at my soul so I committed to giving it another shot Sunday morning. 5:45 am Sunday morning I got out the bed, got dressed loaded my gear into the truck, hooked up the trailer with 4-wheeler and headed to the hunting club. Instead of hunting low I rode through the winding switchbacks, up the steep shortcut and muddy flats until reaching my destination.
The spot was chosen on nothing more than a hunch but I was committed. Soon after unloading my gear and preparing for the hunt I filled the woods with owl hoots, nothing. Crow calls yielded the same results, nothing. Things were not looking promising for this spot. Losing confidence in the area I turned around and walked the trail back to the ATV. As I stood by the ATV conflicting thoughts of staying v/s leaving ran through my head. Eventually I decided to stay the course. I turned back and slowly walked the trail to a thinly planted winter wheat food plot.
I spent several minutes surveying the area for turkey activity but failed to see a single sign. In an act of defiance I sat at the base of an oak and made a run with both locator calls before softly working the diaphragm call. For the most part the woods were quiet. Only the occasional cluck from the mouth call and chirping birds broke the silence. Did I just waste my morning here? Maybe not. The sound of rustling leaves nearby indicated movement. With the shotgun at the ready and my senses keen I patiently waited as the source of the sound revealed itself. A couple more soft clucks resulted in the culprit cresting the leaf littered finger. A male coyote inquisitively scanned the area looking for what he thought would be a turkey dinner. Instead of easy prey his eyes locked with the eyes of another predator. Realizing he’d been duped he attempted to tuck tail. It was too late. A loud BOOM rocked the woods and after a 15 yard dash it was over.
I drug the song dog out into the food plot and walked to retrieve the ATV. After loading him up I headed down the mountain. On the way out I ran into Mark. Hearing the shot and knowing I was on top of the mountain he had started the ride up the mountain. When he saw the coyote he smiled a bit and stated “I bet that coyote don’t taste as good as the turkeys”. We took a couple of photos, walked the ridges for signs of turkeys before eventually heading out.
On the way out I recommended that we check out the family property. Within 10 minutes we were pulled into the property and hitting the locator calls. Just like earlier in the morning nothing responded. As we walked to the back of the property I executed a loud yelp and cut sequence. Nothing. We decided to call it and started walking back to the truck when I decided to give it one more shot. A distant gobbler responded. We turned around, when to the back of the property, set up and continued to call. Before long the gobbler entered the field and cut the distance from 300 yards or so to 100 yards in no time. Big boy gobbled, strutted and fed all the way in. Read More of My First Shot Opportunity (Coyote & Turkey)