June 2004

I had been reading about row covers and shade cloths and decided to give the latter a try. I got this one from Lee Valley.
I set it up over two rows of lettuce (2 varieties, green leaf and buttercrunch), with the last 3 feet or so of the rows not covered.

The difference was obvious almost right away. This photo was taken a week after I put the shade cloth in place. All the lettuce in the photo was planted at the same time, but the lettuce that is protected by the shade cloth is twice the size of the lettuce that is not.
This result was consistent throughout the season, plus it allowed me to grow lettuce all summer long – even in the heat of mid-summer. The shade cloth also seemed to offer some protection from insects and animals. Other greens planted along the outsides of the cover were eaten by rabbits, deer and insects. All of the lettuce under the shade cloth was virtually untouched by any of these things.

Note for next season: Plant the spinach under the cloth as well, as it seems to not be heat tolerant at all.

On the day we saw her, this beautiful duck was sitting on her nest and her eggs were hatching. The nest was cozy and lined with her own downy feathers. As each duckling finally emerged, it found comfort and safety hidden under its mother. We sat quiet and still enough, for long enough, that we were able to catch glimpses of and the hear the tiny peeps of the babies.

We had a wonderful view. We were close and the view was unobstructed and the duck seemed not to be too afraid of us either (I think). It was amazing.

Amazing and bizarre.

It was bizarre because this is where the duck and her babies lived:

This a rack of potted geraniums in the garden centre of Burlington’s new Wal-Mart. What had recently been greenspace was now cleared and covered with asphalt and concrete and brightly lit 24/7. A huge drainage/retention pond had been constructed on the west side of the store, but it was nothing, really, but a hole in the ground full of water – it certainly was not greenspace.

It seems that the duck had her coordinates right, and had come back to the right spot… but this time she had some tough decisions to make when it came to a nesting site. Her best choice, apparently, was in the pots on the bottom shelf of a rack on the concrete outside of the new Wal-Mart store.

The staff at the store, once they saw the nest, were careful not to disturb it. They put bird seed down for her each day. And they left all those pots of geraniums on the bottom shelf to the duck.

But a duck needs water. And for this duck, it meant a trip along the entire length of the store and parking lot, then a little further to arrive at the collected water at the west end. And apparently she made the trek each evening for a swim. When the sales woman told me this, I could hardly believe it. Now that there are ducklings what will the duck do? Will she leave her babies in the nest to go to the water? The nest is not exactly well-hidden. And when the babies have grown a little and must go to the water with their mother, then I assume they will all have to walk/waddle that long distance over (hot) asphalt and through traffic to get to the water. This is not really a duckling-friendly scenerio.

I was amazed by this beautiful duck and by the nature of, well, nature. As we were leaving, we took one last look at her. The last egg, the one on the left, was just beginning to hatch. A tiny bill poked through a tiny hole in the shell.

Public MY Enemy #1!!
See this tiny little bug? SEE IT?!
They have been very busy in my vegetable garden.

They have killed well over half my zucchini and squash plants and they are now working on my cucumbers. The plants they don’t kill by eating them will probably die later from wilt or powdery mildew because it is carried by these beetles. *hates* Oh well. Not much I can do about it now, eh? Interestingly enough, I stumbled on some natural repellent for these guys by trying to protect my plants from deer. I’ve been reading up on it and I have a few more things to try. Maybe I can save some my plants.

My lettuce is gorgeous though :)

The vegetable garden at the park is coming along. I go every morning for at least two hours. It is very theraputic. Things are starting to grow. Just like last year, peas hate me and won’t grow. There is a hare that eats the tops off my kale and apparently loves spinach because he has eaten it ALL! But other than that, things look good as far as I can tell :D

The herb garden (that my brother built the walls for) is also coming along. I’ll take some pictures when stuff has filled out a little more.

Planting marigold seeds among the tomatoes… and just being together.

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