Hmmm. The answer is: it does and it doesn’t. But by far the largest crop around here seems to be snakes. First, the vegetables. Anyone who followed my tomato explosion and subsequent canning frenzy of last year knows that I have a terrible inability to thin my crops. I go all Rick Santorum in the garden and every seed is sacred. If I plant it and it comes up — and most of my seeds seem to sprout — I nurture each one until I have a veritable Cambodian landscape of vegetables. Knowing I was never going to change my ways, I hit on a good plan. I would carefully plant my starts in pots in the green house. Then I could plant just two or three seeds per pot. Since I use those brilliant Cow Pots — made of 100% compostable cow manure — I just plant the whole pot when the starts are large enough. This method also solves the second of my garden problems: our heavier rains and maybe the wind tend to swirl all my direct sown seeds into several piles. That leaves me beds with clumps of vegetables and large bare spots instead of neat rows.
So far, so good. We had another bizarre spring — heat waves, followed by hard freeze and torrential rains late in the season, then, overnight, back to blistering summer. But my seeds, snug in the greenhouse, sprouted and flourished. I had corn, three kinds of tomatoes, okra, squash, watermelon, peppers, eggplant and lemon cucumbers. Yesterday was the day I had set aside to plant them out in the beds — after not being able to get up to Sonoma for the past week.
As I walked up to Flying Terrier Farms, I met John the Baptist who looked as if he had a terrible secret to tell me. He did. One of the workmen up at the site of some construction we’re doing had unhooked the hose that feeds the greenhouse sprinklers and never rehooked it once he was done. My nascent crops had baked in 90 degree temperatures (probably much more than that in the greenhouse) for several days before John discovered something was wrong. It was too late. My crops were beyond wilted, they were more than fried, they had dried so thoroughly some of them were actually powder.
Luckily, I’d direct sown most of my corn. The plants in the greenhouse were to supplement rows and replace any sprouts that didn’t make it. I didn’t have such luck at the gardening store. Starts are pretty much over in Sonoma. So I’m faced with sowing seeds again and having all my crops about a month or more behind where they should be.
Still, as I mentioned before, we do have one bumper crop. Snakes! Mostly rattlers. Which is adding a whole level of complexity to the work of John and his crew. We have a No-Kill policy toward rattlesnakes around here. Which may seem foolish until you find out that, while much of Sonoma was overrun with moles and mice after last year’s record rains, our population was under complete control — with no effort on our part. We’ve read that Northern California rattlers are not as aggressive as their southern cousins. And that makes sense. Wouldn’t Northern California snakes be just as mellow as…well…Northern Californians? Which isn’t to say that we don’t give them healthy respect and snakeproof all the traveled areas with high weed mowing and homemade snake repellant.
I’ve seen several large ones around lately, which is good. These guys are also voracious eaters of moles and mice. But, despite their disturbing habit of flattening their heads, assuming strike posture and rattling their tails, they are not poisonous. They usually don’t even bite. They are known for bumping their heads against things they want to scare away and constricting things they want to eat. I could use a guy like this around the three garden beds I have near the barn. So I had John release him there.
If you remember your Tom T. Hall, you’ll know why we’re calling him Sneaky Snake. And why we’re keeping a close eye on all our root beer.
No way would I keep a rattler around. You’re nuts.
The seeds you sow now will more than likely catch up with everything else in no time. I hope the Santorum vibe carries through to this planting. Good luck for a successful garden.
Here in the tropics (well, close to the tropics!) everything grows like crazy. If I don’t get out at least weekly and whack back the plants (native ornamentals) they would soon overrun any available space, then back up on themselves. NO sooner do I thin things out and I’m wondering, “didn’t I already cut that back?” It’s amazing. Sadly, there is a fungus in some ornamentals this year and a few species look great for a few weeks, then the next day, poof. gone. at first I thought it was the dreaded snail attack, but after replacing things three times, I learn it’s a plant virus! Ha! My raspberries and blueberries are marginal…they need 6 hours of sun (minimum) per day, but the sun is now getting too hot. i wish I had one of your pea contraptions with a filter…trying to figure out how to shade the sun but keep it from being shady…. sorry your greenhouse scheme went awry, but seems you could catch up, no? The snakes I welcome in the yard are mostly black racers… they will do a cobra-like thing and rise up about 12″ straight off the ground when they feel threatened (by AUgie the oblivious wonder dachshund, who is off chasing skates and chameleons) and wave back and forth to “scare” you. It can be pretty scary, too! But no threat of venom….I’d probably be wearing thigh-high thick leather boots if I lived side-by-side with rattlers. BTW, do your snakes eat those evil frogs you were writing about? Or just mammals? Good luck!
I, too, wish I had one of your pea contraptions, but modified for beans! We have two types of beans in our garden — Kentucky Wonder and Soleil Filet, and both are climbers. We have lots of bamboo available for bean poles, but our soil is so rich from our latest compost infusion, I’m a little afraid to use bamboo poles, lest they take root. Our garlic is growing beautifully, as are the tomatoes (planted out of reach of the Terriers), basil and eggplants. We have two rows of okra doing well. I’m with Pamela on the snakes, but I can see your point of view on peaceful cohabitation, if possible. It is not possible to peacefully cohabitate with copperheads. They are as mean as, well, as a snake. Fortunately, we haven’t had any more sightings since the first two killings in early spring. Perhaps they took that as a sign to move on from Dachshund Downs, or maybe the chickens have eaten them all.
My 12yo son enjoyed the snake pictures. I prefer to give snakes a VERY wide berth. Hopefully your good snake karma continues.