Friday, May 21, 2010


A few people have told me they wanted to post a comment on the blog, but had trouble or couldn't figure out how to do it.  So I decided to try it myself, since I didn't really know how to do it either.  It was a little confusing.

This is how you do it:

1. Go to the bottom of the post you want to comment on and click the link which shows the number of comments.
2. Type your comment in the box.
3. Click the drop-down menu next to 'Comment as:' under the box and select 'Name/URL'.
4. In the 'Edit profile' box which pops up, enter whatever name you want to show with your comment.
5. Leave the URL box blank and click the 'Continue' button.
6. Click on the 'Preview' button if you would like to see how the comment will look.  Then click 'Post Comment'.
7. There is one last step which helps prevent comment spam by proving you are a human being rather than a computer (it's sad that this is necessary, but it is).  Type the weird wavy characters into the word verification box and, once more, click 'Post Comment'.

That's it!  Only seven steps :-)

Critters of Rain Song Farm

We don't have any livestock, just two indoor cats.  However, there are many critters who have decided to make Rain Song Farm their home.  Some of them may have been here before we were!

We have lived here for nine years, and though we only started the 'farm' in 2008, we have been following organic practices for the land since we moved here.  Long before we decided to grow vegetables, we managed the property with wildlife and conservation in mind.  We don't use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers anywhere on our property, and we have left most of the land natural, with trees, brush and whatever grasses, wildflowers and groundcovers that happen to grow.  We have also planted wildlife-friendly plants such as lantana and mulberry and fig trees.  Many of the plants were so wildlife-friendly that the wildlife (deer) loved them out of existence.

Here is a selection of the critters with whom we share Rain Song Farm.

A butterfly enjoying cilantro blossoms

A tortoise who disappeared suprisingly quickly after I took this photo!

Luna moths mating on the side of the greenhouse

Baby house wrens in a nest inside the greenhouse

Snails mating on the side of, you guessed it, the greenhouse.
There's something about that greenhouse, isn't there?

A monarch caterpillar munching on butterfly weed

Male eastern bluebird perching on the mailbox, looking for insects.
Can you tell he sits there often?

Barred owl perched on the back garden fence

Mama and baby.  So cute.  A few days later I watched that fawn strip all the leaves off one of our blueberry bushes.  The deer are the primary reason we built a 6-foot fence around the main garden.  But we still ooh and ahh over the little fawns every spring.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Little Babies

There are little babies showing up all over the garden.  I could be talking about insects, because they certainly are making plenty of hungry offspring right now, but I really mean baby veggies.  The powerhouse crops of late spring are starting to produce their fruits.

We enjoy watching the plants grow from seeds to seedlings, through their 'childhood', and into fully mature, blooming plants.  Then we get to watch the little babies emerging out of those flowers which were fertilized.  The past week or two we have been delighted to see the first tiny tomatoes, squash, and snap beans appearing on the plants.

Here are some photos (for a closer look, click on a photo to display it in a larger window):

The tomato in front has a shriveled blossom hanging from its end

A tiny snap bean still holding on to the remains of a blossom

This pattypan squash is so new, its blossom hasn't opened yet

An Eight Ball squash

Zucchini, Jr.

Botanically speaking, the fruits are not plant 'babies'.  Seeds are truly the babies.  Fruits are the ovaries which produce the seeds.  I think that is most apparent on squash and zucchini plants.  In the zucchini photo above, the young fruit is part of a female blossom; there is an immature male blossom immediately to the right (green, on the end of a slender stalk).  The young fruit/ovary will continue to grow while its blossom is open, but if the blossom is not fertilized, the fruit eventually shrinks and falls off.  We are never sure that the first few squash fruits we see in the spring will actually survive.  Soon, though, when there are male blossoms open on several plants, odds are good that the bees will get around and transfer the male pollen to most of the female blossoms.  In fact, the bees were quite busy among the squash plants while I was taking these photos.

By the way, this is why cross-pollination is not a problem in the first generation.  The fruit forms from the tissue of the 'mother' plant.  The seeds are the only parts which contain genetic material from the 'father' plant.  So, if you grow a bunch of varieties of squash or peppers together, you don't have to worry about getting yellow zucchini or hot bell peppers this year.  It is only a consideration if you plant seeds saved from those fruits next year - then you may end up with some interesting crosses.  I have to remind myself of this every season, it seems.  In the back of my mind, for just a minute or two, I still wonder if that spicy serrano plant will corrupt my sweet little Italian peppers.

I find the science behind what is happening in the garden to be fascinating and I believe it is essential knowledge for an organic gardener.  Yet, when I walk through the garden and see the growth and change, it still feels like magic.  And that is the best part.