While preparing a planting bed for zucchini’s this morning, I heard a slow crunching of dry leaves. This usually indicates a box turtle, but when I looked, the movement was too small. Not knowing what I’d find, I gently moved the dead leaves aside with my garden hoe and revealed this little guy (or girl; don’t know which). I’m pretty sure it’s a Three-toed Box Turtle hatchling. The first one I’ve ever seen. For you Canadians out there, it’s about the size of a Toonie, or, for everyone else, the first joint of my thumb, which is a little over an inch long. It was too feisty to get it to stay still near a ruler, and it disappeared pretty quickly once I let it go, but it made my day!
We had two untimely hard freezes this Spring. The trees budded and bloomed early and were just setting fruit when the first freeze hit. Half my plums and peaches died. The second hard freeze about a week later, took care of the rest. Fortunately, I will not be completely without fruit. My alpine strawberries came through beautifully, although ever so slightly delayed. I now have four of the original plants, three more from splitting of a dying plant, and two grown from seed, nine in all. That should keep my taste buds amused all summer!
I grew a different variety of strawberry from seed. This one with a lovely pink flower favored by the deer. The protective cover blew off one day and the deer munched it back to the crown. As you can see, it survived.
These are the strawberries I’ve been anticipating since last Spring. They’ve been nurtured through the heat of the summer, they were carefully mulched to protect them from the winter and the hard freezes. Now I have to wait PATIENTLY until the first berries ripen in two or three weeks. They’re a June bearing variety, but here in Oklahoma, June comes early. Strawberry season is in May!
I’m rapidly running out of gardening space, so I’ve been doggedly digging out the three new gardens. The top one is finished and planted with corn as soon after tax day as I could. We were away in Chicago at the time. The second bed, which is nearly complete will probably be for melons and such. The last bed will be for the sweet potatoes, which haven’t arrived yet, but probably will soon. Then I’ll have to get to work on the blueberry garden since I’ve ordered some new plants.
This is the reason I’m running out of space. I’m growing potatoes this year, an heirloom fingerling variety called La Ratte. Barbara Kingsolver talked about it in her book “Animal, vegetable, miracle”. They’re just now emerging from the second mounding. It’s amazing how much space 2.5 lbs of potatoes takes. Luckily, I found some space elsewhere for the warm season crops: peppers, basil and tomatoes.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sprouting of my rhubarb since this year I could harvest some. Unfortunately, all that came up were two measly bunches, and yesterday, one of the bunches disappeared. I quickly dug up the remaining root fragments and transferred them to my gopher proof beds. Unfortunately, the temperatures soared to the high eighties. Not easy on transplants. I’m hoping for the best, but it’s safe to say: no homegrown rhubarb this year. Now the rhubarb bed is empty.
With a little work and some leftover chicken wire, I’ve managed to turn the rhubarb bed into a pretty decent warm season planting bed. Chicken wire was the best way to keep the deer out of this garden and the gophers seemed uninterested in these particular plants last year. I’ll have to wait and see. In any case, space is at a premium so I have little choice until I can landscape the back yard into more growing beds.