New Critter Weapon

Trying out a new weapon on critters, not sure what kind. Yesterday I put out a dozen or so lettuce seedlings in the firepit garden and was surprised to find about half of them pulled out overnight. They weren’t eaten so it’s likely that most will survive a replant because I caught them early enough to beat the sun in that location. Could be birds or it could be squirrels digging around looking for acorns or seeds – perhaps rodents. The area is fenced so I know it wasn’t rabbits or raccoons – they would have eaten the lettuce. One of Nancy’s quilt buddies brought me some nylon bird netting for which I had no immediate use but kept anyway. Those replanted seedlings are now protected by the mesh. I do have a concern about what will happen if a squirrel or bird get’s tangled up in the mesh but ……………….

I planted the last of the onion bulbs for this season and put in a patch of ya ya carrots that used up all that seed from last year. I have been planting Nantes carrots and they seem to be doing fine judging by the tops but just to be safe, I decided to plant the ya ya’s because last season they had produced so well. I know it’s risky to plant last season’s seed but there’s also an element of risk in trying new varieties in Florida. If all goes well, we’ll have more carrots than ever but, like onions, they keep well and Nancy uses them in lots of dishes. George doesn’t particularly like carrots so that cuts down on the competition too.

Except for trying new varieties, I may have planted my last tomato seeds. If all I’ve read is somewhat accurate, I can start new plants easily from slips cut from the existing bushes. I did this once before with poor results but I think I learned why. Turns out the cuttings root incredibly easy, which I knew, but if you root them in water, the roots that form are not good roots for growing the plant in soil. That’s what I did last time, started them in a cup of water. So my game plan now is to wait until the night before a freeze is forecast, take a load of cuttings and start them in regular potting soil. Where it could get tricky is that the cuttings grow faster than you’d think and you don’t want them too big, too early since that involves multiple transplants into larger and larger containers. The good news, of course, is that I’d get a real head start on next seasons tomatoes and start out with much larger, stronger plants than I usually do with seed starts. That would also mean earlier tomatoes before bug season takes over. The other thing I like about it is that right now I have about a dozen tomato plants. About one third of those are really beautiful, healthy looking plants loaded with unripe fruit. Most of the other plants look good, not all of them, but most, so using this rooting process allows me to choose the cuttings exclusively from the best plants. I can also play the weather game a little better by taking new cuttings from the first cuttings. That gives me some protection from an unwanted spring freeze and it also lets me stagger plant for an extended growing season. Not sure my bride is going to be happy with turning part of the house into a tomato nursery but the farmer’s wife has to adjust to the realities of being a farmer’s wife, doesn’t she?

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