Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mudslide's Desire Path

Mudslide is our beloved short-hair Border Collie that we acquired from the town animal shelter. Previous to us he had a rough life and it took us a while to adjust our behaviour. What we have learned is that a Border Collie needs a job, actually, needs a whole lot of jobs. They are dogs with a strong sense of working responsibility.

In Mudslide's case he feels a need to protect us from the invasion of children, buses, and bicyclists, Fed Ex and UPS and anyone that dares to touch our fence that runs on two street sides of our corner property. The long side is 100 feet and there is a local bicyclist who tries to outrace Mudslide from one corner to the other. The human never wins. I read once that there are only two beings with endless energy, children and dogs.

During the summer when we keep the doors open whenever Mudslide has valiantly protected us he comes in panting and triumphant, and of course we duly praise him for his good honest work. The local children, by the way, seem to enjoy his attention.

Our friend Mary Tegel in Oregon posted online a comment about desire paths and as a result I was inspired to photo document Mudslide's desire path.

 At the Northwest corner beneath/behind the butterfly bush.
From the corner over the exposed crab apple root.
That exposed crab apple root, the Spitfire, and the heirloom irises (on the left) and the trunk of the crab apple tree. We call this our Side Yard.
Moving on past the picnic table.
On past Dixie. Mudslide was her companion in her later years.
We place obstacles along the path of desire.
The hose is here temporary in slight retaliation for Mudslide having finally killed off the rose bush that was protected by the round terra cotta flue section. Then again, Mudslide likes to jump over and run under obstacles. This is the North East corner.
The North East corner is the most active corner. We had blueberry bushes that after many years were actually doing pretty well here until Mudslide came along. It does not really matter so much because usually the birds ate all the blueberries.
This is D Dog's plant. I don't really know what it is, but I need to make sure Mudslide's desire does not trample it.
This is where D Dog does his eternal rest. He got buried on the corner because he was a fence jumper, we could never keep him within the yard. He would often stand in the intersection and watch the neighborhood in four directions. Our neighbors, who often took him in for meals and overnights, nicknamed him The Mayor. He and Dixie were companions and when he passed we got Mudslide because Dixie was obviously terribly lonely.
Now we head South past the white cedar pole, the Theocratic Anarchist Shrine. A Jean-Luc Picard action figure until recently hung from the pole. But now we grow Morning Glories from a coffee can hung in a macrame net holder. Theocratic Anarchists are into seasonal decor just like with all ancient religious persuasions. Our favorite gathering is the annual Farting Man celebration.
It may be hard to see in this picture but there is red volcanic rock pebbles here. You can see the sand, this is inside the gate where I pile bags of sand for various uses -- PU truck ballast mainly, brickwork when desperate. I made a hearth slab for the wood stove and used the red volcanic stone as an exposed aggregate. What was left over got dumped here.
Intersection of contemporary, historic, and Mudslide's desire path. He often desires to go outside the gate as it is a special treat. People tend to enter the property through the gate. That horizontal section in the photo is cold asphalt... the concrete sidewalk bulged there from an oak tree root and I had to make accommodation for the desire path of the tree. I have never known a dog to have such a strong sense of boundary. Mudslide tends to kick the volcanic stone pebbles into this path. They are ankle benders. I step on them then kick them out of the way. I figure eventually we will all have our desire paths cleared, including that of the volcanic stone that in our environment is an invasive alien presence.
Note the under-bush hiding zone. This is where Mudslide hides when I go to batting baby raccoons around in the kitchen at late night w/ a broom handle. This space reminds me of a backwater lagoon.
Exit to the South.
I always know where the chew toys go to hide.
Here we come, past the dead tree wood pile (thanks to LIPA), to a point of intervention. Mudslide's desire path ran through the Jerusalem Artichoke. I could not abide that and installed a deterrent barrier system. The bucket of water is NOT for skeeter breeding -- despite various rumors I am not into skeeters as pets. It is to water the upside down zucchini plants without need to go drag the hose around each time.
This is the old path. Now an ecologic reclamation zone. The Jerusalem Artichoke has not yet got the message, but this year I threw in a lot of earthworm laden compost. About once a year I remember to dig up some of the tubers for a fine dinner. Mostly I like the small sunflowers and the lush greenery. Note: Works well to hide otherwise taboo landscape plantings. 
 The restructured desire path heads south toward the driveway. Cuts through the vegetable/herb garden with sufficient traffic barriers to reduce paw prints in the dill and/or okra bed etc.
One of my desire paths. Mudslide so far appears intimidated by the canyon effect. On our property there is obviously maintained an intersection of desire paths -- mixed use yardage.
 Entering the drive way. When I come home with the truck to put it in the drive this is where Mudslide stands as he waits for me to back in the truck.
The south gate. South East corner, terminus of Mudslide's desire path, the drive way... unless we want to get into where he chases semi-feral cats.
He likes me, but if you don't know him then best advice is don't put your hands on the fence.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Railroad Tortilla

thnx to cp in be frm ellis hollow

Friday, June 11, 2010

Raised Bed as a Garden to Take Back Our Genesis and Herbals

I learned to garden from my mother. She learned to garden from her father. He likely learned form his mother in Iowa. I learned a bit of gardening from my grandfather as well.

I was brought up as an organic gardener. As a kid we always had manure and compost and mulch. If I had my dithers I would say to hell with fixing old buildings and would forever garden. The house and the little plot of land that we have as our residence on the south shore of Long Island halfway to Montauk we bought twenty years ago mostly because of the rich diversity of plantings and vegetation in such a small area. It made us.

This raised garden plot next to the driveway I have cultivated for twenty years.

That is a bit of a long time to be screwing around with enriching the soil. When I started we had Japanese Beetles, now we have earthworms. A few years of Guinea Hens did wonders. My son, recently, dug into it and I felt really good when he said, "Hey, this is really good dirt." There are only so many things that we can truly pass on in life and as with all stalwart gardeners we know that the next property owner after us will not quite GET IT and dig it up for more lawn.

There were years in which I could not bring myself to do a damned thing about the garden. When one oak tree got cut down it took me years to get the gumption to roll the 10' long 2' thick logs out of the beds. The stump now makes a good seat, one that I have earned. Then there was the year I grew a Beefsteak tomato plant 15' tall and had to get a ladder to trim it. I was known for a brief stint by the kids in the neighborhood as the man with the green ass... at least that is what our 90+ year old neighbor down the street thought was what the kids had told him.

Then again for twelve years I commuted to Brooklyn in a vehicle alone by myself 5 hours a day and when I landed back home the first thing that I did, before even going in to see the family, kiss kiss, hug hug, was go see what had grown that day. Flowers blooming turn me on.

This garden has kept me alive, and nowadays with the economy as screwed up as it is this garden keeps me alive today. If I can hold on to figuring out how to get the friggen Salvadorian Cucumber to actually produce a pickle-candidate then I just might make another year in my life is how I say it. One cuke at a time. Size is not the problem here.

 Oh, I almost forgot. I want to point out that I mulch with masonry and contractor grade plastic garbage bags. We got some terra cotta, some white marble and some floor slate here along w/ a field of tree mulch from the local landfill recycle facility. These are mostly cherry tomatoes, closely spaced, yes, and a few yellow low-acid tomatoes.
This masonry mulch around delicate seeded sage is fragments of John Early exposed aggregate precast panels from the Edison Memorial Tower at Menlo Park, NJ, the exact specific location where the incandescent lightbulb was invented by Thomas Edison. Don't you just love the fact that there is a small quantity of such heritage fabric laying in an otherwise anonymous garden patch on Long Island? Who would have thunk it? In our case it was stuff on the plaza that we had to clean up before we left the site... tidiness is next to godliness, or whatever. I am not quite sure where the white marble came from. It could have been from a bathroom.
This masonry mulch around the tarragon (hopefully the wilting tarragon will pick up as I love to get that really strong Polish vodka and imbibe it with tarragon) is a combination of slate and mural tiles that were made by Augustine D'Andino in Puerto Rico... left over from a tile mural that we installed for him too many years ago on a public school in Brooklyn.

Augustin: we are sorry that this tile got broke. FYI we have a few that we have manged to not break. We continue to this day to use that incredible fabric bag that you gave us. If you read this please connect and say hello.
This was the 1st oak tree that we lost. It makes a good seat. I was really unhappy when we lost the Hemlock to woolly algid. I was unhappy when we lost the Catalpa, but as you will see later it showed up again. I love the Virginia Creeper. I hate the poison ivy (not in this picture because wherever it shows up I kill it... but not 
as my grandfather taught me by burning it... no, no, no) [does a period go here?].
This is the section of the raised be that is David's. There was some confusion over how it would be managed so I planted a variety of cooking (not hot) peppers. Some plants thrive in our garden, some don't. I love marigolds and companioin planting but we have a ghost that wilts them.
Notice the Catalpa in the background.
Long Island is not exactly known as the Okra Capital like Phelps, NY is know for sauerkraut, but hey, I like Texas hot pickled okra. Why not? Even if I got to buy it in a jar.
We have a problem growing squash so I figured might as well try growing them upside down.
The German Chamomile is doing pretty good.

The little herbal masonry zone just inside the entry gate. The chamomile, a bit of oregano, and cilantro.
Our front porch. 
After the last half-naked drunk guy walked in to make liberty of the latrine - not me - yes, laugh at that one, I did a bit of fueng shuaway (besides chasing him with an axe in my underwear) and put a slight zig in the zag. Used to be a straight line into the house. No telling who would show up. On the right we have the 'forever' geranium, then some upside down squash close to where I can remember to water it, the ears of the perennial amarylis (not nearly as nice as the one the VI has), the weird South American suprise cukes that act like they want to go back home, twin rosemary -- I like herbs if only all I get is to small them when crushed between the fingers, with their extra-special yellow ambient lighting, the impatiens that seem to really like us and the birds and gray and one black squirrel at the feeder... and the nefarious endangered marine moss. Don't forget the marine moss. Endangered.
I can't quite remember but I think this is going to be a Moon Flower. We often have good moon at our house.
Thjere was a time when I was really heavy into miniature roses. I keep thinking this one is a goner but it keeps on thriving.