cleaning up, and garden expansion part 1

Two visits’ worth of news to impart tonight. A week ago, after reading some books about gardening in North Carolina (why didn’t I think to get these in the Spring?) I decided I should make a start on clearing more land for a vegetable bed. When my seedlings are ready to go next year, I might actually have somewhere to put them. No more harvesting my first tomatoes in October, delicious though they have been.

I started clearing a strip of land to the left of the wildflower garden, improvising some sides for my growing compost pile with salvaged bits of wood. It’s certainly easier to do this kind of thing in October (rather than June), but frequent tea breaks were necessary all the same. During one of them, I decided that this vegetable bed should be in memory of my grandfathers. If they were still alive, they’d have helped me dig it, I’m sure – or at least supported the cause from a distance! I’ve covered the cleared patch with a weed barrier cloth for now.

beginnings of a vegetable bed

containing the compost









Yesterday I went back up there, maybe to make more progress on the new vegetable bed, but mostly to walk over the homestead site and pick up any last remaining pieces of old metal and dangerous debris, including some coils of barbed wire. Reason for the clean-up? A Hallowe’en party next weekend! There’ll be two children visiting, so I needed to make sure that as much of the homestead site as possible is clear of hazards. Well, forget the veggie bed, although I did measure the width of what I’ve cleared so far, and it’s almost exactly – and completely by accident – 4 feet, which is apparently the optimal width for a raised bed. I also discovered some solid-looking, longish pieces of wood in one of the tumbledown buildings that would make great sides for a raised bed… but that’s for another time. It took me all afternoon yesterday just to do the clearance work.

The worst spot was around the base of one of my trees. Lots of debris, nearly all of it parts of an old electrified fence. The part that wasn’t might have belonged to a bed frame with mattress springs. It’s deeply embedded, and I’ll need to dig it out, but at least it’s easy to see, and doesn’t have sharp edges.

Here are before and after pictures of the clean-up site. Note the barbed wire. It had been there so long that plant and tree roots were holding it in place. I managed to free it all (not without suffering a few scratches – just glad I was wearing safety glasses!) and have relocated it for now to an out-of-the-way spot in one of the tumbledown buildings. Those will be out of bounds for youngsters – and probably best if adults don’t walk over them either. I had another chat with the agent who sold me the land, and he seems fairly sure that there will be a well, possibly nothing more than a deep hole in the ground, somewhere…

after: all clean

before: the dangerous mess

And I’ve refilled the bird feeder too!








Here’s all the debris…

nasty metal bits


… not including the barbed wire coils. The soil looked very rich underneath that circular piece – possibly the top of an old metal drum or container. The pile of sticks is only a fraction of the wood that was littering the area where we’ll camp next week. We’ll have a good fire with it all – let’s hope it doesn’t rain…

And something else… Lots of red bugs gathering and sunning themselves on a couple of the trees, including the Old Man. They’re boxelder bugs, and this is what they do in October/November, before finding themselves somewhere warmer to spend the winter.

boxelder bugs (click on photo to see them better)

Their presence on the tree with all the debris as well as the Old Man not only help identify those trees as boxelders (the leaves, the bark check out too), but *female* boxelders. Oops. The Old Lady from now on, I guess. The bugs feed on the leaves and seedpods of the trees, but don’t otherwise damage them. I could leave them alone to do their thing, or I could help the trees out (the leaves look very nibbled, I have to say), and try to decrease their numbers a little. Diluted laundry detergent works well, apparently. Thoughts, anyone? Leave the bugs or help the trees?


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