We’re super excited to announce that our offer to buy a piece of land has been accepted. We’re just waiting for the sellers to return the signed contract. It is 12 acres in Hurdle Mills, NC. Here are two pictures of the property we took in September. Check back for updates and for more information about our future home and the new location for Spring Forth Farm.
We were taken aback this year by the pests feasting on our garden. We’ve laid out the list before: armyworms, cabbage worms, cross-striped cabbage worms, aphids, and several unknown caterpillars. We even saw a wooly bear caterpillar, the cute harbinger of winter, devouring our salad mix. Such a small caterpillar, and the leaf was disappearing before our eyes! But by far the worst pests have been deer and cutworms, and this week we took steps that will help us control both.
The cutworm is a grey-brown caterpillar that lives a couple inches below the ground. It emerges at night and immediately begins mowing its way through your garden. Unlike other caterpillars, which eat leaves, the cutworm snips off the stem. For plants such as greens, which only have one stem, this kills the plant. For plants that make a rosette of leaves, such as carrots, this may set the plant back severely or it may kill it. Because a single cutworm can do so much damage, and because they hide underground and blend in with the soil, cutworms are serious pests, and they did a huge amount of damage to our garden.
But while we were raking up our beds, we discovered that cutworm pupa are in fact easy to see: they are orange cocoons that lie a couple inches underground. So it was with some excitement that we picked out and squished dozens of them. I’m not at all ashamed to say they made quite a satisfying “pop.” This may not have saved this year’s veggies, but we’ve already taken care of many of next year’s cutworms by squishing them now.
Deer of course are a scourge for all gardeners in the southeast, and although we had a fence, it wasn’t keeping the deer out. We wanted to build an inexpensive fence that works by taking advantage of deers’ poor depth perception. So we did some research by visiting our friends at Whitted Bowers Farm in Cedar Grove, NC, who have that sort of fence. The main problem, we learned, was that our fence was not baited and electrified. (For more information about the low-costs 3-D fence and how it works, visit Premier Fencing.)
Our original fence was also too short, and the step-in posts didn’t work for the corners. .So we beefed it up. Our new corner posts are taller and stronger and hold our fence high. We’re also pleased with our solar charger, which was putting out its full 8,500 volts along the entire fence.
Our new fence is five feet tall. The chicken wire in a hasty anti-rabbit measure. We’ll install it properly when we have some time.
The corners are T-posts which hold it taut.
The two layers confuse the deer, which have poor depth perception.
And when they touch this apple-scented caps with their noses, they learn to stay away from the strands.
We’re still learning and still have a lot to learn, but we’ve done a lot to reduce the pest burden we’ll have to deal with next season.
To be quite frank, it’s been a hard autumn season. We are having a wake-up call to the menagerie of critters eating our vegetable garden including, but not limited to: 8 different species of caterpillars, a colony of rabbits, deer, and cutworms to name some. Needless to say, after losing half of the vegetables we planted, we felt discouraged and inadequate. Luckily, our flowers are growing elsewhere right now, and they have been growing beautifully.
HOWEVER, in spite of all that, Spring Forth Farm is celebrating a big accomplishment. We provided flowers for our first wedding. We worked hard planning, cutting, and arranging. It was a joy to deliver such beauty to our friends, the bride and groom, on their big weekend. We are thankful that they gave us this opportunity and took a risk with us as we stepped forward into the world of wedding flowers!
This is a good reminder for us that when we are struggling in one part of the farm, we can have a success in another.
Below are pictures of our work including Jonathan’s boutonnieres, Megan’s first bridal bouquet and table arrangements for the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception. Enjoy!
The bridal bouquet.
Megan holding the bridal bouquet.
Small table arrangements packed up and ready to go.
Large table arrangement with celosia.
We love the colors in the large table arrangement.
Large table arrangement featuring our wine zinnias.