Curse You, Chunky Chuck

I love groundhogs.  I also love edamame.  The problem comes from the fact that groundhogs also love edamame, but they don’t really give a fig about me or my eating habits.  Hence, we come to the problem we are wrestling with: Chunky Chuck, the groundhog who has been living near our gardens for months and being a perfectly acceptable neighbor, turned into a ravenous little piggy once the edamame plants sprouted.  So our edamame crop, which used to look like this:

037

Now looks like this:

033

So Chunky Chuck has to go.  L’Homme bought a catch-and-release trap and has been trying to catch the little bugger for a couple of weeks now.  We haven’t had any luck; instead, we get little guys like these in the trap:

Wrongly convicted

Wrongly convicted–don’t worry, they were released as soon as the DNA evidence exonerated them.

L’Homme’s next strategy is to visit with a local trapper, who says he uses a bait that will definitely entice Chuck into that trap.  He calls it Groundhog Cocaine.  After 2 weeks of trying to catch the sucker, I have my doubts, but it will be fun to see just what Groundhog Cocaine might be.

Anybody have any luck trapping and relocating a groundhog?

Truly, madly, deeply

Zinnias hanging out with a few echinacea

Zinnias hanging out with a few echinacea

Okay, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that is how I love zinnias: truly, madly, deeply.  Such a prolific, vibrant, colorful, reliable flower.

Working among my zinnias always reminds me of a workshop I attended at an organic farming conference years ago.  The man presenting was a successful flower farmer.  A large part of his workshop consisted of bad-mouthing zinnias — too pedestrian, he said, too common, too easy and obvious.  What?  They are flowers, buddy.  But his message was repeated ad nauseam, and I internalized it, and I so often feel a little cheesy for loving and growing zinnias.

How could you not love 'em?

But, how could you not love ’em?

Well, with the wonderful new air of acceptance and tolerance in our beloved U.S. culture, I am not going to be ashamed anymore.  I love zinnias, and I don’t care who knows it.

Oh, hello! Do you like zinnias, too?

Oh, hello! Do you like zinnias, too?

A better flower workshop was given just a few years ago by the fantastic Lynn Pugh of Cane Creek Farms

In that workshop, I learned tons of great information and tips on how to grow cut flowers, how to harvest them, how to arrange them, and how to sell them.  I haven’t put the selling knowledge to work yet — someday, someday — but I use the harvesting and arranging tips all the time.  So now I’ll share some with you:

Harvesting

  • Cut flowers in the morning (best) or evening, when it’s cool.  In the morning, plants have more water in them; in the evening, they have more sugar.  Either way, they’ll hold up better.
  • Cut each stem and strip off most, if not all, of the leaves.  Leaves in water promote the growth of bacteria; this is what makes flower arrangements get slimy and gross, and bacteria in the stems make them wilt and rot.  If you want greenery in the arrangement, leave some leaves up high on the stem, close to the bloom, but make sure the leaves remain above the water line.  You can also add separate stems of greenery to the arrangement, but keep to the same rule of “no leaves in the water.”
  • As you cut stems and strip leaves, hold each stem upside down; then periodically trim a handful of stems to equal length and put them in a bucket of water when your hand has reached maximum capacity.
Small, sweet and simple -- my favorite way to display zinnias.

Small, sweet and simple — my favorite way to display zinnias.

Arranging

  • Most people like a mix of different flowers, rather than a bouquet made up of one or two varieties.
  • More contrast (in both color and texture) = more excitement (and if you’re in it for the money, more sales)
  • One big showy blossom can make the whole arrangement.  A showy focal flower should be low and in the front of the arrangement for greatest pop.
  • First put greenery in whatever vessel will hold the arrangement, then place the flowers as you like.
  • If you’re not using additional greenery, gather a big bunch of flower stems and place them in the vessel all at once, then edit: rearrange, remove, trim, or add more stems as you like to achieve a nice look.  Placing the stems in one by one from the beginning never works well for me.
Voila! (Sorry, French speakers, for the lack of an accent. I know it's needed, but I'm also lazy.)

Voila! (Sorry, French speakers, for the lack of an accent. I know it’s needed, but I’m also lazy.)

I hope your flower beds and arrangements bring you as much happiness as mine bring to me!