March 24, 2018

5 Lessons Learned About Gardening In Island Park

greenhouseYou know, a lot of people would say this year’s gardening efforts were wasted. I know of many people who got little to no produce from their gardens. But there is more than food that comes from the attempt to grow a garden and this year may have been an especially good teacher.

With that in mind, here are five things I learned this year from my (mostly failed) attempt at gardening here in Island Park:

1. Tomatoes are like candy to bears. If you’re going to grow them (and they are difficult to get a good harvest from) you must do so in grow boxes that can be taken into the garage (or house) at night. It’s not enough to put them up on the porch or hang them from a doorway. Bears will get them wherever you put them unless they are actually inside.

2. You must have some sort of greenhouse to grow food here. Now that doesn’t mean you have to invest thousands of dollars. It means your veggies have to be covered virtually every night of the summer. I’ve seen some “greenhouses” that were as simple as a two foot high frame all the way around the garden covered with viz queen and then a layer that can be pulled over the top at night and pulled back in the morning. Some people use an “A” frame arrangement. It doesn’t matter what you use, but you must use something.

3. You can garden later if you put buckets of water into your greenhouse before you button it up for the night. The water will heat up from the sun during the day and then give off its heat at night. It’s a small thing, but it makes a huge difference. If you use buckets of water you can usually garden clear into October. If not, you’re done in mid September. That could be the difference between having a garden and not.

4. Root vegetables do better than most others. That includes carrots, onions, radishes, potatoes, parsnips, etc., etc. Other veggies that do well here are peas, strawberries, and other crops with a short growing season.

5. You must be long-winded if you’re going to garden here. If you’re the kind of person who gives up with just one failure, you’re going to be out of the gardening business very quickly in Island Park. There is a process to learning how to garden here and it requires patience and creativity.

Gardening can be successfully done here. But like anything else, you have to work at it. you have to twist it and turn it until it makes sense. With food costs rising like they are, a garden is more important now than at any time in recent memory. Use these guidelines to get started and then move on from there.

If you would like to add to my lessons learned, please reply to this post and we’ll get a discussion going. If not, you’re armed with the basics. Get going on your own.

Fire Danger: Extreme

fire-extreme1I drove past the ranger station there at Pond’s Lodge yesterday and noticed the fire danger sign listed the fire danger as extreme. I don’t know whether someone changed the sign as a prank, or whether it’s really extreme, but we should all be cautious.

Usually, the fire danger goes up when we have a dry spell and all the grass and dead plant material on the forest floor dries out. But this year we have had nothing but rain since May. It’s rained at least a little bit three or four times a week all summer, so it’s hard to understand why the fire danger might be at a critical level (it also makes it hard to imagine what it’s going to be when all that stuff does dry out!)

At any rate, the forest service has indicated that there is extreme fire danger so please plan on taking the appropriate measures to ensure your fires don’t get away from you. Here are eight ways you can be “fire-safe:”

1. Use only approved fire rings for fires
2. Clean the area around the fire ring of anything flammable (grass, pine needles, etc.) for at least 10 feet back.
3. Build smaller fires (big fires tend to throw off more sparks, etc.)
4. Maintain your wood supply well away from the fire.
5. Avoid using gasoline, etc. to start your fire.
6. Have water or a fire extinguisher nearby — fires can spread very rapidly.
7. Make sure your fire is dead out (well watered) before going to bed.
8. Never, ever leave your fire unattended

The forest is here for all of us to enjoy. We love to have people come and enjoy it with us. But it’s safe to say we all enjoy it more when it’s not charred by fire, so please have fun and be fire-safe.