The Shed

The Shed
The Shed

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Ready for a Discovery Channel moment? You have been cynically led astray, because this post is dedicated to Hugle Kultur, which is as everyone knows, the kulturing of hugles.

We knew nothing about this arcane practice here at the Shed, until Raymond Kukkee intoduced us in a round about fashion at his blog site, Incoming BYTES, cleverly disguised as a heap of vegetable nutrients. Hard on the heels of this revelation we discover a link on Wooly Acres that completely explains Huglekultur, and you can go to that link right HERE and learn all about it.

As the captioned drawing above indicates, we intend to construct a form of raised bed, perhaps 4' to 5' tall and about 5' wide on a base of logs using all sorts of debris to fill in the interstices and then top it off with some indifferent soil and then compost. Our bed will be about 20' long and we will try a variety of veggies on it. Below is the space the hugle will occupy...

The new bed will end at the top of the picture where you can just make out a horizontal line - a 4" x 4" - in the washed out February sunlight, flanked by a white stake on the right and a very dim stake on the left marking the margins left and right. The closer end will be just about where you might visualize the photographer's feet to be.

The trees casting the shadows will of course, have to go.

And that is essentially that folks, for the moment. Here at the Shed we'll be documenting the progress of the bed, step by step until hopefully we harvest some good things from it. Join us on our journey, and as you do bear in mind that a well kultured hugle is a hugle well kultured. 

Thanks for visiting Uncle Mac's Garden Shed!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


A lot of people hang around the Garden Shed and its environs from time to time. Some are strange and excentric folk, difficult to categorize. Others are the salt of the earth, the kind who would gladly give you the shirt off their very backs, had you expressed the need for such a tattered, sweat-soaked, maloderous garment. Others are downright dangerous. And then of course, there are the critters.

But against all odds there are some talented, knowledgeable people; good friends with information to share in an entertaining, masterfully written style. We are going to share a few links to their work today, so that you may get to
know them and profit from their experience and knowledge. I know you will enjoy the experience!

Who doesn't enjoy a beautiful bed of colorful annual flowers? First up is Glory Lennon; equally adept in vegetable or flower garden Glory is going to tell us about some easy to grow annual flowers. Even if your thumb is not the greenest, even if you have lost your thumb in a tragic hitch hiking accident, Glory will show you what to grow and how to grow it. Beautify your yard with gorgeous annual flowers, let this article be your guide:

"Easy to grow annual flowers", by Glory Lennon
Glory has even more to offer! She is the author of the award winning blog, Glory's Garden, and the fun serial novel, Violet's in bloom. Visit her blogs and pages and enjoy!

Don't forget to vote for your favorite "Farm Girl" picture right here. Remember to click "vote" after you make your selection or the vote will not register!"

But where are you going to plant your flowers or your vegetables? In a bed, or raised bed, or if you happen to be Raymond Alexander Kukkee, in a heap. Raymond shows you how to utilize items you may never have considered as soil additives or amendments to create a rich growth medium that will make your veggie patch the envy of the neighborhood! Without further ado, learn about the joy of heapery right HERE!

But don't stop there! Raymond is the proprietor and chief author of "Incoming BYTES" a broad ranging look at just about everything, guaranteed to surprise, inform and amuse. Be sure to check it out and become a member, so that you don't miss the next post - you never know what it might be about!


We have just had a contribution about a heap, I think Its just about time we received a contribution from one. Ladies and gentlemen, Alexandra Heep is about to touch on a subject that probably affects ninety percent of all familes in the United States today. Unemployment is an unpleasant fact of life for many but Alexandra is going to reveal the silver lining inside the cloud, if only we heed her suggestion. See what she has to say on the subject, right HERE

Are you a NASCAR fan? Well guess what? Alexandra is the ultimate NASCAR fan and also the source off all NASCARIAN knowledge. Visit her blog at "A Heep of NASCAR" and learn a few things which you probably never suspected about this great competitive sport and its personalities. In the mood for a surprise? Visit "A Heep of everything", which is very much like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, no telling what you are going to get, but you are certain to like it!


Spring is just around the corner, you can just taste it in the air! Soon bunnys will emerge, robins will bob bob bob along while taking their own personal worm census. Gardeners will hunker down at their windows, staring at the garden, hands twisting nervously on the handles of their hoe's, like doughboys carressing their rifles before going over the top on the first morning of the Somme. (Although, hopefully at least some of the gardeners will come back.) Some of us, however know what spring is really all about, its about fishing!

But Mike Logan does not merely go fishing, Mike goes FISHING! The way it is supposed to be done. Fishing is a full family adventure in the Logan clan, and we are furtunate that he shares the first installment of one such adventure right HERE.

But that is only the opening chapter of a much broader fishing adventure, which you can view in its entirety at Saturdays Sunshine. And this is not simply a fishing saga, there is action, adventure and even mystery to be found. I'm not going to give anything away, but even Holmes and Watson were never confronted by anything as baffling as "The Extraordinary Case of the Submersible Hound." All this and more at Saturdays Sunshine!

Did you vote for your favorite "Farm Girl" picture? You didn't, did you? Well you can do so right here. Remember to click "vote" after you make your selection or the vote will not register!"

There is fishing, and then there is ice fishing. There are pros and cons to ice fishing, there are ice fishing pros, and there are ex-cons and cons in the making participating in the sport. There are times when you can capture Moby Dick while sitting on your milk crate.

Sometimes its the other way around.

Ice fisherman are a peculiar breed.

Some are modern day Vikings!

Others, dedicated towns folk.

You can form lifelong friendships on the ice,

But some of these are best not discussed at the breakfast table.

Well. So much for the pictorial oddessy. You've already met Ray Kukkee of Incoming BYTES, and he has a few things to say on the subject of ice fishery. So with no further ado, lets let him do so, right HERE!

We tried to stop the following post, but as Uncle Mac so elequently put it:

"It's my #%%#$#! shed, my #%^$@! blog and my $%%##$@! doggerel! I'll post what I &%^$#! want to post!

It is difficult to argue with, or even detect, logic of that caliber. We just wanted you to know that we played no roll in what you are about to endure.

Farm Girl, Delacroix and Leatherface.

Well folks, it seems fishing and especially ice fishing is the order of the day! Some of the crew here at the Shed persuaded me to display, albeit reluctantly,  the following ode dedicated to the brethren and cistern of the ice spud: 

Ice Fishing

You may play a round of golf with your loony neighbor Rolf,
or smack handballs 'round until your fingers bleed.
You may pump your mountain bike up the peak named after Pike,
and I'm sure we'll all applaud the mighty deed.

You may hunt the antlered moose, you may perforate a goose,
or take bow in hand and stalk the ring necked pheasant.
But a sportsmans not a hero t'il he fishes in sub-zero
temperatures that lesser men would find unpleasant.

There is nothing quite as nice as to lumber 'cross the ice
when the northern lights are flashing o'er the pole.
With your tip-ups and your thermos and frost bitten epidermous
and a double headed axe to chop the hole.

On your upturned spacklers pail there you'll squat through sleet and hail,
and snow so deep that folks can't see your hat.
And some may call you nuts, and some a goofy putz,
but you're a proud ice fishin' man for all of that.

Though you've never caught a trout and never will, I doubt,
that the prospect of a catch is what will tug ya,
to the frozen lake each season; no you do it for the reason,
it's the only place you spouse won't go to bug ya.


My good friend Amanda DaCosta has a surprise for us all! Because it is a surprise, I'm not going to tell you anything about it, you will have to take the time to make a single mouse click, and visit Mandy's Pages. Then you will know, and can recommend the site to your friends, and then they can recommend it to theirs, and...

Well you get the picture! Go click that link and say "Hi!" to Mandy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

FARM GIRL'S CORNER - Common spring gardening mistakes

Hi! I'm Farm Girl and I help Uncle Mac in the garden and around the shed and stuff. Sometimes he helps me too, especially with things like wardrobe malfunctions. Why just this morning he said to me:

"Farm Girl! You haven't had a wardrobe malfunction in nigh on a week! Do you need some help?"

That's our Uncle Mac, always ready to give a girl a helping hand or two! But today I'm here to talk to you about the pitfalls that await the over anxious veggie gardener in the early days of spring.


Gardeners cannot wait for the last of the winter snows to melt away. Like a caged lion that has returned to the wild the dedicated home vegetable gardener cannot wait to sink his or her teeth into something rewarding. Oh there have been some distractions along the way, pouring over the seed catalogs and websites helps a bit, mapping out the different beds, starting the transplants indoors and so forth, all somewhat satisfying but nothing compares to getting some garden soil on the boots and fresh air in the lungs. Keep in mind however there are potential problems lurking among the raised beds in the early days of spring!

Frozen muck:

It is sound gardening practice to turn the soil as early as practical in the spring, but to do so when the final frost date is weeks away, just because there have been a few mild days and the ice is off the beds is counterproductive. It is backbreaking labor to turn that saturated muck to begin with and the only result will be gooey clumps of spade sized soil that will solidify with the next freeze. These will set up much like adobe bricks and will have to be broken apart just so that the gardener can start from scratch and turn everything over again. Wait for that sun warmed, relatively dry soil to appear before sprinting to the tool shed for rakes and spades.

Rotted seeds

The seed packet reads: “Sow directly in the garden 2 to 4 weeks before the final frost date as soon as the soil can be worked.” 

You can certainly do this but depending on your climate it is really a crap shoot. Weather 4 weeks before the final frost date is subject to all sorts of variation and there may be snow, hard frosts, sleet, freezing rain and stubborn cold spells in the future. As a result seeds sown as early as possible may simply rot in the soil, and you will inevitably have to plant them all over again.

If they do germinate it may take so long for them to do so that hardy weeds will beat them to the punch, making the task of thinning the seedlings which will often look much like weed seedlings unusually difficult. 

In areas with variable climate it is better to plant no more than a week before the final frost, the crops will arrive later, but the germination and early growth phases will be many times more secure.

Inappropriate crops: 

While you might get away with sowing kale, cabbage and turnip seeds at or before the last frost dates it will never work with corn, cucumbers and zucchini. The plants are doomed from the beginning; they are warm weather germinators and cannot thrive in early spring conditions. Always take time to read the seed packet, instructions are always available there, and avoid losing seed and wasting your efforts. 

Failure to harden off transplants:

Many plants, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and many others are first started indoors in pots and then transplanted to the garden beds at the proper time. This gives the gardener a jump on the season without risking premature direct seeding disappointment.

But transplants should not be taken from quiet greenhouses or window ledges and planted straight into the garden; they are not prepared for the variable temperature conditions and breezes which prevail in the great outdoors. Plants should first be exposed to a few hours of the outdoors over a period of five to seven days to allow them to acclimate to the conditions which prevail in the garden.

The process is called hardening off and is essential for healthy transplant survival. A mild breeze can kill a bed of transplanted, unhardened seedlings overnight and few garden disasters are more frustrating to the average gardener, or more easily avoided.

Patience is a virtue:

It is obvious that there are many potential pitfalls awaiting the gardener in early spring. Almost all of these are the result of rushing the season, an understandable but ultimately counterproductive activity. This is one time when “Hurry up and wait!” is sound gardening practice. 

That's all for now, thank you for visiting Farm Girl's Corner!

Monday, February 13, 2012


I sat disconsolate, meatloaf special virtually untouched, faced with the very real possibility of becoming not merely a washed up stand up comic, aged 39 but a washed up stand up unemployed comic staring the big 4 - 0 right in it's wrinkled face.

Morrie Lipschitz had been unecessarily candid after I finished my final set. Co-owner with his brother Solly of "Laugh Your Balls Off", Poughkeepsie's premier comedy club for many a year, his review had not been kindly.

"Thirty years we own this club, right, Solly?"

"Thirty years." said Solly, mournfully.

"We had 'em all. We seen 'em come and go. We had Carlin, we had Rickles. We had Cho, we had Barr."

"Barr does the bar! She was the best, bar none." said Solly.

"Solly please!  I'm trying to save Gagootz's career here!"

I work under the stage name "Vinnie Gagootz".  This keeps things simple, as it is actually my name. I wonder why sometimes, since my parents are Eunice and Jason Carruthers from 6th Avenue, Queens. Perhaps they'd had a premonition.

"Career" said Solly, dolefully. "We had Jody Miller, we had Seinfeld..."

"You never had Seinfeld!" I shot back.

"We had him on TV" said Morrie, "We had Dangerfield..."

"Dangerfield is dead!" I protested.

"But he didn't die on stage. Like you do every night!" Solly sighed. 

"What are you thinking?” Morrie said, "Poughkeepsie is 65% minorities, 100% democrat and you're telling Obama jokes?"      

“A muslim, an illegal, a black guy and a socialist walk into a bar.” Solly said.

“The bartender says, what will you have Mr. President?” Morrie finished for him.

“It took courage to tell that joke.” Morrie said.

“And the comedic sensitivity of Ebola.” Solly said.

“New funny material TONIGHT!” said Morrie.

“Or you’ll never work in this town again.” said Solly.

I became aware that someone had joined me in the booth. It was Jenny, my waitress.

“Something wrong with the meatloaf?” she said.

“Not really. I’ve come to rely on higher gristle content, is all.” I said.

“God. You do need help. Well that’s why I’m here. I heard what happened at Laugh Your Balls Off, I have jokes for you!”

I groaned.

“This sort of thing is best left to the professionals.” I said.

“If you ever meet one, ask him for help.” Jenny said.  “Meanwhile you want to hear mine or not?”

“Ok” I surrendered. It was easier.

“Well then,” said Jenny, “Here you go.”

“A new Valkyrie arrives in Valhalla. Thor explain to her what is expected of Valkyries. Gamely, she offers her honor. Thor honors her offer. It’s offer and honor all night.”

My jaw dropped.

“That’s terrible!” I said. “That’s the worst joke I have ever heard! And its ancient – real Vikings told that joke! That’s why everybody hated them!”

“Fine.” Said Jenny, stiffly. “I’ll give you my best one. But you have to agree to use it tonight. If you do, tomorrow’s special is on me. It’s two weenies, chili, onion rings and a stomach pump.”

“Don’t remind me. So in essence you double dog dare me to use this joke?”

“I double dog dare you.”

“Done.” I said.

“Thor, God of Thunder, is recovering from a typical Valhalla party. You know, feasting, fighting, furgling the Valkyries, more feasting, furgling, fighting until everyone passes out until the next day, whereupon everyone rises to do it all over again.”

Thor is just shaking himself out of a heap of busted furniture when a brand new Valkyrie, who he has never met, staggers by looking much the worse for wear. Ever the gentleman, Thor tips his horned helmet and says:

“Hi! I’m Thor!”

The Valkyrie glares at him and says: “Don’t tell me your troubleth, Buthter; I’m tho thor I’m afwaid to pith!”

I thanked Jenny, and reached for the “Help Wanted” pages of the Poughkeepsie Daily Piddler.  

Friday, February 10, 2012


G is for Gardening

A is for Asparagus; it makes us pee fouly
B for the Broccoli we plant with our trowely
C is for Cauliflower, esteemed by the bunny
D for cold Drizzle; makes the gardeners nose runny.

E for the Elephantine leaves of the Collard
Beloved of Texan, Sicilian and Lollard.
It grows by the fence, right next to the phlox,
And we boil it with pride, and ginormous pork hocks

F is for Fennel, a herb of much pleasantry,
(Mixed with bread crumbs and onions and stuffed into pheasantry.)
G is for Garlic so pungent and smelly
H for Horseradish to warm every belly

I's for Italian herbage and spice
Which we stir into sauces to make them taste nice.
J for sweet Jellies made from the strawberry
Which will o'er run the garden, if the gardener ain't wary.

K for the crop that makes manly hearts throb,
No woosy kale here, we're talking Kohlrab!
L is for Leek and the tender Legume
M for the Melons we'll grow if there's room.

N is for Not much that grows in the garden,
So we'll just pass it by, (while begging its pardon)
O is for Onion and also for Okra
P is for Pumpkin, round and hefty, like Oprah.

Q for the Question that watering poses:
"Should we water by can, or just whip out our hoses?"
R's for the Radish that won't grow in Las Vegas,
and for Rhubarb, Raspberry, and plump Rutabagas.

S for the Squashes all gardeners should try,
The same goes for Sage. (But avoid Salsify!)
T's for the ripe red and juicy Termater,
To bad we've used P, we could work in "Pertater"

U is for Ungulates, like fiesty mule deer,
Who will slice through our corn like a well sharpened spear
V's for all veggies so tender and fine
W for grapes, or their by-product Wine.

X is for my X, who plagues Delaware,
Where I hear she grows weeds. (Though I really don't care)
Y is for Yam, and also for Yarrow
Which is useful for something, though choices are narrow.

Z means Zuchinni, which we grow by the pile,
And thrust upon neighbors, who try bravely to smile.
Tho' this ode is too long, and alarmingly odd,
There's one good thing about it; it's over! Thank God!

©2012 Mac Pike All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Hi I’m Farm Girl, welcome to Farm Girl’s Corner! I help Uncle Mac in the garden and around the shed and things. Some times he needs more help than others. Why, just the other day he called to me;

“Hey Farm Girl!” he yelled, “Look at THIS!”

“Oh Mac you nut!” I told him, “It’s not time for the worm census! You just put that away before it freezes. Men!”

But today I’m here to tell you about one of the huge successes in last year’s garden, Ambrosia Hybrid sweet corn.

Ambrosia sweet corn is a hybrid bicolor with large 9” ears growing two to each seven foot tall stalk. It is a mid season corn, which means it could easily be phased with Early Sunglow and Silver Queen for a long and delicious corn crop. Kernels are extraordinarily tender, juicy and sweet; this corn really needs to be tasted to be appreciated.

Wait a good 4 weeks after the last frost date to plant Ambrosia. Work a great deal of compost into the corn patch, and if you suspect that the compost may be nitrogen rich, add some organic phosphorus and potassium additives as well, this corn is a voracious feeder. Intensive spacing of 12” from one plant to the next will work well if the soil nutrients and water supply are ample.

When plants are a foot tall weed closely and mulch deeply with sifted compost.

When ears first appear immediately apply powdered eggshell and Epsom salt as a side dressing for a boost of calcium and magnesium. Water well from this point on. The corn should be ready for the pot in about 75 days.

Raccoons love Ambrosia corn and it may be necessary to leave the pit bull out overnight or possibly to electrify the corn patch if you want to actually enjoy any of this fabulous corn.

Ambrosia is available from the Burpee Seed Company as well as other sources and is highly recommended.

And that is our segment on sweet corn, thank you as always for joining us at Farm Girls Corner! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


"Hi kids I'm Leatherface and Mommy just made a wrong turn and mistook us for the day care center so I'll be watching over you for awhile. While we're waiting I'm going to tell you all about earthworms! Yes, earthworms boys and girls! When will you see Mommy again? Right around lunch time I expect..."


Earthworms are seen after rain storms, in the parking lot or on the sidewalks, trying to find their way back to their homes below ground. Sometimes they surprise you when you turn over some old leaves or dig into the compost pile or the garden, and suddenly the shovel has half a dozen lively, wiggly earthworms on board. Many have heard that worms are good for gardens, and it is known that fish value them highly as a food source; so much so that often earthworms are involuntary guests on fishing trips. But do these for the most part unseen creatures have any
buried secrets to share? 

Old and new at the same time:

Earthworms are some of the oldest life forms on our planet. Evidence of worms and of their burrows dating back nearly 500 million years, long before dinosaurs or much of anything else walked the earth are routinely discovered in the fossil record. Relatively recent discoveries in India and China indicate that certain primitive worms may have been around as far back as a billion years or more before the present era. This exciting discovery also means that the history of multi cellular life on earth had its origins at least twice as long ago as was previously believed.

So earthworms have been around a very long time, right? Well, yes, and also, no. If you are living in parts of the northern hemisphere like Canada or the northern United States, earthworms only arrived with the first European settlers. The great glaciers formed during the last ice age, which ended about 12,000 years ago freeze-dried and scoured the earth bare of earthworms as they advanced and retreated leaving the remaining soil devoid of most of its multi celled subterranean inhabitants.

Virtually all of the worms living in Canada and the upper USA are descended from relatively recent ancestors that arrived as egg casings trapped in the hoofs of the settler’s horses and shoes, in the ships ballast, or as hitchhikers in the soil used to transport plants from Europe. The spread of earthworms through the vast tracts of land that they currently occupy corresponds with the expansion of European settlement. Present day colonies of earthworms in many northern areas are less than 300 years old.

Tons of earthworms!

Chemical fertilizers can inhibit or even destroy earthworm populations but gardeners who rely heavily on compost and organic soil additives will cultivate an astonishing earthworm population, often unappreciated because it is so rarely noticed. Illinois scientists did a study in 1997 as part of a project called “The Illinois Soil Quality Initiative” that involved taking samples from 12 different farms with similar soil characteristics and also from the unfarmed – and therefore unfertilized - grassy borders of those fields.

They found that on average, an acre of conventionally farmed cornfield contains around 148,000 earthworms, translating to 78 pounds of living worms. The field with the richest population density hosted 292,000 worms, or nearly 180 pounds of living weight. To everyone’s surprise, the richest sample came from one of the unfarmed grassy borders. Sampling revealed a population of 1,540,000 per acre, or a whopping 5909 pounds – nearly 3 tons – of earthworms! The great weight disparity between the two types of samples is explained by the fact that not only was there more worms in the grassy borders of the fields; the individual worms themselves were much larger.

But this is really nothing compared to the fertile Nile Valley of Egypt, where samples have topped 2,500,000 worms per acre during the growing season, or of a sample drawn from an especially fertile field in New Zealand, where research uncovered an astonishing 4,000,000 earthworms per acre, or a live weight of 15,000 pounds – seven and one half tons - of completely unseen sub surface worm life!

To put this in perspective, if one were to fence off an acre of that New Zealand pasture and temporarily pen 5 large cows, each weighing 1500 pounds inside, there would be twice their weight in living worms underneath the grass on which they grazed.

Our unseen gardening friends:

Earth worms do much more than just set underground weight records; they are the organic gardener’s best pals. Each day earthworms eat a mixed dinner of organic material, soil and sand particles, anywhere from half of their own bodyweight to an amount equal to their weight. They process - digest - this material and excrete the remainder in the form of water soluble pellets called castings. These castings, as it turns out, are the perfect fertilizer for the plants humans like to grow. The castings present the plants with 5 times the concentration of absorbable nitrogen, 7 times the phosphates and 11 times the potash – not to mention trace nutrients – than is present in the organic matter which the earthworms consumed.

Henry Hopp, researcher for the United States Department of Agriculture states that just an average acre of agricultural land housing only an average worm population can generate 5 tons of these organic plant nutrients per year. Best of all this gentle, effective fertilizer is delivered directly to plant roots in precisely the correct form for optimal absorption.

While the worm is enjoying dinner he is constantly burrowing through the soil, opening passageways for air and water to pass through and for the roots of the plant to grow into.  When you are working in your garden, you are never working alone. There is a volunteer army of agricultural experts toiling just beneath your feet.

The long and the short of it:

Earth worms come in many sizes; turn over that compost heap and you may find little half inch long wigglers and mighty night crawlers stretching 8 inches or more in length. But visit the Beatrix Gold Mine in South Africa as a group of scientists recently did and you may find colonies of Halicephalobus mephisto, not a true earthworm but a deep dwelling nematode cousin, that is a mere half millimeter in length. It would take 50 of these tiny creatures placed end to end to add up to one inch.

And these are tough little worms indeed, dwelling in world where temperature may reach 100 degrees and more, where there is little oxygen and the only food available are single celled bacteria that live in minute cracks in the rock.

As with the ancient worms found in China, these deep dwellers - DNA from as yet unnamed nematodes have been found 2 ¼ miles down - are pushing back the boundaries of our knowledge of multi cellular life forms. Prior to their discovery science was reasonably certain that only a few very robust strains of single cell bacteria could exist in the hostile environment that prevail at such depths.

At the other end of the spectrum, meet Megascolides Australis, a rare earthworm from a very restricted range in Australia, which averages three full feet in length but can occasionally grow to as long as ten feet. This interesting worm needs very wet soil to survive, and even though it cannot be seen it can frequently be heard as it squishes and gurgles its way through its damp burrows.

And yet, Megascolides is a lightweight compared to the mighty Giant South African Earthworm, which averages six feet in length but has been recorded to reach an almost unbelievable 20 feet in the case of a few extremely old and presumably well fed specimens.

The United States hosts the rare Oregon worm, which can attain several feet in length but whose real claim to fame lies in the aroma of lilies that it exudes when handled. New Zealand, far from being outdone presents us with the Auckland worm, large, incandescent blue by day and throwing off a cold light not unlike that of a firefly at night. It is claimed that just a few of these worms provide sufficient light to read by.

Not just bait for fishes:

No, it turns out that the common earthworm, bless its heart, is not as common as is generally thought. Or perhaps one should say “bless its hearts” because most earthworms, who have no lungs and must breath through their skins, pump the resulting oxygenated blood around their bodies using five sets of double hearts based in segments located just behind their heads. 
But stay tuned, folks, because it is not to be thought that science has yet uncovered all of the amazing secrets of this commonplace, but not at all ordinary, creature.

Well there you have it kids, everything you will ever need to know about earthworms and then some! As always, thanks for spending an hour or so with Leatherface!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Some of our southern gardening friends have already started their transplants so this may be a little bit late for them but for those of us in the northern zones, hey, there is still time. This means there is time enough to see what the seed companies have been up to and what new offerings they may have for the 2012. With no further ado, presented in hypothetical order, here is some of what’s new in 2012.

The weary world has long cried out for a new cabbage and Thompson and Morgan heard the plea and responded, with the “Attraction” 125 day F1 hybrid. Touted as being particularly frost resistant, crunchy and good for kohl slaw it may well be worth a try for fall cabbage.

If you’ve gone stale on kale you might wish to give T & M’s Rossignal offering a chance. This is an extremely curly long standing fall crop kale that promises an 80 day growing window! T & M asserts that it will sustain several months of winter conditions and retain taste and nutritional value.

Now celebrating its 110th anniversary the folks at Henry Fields bring us several new eye catching varieties for the upcoming season. Chief among these has to be the Graffiti Hybrid cauliflower, which produces medium sized heads of a remarkably deep and intense violet shade; much of which color is retained even after cooking. Interplant snowball white cauliflower with these violets in bloom and the ho hum cauliflower patch becomes a center of attention within your garden.

Also new for 2012 Fields brings us the Stars and Stripes Hybrid blend eggplant, which yields ivory, striped and purple varieties with an average weight of 3 ounces each. Stars and Stripes is a colorful and tasty addition to any garden plot, and well worth a trial.          

Never ones to hold back the hype on a new product this years new tomato, the Big Daddy Hybrid, is hailed as a “breakthrough in taste”, a “big time game changer”,  and a “revolution in the tomato patch.” And that is just the first two sentences!

On the other hand, the Big Daddy derives from the classic “Big Boy” tomato, a success in Uncle Mac’s garden lo these many years – one enchanted season producing 600 lbs from 10 plants – so if it is even a marginal improvement it is very good indeed. We’ll be trying them this year and reporting in periodically.

Easy Peasy peas look like a winner.  A Burpee exclusive this year it promises heavy yield, superb taste and 11 peas per pod. They are apparently a bush or self supporting pea, which frees up the garden fence for cucumber and bean duty, never a bad thing.

The folks at Totally Tomatoes have not forgotten the container gardeners among us, and present us with Container’s Choice Red Hybrid VFF Tomato for 2012. This attractive space saver is at home in a 5 gallon pail and produces high yields of ½ lb. tomatoes. Determinate, but of course will benefit from support.

Totally Tomatoes offer more than tomatoes, and they offer an early, intensely orange bell pepper called Orange Blaze. Brightly colored peppers on intensely dark green plants are some of the gardens eye candy and this strongly colored bell turns color in 65 to 70 days from transplant. Presented as extremely sweet, it gets a try in Uncle Mac’s pepper patch this year.

The Territorial Seed Company has always been a prime supplier to Uncle Mac’s garden and this year they offer a short season container zucchini for those of us who grow veggies on the front porch. Patio Star zucchini matures in 50 days and yields long, slim dark skinned attractive zukes in quantity. What’s not to like?

Pumpkins are the fat, jolly autumnal kings and queens of the garden and I had to mention this one when I saw its stats. A 40 lb. Jack o’ lantern pumpkin available in 100-105 days, Big Doris is uniform and deep orange, If not used for Jack o lanterns just think of all those pies!

Who does not love an acorn squash? Jung in 2012 offers a variety pack called “Autumn Acorn Blend” that yields traditional green, gold, ivory and bi-color acorns from the same seed pack. These will be tried and reviewed in Uncle Mac’s garden, but why wait for us to report when you can try them for yourself?

Also new for 2012 is Sugar Pearl white sugar sweet corn. Ready in 73 days on 6 ½ foot stalks this is a fast, easy to pick super sweet white corn that can come to the table sooner than some of the more traditional favorites. See if it lives up to its press and possibly be the envy of the entire corn growing neighborhood!

Tip of the iceberg:

We left out many, many fine seeds companies and therefore many interesting new varieties of vegetables. We’d love to hear about some of the new offers that you have uncovered; that’s why the net has search engines. A successful gardening season to all, thanks for visiting Uncle Mac’s.