Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Warm Weather

A November Queen Elizabeth
Sesame flowers
Sesame seed pods
The ripe open seed pods

I shake the dry pods and their seed into a bin
The sifted seed almost clean and ready to use in bread
The NoKnead bread recipe is back in the August 24th blog entry
The Chicago fig tree gave us three ripe figs this week - they were great
The Meadow Vole trap parts

The finished trap ready to be baited
The lard in jars cooling down and soon to be used

This month has been unseasonably warm. Today the temperature here at the garden was a sunny 54 degrees. No wonder I still have the Queen Elizabeth rose trying to bloom and out and about I have seen a Shasta Daisy and Easter Lily blooming in a yard! Too bad I harvested all the apples off the trees a month ago - they would have been much better tree ripened than cooler ripened.

The sesame crop for this year was small but the included pictures show the harvest and the half cup of seed for bread that this year's crop provided. The great NoKnead bread recipe is back in August. The sesame seeds will be used in the loaves Susan will make for Thanksgiving. Next year I am going to try for a full cup of harvest so that will mean a big row of sesame in the garden instead of a 6 ft. row next to the house. I planted the crop there because that spot was warm enough for this long season crop, but maybe with another warm fall, I can get a bigger crop in the garden.

I have included pictures of the PVC Vole trap in this issue because meadow voles are such a terribly destructive pest in the yard and garden. I make these traps from 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe. I usually buy a half length, 4 feet, and can make two traps from that amount. The pictures show two 8 inch pieces for the sides and one 4 to 6 inch piece for the center fill tube. If you want to use the trap in the garden buy some end caps for the center tube so you can place that part of the trap vertically and fill it in the winter without digging the whole trap out of the snow. I do not glue my pieces together because you don't need to, as the pipe will fit snug and glue just adds to the cost. I have used two different poison baits this season and will see which one gets eaten the most by the voles. I still put plastic rings around my fruit trees just to be safe. There is nothing worse than when the snow melts in the spring to find that your fruit tree has been eaten on all winter by voles and you have to try to save the tree with bridge grafts. Voles are territorial so the more of them you can remove the safer your plants will be during the winter. I have seen these vermin destroy huge hosta clumps because voles do not hibernate but must feed all winter long. Take the time now to manage the population.

The garden is still providing some greens, nice parsley and carrots, and the Napa cabbage is still growing and we should be able to have some for Thanksgiving dinner. The fig tree, whom we have named "Stinky", provided us with three tasty tree ripened figs this week. Stinky is a keeper.

As a cook I like to experiment and I have been reading about returning to using animal fats for some cooking. Old fashioned organic "LARD" has resurfaced as not as bad a fat as was once thought. Lard has some of the same good nutrients that one finds in olive oil; so this week I bought some organic pork fat and rendered it on the grill. The included pictures are of the the three half pints of cooking fat that I got. I am going to experiment with the product this holiday with biscuits, pie crust and some frying to see just how we like the lard and how our digestive systems fair. This is plain, no additives added fat from organic pork that was locally raised so the product I rendered should be about as pure as one can get.

Happy Gardening


  1. Hi Dave,

    I understand how to make the vole trap but I don't understand how they work. How do you bait the voles? Do you use poison in the trap or does the trap "kill" the voles. I also did not understand your comment about putting the trap vertical in the snow with end caps.

    Can you explain OR give me a web link.

    Thanks for your great blogs!


  2. Hi Carl,
    The vole like to make and use tunnels - your trap is thus a ready made feeding tunnel for these critters. Hopefully they will like your baited space and will feed themselves to death. One uses the trap to prevent other animals especially birds from consuming the bait and to keep baits dry.
    Yes, you will need to use a poison pellet bait that you can get at the farm store or hardware store - I will give you the names of the two I am using but I would rather not use brand names. I have one with "Bromethalin" and one with "Zinc Phosphide" as I am trying to find the most effective one.
    The smaller length at the top of the "T" is the fill tube because if you pour bait in one end of the tube it has the tendency to fall out the other end so the center tube is the fill tube. That tube can be longer and in the winter it is that tube that I cap and have vertical so I can fill through that ares and not have to dig the trap out of the snow because these critter make snow tunnels and use them to go to feeding areas. If one does not use a cap water gets in and ruins the bait.
    You can also go to your local Extension web site and see what bait they are suggesting. However, I have never had any luck with the poison peanuts in the yellow cones that are suggested sometimes as a vole bait.
    Happy Gardening

  3. Thanks Dave. I understand it now!

  4. Hi David...
    After surfing the web this PM I came across a blog you might be interested in checking out...'Saving the Season'. Lots of canning things...he speaks about the 'fraises de bois' as you do. I am going to have to plant some this spring!
    Kathy The Cat Lady

  5. Hi there -

    I'm fascinated that we can grow sesame in WI. Can you talk a little more about that (or point me to an earlier post if I missed it)? Where do you get your seed,and when do you plant?

    Also, any tips for further cleaning the seed?

    Great blog!