Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Bug

Okay, is it me, or does it seem like there are new or at least "never an issue before" bugs out this year? I now have these black beetles on my tomatoes called Blister Beetles. If they come in contact with human skin they exude a chemical that can cause blisters - nice! I think I actually squashed a few with my fingers.....I'm okay so far, but they are chowing down on my tomatoes. The plants are doing fabulously and I have kept the tomato hornworms at bay. I guess, once again, Sevin is a good solution for the beetles, but I was really hoping not to spray my tomatoes with anything. I think I will keep picking them off (with gloves) for now.

My tomato crop is really starting to come in. I have made a couple of batches of tomato sauce and am working on another now. I also decided to make large batches of fresh salsa and freeze half. I am hoping for salsa and sauce for the whole winter. When they really start coming in, I will get out my pressure canner.

I harvested my edamame completely today. I think I will freeze it in small bags. I'm the only one who eats it and it is very filling. I yanked up the plants and fed them to my goats. Then I planted my fall crop of lettuce and spinach. I am also trying cucumbers - again. I have lost every batch to wilt so I keep trying a new location. I know it is those dang cucumber beetles and the lovely, vine borer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Infant Potty Training

Okay, I know this is a random topic for me. Every once in a while I will mention it to someone with a young baby, but folks rarely stick around for the explanation. When you mention that you potty trained your baby at 4 mos old, they nod, "really? that's great." but they don't believe you. I read an article about infant potty training with my 2nd and 3rd children, but the methods just seemed really impossible to me. (The articles I read had you starting with newborns, using cloth diapers, wearing the baby, and making a sound when you felt the diaper getting wet....ew.) With child #4, I finally gave it a try, with my own modifications, and it worked. I think you might find my methods acceptable.

Infant potty training can be started when the baby has good head control and semi-solid bowel movements (bm), usually after starting some solids at about 3-4 mos old. When you see that your baby is having a bm (straining, squirming, etc.) quickly take off the baby’s diaper and put him on the potty to finish. Usually the baby will also pee at this time. Start making a noise to identify with that body function - “psss”, “pee, pee”, etc. Whenever the baby pees in the potty, make that noise or say those words repeatedly. Within a week or two, the baby will associate that noise with peeing and will pee whenever you put them on the potty and make that noise. Since you can identify a bm by their body movements, noises, and facial expressions, you don’t need a noise for that function. Put the baby on the potty whenever they have a bm and several other times a day during transitions, such as when they wake up, before going out, before they take a nap, or when you put on their pajamas.

Infant potty training cuts back on the use of diapers because the baby is doing most of their elimination in the potty and is potty trained much younger than most children.

My daughter was almost completely dry during the day at about 6 months old. She was completely potty trained by about 10 months old, meaning that she could wear underpants during the day and communicate to me that she needed to use the potty. She was dry through the night at about a year. There was no transition from diapers to potty training, and no control conflicts over potty training (which I endured with my three older children.) Going to the bathroom on the potty was a natural thing for her and once she had complete control developmentally, that is where she was accustomed to going.

People think it is a hassle to interrupt what they are doing to take off a baby's diaper to take them to the potty. I think it is more of a hassle to change a stinky toddler than it is to hold a baby over a toilet while they go IN it. Maybe you can change them at your convenience, but it's not really convenient at that point! At some point, you are going to have to interrupt what you are doing (maybe for days, even months....) to undiaper-train your toddler. I am telling you, this is much much easier and you will be shocked at how quickly they "get it".

Thank you for your attention. I finally got to tell my potty story. I would really like to hear if others actually follow through with this.

Additional information:  Just decided to add a few comments in response to some questions I have gotten over the years.

•When potty-training my infant, I did NOT take them to the potty while out at a store, public places, etc. but if I knew they were going I would just say, "oh, you're going potty...pee, pee, etc." so that they would still associate those words with the action.  This should not be a stressful thing. There are enough opportunities in the home (or places you might be comfortable changing them - a friend's house, grandparents', etc.) to train them, and they are very smart!

•It is never too late to try this method.  Don't say, "oh, my child is already - 6 mos, a year, so it's too late, I'll just wait until she's two."  No!  Start now.   If you can tell your child is pooping her diaper, or she goes off and hides in the corner. Take her to the bathroom, lay her on the floor, pull of the diaper (carefully!) and put her on the potty. I had a changing table on my bathroom counter and one right outside my other bathroom, conveniently located to the toilet.

•What if they have already gone some in the diaper?  Still take it off and let them finish on the potty or spend a few minutes on the toilet.  This will give them the knowledge that this is the proper place to go and most likely they will pee when they are sitting their anyway.

•How often do you need to put them on the potty?  I would say that I put my daughter on the potty about 5-10 times a day in the beginning.  The first week or so there were only a few times a day that were prompted by recognizing it was time to poop.  The other times were before and after naps, baths, bedtime, and anytime that her diaper needed to be changed (yes, it would be wet during the training period because not every urination would be caught.)   I would say within 3-4 weeks, I began to wonder if I should put this diaper back on, because although it was not soiled, it was getting pretty used and out of shape!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lasagna Gardening

I read somewhere about "lasagna" gardening and so I started one in March. I didn't follow all of the specific layering that is outlined in the book, but just used the general principles.

In lasagna gardening, a layer of newspaper or cardboard is laid down directly on top of the sod. I used chicken feed bags (don't use goat feed bags, they have a layer of plastic - which doesn't decompose as quickly and may be hard for plants to get through.) The bags/cardboard/newspaper kill the sod, removing the necessity to turn over a new plot by digging through thick grass.

On top of the feed bags I put any and all compost that I could find in my yard. In my case, I have really good stuff readily available. I mucked out the goat shed and put that on there. I found the place where my daughter dumped her chicken house manure and put that on there. I hauled over piles of leaves from my grandmother's yard. Rabbit poo from under the hutch. I guess I was supposed to add peat moss and maybe some soil, but I figured there was plenty of regular dirt under the bags and that the plants would reach it eventually. I refuse to pay money for dirt and poo! That being said, manure sure makes the difference in plant growth and production, so if you have to buy it, so be it.

So, I took a picture of another lasagna garden I am starting next to my old garden. It doesn't look like much and that is kind of my point. It's real ugly, so if you are planning some shindig or something, make sure you put it somewhere discreet.

See, it's just a pile of lumpy hay, poo mess. I wish I had taken a picture of the first one I did. Below is the finished one complete with my lovely tomatoes (and my daughter for scale). It was just a lumpy rectangle in the middle of my yard. Then we decided to host my in-laws 50th anniversary was planted and fenced in one weekend.

Ideally the lasagna garden should be started in Fall, giving it time to all compost down for the next growing season. I started this one in March and it was significantly-composted down by the end of May. I did turn it over and made a smaller compost pile within the garden with the stuff that wasn't quite ready yet (hardened chicken poo). None of my composting components are extremely acidic so that they would burn my plants. This is the best I have ever seen my tomatoes and it was the easiest garden to start.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden Critter Battles

I am quite fond of gardening. I am doing battle with a number of critters right now. My husband suggested that I keep a gardening log to keep track of some of the things I've discovered. I thought a little sketch book would be cool, but decided I can type faster. I included links to the pictures for this particular blog entry in case you would like a visual reference (but I didn't include the picture ON the blog in case you are eating lunch.)

This year it's a double assault. It started with the Mexican Bean Beetle which my Victory Garden book defines mistakenly as a Cucumber Beetle. The fuzzy yellow larvae are really decimating my pumpkin and squash plants....or so I thought. As I plucked off these quite easily I noticed little troops of gray aphid-like bugs on the plants. They didn't appear to be eating anything, but lo and behold, they are called Squash bugs and can cause wilt in pumpkins and squash like the Cucumber Beetle does to cucumbers! Frustrated that I was going to lose everything, I sprayed with Sevin this evening. I have done quite a bit of research on Sevin and it seems to be very safe....for humans. My only concern is for the bees. The packaging suggests using it at dusk to avoid harming bees.

Another critter is the Tomato Horn Worm, lovely fellow. In the past planting Borage with my tomatoes has kept them at bay. This year my tomatoes are growing so rapidly that the Borage can barely reach the sunlight! There are a few peeking through between the tomatoes, but I guess not enough to keep away all of the THW like in the past. The THW are masters of camouflage. Although my children managed to find two of them in about 30 seconds, while I was out there for 20 minutes looking. I knew they were there, but for the life of me I couldn't see them. The evidence: munched leaves and tiny barrel-shaped poops. I don't know why I am so grossed out by them. They are basically pure tomato.

Well, that is my critter story. It's a different one almost every year. Last year was tomato wilt, the year before was the Cucumber Beetle. I have seen Japanese Beetles this year as well - I should probably look up their dastardly effects as well, but so far they are not doing too much damage...that I can see.