Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Project

A few blogs ago I asked for questions to be emailed to Irene about my life here in the woods of West Virginia. The response was terrific, thank you. I am trying to answer each one individually in direct emails which takes time, so please be patient if you haven’t heard from me yet. Remember, you have to use the email address at the bottom of each post and not the comment feature to get a detailed response. The most common questions I will address here in the blog from time to time. Here is my first installment:

Question: Why did you stop writing your blog in 2009?

When I stopped posting on this blog in 2009 I had little to no readership. I was lucky to get 6 page views a week. My unwillingness to share much detail about my life in this cabin prevented me from connecting with readers who, I think, really wanted to know what it was like to make such a dramatic lifestyle change. Instead, I was writing about people I met and semi-poetic ramblings about my views of nature around me. It turned into a blog that, frankly, I probably would not have read myself. In early April of 2009 Firewood Kenny paid a visit and a conversation about World War II redirected my focus to another project.
I first met Kenny in 2008 (details in blog post titled “Visitor”). At the time he was living up the road about two miles in a tarp covered camping trailer on a hillside. When he first moved to the woods in 1974 he was an angry, disillusioned Vietnam vet and because of his sometimes erratic behavior he was quickly labeled as a useless nuisance by the locals. Those early, anger driven actions banished him to a life of physical and social isolation.

My father taught me that some of the most interesting people in the world are the misunderstood. Kenny was no exception. In subsequent meetings with Kenny I learned that he had an amazing knowledge of military history and he would light up when I asked questions about one of my favorite subjects, the American Civil War, in particular the battle of Gettysburg. We had found common ground.

So anyway, to get to the point, Kenny and I were talking about the creative use of decoys and camouflage in World War II one evening and an idea struck me to construct a decoy garden to divert unwanted insects away from my primary garden. It may sound silly but it had been common practice in the hills before pesticides to surround a garden with colorful indigenous plants to intercept insects looking for a meal or a food source for their young. Planting in the open gives insects a direct flight path to your vegetables. I felt the basic idea was good but under researched. So for two years I experimented with the decoy garden and wrote about my results in horticultural, university and entomological journals. I experimented with placement, scents, plant species, colors, shading, sounds and light frequency. It was an exercise in curiosity that led to the pesticide free, almost maintenance free garden I have today. Kenny and I are working on the weed problem.

So, that’s why I stopped writing my blog for 2 ½ years…I got distracted.

Note: Kenny is now the go-to guy for firewood in these parts. He joined a local Veteran’s organization and with the help of fellow members lives in a well-kept single wide trailer on a graded piece of land. He has successfully re-joined the community and is a welcome visitor here anytime.

Email Irene:


Langela said...

And...AND!? What is the secret decoy garden layout?! I'm just starting to plan my garden and would love some tips. Actually, the only pest I have is those tomato horn worms. I think that's what they're called. Those things are mean! But the hens love them if we can actually get them off the plants and over to the girls.

What a wonderful way to spend 2.5 years! I can only dream of spending time like that. Thanks for answering one of our questions.

Roger said...

I purposely didn't want to give out too many details about the Decoy Garden..the success depends on so many things..what works for my garden may not be as effective for yours. Also, it involves the use of plants, like Nightshade, that can be hazardous and I didn't want to get anyone hurt by trying out these ideas.