Apparently not the best year for a new garden . . .

posted in: Serendipity | 12

It's time for another garden report, even though there has not been much progress. Between hailstorms (I think we had five big ones) and squirrels (they have been a far more damaging force of nature than we imagined), we need a couple more months to get significant results from our gardening this year, and we're about out of time. Even though we started over three times, the days are getting cooler and shorter too quickly.

Here's where we are now:

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We built three raised beds.

The one on which my daughter is adjusting the Emergency Squirrel Cover contains one zucchini plant, which we might get a zucchini from—it has multiple blossoms, and one squash that is now about 4 inches (10cm) long, so it might reach harvestable size before the weather gets too cold.

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First frost here occurs between September 17 and October 17, so we have between a few days and maybe a month. At the back of that bed are also parsley, sage, and thyme, which at least should come back next year.

Here's the biggest bed:

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We've gotten a half-dozen or so tomatoes from our three plants (the hail and squirrels got more), and have quite a few small, green starts being optimistic within the two-layer version of Emergency Squirrel Cover.

The three basil plants are doing very nicely, even though we had to start over on those, too. . . . We'll have pesto in the freezer. The marigolds are cheerful, although only about a fifth of the plants we got made it through all the weather (the squirrels didn't seem to bother them).

And we have a few beets and carrots . . . we haven't harvested any yet, and this is a small percentage of what we planted (squirrels):

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We never even planted the small bed at the back corner, although the squirrels dug holes in it anyway!

At least we know what we're up against next year, and we'll be spending part of the winter figuring out Intentional Squirrel Covers that will seal better around their edges and be easier to adjust to give the plants growing room.

The dogs liked that we spent more time in the back yard:

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Tussah is good at basking. She does it in the sun, too.

Ariel is harder to take pictures of, because she (the one with arthritis) prefers to keep moving, especially toward me when I'm trying to snap a photo:

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She used to love chasing squirrels—and they would tease her by running along the top of the wooden fence. Because she doesn't hear so well any more and her running is limited to short (happy) spurts, the squirrels have gotten a lot braver.

Our neighbor feeds them peanuts, so I think they should just stay in his yard anyway!

Well, next year we will be ahead of the game. The beds have been built. We know some of what we are up against—hail and squirrels. My daughter did a fantastic job of keeping things watered, so we know we can do that.

Last frost is mid to late May, so we've got almost eight months to figure out a plan for next year.

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12 Responses

  1. OK, you know some local sheep farmers, right? Do you have a plastic/rubber trash can? Sheep manure is The Best for gardens. It doesn’t burn like steer or chicken manure. Also….have any sour milk? That’s really good for your garden, too!

  2. Boy, can I relate. We’ve had ONE tomato so far this year, and I’m praying the melons and peppers ripen before the frost. We got started way late… maybe we’ll have an Indian summer and get an extra month of garden time…

  3. Have both sheep access and trash cans (plus llama beans, which I haven’t managed to get to the back yard yet). I have a concern that the squirrels like the manure that’s already *on* the garden, which is the reason they’ve been digging craters in the unplanted bed, in addition to stealing things from the planted beds!

  4. We just want some zucchinis. I can’t believe I’m saying that. My daughter loves zucchinis, especially the little-enough ones, not the baseball bats.

  5. Our gang of Skippy Squirrels are fairly indefatigable and I bet yours will be as well. They aren’t crazy about plastic, with which we use to build our greenhouse, but can get through pretty much anything else you can think of for fencing.

    I’ve thought that the fine, 1/2″ rigid plastic mesh I’ve seen at Home Depot would be useful, if one could securely fasten a top to it (like a cold frame!) but aquirrels are relentless and inventive to the extreme.

    We harvested a bag of our potatoes: we had a two-handed scoopful, which is considerably fewer than we had thought/hoped. There might be a few more in it though — all we did was paw through the bag, instead of removing and sifting through all the soil.

    But combined with some homegrown shallots, tarragon, and sage, and two small WallaWalla onions from one of our local growers, they made a fine side dish to the BBQed bison kabobs I made for dinner on Saturday.

  6. Do I want to hear this about squirrels? Nope, no, I don’t. I’ll be contemplating metal fencing this winter.

  7. Yes, a bad year, but some of those plants look pretty great! I’d say you did pretty well, considering…

  8. What we got looks good! With a few more weeks, the results might even feel worth all the expense and work. . . . Working on taking the long view. . . . Next year. . . .

  9. 🙂 Saw a documentary on them a few years ago: a biologist set up an extremely complex obstacle course for them that involved sliding down a tube, riding a windmill to get between platforms, and going through a maze, among many other things, to get to some peanuts.

    It took half a dozen of them two weeks of experimentation, but they solved it, and in the process, overcame their fears of closed spaces and swinging on ropes to conquer it.

    You’ve been warned…. 😉

  10. Squirrels are one of my least favorite subjects. We’ve been without them for a week, maybe. Before that about 9 months. We really need to cut down the tree they jump out of and up to, to get on the roof. That would be extreme, though, wouldn’t it?

    We have harvested one tomato from our 3 plants. One plant did not even flower. The other has many green tomatoes on it, the right size but we don’t know if they will ripen in time. The plant is too big to take into the basement, as I’ve done with smaller plants in the past.

    Couldn’t decide what to do tonight, so I read blogs rather than do any of the things on my “maybe” list. I guess it’s a weekend and I shouldn’t feel too guilty, I have no classes to teach.

  11. Lynn, I think if you are reading blogs and enjoying a weekend that is well-deserved down-time!

    I love watching squirrels. In someone else’s yard. Sorry your tomatoes are in the same shape as ours!

    Renee’s Garden sent a newsletter today with seed suggestions for next year. So tempting. Hope springs eternal.

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