Friend of Foe in the Garden

A few years ago I planted a large garden and even though we were in a subdivision and never really saw any wildlife, in the dark of night deer snuck into the yard and had a party.  They invited their family, friends, distant relatives, and even those they didn’t really like but associated with anyway, and they tromped my plants and leveled my beautiful garden.

When we moved to the mountains I vowed that the critters were going to lose this battle, and I set about staking my garden and purchasing heritage seeds.  So far no deer, rabbit or hedgehogs have reared their heads in my presence…but I know they are out there and I am getting ruthless as I put in more and more hours and sweat into my vegetable garden baby.

My oldest son came for a visit in early May and he and my husband tilled the spot I had designated.

Garden Friend #1:  Family

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It wasn’t an easy project and it took quite a bit longer than we anticipated.

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They were not far into the task when the first unexpected foe became obvious.  Rocks!  My gosh I had never seen so many. We’ve lived most of our lives either on the coast of Georgia or in New Orleans.  In these places rocks are rare.  They are so hard to find that when my kids were younger they prized them as if they were each valuable gems.  As a matter of fact, the son behind the tiller got in trouble numerous times for throwing them as he walked through the rocky church parking lot in New Orleans.  He just couldn’t keep his hands off them.

If you are trying to establish a garden, rocks are just a pain in the butt.  And although we’ve removed a huge pile, we are no where near the end.  As I try to think of how to use these rocks, I am wondering if anyone would appreciate a Stonehenge in the mountains of North Georgia.  If I build it will they come?

Garden Foe #1: Rocks

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The geese dutifully show up every time we are filling buckets with rocks, but they cannot lift them with their small beaks.  It doesn’t keep them from trying though.  They also nip the tips of any weeds that are poking through the surface.  And that is helpful.

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However, they love the tips of new vegetable sprouts to, and they have no respect for the rows.  They just tromp along with their flip-flappy webbed feet, smashing tender plants as they go.

I’ve determined that our feathered friends are not easily categorized.  They are either friends or foes depending on the age of the plants, and when they arrive to “help” in the garden.

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Dogs simply don’t offer any value in this homesteading chore.  And they dig and trample.  If you have more than one they can be particularly devestating.

Garden Foe #2: Dogs

Fence of choice?  Electric!  Buck the Labrador Retriever, thinks this was a very inhumane stunt for us to pull and after having his nostrils shocked, he has refused to return to the pasture.  He was so stunned and bewildered that we couldn’t get him out of the house for two days, and even now he only looks down to the meadow where he used to play with great trepidation.  I can only hope it will work as well in keeping out the rabbits and hedgehogs.

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And now as the plants are growing and starting to look like real veggies, I am dreaming of pickles, salsa, canned tomatoes, sweet melons and roasted eggplant…

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If only it were as easy to fence out our foes in life so we can grow and be productive, as it is in the garden.

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