Just a bit of catch up

Got done with the SAT subject test yesterday! Now I can get back to writing the blog and catch-up for the few weeks gone by since the last time I wrote. I have shaken off the mid-season depression that I go into when the nature attacks just when the produce seems to be ramping up. Also, I took a couple days of out of town break, solved some more gardening issues, went to a talk about the Bees (at this point I am good with the birds!), and studied for the SAT. Wait, did I mention already that I am done with the SAT!!

As the follower of these chronicles would have noticed, the last post was about getting rid of the gophers. Well, after the act of finding their tunnels and delivering justice to them, I thought I was done fighting nature for this gardening season. I was mistaken. Firstly, I had some conversations after that post with some local gardeners and I was highly discouraged from using any kind of poison around the house. First, it poisons the very soil in which I am trying to grow food, secondly, the poisoned rodents may be picked up by a domestic animal – a cat or a dog that could in turn get poisoned. Finally we could have some hawks or owls (both of which I have seen in the neighborhood) get poisoned. So I will laying off that solution now.

I will get back to the other solutions I have used in the past with varying results. One of them was those vibrating spikes in the ground. Those are solar powered so once installed they vibrate away for years. Well that one didn’t seem to bother the gophers, but in the past they did help me drive away the small Voles. In this case, I had put a ring of 3 spikes around the tomato plant and they vibrate like crazy, but the gophers didn’t care about them. I guess they probably found it a needle in their side, perhaps literally, and had to burrow around them. Maybe after their repasts, they had to travel some distance to be able to catch a Z away from the vibrating spikes. But that seemed to be the extent to which they were bothered.

The other solution I have tried in the past is the use of a product that is crystallized fox urine. The box assures me that the urine was collected under humane conditions!  It has worked with the voles as it did drive them away for a while last year. The product has these small crystals that once spread around the garden, give the small rodents the illusion that a large predatory animal is around and larking its territory.

While I was contemplating these solutions, but otherwise feeling good about getting rid of the gophers, another ‘vector’ of nature struck! This time some of the above ground plants showed signs of being taken for a lunch. Wait, that should be taken for lunch, what a difference an article can make – it can change you from a guest at the table to a guest on the table!

This bothered me for a bit. We have metal mesh fence on three sides of the garden and a tall wooden fence on the fourth side with the neighbors. I had earlier paid great attention to the 3 sides ensuring that the mesh was dug into the ground for 5-6 inches. This time I kneeled down to look below the wood fence with the neighbors, and sure enough there were several caves coming into the garden there. I figured that these were made by the rabbits. There are lots of rabbits in the area and on other sides of my fence, they keeping digging fences for coming in. At this point I felt like falling on my knees, hanging up the tools, and take the Thoreau view of the natural world – dim memories of his passage about giving up his Beans to the animals around the Walden Pond floated through my head. In fact, I walked back to the house and didn’t get the courage to go back out to the garden for a couple of days.

At long-last I decide to take the battle to the nature, one step at a time, but nevertheless to keep moving forward. I tried to cover the plants with the upstanding mesh frames my grandfather made a couple season ago. However that didn’t help as most of the plants are taller that one foot, which is the height of all but one of those mesh frames. Those were made for the herbs, leafy greens and other winter/spring vegetables that my grandfather likes. Conversations with a neighbor a few months back about the method they use was recalled. This involved making a temporary tall mesh around the plants with the deer net. Dad and I went back to the Home Depot and picked up some Deer net and these 8 feet long flexible ‘ladders’. These are actually made for the construction industry and are in the construction aisle at the store. These are called ‘ladder meshes’.

The installation is rather easy. You poke the mesh on the inside of the vegetable box on one side and then on the other side. You put another such ladder mesh on the other end of the vegetable bed and then cover the structure in the deer net. And Voila! You have protection form rabbits. See the simple elegance of this solution in the accompanying picture.

So, I was happy for a few moments. Then I realized that making a similar mesh around all the beds would seem to be an overkill, besides the peaceful garden will begin to look like a construction site waiting for the stucco spraying truck to show up! Besides, it still bothered me that I was cowing to nature by buying an arsenal load of ‘solutions.’! I also noticed that the bees were circling the net, being unable to go inside the mesh. So I figure that the bees would be able to pollinate the plants and thus could impact production.

Thus, we decided to work on a permanent solution instead.  One thing led to another, as they say in gardening circles, we ended up at Home Depot again! We got a half-inch three foot wide mesh. As you can see in the picture, it was laid out along the fence with the neighbor. Thus, the rabbits or any other such animals have to crawl under a tight mesh for a bit before emerging on the other side. That should stop all these miscreants in their tracks.

At long last we have wire mesh covering all four sides now. The plants have begun to grow and flower. Of course, I have to stay vigilant about the fact that other future Gophers will follow in the caves built by the industrious one chronicled here previously.  But, for now, it seems I can say ‘check’ again to Pomona, the roman god for gardening.

As bananas say to each other every night, stay peeled, we will hang-out again soon and share more stories!


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