Friday, July 23, 2010

Where is Elmer Fudd?

 2 Crows grace the entrance. On the day Buddha was
born it is told two crows nested on his roof. This is
supposed to be my place of serenity.

 About half of what I planted has survived. :-(

I am on a mission, I tell you.  Where I live there is little for wildlife to eat.  So putting in a garden is like setting a buffet table for rabbits, gophers, ground squirrels, bugs and birds.  With the help of some friends, previously I told you how we made a 50 x 30 foot basket of chicken wire and horse fence to put the raised beds on.  Weaving the side fencing to the chicken wire floor.  
"Just when you thought it was safe."
 Down to the stem rabbit munching on cantaloupe vine.

Turns out baby rabbits could squeeze through the horse fence.  Every sprout that came up was nibbled to the ground.  So I put 4' chicken wire along the sides of the whole shebang.  Again weaving the bottom with bailing wire.  Yesterday was the first day I entered the garden and didn't find stems with no leaves on some plant.  When I went to do my evening watering 2 bunnies were sitting outside the garden.  I assume they were plotting their way in.  Oh, the power I felt seeing them on the outside.  But when I opened the gate...about 50 large grasshoppers hopped away.  Grrrrrrrrr.  Grasshoppers take bites out of the leaves.  Lots of the plants look like swiss cheese plants.

Out I went this morning...fully expecting a plague of locusts.  The weatherman promised near 100 degree temps.  Which choke all nutrients trying to get through the plants. Calcium is unable to be processed when the temperature fluctuates to these extremes.  "End rot" on the bottom of tomatoes and peppers occurs.  "OH NO!"  Something totally chewed my sunflower shoots, and a melon plant.  I inspect carefully...and see they are "v" shaped bites...that means birds.

And so the next level of armor will go on the garden...bird netting.  I must admit I am a bit exhausted from varmint patrol.  But I will do it.  I have the black netting.  It will need to be secured for wind.  I have never had birds eat the leaves of the plants.  Yes, they are famous for taking one bite from a tomato or peach.  But the leaves?  They must be hungry.  As I said...there isn't much to eat in the desert.

I called my master gardening buddies.  I asked if they knew anyone in our neck of Albuquerque that had a vegetable garden.  "Oh yes, Mary Lynn has a huuuuge vegetable garden!"  I begged for her number.  When I phoned this woman and explained my plight...I could hear her take a breath.  "My Dear, I couldn't keep out the buggers, and put up a hoop house years ago."
"I was hoping you wouldn't say that"  I replied, humbled.
A metal woodpecker is one of many birds adorning the posts.
Bought from Etsy sellers, as are the crows.

A hoop house with shade cover mesh would pretty much solve my problems.  Or row covers with shade cloth above.  Hoop houses are ugly, and my neighbors might not like looking out at a plastic quonset hut.  I could get small hoops and put what are called "row covers" on each raised bed.  But green shade mesh is a must for next year no matter what I do.
 On top: hoops with row covers for individual beds.
Below: green shade cloth on hoops.

Inside the back wall I have 4 tomato plants, one hot pepper, acorn squash, birdhouse squash, petty pan (or Area 51 squash as Andy calls them), and pumpkins.  I have made a trellis for the vines to grow over for my "Pumpkin Queen" friend Abby.  Hopefully, a cool hiding place for a 3 year old.  A lettuce bed is now in a shady area.  Except for aphids...they are all doing pretty well.  How an adobe wall 4 to 5 feet tall can protect it all, boggles my mind.  I think it's so close to the house, that the "buggers" stay away.

2 photos on top are inside the wall
We will have plenty of peaches and pears.

Where is Elmer Fudd when you need him?  Waskaly wabbits, bwuddy burds, jumping gwasshoppas--I will prevail.  Lately I have been thinking about getting chickens and using the whole thing as a coop (once the top netting is up).  I may get them anyway, and put some in for bug and varmint control.  Did Elmer have chickens?  Who knows.
A "chicken tractor" that is movable might be in our future. :-)

Thanks for reading.  I'm still amazed that you do.