This years gardens are a whole new growing experience for me. For the past twenty-two years we had an herb farm where we raised/grew solely culinary and medicinal herbs, potted or field dug. Herbs being relatively easy plants to grow, gorgeous on the eyes, tasty and seldom bothered by any pesky bugs or critters.
But here in seacoast Maine growing veggies and herbs has taken on a whole new meaning for me…and challenging would be an understatement. Between the cool moist night air and visitors to my garden, it’s become a game of survival of the fittest and surely battle of wits!
The season began with the greatest display of cutworms, something I was unfamilar with having to eradicate. So after replacing row after row of kales, chards and cukes I discovered cutworm collars.. any round obstacle or even wrapped newspapers placed around the tender seedling stalks will prevent these little buggers from finishing off anymore. I now save all my empty yogurt containers.. they work like a charm.
And then there’s always this guy.. who always has this impish expression on his face, but so far so good.. no damage done ..yet!
I’m typically down in my garden by 5 am. I like the quietness, the lighting for taking photographs and I get more of my task completed uninterupted earlier in the day.
Then one early morn a few week ago I was visited by Bambi.. who apparently found out I had a choice patch of spring peas just getting ready to fruit.. arrgghh!
I guess spring pea blossoms are just too tempting for these docile critters to just let pass by. CHOMP!! She lopped off the tops of nearly the entire patch! 😦 Oddly enough though, she didn’t even sample my spinach?? But now I’ve had to erect wire cages in an attempt to keep them at bay. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I haven’t lost the entire crop.
Last week I arrived in the garden to a real eye opener! Just entering one of my footpaths was a huge snapping turtle!! I thought I was seeing things! 🙂
She went into my garden to lay her eggs, and had arrived sometime before I did because already four large holes had been dug up and then refilled in. Apparently the farm where I garden has been a natural nesting ground for these turtles for years, and each spring hundreds appear to bury their eggs in the sandy soil. But now how was I to get her out of my garden??! I proceeded to haul her up by her tail and remove her to the outskirts of the farm where I thought it would be the last I saw of her. Not a half hour later there she was again heading back into my plot. I snapped my cell phone camera shot to get this one of her, and though this pic doesn’t show it, she was approximately 24 inches across.. a biggun’ for sure, and at this venture a might livid with me that I would tackle her once again to get her the hell out of my garden! She did everything she could to try and latch onto my fingers.. so much so that I needed to bring in reinforcements to help me carry her off once again. Since that day she has returned on at least five new occasions.. digging her plots, depositing eggs and burying them. I’ve since found out that her eggs are already safely hidden somewhere in my garden, but haven’t located them just yet. The return to the ‘nesting place’ over and over again digging ‘false holes’ is an attempt to fake out preditors that would snatch up those eggs in a heartbeat if found. Isn’t Mother Nature brilliant? And now she has finally left the area. Her task is finished. She won’t even see her young hatch out 😦 Seems so sad. And once they hatch out in 45 days or so.. it will be up to the young.. the survival of the fittest to make their way into the wild to fend and feed for themselves. Approximately 60% won’t survive. I’m hoping to witness this event and catalog it with photos.. time will only tell.
It’s been an exciting growing season already for me, and with every new day more changes and visitors. Most gardeners I know up in this neck of the woods have been struggling to deal with the wet conditions over these past two weeks, where we’ve broken rainfall records..but in my garden the slugs and snails are simply flourishing! Yes, yet another new creature for me to learn about. One thing’s for sure.. they aren’t too selective… large leafed, delicious greens and cabbage are a prime target in my garden. One day I have these gorgeous heads of cabbage and the next, poof.. half eaten leaves 😦
And my greens and lettuces too!! So, yesterday in the pouring rains I snuck up on these guys just to see where they were hiding, and to put down some diatomaceous earth around the wounded veggies. That, and to see if I could talk them into a tall bottle of Corona beer, minus the lime wedges….the preferred beverage of garden slugs everywhere! Hopefully when I check the gardens tonite.. I’ll find gazoodles of these critters belly up in their beer!
So now that the corn is germinating, though it won’t be ‘knee high by the Fourth of July’.. they tell me I can count on yet another visitor soon to my garden.. Rocky the raccoon or Gatsby the golpher!! Yikes! Till next thyme.. happy gardening!