When Tess and I signed up to tend the gardens for the summer, we figured that it would be no big deal. After all, man has been cultivating the earth for 12,000 years. Surely we could exert our will over a few small garden plots, right?
After two months of weeding, hoeing, sowing, transplanting, sweating, contracting poison ivy, fence building, dog petting, and exchanging gifts with our neighbors, I have come to an obvious conclusion: we are not in control of the garden.
Exhibit A: The Varmint-cong.
Tess wrote briefly about our war against the baby groundhog(s). For those of you who have never seen a groundhog, this is what an adult looks like:
The adult groundhogs are too fast and sneaky for me to capture using the camera on my phone (if you’ve seen a person running around the back of Forbes like a maniac, holding a camera phone, or kneeling in the bushes, that was me, and you now know why. Thank you for not calling Public Safety on me). But this is one of the places that they live:
And this is a nest of baby groundhogs found inside the main garden:
And this is Public Enemy #1:
And this is a sample of the destruction caused by this little deviant:
And this is how we felt about the situation:
So this is what we did about it:
So the groundhog stopped eating our carrots, and starting eat our beets.
Scoreboard: Garden 1, Us 0.
Exhibit 2: Spontaneous Plants
A fair bit of planning goes into the garden – picking what to plant, where to plant, how to mulch and weed, and when to harvest. We tried to organize things logically, taking into mind nutrient cycles and succession farming and all of the other organic farming buzzwords (New Alchemy Institute… what?). However, despite our best efforts, the garden pretty much seems to do whatever it wants. The best evidence: spontaneous plants (known by most people in the garden community as “volunteer plants,” but we prefer “spontaneous”). So far, we have had spontaneous tomatoes (a lot of them), spontaneous squash, spontaneous zucchini, spontaneous corn, spontaneous raspberries, and spontaneous sunflowers. And now the pièce de résistance:
We have spontaneous melons growing OUTSIDE of our little garden (a quick lesson in the value of an outsider’s perspective: these melons, based on their growth, have probably been there for two months, but it wasn’t until a friend looked at the patch, which we assumed was all weeds, and asked. “Are those melons in your weed patch?” that we noticed them. Shout out to Garnet Abrams ’12 and her eagle eyes and garden savvy), which is frustrating to us because the world is not a friendly place to a melon plant. They need support systems to grow on, nutrient rich soil, and protection from animals who think they are delicious. Our spontaneous melons only have one of these: nutrient rich soil (before it was taken over by weeds, or so we thought, this area was used to store topsoil for greenhouse plantings). We tried to grow melons in the little garden, where they would have all of the things they would need to survive, but we never saw any evidence of them. I guess they migrated?
Regardless, it appears that we are not the only ones who are excited by the spontaneous melons:
So the next step, reclaim these melons like we did the carrots. But it would have been nice had they just grown where we had asked them to.
Scoreboard: Garden 1.5, Us 0.5 (we did get melons, after all!).
Looking forward to seeing everyone out at the Garden Open Hours this evening, 6 PM – 8 PM!