Thursday, August 12, 2010

Garden Solutions, Hopefully

As mentioned previously, gardening in Central Texas presents a challenge.  The soil is thin and full of rocks; and, then, of course, there are jack rabbits, cottontails, opossums, raccoons, foxes, and deer -- all of which are attracted to growing veggies and melons.  Last year I made a tiny garden in a corner of my yard and had success with a few things such a few zuchhinis, some broccoli and cabbage.  No luck with tomatoes last year, but then no one had very much luck with tomatoes.  We were in an 18 month drought that did not break until last September.

Nevertheless, I was undaughted and decided to make a much bigger garden this year some distance from the house.  We fenced an area of approximately 40' x 60' with 20' x 6' welded, wire panels, tilled up about 40' x 20-25', brought in 6 yards of compost, spread the compost over the garden area, retilled, made 9 rows, and installed a drip irrigation system.  The rains came and even though I had pulled weeds from the entire tilled area, the weeds flourished.  Time to plant was growing short and reweeded only 5 rows so corn, watermelons and cantaloupe would be in the ground before it was too late.  

I anxiously watched the growing corn and melons.  I was thrilled when I saw little ears of corn appearing on the stalks and tiny melons forming on the vines.  I noticed that one or two of the corn ears looked kind of funny.  I peeled back the leaves and what do I find:  Worms and aphids!  I checked all the corn stalks and all of the ears had worms, etc.  Well, that was that!  The corn was chopped down and thrown over the fence for the cows. I've since found out that sunflowers should be planted in and around corn since sunflowers act as a trap for worms and aphids that are attracted to corn.  Next year sunflowers will be amongst the corn.    

I did plant sunflowers next to the fence.   Not very many reached this maturity because something slipped in to eat the young plants. 

In addition, something either jumped into the garden or ate the flowerheads through the fence and something has eaten the bottom out of just about every cantaloupe that was close to picking!  The watermelons are untouched for the moment. 

I've added extra fencing and blocked gaps between the gates and the posts with old lumber and rocks. However, this is my latest line of defense:  ropes above the 4' high gates. 

So far, nothing has taken chunks out of the remaining 5 or 6 cantaloupes or the last two sunflower heads, but it appears critters are very crafty and find ways to terrorize the garden. 

One more item of concern:  grass burs.  We in Central Texas are having a bumper crop.  Somehow these little stickers jump on to your shorts, your shoes, your t-shirt bottoms and wreck havoc on the dog's feet.  In fact, the dogs nor I cannot walk more than 6' from the house or to the garden without stopping to dislodge a grass bur or two, three, err four.  We've pretty much cancelled the dogs' daily walk because they spend more time stopping to get the burs out of their paws than walking.  However, I am in the process of doing what I can in the yard.  It is so dry that I dare not use a weed torch -- I might catch the entire yard on fire.  So, this is my latest idea:  get an old blanket and drag it behind me to get a many stickers as possible.  Actually, I'm beginning use the blanket as if I'm pulling weeds.  Once I tried tying a towel behind the riding mower, backed it up -- oops, there is a towel attached and it got tangled in the mower.  lol  So, bur removal is being done manually.

I do love a challenge and this garden business is keeping me busy.  Just how hard can it be to put a seed in the ground and have it grow its fruit for my table?  I AM SMARTER THAN PLANTS AND CRITTERS.  I WILL CONQUOR. lol 

Until next time, God bless.


Rae said...

Good thing you have a lot of determination. You are getting bombarded from all sides with pests or weather problems. It's a learning process and you sure have learned a bunch these past couple of summers. Good luck. I hope you have success with next year's crop.

The Japanese Redneck said...

Keep at it, you'll WIN!!!!

That's a lot of work you did to have a garden. It'll get better and better each year.

Donna said...

Gardening is hard work! After about 20 years of having a summer garden, we didn't have one this year. We moved to a villa subdivision where the yard is taken care of for us. My elderly mom asked what we were doing this year without a garden. We said, "rest"!

Laura said...

I feel your pain!
I live in South Texas and everyday is a new day in the yard and garden.

I do love it so-

Enjoyed visiting,
White Spray Paint

SquirrelQueen said...

I have an itty bitty garden and can't imagine one as large as your smallest one but our yard is very large. It seems like I can never get ahead of the weeds.

I tried sunflowers last year and the squirrels thought the plants were a treat for them to eat. Oh well.

It is a never ending battle but as you said we are smarter than plants and critters!!!