Death From Above

I’ve heard about people who have to fight off docile deer and those fluffy little bunnies. They come up with all sorts of ideas to frighten, intimidate and punish the cute little wildlife that appear in their garden to have a look around and strike photogenic poses.

Common House Sparrow

Alas, but I wish I had such simple matters to deal with. No, in my garden fear comes from above. Yes, I have the viciously ruthless Common House Sparrow to contend with.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking…what could a tiny beady-eyed house sparrow do to your garden that a swipe with a broom couldn’t deal with?

Well, sparrows tienen los cajones (tiny ones albeit) of steel. They’ll pick away at my pea sprouts while looking me in the eye, then fly away when I rush at them hose in hand. They’ll laugh at me as they snack on my lettuce greens. With two broods a season, they have countless little beaks to feed and they’ll stop at nothing to get at my Swiss chard.

I’ve battled these villainous flying feathered fiends for years, and I’ve finally come up with a tidy solution to keep them away from the goods. I’ve built retaining walls – tiny jails to protect my veggies from the beaks of doom.

For four weeks after I sow my peas I protect them with a metal mesh from one end of my raised bed to the other. After they have reached about four inches in height they seem to no longer have the tasty bird-appeal they once did, and it’s safe to release the peas to grow tall and delicious.

My small planters of early greens are protected from seedling to salad by custom made wire mesh proctors.

I’ll be protecting my head lettuce this year for the entire season with my new lettuce coop. Built from flexible PVC hose and plastic mesh, this fortress of security is impenetrable. See the photo gallery for details.

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Eating Fresh: A Raw Deal

 

Tumbler Tomatoes

My favourite time of the growing season is when I start to eat the fresh produce that’s I’ve affectionately tended since spring. Although I’ve already been into my herb garden for over a month and eating lettuce for several weeks, this was the first week I was able to enjoy some of the slower to develop vegetables.

My Tumbler tomatoes, both in the upside down planters and my regular tomato box, have been producing a few ripe red fruit each day. Sliced on a hummus and vegetable tortilla, the tomatoes are like a ray of sunshine caught in a tender juicy package.

My Mr. Big pods are long, plump, and full of sweet green peas. Any pods lower than a foot off the ground have been meticulously plucked by my dog and gleefully consumed while I’m not watching. It’s the price I pay for having taught her where they come from.

I pulled and peeled the first of sixty garlic bulbs which are now two seasons old. I’ve decided that garlic cloves pulled fresh from the garden and added to a salad are one of the finest things in life.

The second finest is vine-ripened peppers, and I can start picking my Banana peppers any time now. The more I pick, the more the plant will produce.

My bok choy and spinach have been struggling, primarily because of the feisty nature of local sparrows that appear to have an insatiable hunger for leafy dark greens. Those plants that I covered with wire mesh are toiling away and should be ready in coming weeks.

There’s a certain melencholy that comes with the beginning of the harvest season. Days are getting shorter, the sun’s a bit lower on the horizon, and it won’t be long before the peas are done, the lettuce bolts and the herbs lose their best flavor. I have to remind myself that there are still beans to come (another puppy favorite), potatoes to harvest and my personal favorite: juicy carrots to eat fresh and raw from the soil.