Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Homer & The Garden

There is a project that Ron and I have been working on since mid-April. I have held off on sharing it because I was waiting to have something in it to show. We woke up at an early 6am and the view out our bedroom window had us very vexed. So, it is time to show the project and get some help from you experts out in the world.



I know, not very excited to some, but it us, this is project has been a long time coming and it is very very exciting. We have always had a veggie garden. Though, in the past, it hasn't been much more then a small tilled plot with a half dozen or so plants. The new house gave us the opportunity to change all that.

Our yard is a full acre and although we would like it to be all lush and green, there is a large area what is dead and brown. In 2000, when an addition was put on the old house, they brought in a ton of "fill" to raise the level of the yard. Instead of bringing in "clean fill", they basically put a parking lot under ground. It is all the gravel and asphalt leeching into the ground killing the grass (and the two big trees that used to call the backyard home).


A big dead spot is PERFECT for raised beds!! Ron did tons of research, took ques from our friends Lindsey & Lucas that have beautiful raised bed gardens, looked at photos on flickr and videos on He debated if we would use cedar or pine for the wood. Once we heard that cedar would be about $50 a board and we needed 12+ boards, it was decided that the $5 pine would be the way to go, lol. And NO, not pressure treated, that would be putting chemicals into the soil... not good.

It was a really brisk cold day when we set to building the beds. The weekend before Easter, if I recall correctly. The sun was out, but oh how we shivered! The fill for the gardens is free leaf mulch put out by our town every spring. This isn't mulch in the classic bark like sense that you are used to. Leaf mulch is rich and black, and so much better then dirt. It took 8 truck loads (Ron filling his truck each night after work) to fill the beds. And they could probably use more!


We set to trying to grow plants from seeds. And frankly, we suck at it. Our tomatoes are tiny, our onions are so fine their stalks look like strands of hair, lol, and our peppers barely came out of the soil. Now, I know some things are easier to grow then others, but come on. LOL. We put the plants in the beds anyway, and added a few green house bought ones as well. Moving from the east to west in the garden we have planted... strawberries (a whole square bed to themselves), about a dozen tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, peas, beans, broccoli, eggplant, squash, cucumber, and zucchini. My Mom has taken over one of the beds too. So add to that list... spinach, radishes (yuck!), beats, more tomatoes, more peas, more beans, and other things I can't remember.


Now... our veggies are in jeopardy!! Homer, the groundhog, is eating everything!! Homer lives under the shed in the neighbor's yard. We see him out in the yard every couple of days. He is a bold groundhog, coming up close to the house, yet he races away with so much as a click of the door unlocking. Damn thing. GRRRR!!!! He has eaten all Mom's peas and beans... he has taken an eggplant... and chewed up the tops of the tomatoes too. We started researching what to do. Some say mothballs, but that is illegal because it contains a known carcinogenic (who wants that next to their veggies anyway), some say animal urine, Lindsey says Milorganite, I have read about electric fences, and Mom got these little gray-my-bobs that are supposed to work (but don't).


Lemme hear it... what has worked for you gardeners of the blog reading world?!? Lots more photos in my Flickr Photostream!!



Gardanne said...

My Dad would always set a box trap. I won't tell you what he did after he caught them. Maybe you could catch and release.

deehebard said...

Kerry...I say go to a local garden supply place and ask them, or try the Cooperative Extension (I think at Cornell) to see what they say.

I have heard of animal urine, dried blood (sounds yucky), even human hair can work. Try fencing in with chicken wire. the strawberries will be susceptible to birds once the fruit come check out netting or some sort of deterrent.

Good luck!

Cindy said...

Hey Kerry

You know I totally do not have any advice. Just wanted to say that this is such a great project. So time-intensive but rewarding. Gabriel would just love this whole process....right up his alley. As it is, he's growing a sunflower right on our kitchen table. The little thing needs to be repotted and moved outside.

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

Too late to mention now, as you are well past this point, but my raised beds in years past were way up on posts to keep ground critters away. Since it's too late for tabletop type beds, putting metal posts at the corners with tight link fencing may help. But one thing to consider (do it on a day when you're REALLY mad at the groundhog) is a small humane box trap - we recently had a racoon visitation and the folks who took him to a new home used one. Baiting with veggies might work, we used peanut butter. Good Luck! and Carry On!

LindaL said...

Try using moth balls scattered in your garden. I know it keeps rabbits away! Good luck.

Amy said...

My aunt had the same problem. She tried everything. She even planted marigolds, as they are supposed to deter, her critter at Marigolds for lunch...really, he ate them, my aunt saw him do it.

Solution, and it worked. I bought her a couple tomato plants (the critter loved tomato plants) and some Messina spray.
Her tomatoes flourished and were beautiful, no critter damage, it really worked.

I have deer in my neighborhood, and have never had a problem with them eating my garden, and I use that stuff.

It's not a chemical, it's a combo of herbs. Safe to use and doesn't smell bad either. You spray the plants every 30 days, rain or shine, and it stays on for that time.

I hope that helps. I know how frustrating it is to work hard on planting to have something eat them. My chickens ate my cole crops before I finished my fence...grrr. Good luck!

belvedere beads said...

The stuff in your vacuum cleaner bag smells very alarming and nasty to varmints - scatter it on your beds.

I had a woodchuck in our garden and I caught it in a large have-a-heart trap. I baited the trap with an ear of corn slathered in peanut butter. After I caught it animal control came and took it away.

Good luck.