Wins and Losses

Wins and losses are inevitable for any gardener. This growing season has made the effort seem particularly worthwhile. By George Knowles

August 26, 2010 | | Leisure

For the best part of the last three weeks my garden time has been more about construction than horticultural. A new fence project has meant digging post holes and aligning new cedar uprights, all for the ultimate purpose of keeping critters on their side – the outside – of the fence.

This growing season has made the effort seem particularly worthwhile. We have enjoyed buckets of beans, great carrots and beets, and a continuing cornucopia of greens.

Wins and losses – the inevitable outcomes of any garden endeavour.

Of particular joy has been the rampant growth of all the vines, be they cucumbers, squash or melons.

The squash patch outside the fence has swarmed over the grass in all directions and the bright flowers set acorn and butternut squash that have grown big and perfectly formed.

The cucumber harvest has been so prolific that our consumption of cucumber soup (using five at a time) isn’t sufficient to keep up with supply.

Perhaps best of all are the melons.

For someone raised in cool Quebec, a cantaloupe seemed as exotic as a kiwi fruit; certainly not to be grown in our back yard.

A big glass house might have helped, but that wasn’t part of our small house and property. Yet here we have wonderful big melons in the garden.

The first one recently became a part of our summer fare with, you guessed it, slices of cucumber. The pale green and orange are delightful to the eye and the fresh taste combination is truly “summer-like.”

As wonderful things thrive, they tend to be balanced out by Mother Nature’s insistence that the gardener will be competing with a bug, or blight, or animal.

On the loss side of the ledger, the mice have played havoc with my beautiful squash.

They have determined that there are tasty seeds inside and tunnel into the cores – one after another. In a panic, I set every mouse trap, rat trap and Have-a-Heart cage that we own. I’d have moved our border collie’s doghouse to the garden if I felt it would help.

Finally, as a last resort, I’ve folded some chicken wire around the best of the remaining fruit in the hope that the mice might be stymied.

A fence against mice? I don’t think so.

With any luck the root crops, such as potatoes, parsnips and turnips, won’t be gnawed around their crowns.

So far the early potatoes, such as Yukon Gold and German Butterball are untouched, except by my fingers rooting around the roots for a suppertime treat.

Wins and losses – the inevitable outcomes of any garden endeavour.

About the Author More by George Knowles

George Knowles gardens at Larkspur Hollow in the Hockley Valley.

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