Archive for December, 2010

My Patio Farm at war

I’m at war and I don’t like it. The stress is not good for the unborn baby. But these goddamn monster squirrels refuse to leave my pots alone. True, they are mostly digging through my unplanted pots–where I am hoping to put nasturtium seeds as soon as I’m able to do anything again–so technically these monster rodents haven’t damaged any of my winter crop. But I don’t want them getting too comfortable out there, thinking those pots belong to them.

Since I’ve been on bed rest I spend most of my days on the couch facing out towards the deck, either knitting, talking on the phone or watching TV. I’d say at least once every two hours I catch one of the fat squirrels that inhabit my yard scurrying down the fig tree and right into one of my pots. Then I jump up, cringe in pain (I feel like an 85-year-old-obese-lady these days) and bang on the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck. The squirrels don’t seem to care and keep right on digging. It’s not until I open the door and start marching out there clapping my hands and shouting that they reluctantly run away.

I once sent my dog out to get them but he wound up jumping right into the half barrel with the grapevine in it. I think he caused more damage than the squirrels did so now I try to leave him out of it.

I don’t know what to do. I’m sure I could go down the internet tunnel and learn all sorts of squirrel defense tricks, but I don’t want netting all over My Patio Farm. The idea is for the pots to be productive and aesthetically pleasing. However, if the squirrels get into my nasturtium seeds when I finally get planted, things might be different.¬† What I really wish is that I had a shotgun. I’m not usually a violent person, but you know what they say–all’s fair in love and squirrel war.





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If the question is, “Deborah, where did you go all summer long?” the answer is–I got pregnant. And a bad case of morning sickness followed by lots of exhaustion. Getting to work forty five minutes late each day and chasing my two-year-old around was about all I could manage. And I guess I didn’t even manage that so well because just days after I bought my winter seedlings from this lady my doctor put me on bed rest. So those poor little babies–bush beans, beets, three types of kale, and some rainbow chard–had to sit in their cramped plastic containers for two whole weeks until my dad arrived to help me plant them.

But here’s the thing I discovered about plants: they really want to survive. I’ve heaped all kinds of abuse and neglect on these guys since they came to live with me about 6 weeks ago and most of them are still doing fine.¬† I lost one of the bush bean seedlings, but the rest are growing admirably.

The rainbow chard took the delayed planting time the hardest, and my dad and I were pretty sure they wouldn’t make it, but after a few weeks I noticed some sturdy little leaves resiliently poking up among the sadly wilting ones, and I think we’re going to be OK.

Rainbow chard can be incredibly beautiful, and I had imagined this would be the showpiece of the winter garden, but I’m not counting on it now. If I get one chard frittata out of this crop I will consider it a victory. And besides, I’m not sure if anything could compete with the variety of leaf textures in my kale earthbox.

Aren’t they lovely? My beets are also going strong and I think their foliage looks really attractive. I experimented with putting some carrot seeds in the pot (technically asking my dad to put the carrot seeds in the pot). It’s a rainbow carrot mix and if it works and I get to pick purple and white and pink carrots out of this pot come February¬† I’m going to totally freak out.

If you are pregnant, on bed rest, and live in California (or a climate like ours) I cannot recommend earth box gardening in the winter enough. You basically do nothing and the plants grow. Maybe once a week you can go out and fill the trough, but you’ll want to wander outside just to breathe fresh air at least once a week anyway. And seeing the plants grow makes you feel like you are doing something constructive even when you are basically doing nothing at all. Which is perfect for me. I saw my doctor yesterday and he told me he wanted me to do even less.

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