For the past few years I have added the joy of keeping a small vegetable garden for our family’s enjoyment. Though we are in the heart of the fertile Holland Marsh, nothing compares to the opportunity to go out your back door and pick your own freshly grown and nurtured veggies to accompany any meal.
Though we are on a country property with lots of wildlife around, my first year was clear sailing without even having a fence protecting the space. I did grow marigolds around the perimeter which gave happy colour all summer and seemed to distract curious four legged nibblers.
The next year was not a repeat performance unfortunately. We have a rock pile close by the garden which is home to a family of ground hogs (they were present the first year). For some reason, they began to take an interest in the tender shoots coming up and completely demolished all of the lettuce, radish, bean, pea, spinach, swiss chard and beets greens as soon as they were identifiable. Ouch…my hard work destroyed overnight! Ok – it was early enough in the season to start again. Up went a 2 foot high chicken wire fence and the rows replanted. Once again all was fine. We have so much green space around us that even though the ground hogs could easily burrow underneath…they did not. Another successful year of enjoyment.
Now I believed I had the formula. The season began a bit later this year due to mother nature, but the seeds were sown once again with love and anticipation. The fence was up and now time was working its magic. Soon the shoots began to surface and one evening after a hot day, I watered my beautiful plants. As my husband and I sat on the patio enjoying the evening and our dinner, I looked down towards the garden to see the groundhog family out munching on the surrounding lawn as normal. Then my eye caught activity in…was it true…the garden!!!!?? I leaped up and ran like a crazy woman to the garden and sure enough, every single freshly watered shoot was eaten to the ground, even a 10 inch high tomato plant! This was not good – I was not happy. They had in fact burrowed under a section of the fence to enjoy the different varieties of greens.
Now what do I do? We were already much further along the growing season and time would not permit the replanting of certain items like the carrots (my favourite). I realize that we no longer have our dog or outdoor cat who likely deterred some of this behaviour in the past. I could have just let it go for the year and enjoyed the fresh produce at the farmer’s markets, not worrying about all the extra time, love and care it takes to nurture a garden. Somehow, that was not acceptable to me as we now know the difference in taste and nutritional value of having our own produce. I decided to salvage what I could.
So – the fence was reinforced; I replanted some items and went out to purchase a few pre-started plants. While it is definitely a paired down version of last year’s variety, we are well on our way to enjoying the fruits of our love and labour. We have enjoyed the herbs, some first cherry tomatoes, and a couple of zuccinis.
Life has set-backs and it is always an opportunity to build our character. We get to look at what is important, what is worthy of our time and energy. What is the Joy Quotient it brings?
What set-backs have you experienced that developed character?
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Until next time,