Fort Know Break-In

A gap in Fort Knox, after a break-in

Something got into what we thought was our secure vegetable bed (Fort Knox, surrounded by chicken wire with wooden bars at the bottom to keep anything from crawling inside the bottom of the netting). But Friday, we discovered that something — the groundhog? — had gotten in and munched the fading bean plants and cucumber. The only route in, I think, was at a corner where I hadn’t clipped the chicken wire on the hook halfway up the green metal pole.  At least the damage wasn’t too bad — most plants were untouched.

Suffering cucumber

Something also got into the bed that has been taken over by pattypan squash. My guess is that it was a deer leaning over because only one side was affected (and the bottom of the netting on the other side was loose, had a groundhog wanted in that way). Given the glut of white pattypans (we’re not quite sure what to do with them, so we always end up picking them when they are super-sized), I guess a bit less squash isn’t a bad thing.

Next time: a full report on can-o-rama, my weekend canning extravaganza that I need more time for!

In the meantime, some of our garden-grown meals from the past two weeks:

Indian-spiced potatoes, left, and another Indian dish, with eggplant and tomatoes
Shrimp curry (shrimp and coconut milk not home-grown)
Panzanella (garden tomatoes and water spinach, plus homemade whole-wheat bread)

We’re Building Deer-Friendly Communities

I came across this article through another blog — depressing news for gardeners! We know the deer population is exploding just from the devastation they wreak in our gardens. And they’re watching us, adapting to our habits.

The article is on the long side but here’s part of the message:

Deer are what’s known as an edge species. They can exist in many environments, but they prefer boundary regions between woods and grasslands. The deep center of a mature forest is not ideal for deer. They do better at the edge of a forest, where sunlight and ground vegetation are abundant, and where they can venture to browse in the open but retreat easily into cover. And what is suburbia but edge? Little patches of forest that give way to lovely little patches of fertilized grass, ringed with tasty daylilies?

In fact, it may be exurbia — sprawl — that caused the deer population to explode, particularly in places with large houses on one-, two- or 10-acre lots. The typical exurban subdivision is a ready-made deer park. A single property may contain woods, water and lawn, everything a deer needs for cover and comfort.

Tomato Tasting

Sungolds are the orange ones. The ground cherries have husks. Behind them is a yellow pear (light-bulb-shaped) tomato.

Several of us brought our garden (or CSA) tomatoes to the office for a taste comparison. Not that there is a bad tomato! But it was fun to see the differences, even if I lack the vocabulary to describe them. The sweetness of my sungolds got a thumbs-up, as did what I think was a Ramapo with deep red flesh. I’m already started to save seeds from someone’s green zebra tomato that I liked. But the Brandywine that someone else brought in! I want those seeds! The ones I’ve grown never tasted like that.

He also brought in Aunt Molly’s ground cherries, which he got from the Seed Savers Exchange. See the fruit in the paper husks? And the little yellow ball in front of  them? That’s it. These are part of the nightshade family, just like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. But wow! Sweet! I would love his surplus to make some jam or pie or both. And I may have to do some seed-saving of my own (or seed-swapping). Though this blog suggests I could end up with more volunteers in my beds than I already do because they like to self-seed. Definitely one for a big pot.