2012-09-27 / News

The Island Garden

Your garden can help feed wildlife
BY ROGER MARSHALL

I have been talking to a lot of gardeners lately and I must say, Jametowners really enjoy feeding wildlife. A friend tells of a trip to the local garden center. He spent a pile of cash buying one of every vegetable they had. He brought the pile home and proceeded to plant it in his garden. He anxiously watched over his plants: fertilizing, watering and picking bugs off them, longing for that first head of lettuce, followed by tomatoes, squash, eggplants and other goodies. Of course everything is grown organically – after all, he is going to eat it.

The lettuce was the first to go. One or two heads were sampled by a bunny, but the entire row was demolished in about 20 minutes by a mother deer and her doe. The mother then proceeded to instruct the doe how to demolish the row of broccoli. Soon that was gone, too. At that point our friend, who for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous, rushed outside and set them to flight with a fusillade of rocks, one of which went through the cold frame window.

Maybe that was an aberration. The deer simply happened up on the lettuce, he figured, and decided to replant. This is the first indication that our hero is a novice: Nobody in their right mind replants in the same place after deer visit. Another trip to the garden center garnered the last ratty 12-pack of lettuce, two six-packs of broccoli, and a fresh outlook. This time the lettuce was planted in the cold frame (our friend is learning), next to the broccoli. Spinach was seeded in the lettuce patch, along with potatoes and onions.

All went well, and our friend harvested the first head of lettuce. He left the cold frame open to get a little rain. Next morning the lettuce was gone. A suspiciously large tunnel had miraculously appeared in the back of the cold frame. Punxsutawney Phil’s cousin had visited late one night. Of course, our friend filled in the tunnel – only to have it reappear. Another row of vegetables disappeared. The battle raged for a week. Again a good indication that our gardener friend is a novice. He filled the hole, the groundhog dug it again, and ate another row. He filled it and it reappeared just as a third row disappeared.

As the cold frame emptied, his tomatoes began to turn red. At least I’ll have some nice tomatoes, he thought. Yup – he got one. The first red tomato was half eaten by the groundhog and left on the ground to mock him. The next level got tasted by squirrels or raccoons and tossed out half eaten. The top of most plants were eaten by deer. So much for tomatoes.

He planted a large patch of corn. Deer won’t eat corn, he reckoned. The corn ripened fast with one or two ears on each stalk. Wonderful, I’m going to get a lot of corn. It will go down well with the potatoes that the wildlife left me, he figured. Little did he know that dastardly raccoons were watching his corn as well.

“One more night and we’ll have a wonderful cornfest and barbecue,” he told me. He picked the one remaining cabbage and made a pile of coleslaw, barbecued pork ribs and beef brisket for hours until they melted off the bone, then went out to pick the corn.

Raccoons know exactly when corn turns ripe. Their gang raided the corn patch leaving husks lying on the ground, stalks shredded and stripped. All it needed was a sign that said, “No ear left untouched.” The thought of all those corn-fed raccoons lying back, burping, and laughing at him was just too much to bear. Grown man that he is, our friend sat down and cried. He gave up on gardening after that. Now he gets his vegetables from places where deer and groundhogs never visit, the supermarket.

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