Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Digging in the Dirt

It's fixing up to be a tough year in the community garden. We saw four baby rabbits last time H and I were there. Maybe it was really the same rabbit and he was just getting around very quickly but we saw him in all different corners of the garden. He would have to have been Houdini's rabbit to get around like that. And hungry? He was one hungry rabbit. Having nibbled all the tops off the newly sprouted bean plants I could see he'd come to the realization that baby bean leaves taste delicious. Interestingly the rabbits had not touched any of my sugar snap pea plants or any of the pea plants in the other plots. This made me wonder why my CSA puts pea tendrils in my veggie bag every year and never any baby bean leaves. Why would I want to eat something that even rabbits thumb their little pink noses at?
In exchange for leaving the peas alone, the rabbits did elect to taste our radishes. One nibble out of each radish. I don't understand rabbits. Why one nibble per radish? Why not just pull one radish and eat the whole darn thing?
Then the persistent cold weather has my tomato plants on the verge of total collapse, despite their shiny new tomato cages. They look like they need intensive care, maybe an IV drip.
Planting a vegetable garden is this year's new black. There are articles in the paper constantly about when to plant what, and offering all manner of advice on growing vegetables. I drove by the methodist church tonight and noticed they'd dug up part of their front yard for a garden. Well good for them I say. Everyone is getting into this locavore movement and knowing where your food comes from. But for people who are growing vegetables in an effort to save money I say - good luck. Maybe after a few years you might break even but the first year - not a chance. First there's the plants themselves, you've got to buy either seeds or plants, I always buy more than I can possibly use - I never learn. Then, if you've never gardened before you'll need a shovel, maybe a hoe, maybe a hose and a sprinkler, you might even need to have some nutrient rich soil trucked in - it's not like people can garden in what used to be their pesticide-laced front lawns. You might need a starter kit and large pots if you plant to grow your vegetables on the deck or patio. Tomato plants need tomato cages, pole beans and sugar snap peas need something to grow up, you'll need some Neptune's Harvest organic fertilizer, you'll need a hat with a big brim, maybe some gardening gloves and a bucket, liquid fence to discourage rabbits, a real fence or raised beds if your rabbits are very smart. You can go crazy and get Walls of Water to extend your growing season, kneeling pads, cold frames. The lists goes on and on.
And for what? Some rabbit-chewed radishes? Let's face it, radishes aren't even a real vegetable. I only grow them so my kids will have something to pick early on so they don't lose interest in the whole thing. And so Houdini's rabbit won't starve.

song: Digging in the Dirt • artist: Peter Gabriel

No comments: