Saturday, April 13, 2013
Today was the official opening of the Penn State Community Gardens. This is my 2nd consecutive year of attempted gardening, and my 3rd year of plot "ownership." I first had a garden there in 2008, and had some beginner's luck. There was more arugula, spinach, lettuce, hot peppers, and tomatoes than 2 people could possibly eat. Neighbors and co-workers appreciated the abundance. All went well until the end of the season when I took a week's vacation and came home to find that everyone's gardens had been devastated by late blight. I'm so glad we had some early tomatoes to enjoy, because the destruction from the blight was overwhelming.
Last year's garden belonged to the rabbits, groundhogs, and birds. I harvested several kohlrabi, grew a few flowers and herbs, several zucchini, and had moderate success with cherry tomatoes. The critters, though, ate much better than we did. The critters grew fat on broccoli, strawberries, beets, mesclun, cauliflower, flowers, beans, and peas. But it didn't slow them down one bit.
This year, I am planning my revenge. I bought chicken wire and stakes to fence in my plot even though there is a 6' foot fence and rabbit fencing around the entire garden area. There's not much I can do about the overhead attacks from birds. I'm starting flowers, heirloom tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, and strawberries indoors. The tomatoes, strawberries, nasturtiums and zinnias are nesting snuggly in their pots tonight. Spinach, beans, zucchini and some others will join them in a couple of weeks.
We are going to have to wage all out warfare on the groundhogs. One of the tasks today was picking up litter in the woods next to the gardens and taking a groundhog hole census. I walked about half of the wooded area and counted more than a dozen large holes--a couple I swear were big enough for me to crawl through. (Check my photo gallery for a picture of the enemy.)
The garden leadership--Penn State students--have great plans for improving the gardens this year. They are going to bring in bee hives for pollination, add bird feeders around the garden, and reserve two plots, each 10' by 15' to grow food for the local food bank.
Let's see how my garden grows.