Mary's Veggie Garden

December 22, 2010

‘Twas the Night…

Filed under: Gardening,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:40 pm
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‘Twas the night before September, when outside the house
Many creatures were stirring, not just a mouse;
The garden was fenced all ‘round with care,
In hopes that deer would never come there;
My daughter was nestled all snug in her bed,
While replays of band practice ran through her head;
My husband was sleeping, and hoped for much more,
As I settled down for a short summer snore.
When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
But saw nothing on the deck; what was that crash?
Then off to the kitchen to flip on the lights,
To better reveal the outermost sights.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an eight pointed buck: a powerful male deer!
His head, it was lowered; his mouth, it was red,
He looked mean and angry, a monster to dread.
When he moved I saw a most terrible sight,
His antler was tangled in the fence very tight.
I ran for my husband, to wake him from sleep,
He groggily blinked, then from the bed he did leap.
We dashed to the doorway, but the buck, he was gone,
One glimpse of my motion made him quite strong.
We surveyed the garden with the help of a light,
What destruction was done before the buck’s flight?
Alas! My poor garden, damage lay all around,
Two heavy steel fence posts he’d bent to the ground.
The ruin was total in two veggie beds:
Stalks twisted and broken, big leaves lay in shreds.
We pushed the posts upright, unsnarled all the net,
As we patched the fence up, we felt it was wet.
Shining flashlight on hands revealed blood on our fingers,
But it was not ours: could deer blood still linger?
Sunshine the next morning revealed all of the damage,
Plus an antler tip broken in the buck’s desperate rampage.
The rabbits and woodchuck say “Thanks Mr. Buck!
You’ve opened the garden, it’s our great luck!
We’re feasting on beet greens, parsley and chard,
To fatten for winter is no longer hard.”
We wish you happy holidays, filled with warmth and good cheer,
And may your next growing season have gardens without deer.

Folks: I couldn’t make this one up; the poem describes exactly what happened. I believe the buck was grazing on fallen apples from my neighbor’s tree when, in the dark, his antlers tangled in my fence netting. They were velvety, still soft and growing, so when he broke a tip trying to escape, there was blood all over. At 2:00AM I was outside, stringing up twine and drenching it with Liquid Fence, hoping to keep the rest of his herd from testing my jury-rigged fence. And it paid off, the jury-rigged fence kept out the deer, but not the rabbits.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Clement Clarke Moore and his “The Night Before Christmas” for the shape of this poem and for lines 9-11 which fit so well that I couldn’t resist using them verbatim.

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December 16, 2010

Alien Carrots

Filed under: Carrots,Gardening,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:22 pm
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A few surprises always emerge when I harvest carrots. The fence around my community garden plot must be removed by Nov. 28, so in the last two weeks of Nov. I dug about 50 pounds of carrots.  I store them in the coldest part of my basement for crispy eating throughout the winter.

Together these two odd carrots would generously fill a 1 pound bag, but you will never find anything like them at a store.

Can you imagine finding this 15.7 oz. behemoth in your bag of carrots from the supermarket? I expect this to be great eating because the bottom end is always the crispest and sweetest part, and this carrot has eight bottom ends.

This 2.5 ounce cutie has legs hanging down one side like charms on a bracelet.

This pair of carrots started as two separate plants. Where their shoulders touched the top carrot fused to the bottom one. Meanwhile the bottom carrot wrapped a leg around the top one without fusing.

What causes carrots to fork? http://www.grow-it-organically.com/growing-carrots.html says:
“Forking can be caused by rocky or lumpy soil, poor drainage, insufficient water, or high nitrogen levels in the soil. ” Others say that mechanical (rocks) or insect (root knot nematode) damage to the growing tip can cause forking.

I’ve grown this variety, Bolero, for the past 4 years, in different spots in the same garden. Usually I find a few forked carrots, but this is extreme. The soil is a somewhat heavy clay loam, but it is almost rock-free. Thus far, I’ve seen few signs of root knot nematodes. I fertilize the same way every year. My guess is the forking was caused by insufficient water.  Between 5/1 – 8/5 we received a total of 3″ of rain.  The carrots were planted in 3 rows running the length of an 18″ wide bed. I watered with a soaker hose running between two rows. I wish I’d known enough to observe  whether or not the forked carrots were in the row furthest from the hose.

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