By Sherri Lyons
This year, after my husband had a health scare, we decided to try to eat more organically. But, eating more organic foods is expensive. To cut down on the cost, we decided to grow a huge garden. Normally, we grow a nice-sized garden every year, but this time we wanted to produce enough food to last us all year long. So we planned and planned, planted and planted, and waited for the good, vitamin-rich foods to grow.
We started off watching the seeds slowly sprout out of the ground. I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to eat those homegrown vegetables. I’d go out almost every morning and check on the progress of the young garden. One morning I noticed that some of the sprouts were pulled out of the ground. On closer inspection, I noticed that the seeds were gone from the end of the sprouts. I kept checking throughout the day to see if I could figure out what it was. I noticed crows flying in and out of the garden. I didn’t realize how smart those big, black birds were! They were pulling the young plants out of the ground so that they could eat the seeds from the bottom. Luckily, as the plants grew, the crows left them alone. I’d estimate that the crows ate about one-fourth of the seeds. We still had plenty; we’d planted a lot.
A little later, I noticed that the tops were being snipped off. Some were even being cut off right at ground level. It was the rabbits’ turn now. We didn’t just have a couple rabbits; we had an infestation! Any time at night you could go out and see at least six rabbits. Sometimes there were as many as ten. All of them were having their midnight snack in my garden. We had a fence around our garden, but it had holes that rabbits could get through. The fence was to keep out our St. Bernard and any stray cattle that would happen to wander over from our neighbors. I didn’t think we needed it to keep out the rabbits, but we did. So, we put up rabbit wire around the bottom of the fence. That seemed to work.
Then the deer found our garden. Those little delinquents saw the big, green tomatoes on the other side of the fence and decided to jump and taste. I think that was their version of a grab and dash. While they were making a meal out of the tomatoes, they were eating the tops of the beans as a side dish. Why couldn’t they just eat from the fifty acres of grass and trees and be satisfied? The fence could keep out rabbits, cattle, and St. Bernards, but it wasn’t able to keep out deer. I became discouraged.
I quit weeding and I quit checking the tomatoes. What was the point? All of our hard work was for nothing. We were going to have to go through the winter eating the expensive organic food from the grocery store.
Then one day I went out just to check and see if there was anything left. I walked through weeds up to my shoulders. But as I looked closer, we had tomatoes! We had beans! We had corn! The weeds must have hidden the veggies from the deer! Whoo Hooo!
I have garden produce after all this winter! Here’s to good eating!
Sherri Lyons lives on a farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Her family’s motto is, “Grow what you eat, and eat what you grow.” You can follow her blog, www.smallfarmgirl.blogspot.com.