More News From the Craigslist Garden

When I left you, it was early May and very few items had been planted. In that time, we have constructed seven raised beds, tilled out three 20-by-3-foot rows and three 40-by-3-foot rows. Everything has been planted and we are harvesting various lettuces, peas and beets. The radishes have come and gone, and even the salad greens themselves are about to give their final cutting.

Shortly after that was accomplished, I found another Craigslist gem: a wooden cable spool just right for a patio table. With my parents’ unused umbrella for shade and random lawn chairs, we had a cute sitting area for taking breaks or enjoying guests. You can see it in the photo below.

In late May, I got some started tomato and pepper plants from a friend who runs a CSA on her farm. They are doing well! We also got some broccoli and kale plants from her, which are producing leaves for us every day. The broccoli heads are just starting to form.

We planted three kinds of decorative corn (sweet corn is being grown by my family across the street) and placed watermelon, gourds and honeydew in between the corn rows. Over time, the corn will grow high and the melons will cover the ground, making a nearly Three Sisters Planting, but in row form. We prefer the ease and abundance of bush beans over climbing beans, so don’t put those into the corn rows.

There are cabbages, cauliflower and kale. I interplanted my snap bean rows with Cosmos flowers, which will be taller than the 2-foot bean plants and complement them nicely by mid-summer.

Some of the raised beds had to wait until first-crop hay was off the ground so we could borrow my father’s loader tractor. We needed to dig up four buckets’ worth of compost to complete the garden. This was finally accomplished mid-June over the course of two days.

Suddenly it was late June and I realized I had time-sensitive plants that still hadn’t been seeded. Top of my list was our cucumbers. In order to have any season for pickling and fresh eating, I needed to get them in the ground yesterday! My friend Rita came to the rescue. She had a bunch of started plants left from her own garden adventures and offered to come help me finish planting and add some of her own flavor to the Craigslist Garden.

In two days, the four remaining raised beds were planted with cukes, dill, broccoli, eggplant and carrots. She also added more peppers to our pepper row and interplanted more broccoli in the cabbage row where some of the cabbages had died. One raised bed is dedicated to nothing but kitchen herbs.

The garden looks good. I keep it mowed in between beds about once per week. Our second crop of peas is flowering while the first crop is ripening the last of their pods. When our lettuce is finished, we will tear most of it out and replant with more beets, carrots and herbs.

But not everything has been smooth sailing. Do you remember that our greatest plant predator was going to be deer? Well, we never got those 8-foot poles up around the perimeter. I bought all the supplies for electrifying the fence and my dad gave us a fence charger, which is installed on the side of our house. Everything is in place to electrify the lower part of the fence and the upper. But when we went to install the post adapters, we found that the snow fence had been installed with the T-posts on the inside and the post adapters wouldn’t fit through. So now it all sits in a corner, while who keeps breaking in night after night? Not a deer. A raccoon family!

They aren’t interested in my plants. They simply dig through the new compost. It wasn’t an issue until we had plants planted and they dug them up or scattered the seeds. When the compost apparently lost its appeal, they turned to our straw-bale cold frame and began tearing that apart. I had intended to keep using the cold frame, to extend the season in the fall. But you can see that the bale is smitherenes and it’s not the only one.

The raccoons keep returning through a corner of fence that had a small break in the wooden slat. I keep repairing it and they keep pulling the boards out to scramble through. We put live traps in one night. We caught a small juvenile and took care of him. The next night I put the same trap closer to the entryway. The next morning, however, the trap had been ruined. The ground around the trap was all torn up and the marshmallow was gone, the trap was closed and there was no raccoon anywhere. I couldn’t figure it out; everything pointed to a caged animal. Then I looked closely at the door and saw it had physically been bent outward and the ‘coon must have squeezed underneath to escape.

We had three live traps. Now all three are toast. Broken in one way or another by supernatural raccoons intent on our compost or our hens.

I finally pounded in a metal bar in the place they kept entering and haven’t had trouble since that time. I’m not resting on that solution, though. It won’t be long before they find another weak point in the fence. I’m hoping we can figure out an electric solution soon. I like our Craigslist Garden and want to see it in order, producing food and flowers.

Have you had super-strength raccoons by you? What did you do?

  • Published on Jul 1, 2015
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