Monday, August 22, 2011

A Gardening Update

A few fruits of our labor
In recent years I tried growing a few vegetables in our back yard but usually lost the crop due to the neglect that comes from being away a couple of weeks each July or from some destructive (but industrious) squirrels. This summer has been even busier than usual so I feared that another attempt at victory gardening would only end with me muttering in agonized frustration as the squirrels "high fived"in the treetops once more.

But this year things have turned out differently and we are literally enjoying the fruits of my labor. You might remember my post earlier this year (found here) telling about my spring gardening endeavors (and the battle with storms, not squirrels). There are lots of links in that post that tell about self-watering container gardening and where to buy them or how to make them using empty 5-gallon pails, plastic deli containers, and PVC pipe.

I did both. I bought one and I made a couple of more. This summer we successfully grew
  • broccoli
  • leaf lettuce
  • green peppers
  • tomatoes
  • sunflowers, and
  • green beans
in our containers. We also attempted to grow cucumbers but they haven't produced anything beyond their pretty yellow flowers.

The self-watering containers (which is somewhat of a misnomer: you still must add water, just not as often) took care of the problem that I have keeping things watered during those weeks of church camp in hot July. But what about the squirrel problem? And a problem it is! I have personally witnessed them in the early morning pulling green tomatoes off the vines, tasting them, saying "yuck" (or so I assume they're saying based upon their actions), and throwing them down repeatedly until they've stripped the vines bare! In order to put a stop to such wasteful behavior I have begun covering my planters each night.

We put a wire cage around the box that holds the tomatoes and tied the plants to it with cut up nylon stockings. Each night I drape 1/4 inch mesh cicada nylon netting over the whole shebang. (My garden wears nylons more frequently during the summer than I do.) I remove the netting in the morning after Pepper starts stirring around the yard. (Any earlier and the squirrels get too brazen.)

It doesn't seem to hurt anything if I forget to take the netting off in the morning. It's only if I forget to put it on at night that things can get seriously injured!

This morning when I went out to uncover the containers there was a praying mantis on the netting covering the 5-gallon bucket of bean plants. I didn't bother him because I wanted him to stick around (get it?) and eat any aphids or other harmful insects.

Some of the green beans and the bucket can be seen in the picture below. Since I was merely experimenting this year I didn't bother to camouflage the buckets. Maybe next year I'll paint mine to make them aesthetically pleasing.

These are just a few of the specimens that represent the ripe produce we've been harvesting lately. The self-watering containers combined with netting them at night has resulted in great tasting and inexpensive home-grown vegetables.


  1. YAY! Glad you had success! Now, I don't understand about the cucumber plant, however...........we planted one plant and we had cucumbers coming out the proverbial wazoo! Have you ever tried cucumber soup?.........DON't! The day after I made the soup, Tim pulled up the plant........I had gone too far in finding ways to use the abundance of cucumbers the LORD blessed us with! He also got tired of the cucumber salsa!

  2. High five and congrats on your successful venture into contained gardening! Those beans look great! A very natural cover for your pails would be sticks glued on the pails with a lovely burlap bow!! Have fun!!


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)