Friday, July 11, 2008

We're talkin' ship here!

It's summer here in the Valley...finally. I'm a gardener. That is, I love to watch things grow. It has always amazed me that from such tiny seeds, something will grow so tall - like corn or a tomato plant. I love to do other things too, like create my own recipes for baking and cooking, untangle the mystery that is a computer, read. But right now, I AM A GARDENER.

As many people do, we have a problem with deer - those cute little Island Mule Deer. And rabbits - those cute little Island Bush Bunnies. They live to eat your garden, if you let them, so I spend half my time thinking up ways to defeat them. This year, I think I have done least so far. It all started with a boat.

Not just any boat, mind you, but a boat that sat upside down in the yard for about 17 years. It is about 16 feet long by 6 feet across at it's widest point. And it has become MY GARDEN. My Ultimate Raised Bed Garden. My plant-everything-you-can-think-of-in-it-and-see-what-grows Ultimate Raised Bed Garden.

Now please understand, we live on 160+ acres of land, of which we have about 20 acres for our own use. Every spring a neighbor comes down with his tractor and plows up our garden spot south of the house. Every spring my husband, Richard, goes out and plants his "18 Bean Soup Mix" Garden. And every spring, after the 18 Beans from the Soup Mix are growing thick and lush, the cute little Island Mule Deer, and the cute little Island Bush Bunnies, eat his Soup Mix garden down to the dirt. Yes, you're right, he DOES have a short memory. But I digress...

The Boat. My husband got it in a long-forgotten trade years ago and as I said, it sat upside down in the yard surrounded by weeds. Until this spring. That's when I got an idea to use is as The Ultimate Raised Bed. Using the tractor, Richard dragged it into the fenced yard on the east side of the house, under the King apple tree, facing Mount Arrowsmith and the morning sun. Then, after he filled with dirt, and some well rotted cow poop, I set out to create my masterpiece.

My goal was to plant as much as possible in that space, and plant it I did: several Heritage Tomatoes, yellow Corn, Alaska Peas, red and white Onions, a Bush Cucumber, Eggplant, some beans I picked out of Richard's Soup Mix, Scarlet Runner Beans, Jalapeno Peppers, a watermelon, good old green Zucchini, Chives, Lemon Thyme, Orange Thyme, Purple Sage, mixed Sweet Peas, pink Lavatera, a sweet scented yellow-orange miniature Rose, pink & purple double Petunias, bright red Geraniums, fragrant Pineapple Sage, blue Beebalm, Summer Savory, Feverfew, Gladiolus, tiny white Snowland Chrysanthemum, bright yellow Osteospermum, orange Calendula, bronze Marigolds, white Echinacea, yellow Agyranthemum...and nothing grew, nothing moved, for weeks.

Spring, which usually arrives here on the Island at the end of February or beginning of March, never did arrive. I planted my garden - finally - at the end of May and it suffered through cold, wet, nasty weather until the end of June. It languished, and so did I, sigh.

Then summer arrived with a vengence. My garden woke up and started to flourish. Tomatoes that never grew a half inch suddenly were growing inches. I had given up on my scarlet runner beans germinating and one day they were a foot tall! My Lincoln peas didn't germinate - and peas like it cold. My Alaska peas grew like crazy. Wow! Vitamin D really does work!
Suddenly everything in the yard is lush, and vibrant.

But back to those cute little Island Mule Deer and those cute little Island Bush Bunnies. I think because my Boat Garden is 3 feet tall, that it is safe, relatively speaking, from the bunnies. And I think it's safe from the deer. The fence is 3.5 to 4 feet tall. But....deer can jump 7 feet - straight up and over. So, we have this metal bunkbed frame that Richard put in the boat, over top of the peas and tomatoes. And I have attached plastic shower curtains to it, to act as a deterrent in the unlikely event...ok, in the likely event that those cute little Island Mule Deer decide the lure of fresh heritage tomatoes & peas is too much to resist. I'll let you know how we do.

So, Richard, about that old bathtub sitting out by the well house....

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