Monday, May 12, 2014

Fence Me In

Fences are fine in theory, but in practice they block my view and slow down my ability to get from one place to another. The perimeter of our property is already fenced, but I have resisted cross-fencing over the years preferring to keep my spaces wide open.

After these little tomato plants died at the paws of my two puppies back in March, I started rethinking fences. The puppies dug and rolled around in the newly planted bed with such gusto that I knew I needed a fence and I needed a fence fast!

I rushed off to the store looking for a temporary solution. I needed a fence the I could install by myself quickly, but would still be strong enough to hold back the pups. Since the fence is only temporary, I was hoping to find something that wouldn't break the bank. The plastic fence I found fit the bill nicely and at $7.94 for 25 feet, I was thrilled.

The fence was cheap enough, but the T posts were not. The salesperson recommended I space the T posts every 6 feet, but he thought I could get away with 8 feet because the fence was so light weight. I decided to be cheap and push the distance to 12 feet. This was a mistake that I eventually had to correct.

The real mistake I made was buying 48 inch T posts for a 40 inch tall fence. Apparently, 12 inches of the post end up below the ground leaving only 36 inches to support the fence. When I realized my mistake, I was in too deep and I wasn't going back. The top is floppy, but the fence seems to be doing the job. My precious veggies are now safe.

Despite the late start this year, the garden is already on it's way to being very productive. One of the first plants to provide fruit was this yellow banana pepper.

The tomato plants are absolutely loaded with fruit this year. Sungold, a yellow cherry tomato, was the first to ripen. The first two I harvested never made it to the house.

I started my okra indoors again this year to get a head start. I harvested my first okra over the weekend, though what I'm supposed to do with one little okra remains a question mark. His little friends should be ripening soon and there's plenty of flowers for more fruit to come.

I normally don't start squash indoors, but this year I made an exception due to our crazy late cold fronts. All that work and planning paid off, because this year I got fruit before I saw my first vine borer moth. 

I recently chased one of those silly moths through the garden. I sure wish I had purchased one of those battery powered fly zappers, it would have been perfect for the job of moth assassination. I don't know if the moth managed to lay it's eggs or not, but if it did, I still have about 4 more weeks of production, which should allow for a decent harvest.

Tatuma squash is more resistant to vine borers due to it's smaller stems. Plants this vigorous will take a while for the borers to damage.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of squash ready for harvest and more on the way.

As I type, there is finally rain on the way. Many of the plants in my vegetable garden have never seen a measurable rainfall.  Isn't that crazy?

I took this cucumber picture back on May 7th. Plants like cucumbers respond very well to rainfall seemingly doubling the size of their fruit overnight. I can't wait to go pick this one tomorrow!

There's so much going on in the garden right now. Every bed is full, but soon there will be vacancies. The onions and potatoes are beginning to show signs that it's almost harvest time. The onions flop over and the potato foliage dies back indicating it's ready.

This year's onion crop has been a pleasant surprise to me. I really thought our wild temperature swings would cause the plants to flower, but that hasn't been the case. When onions flower, the bulbs tend to be smaller. These onions never flowered and the bulbs are growing right out of the ground.

Here's a little trick I thought I would try: I planted my late season lettuce in the shade of more mature plants like this chard. It's working great. I've tucked in enough lettuce for a few more salads. Who knows maybe this year I'll have lettuce and tomatoes at the same time.

The big producer this year has been the artichokes. After 4 harvests I've cut more than 50 artichokes and they just keep coming.

Thanks to my new fence this year's garden has been safe from puppies and other critters. After an armadillo recently tore up parts of the yard adjacent to the veggie garden, but left the veggie garden alone, I'm beginning to think the fence might stay.


  1. Your garden looks wonderful, Ally. What great harvests you are going to have. Frustrating about the pups. I had to put a permanent fence up years ago when I realized that I had tomato-eating dogs. A fence is a fence, though, and yours looks like it's going to do the trick for you. My artichokes are going like gangbusters, too, this year. I will eat the first of them tomorrow night. Wish Kallie liked them - I'm gonna try to con her into trying one. (I know - good luck with that!).

    1. Our son would not eat artichokes at that age either. Eventually he tried the heart with butter and lemon juice. He grudgingly admitted to liking it, but wouldn't eat any of the meat off the tender leaves. Now he loves to eat the whole thing. I gave him a bag full the other day. Good luck with Kallie. She'll realize how good they are eventually.

  2. I wonder if liking or not liking fences are not in our genes! Some people don't want to be fenced-in other feel protected with fences around. Your garden is very attractive and it is nice to see things so advanced. Here we have parsley and chives and turnip tops that survive the winter but the tomato plants are not yet out in the ground and lettuce heads are still minute having germinated last week.

    1. I think you must be right. Wide open spaces are in my genes. I'm not originally from Texas, but I've called it home for over 30 years now.

  3. One little okra? You can add it to a simmering pot of green lima beans or field peas about 5 or 10 minutes before they're done and you'll have the flavor plus a pod of boiled okra to eat. You can slice it and add to vegetable soup, or slice it and fry with green tomatoes.

    1. We just got a little cold front, so soup is a perfect idea. Thanks.

  4. Your garden looks great! Great tip about the Tatuma squash. I will definitely try growing these next summer. I gave up growing yellow squash and zucchini because of the vine borers.

    What great idea about the fencing. I'm still trying to find out how to keep the squirrels out of the garden;)

    1. I'll have a better idea how the fence holds up against the squirrels when the tomatoes really start to ripen. The squirrels are such awful tomato thieves.

  5. What an awesome veggie garden you have, with so much already growing! I can't wait until we finally finish our veggie garden fence (we have groundhogs, rabbits, and deer to keep out), and actually get some veggies in the ground! Ah, sun-ripened tomatoes...mmmmm..