The Cost of a Tomato is Eternal Vigilance

A friend of my sister is from the Netherlands. She and her husband have a small country homestead, and presuming she would say “yes”, I asked her if she had a vegetable garden.

She shook her head and grimaced.

“Ah, no,” she said, “The animals”.

In the following photo, if you look closely at the middle of the rock wall behind the dry garden, you will see a pile of sand and part of a wooden handle belonging to an edger I shoved into a woodchuck hole. I packed around the handle with the spiny corpse of the sea holly “Little Hobbit”, a plant I will not miss.( In my vegetable garden I shoved a pitchfork into a wall the woodchucks came through).

The animals. Woodchucks that ate 10 cucumber plants and defoliated 15 squash. They ignored the tomatoes, and I thought I was lucky. Until the three inch tomato hornworms showed up and ravaged my Carbon heirloom plants. I drowned them in bleach. I snipped their heads off. Tonight I have to go out on patrol again. I leave the smaller worms with white spines coming out of their backs for the spikes are the eggs of a parasitic wasp, who is helping me. The small worms are as good as dead.

Chipmunks ate my basil. Japanese beetles are on the tall evening primrose. I have yet to see a deer or a rabbit, though.

My landlord’s handyman has rigged a plug for me under the barn, and I will soon establish an electric fence perimeter around the vegetable garden. The University of NH Extension service advises fencing instead of violence in dealing with the woodchucks.

My neighbor”s cat “Luna”, who like to lounge on landscape fabric, may not be happy.

Here, on a happier note , is a photo of Salvia “Windwalker”, a salvia that acts as though it is a groundcover. This is a new plant, but my sister has one I planted last year that survived the winter.

Above is Agastache “Blue Fortune”, a bee plant that grows in sand and never wilts. On the right is what I believe is Silver Queen artemesia. I found it growing in the lawn down back. It is another Never Wilter, very useful, since we are in a drought and the pond behind the dam is now half mud flat.

Published by talesofanashvillegardener

Professional gardener, Experimental Cook. Constant Reader

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