Sunday, June 29, 2014

Garden Folly

It started while I was in the nursery staring at this little tree.  It was the dead of winter and here was this little tree, the photo-tag clinging to its fragile branch, a photo promising much. promising a dream, really, of warm springs, flowering blossoms, and baskets of crunchy fruits when fall is in the air. Ka-Ching! went the cash register.


That’s how it started, that one little tree.  Soon, some vague agrarian idea about peas and beets and squash floated into my brain so more digging commenced. But freshly turned dirt, smelling of worms and muck, soon lured the dogs who found the decorative fencing no match for their tall legs. So, ka-ching!  more fencing had to be bought.

Vegetable garden, Before 002

Of course, Molly still managed to leap over that or somehow get her snooter through the openings, which prompted another trip to the hardware store for the next step:

Garden Folly V, dog fence 002

Fortress America! 

Thus swaddled, success!  Pea pod shoots.
And apple leaves followed!

Garden Folly IV, netting 003Garden Folly IV, netting 002

Of course, with tasty shoots, the snails arrived.  Then little worms. Then  the birds. Voracious birds like flying dentures, pecking up everything in sight.  So with a sigh, I had to make another trip to the store for . . . ka-Ching!

Garden Folly IV, netting 001

Bird netting – nearly invisible, endlessly snagging, tangling , infuriating bird netting.  And a roll of flashing, shimmery, reflective tape that’s supposed to scare birds away.

In no time, wrapped and be-ribboned, my little garden plot prospered:  Beets, beans, pea pods, squash.  And somewhere in there a few carrots, and a pumpkin vine that escaped the fencing and was soon snaking across the bare earth, heading for the hydrangeas.

Oh, yes, and a higher than normal water bill.

001Garden Folly VI, beets, beans, peas 5-14 002

But there I finally was, Farmer McGregor proudly surveying my farm plot  filled with fresh, organic produce, all blissfully growing somewhere under the huge, expensive wrapping of fencing, netting and bamboo stake-poles until it was time for first harvest:

Garden Folly Finale 001


Bon Appetite!


Anne R. Allen said...

ROTFL! This is why I gave up my tomato garden. Every year I would spend so much on water and tomato cages and stuff to fight those tomato dragon-worms. And then the Los Osos fog would keep them from ripening until Halloween.

So I decided to take my money to the Farmer's market and let them deal with all that stuff.

But congrats on fighting through to the end. It is a lovely zucchini!

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Hilarious!! But then you did achieve harvest! "Flying dentures" will amuse me for the rest of my life! Thanks Ann!

Anonymous said...



Bob from San Luis said...

Ann, by your logic then, if the very first harvest (one lonely zucchini) bears the entire brunt of your investment cost, doesn't that mean that the rest of your harvest is "free"? (excluding the water, that is)

Churadogs said...

Anne, Yes! your conclusion is unassailable! Farmer's Market! Though there is a certain amount of smug satisfaction standing in front of this ginormous mess and staring at a beautiful pea pod.

Bob, hahahahah Hmmm,yes, now that you put it that way. Maybe I can get some sort of depreciation write-down for the beets so that zucchini would now cost only $399.75. Such a deal!

Toonces: Amazingly, those little flapping ribbons of silver actually worked. Likely won't need the horrible netting next time. Live and learn.

donna: Heh-heh.

bunchadogs said...

our garden has, at times, been filled with flapping shiny strips. to no avail.

now we try to grow enough for us and for the critters.

the life of the farmer.

Anonymous said...

I've been successful hanging a dozen computer disks around the garden. Keeps the quail from coming in to scratch and seems to keep all the other critters away. Been lucky with the bugs although the scorpions and potato bugs still scurry around sometimes.

Churadogs said...

Bunchadogs: Wonder why the strips don't work for you. Anonymous has had good luck, apparently, from the computer disks. Maybe your birds wear sunglasses and so are not be-dazzled?

Well, no mistake, it's always a battle. And, yeah, I figure leave some for the critters. Figure if they're quick enough and smart enough to get in a few bites, well good on them.

Bev. De Witt-Moylan said...

I wish some quail would visit my garden...

Ron said...

This piece should be in Sunset magazine, or something like that. It's excellent.

Ann writes:

"... the snails arrived. Then little worms. Then the birds."

Thank your lucky stars you don't have to also deal with deer. They'll polish off your entire garden in a day. Just this morning, I was watching one munch on the grape vine: Bite, leaf. Bite, leaf. Bite...

Then squirrels. Then chipmunks. Then gophers (oh lord, PLEASE tell me you also put in gopher wire, Ann).

After years of dealing with the relentless critter-on-garden onslaught, I've actually come up with a saying:

"There's a fine line between growing a vegetable garden, and setting up an all-you-can-eat buffet for nature."

A VERY fine line.

The good news, Ann? You only have to set up the "fortress" once, and then you're good to go for years.

I call my garden the "fortified green zone."

Bev writes:

"I wish some quail would visit my garden..."

Oh, they visited my yard the other day, and promptly ate every speck of grass seed I just put down the day before.

Churadogs said...

Ron, Uh, yeah. Gophers. I'm always on the watch for them. One across the street (dirt road) popped up in the middle of the road. Two holes. Tough little earth-mover. Luckily, no deer. Come winter, I'm going to reconfigure the layout because I'm finding out that the zucchini plants are about the size of zeppelins and if you don't find the squash under all those huge leaves, overnight they grow the size of pumpkins. Speaking of which, clearly, my little experiment with planting a pumpkin was, like, totally misguided. Damned thing is turning into Little Shop of Horrors -- vines roaring everywhere. I swear you can actually see the vines grow. Holey Moley! The place is running amok!

Bev: Don't know if quail come into fenced back yards? There's a little family hiding under my neighbor's bushes in the front yard. Think they nest there then hang out in the large chaparral covered field nearby.

Anonymous said...

Braised Quails with Wild Mushrooms

Recipe courtesy Laura Calder

Total Time: 1 hr Prep:15 min | Inactive Prep:-- | Cook:45 min Level:EasyYield:4 servings.

4 quails, cleaned and trussed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, plus more if needed
Splash oil
1/4 pound bacon, cut into slivers
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup white wine
1 cup veal stock
3/4 pound assorted mushrooms, trimmed and halved (1/4 part trompettes de la mort, 1/4 part chanterelles, and 1/2 part cremini)
Small handful chopped fresh parsley leaves


Season the quails with salt, and pepper. Melt half the butter with a drop of oil in a heavy casserole, and brown the quails on all sides over medium-high heat. Cook's Note: you could also use lard. Remove the quail from the pan, and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan, brown it, and remove. Finally, fry the onion until golden, adding more fat to the pan beforehand, if needed.

Stir the flour into the onions, and cook 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring up the good bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the onions, bacon and quails to the pot. Pour over the stock, cover, and simmer until the quails are just cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter (a little more if you like) and cook each type of mushroom separate, as the various types cook differently. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper as you go, then, at the end, toss them all together with the chopped parsley.

When the quails are done, remove them from the cooking liquid and keep them warm while you boil the juices, uncovered, to reduce to thin sauce consistency. Add the mushrooms to the sauce. Tilt into a serving dish, set the quails on top, and serve.
© Recipe courtesy Laura Calder.

Printed on July 3, 2014 from

Churadogs said...

Anybody know a great recipe for Braised Gopher? Maybe with a great sauce made with sauteed onion/garlic/rhubarb (yes you heard that right). I've got a major tunneling engineer trying, like the chicken, to cross the road. So far, two spy-holes have popped up in the middle of the street, right through tons of road base, so I know this varmint is a major serious dude. Looks like he's heading for my neighbor's yard, or mine, so I'm keeping a sharp eye out for any dirt mounds getting closer. Then it's, Git out the traps, Maude!

Re the Quail recipe: Trompettes de la mort? Really? de la mort??