Darn wild animals.

I went to work in my garden yesterday and to check on the compost bin.  I had many a surprise due to these crazy wild animals that roam through the countryside where my mom-in-law lives.  She has 80 acres total, so you can imagine what might come through her yard at some point or the other.

I knew I was going to have at least one tomato on my Cherokee Purple that would be ready to pick and oh, how excited I was to enjoy this FIRST tomato from my garden!  I was dreaming of what I would do with it and I had decided I would slice it and serve it with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil from my garden.  UNTIL, I got there and found my blessed tomato lying on the ground half eaten!  I was devastated.  We think it was probably a raccoon.  It was very gently plucked off of the vine as if I did it myself.  It didn’t touch another tomato; only the one that was ready to be eaten.  I guess raccoons have good taste too.  There are 2-3 more that are just about ready to be picked, so I’ll be heading out there probably tomorrow to get those before another animal decides to have another treat at my expense.

Then I find that my mom-in-law has not cleaned out this flower bed on the corner of her property that was covered in dried fall leaves I wanted her to put in my compost bin.  Thanks to a post on here for that advice, by the way!  So I decided to go and clean it myself and get those leaves in the bin so I can FINALLY use that stuff on my garden.  I noticed as I was cleaning that my foot was hurting (I was wearing Chaco’s…DUMB!), but the pain went away after a few minutes and I ignored it.  This morning I get up and I have two very distinct bite marks on my foot.  A spider of some sort has bitten me as I’m cleaning out that flower bed!  Note to self: wear tennis shoes and socks when working outside, especially in dried leaves that have been there for almost a year.  Thank goodness I don’t think it was a poisonous spider because nothing drastic has happened to the area bitten.  Hopefully it stays that way and alcohol and ointment continue to work.

Then I walk over to check on my corn that I thinned last week and find that MORE corn has been trampled by some sort of animal and has broken at the root.  This is part of what I thinned last week were stalks that looked just like this, and now I find more.  Soon I won’t have any corn left!  We think it’s probably a neighbor’s dog.  I love animals, but they are ruining my precious garden.  I know, I know.  I could put a fence around the garden to cut down on these problems, but I really don’t want to.  We’ll see how I feel though if I lose much more crop due to wandering animals.

The plants that are out there look great though.  Take a look at pictures I took of my plants.  They are so healthy and green, no bug bites or disease.  As you know, this is a purely organic garden, so all I’ve added other than the dirt already there are worm castings at planting time and I’ve added the castings once more 2 weeks ago to the base of each plant.  My bell peppers have many more flowers on them right now, so we’ll see if these peppers make it.  If not, I’m gonna need some advice about what to do with these.  My tomatillo plant has got tons more growth coming off the bottom of  it and LOTS of flowers that will sprout tomatillos soon.  For those that don’t know, tomatillos are what green salsa is made out of.  They look like little green tomatoes, but they are not tomatoes; tomatillos are their own family.  Picking my basil so frequently has really helped it grow.  It is much more full and producing much more quickly now.  I have sweet basil and Genovese basil; they are both producing equally well.  The lime basil is not picked as frequently, thus not producing as much.  I need to pick it more.  My flat leaf parsley was picked to the bone last week and yesterday had totally resprouted even more green, healthy parsley.  All my tomato plants have now had to be staked or caged because they’ve grown so much.  I think every tomato plant out there currently has either blooms or actual tomatoes on it.  I started 4 Roma tomato plants at home a few weeks ago and they are ready to be transplanted to the garden.  They’ve halted growth in the little containers I have them in, so I guess that means it’s time to move them.  My jalapeno plant is getting ready to flower, so maybe by mid-to-late June, I can start making salsa!  Later on you’ll see many more posts about canning as I start to save some of this yummy garden for the winter.  I canned 9 jars of salsa last summer with store bought ingredients and am down to my last jar, so I need some more!  I neglected to label my watermelons, cucumbers, zucchini and squash, so I’m not sure what is doing well and what’s not.  These plants are some that the seeds washed away and had to be replanted, so the  growth is different for each one.  One that washed away and had to replanted still hasn’t come up and won’t.  That spot in the garden just doesn’t want anything growing on it!  One of my pictures here is of one of these 4 plants mentioned, but which one I won’t know until it starts to bear fruit.  It’s doing well though and has a few flowers at the base.

Update on the compost bin: I added the dried leaves to the compost bin yesterday and I could tell it already made a difference.  I figure that the longer those stay in there, it will balance out all the nitrogen-rich ingredients I already had in there.  It was so mushy and liquid, so I can see how something dry and dead would help.  I like how the person who commented here referred to it as “green” and “brown” ingredients and that they need to be balanced.  It creeps me out though after I turn it and open the lid and I hear things crawling around and see leaves moving…yuck!  Updates to come on how it looks after this week.

This post can be linked back to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.

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