In preparation for our museum exchange program with the Casa K’inich Childrens Museum in Copan Honduras, MCARLM planted it’s first crops in the Common Ground Educational Garden. Not wanting to jump into this important exchange program without having some gardening experience, we planted our basic tomatoes, peppers, beans squash and pumpkins. Boy are we glad that we have had this time to work out some kinks. Being located in a 250+ acre county park we figured there would be some deer issues, but since there are visitors in and out of the park as well as a neighborhood along the outer fence of the area, we figured that it might not be so bad. First month of planting, once the transplant shock passed, went pretty smooth, especially after we were lucky enough to have irrigation supplies and initial installation of drip hose donated to us by a very generous local landscaper. (Thank you Frank Lopez Landscaping and Gonzales Irrigation!)
Soon we had a garden of lovely green, producing plants with big green zuccinini, vibrant yellow squash, ruby red cherry tomatoes, spicy and sweet peppers and one beautiful growing pumpkin. Out of three pumpkin plants, we had plenty of male blossoms, but only a few females. As is typical for temperamental female flowers, they opened and closed before the stamens could do their work. With the help of one of our Common Ground team members, we were able to manually pollinate a female flower and tenderly nurtured it until it was about the size of a basketball. Then came the inevitable day when we saw the first sign of ravenous deer. They started slowly, testing the waters to see what wonders we had created. After a few successful midnight snacks, the invitation was sent out to the deer world and a party was thrown over the weekend (yes, deer party on the weekends too!). What a shock we had come Monday when we went to check in on our little garden.
Our beautiful pumpkin, was demolished. All around what remained of the pumpkin plants were deep prancing hoof prints gleefully dancing and scatting as they feasted on our labor of love. Knowing that a fence is weeks if not months away, we rushed to the nearest Home Depot and purchased a motion sensor light, set that up and put together a super scary (well maybe not that scary) tyvek suit scarecrow. We went home that night almost sure we had won this battle with our 4 hooved foe. The next morning we arrived ready to declare our victory, but alas, all signs (hoof prints, scat, completely eaten pumpkin plants and now squash plants) proved that we had lost this battle as well. Seeing our lovely garden being the main course at Bambi and his friends all you can eat buffet, we knew that if we didn’t do something fast it would all be gone in a matter of days. Thanks to the help of a MCARLM ‘friend’ who happened to be jogging by the garden, the 3 of us quickly pounded some pickets and made a make shift plastic snow fence garden fence.
While this has slowed down the onslaught of hungry deer, the war is far from over. Where there is a hungry deer, there is a way. Plans for a deer fence are currently in the works and short of deer jerky (it is hunting season right?), we are hoping that a tall enough fence will turn our deer fans into outside the fence spectators. Make sure to follow us on our garden saga as we develop our garden program. It is sure to be an adventure for everyone involved.