Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The price of direct-seeding

Growing from transplants is generally agreed to be not as cost-effective as starting your own.

That's not, alas, true for me this year.

That's right -- the birds. The birds are eating everything intentionally planted in my near-wasteland garden. Between the rain and the birds and the cold, I have just grumpily harvested the preexisting kale and ignored everything else, including my carrot bed which is either not germinating because it's cold or the birds have also pulled every teensy carrot I saw right out. I'm going with option two because I actually saw teensy carrots. And now. . . nothing.

So last weekend I hied me to the hardware store and bought a package of my most loathed outdoor product -- plastic bird netting. I figured I'd engineer a nice pvc box for each garden bed, zip-tie the netting down, and have something I could reuse year after year.

Unfortunately, I'm the Queen of the Jury-Rigged. The repurposed pvc is just curvy enough that the corners keep springing loose:

Although I was confident enough in that one to replant some carrots the other day.

I tried another box style in bamboo, and am not yet happy enough with it to drape netting over it.

But today, I found the least material-intensive design so far:

White tip is NOT a skunk; it's Mikey's tail. He had been lounging in that bed before I chased him off of it and then capped it with netting. If both he and the birds stay away, maybe I'll get some peas, spinach, and tat soi.

If it's warm enough.

Yesterday's harvest? 9 1/2 ounces of red kale and 1 pound 10 oz of Yukon Gold potatoes. The bed they came out of has a scab-type disease in it. No more grocery store potatoes; no more in that bed!

And check out the eggs! Three normal ones; one as though a chicken was channeling a hummingbird. We don't have a light in the coop, and I know we'd be getting a lot more eggs if we did! Maybe bigger ones, too. I should have taken a close-up of that wee egg, but I was tired.

Today, 14 pounds of Bearss limes which will be lime shred marmalade tomorrow. Only one egg today, but normal chicken-sized.

Maybe tomorrow I will weed!


meemsnyc said...

Wow, look at all those limes! Nice haul. We were plagued with critters eating everything in our garden last year, so I think we need to build some kind of netting contraption too.

Heiko said...

A chicken-sized egg? How big was the chicken that laid it!? Hope you'll get the bird problem under control. That's one thing I don't seem to have a big problem with. Just a few birds pecking at my cherries and olives, depending on time of year.

Rachel said...

Oh I feel your pain...carrots and beets are my downfall. Once they pop up the slugs move in and mow them down. I'm not sure how to remedy that problem without using something toxic (I've already resorted to using Sluggo). We have to do bird netting and find some way to keep the squirrels out of our fruit trees.

Engineeredgarden said...

Birds can sure make a mess of things - hope your homemade cage does the trick!

michelle said...

I'm with you on the bird netting, I HATE that stuff. The next time I have to protect something from the birds I may be tempted to invest in chicken wire. Especially since the birds figured out that they could sit on the netting and let it sag under their weight so that they could peck down through the netting and munch anyway. Mercifully, the birds are sparing the garden for the most part this year. The netting is now draped over the compost to keep the deer from snacking. *sigh*

Your kale looks great and the potatoes too, even if they are a little scabby. Did you put the potatoes and kale together into a dish? That's one of my favorite combos.

Stefaneener said...

meemsnyc, this tree gives more every year. It's a great investment of space.

Heiko, very funny. I should have said, a chicken-appropriate size. I don't think the hen that laid the teeny egg must have even felt it.

Rachel, that reminds me to throw out iron slug bait. Doesn't seem toxic to me, just to slugs.

EG, you and me both.

Michelle, I can only hope I have dumb birds. There's not enough space here to store wire cages. At least with the nasty plastic I can roll it up. Ugh, ugh, ugh. At least we don't have deer -- just the deer-sized dog.

Erin said...

Finally catching up! Ohmigosh I hate that bird netting too! The past year has shown me that I need to get on the ball with it though, the mockingbirds ate everything in sight and divebombed me whenever I went near THEIR garden LOL!

Annie's Granny said...

I've never had so many problems with birds eating my seedlings as I have the past two years. I attribute it to so many nearby trees in which they can hide. I have resorted to netting over anything and everything leafy. And maybe even carrots.

Stefaneener said...

Erin, mockingbirds are among my favorite birds (short list) but I can imagine how irritating that would be. Darn netting. I have seen cloth netting, and that's what I'm going to have to investigate, I think.

AG, I wonder. It's hard -- I'm a sharer by nature, but I'm not willing to give it all up. Guess we'll have to keep it up to eat.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Everything I direct-seeded this winter was destroyed by slugs. Everything.

It was really demoralizing.

I'm impressed that you can grow limes. I thought they needed a lot of heat.

meemsnyc said...

I'm buying these this year to install bird netting.