Friday, September 26, 2014

Gourds, Deer, and Expectations

Our Grand Garden Experiment had an unexpected ending. In late May, my husband and I decided to plant a few vegetables in our garden in Arizona even though we were spending the summer in Alaska. We mulched the garden carefully and set automatic irrigation to provide water. The idea was to come back to okra, sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and gourds.

The local deer population had other ideas. They found the tender shoots too yummy to resist. No pumpkin, no sunflowers, no okra, no peppers. They left enough of two Better Boy tomato plants that they regrew and bore fruit, but they’re not ripe yet. It will be a race to see if they ripen before frost.

And they left the gourds. Boy did they leave the gourds. I only planted two hills of three seeds each, but the gourds have taken over the entire garden terrace, crawled up and down the steps to the next levels, and even climbed a tree. We have green and yellow striped gourds, green gourds that look as if they were dipped halfway into yellow paint, and white egg-shaped gourds.

I’ve never grown gourds before, but according to my research, once they’re mature I just have to dry them and then wax or shellac the skins, and I’ll have gourds for decoration and possibly birdhouses. Or maracas. I could start a rhythm band. Too bad gourds aren't edible.

So I spent about five minutes being angry at the deer, and then I saw a doe bedded down in the lot next to our house. Look at that face. Who can stay mad?  It was a privilege to provide a snack to such a beautiful creature. But did she have to eat the grapevine too?

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