May 18, 2013: Something has been eating my new garden for a while now. It couldn’t be rabbits. I’ve already done rabbit-proofing. That leaves lizards, squirrels, birds, and insects. Neither Reanna or I had ever seen any of those in there, which makes me think nocturnal, but rabbits are the nocturnals on the list, and it’s not rabbits.

Tomato

Tomato, top leaves & part of a fruit eaten

Pepper plant, topped off

Pepper plant, topped off

Nub of cantaloup stem

Nub of cantaloup stem

This barren ground used to have cilantro growing in it.

This barren ground used to have cilantro growing in it.

I spent some time today, sitting quietly, watching for the perpetrator. Nothing came by except a hummingbird. I had a nice time. As I sat I remembered the story of the homesteading Keys family, up in what would become the Joshua Tree National Park, staking out their garden with shotguns every day. They grew all of their own food except for sugar and flour. I can drive a few minutes and buy groceries, but they had to go to Beaumont for supplies, two days away. Still, the basic principle is the same. People have been doing this as long as people have been growing food.

My stakeout spot, in the old pigeon pen

My stakeout spot, in the old pigeon pen

My view of the garden for the day

My view of the garden for the day

Maya came by later and said it was probably birds. She’s been gardening around here for years, with great success, so she’s probably right. Reanna had already bought some bird netting–technology that could have saved the Keys a lot of time and bullets.

May 19, 2013: We put up the bird netting:

I pounded a pole into the ground and mounted an old hub on the top.

I pounded a pole into the ground and mounted an old hub on the top.

Attaching rope and bird netting to the hub and the fence

Attached rope and bird netting to the hub and the fence

Reanna in completed garden fortress

Reanna in completed garden fortress (the plywood and corrugated metal are wind-breaks against our crazy south-west winds.

I didn’t particularly want a fortress garden. So many desert gardeners end up with them. I like it, though–I guess it’s my fortress, and that makes the difference.

Aaron & Ronda's fortress garden

Aaron & Ronda’s fortress garden: lumber, rebar, mesh, bird netting, and shade cloth

Karen’s fortress garden: lumber, wire mesh, corrugated fiberglass

Tee & Eric's garden fortress

Tee & Eric’s garden fortress: lumber with 1/4″ wire mesh on 5 sides, apricot tree inside.

May 24, 2013: Reanna caught a rabbit in the garden today. Way back in the rabbit-proofing stage, I’d missed a spot under the ephedra that grows through the fence under the hose bib. Hopefully that does it, because the garden is still getting eaten!

New rabbit proofing, by Reanna

New chicken-wire rabbit proofing, by Reanna

May 27, 2013: The garden continues to be eaten. Today we caught a lizard in there. We didn’t see it eating anything, so no smoking gun. I’ve only ever seen lizards eating bugs around here. If it’s gotten a taste for pepper plant leaves, we’re in trouble. It crawls through chicken wire no problem. Covering the whole garden in wire mesh would be a big job.

May 28, 2013: Reanna caught another rabbit in the garden and found another crack in the fortress, behind the compost bin, which she shored up. Does that let the lizard off the hook?

June 1, 2013: Found another lizard in the garden and stayed still enough that it kept going about its business for a couple minutes. It drank water out of our drip system but I didn’t see it eat anything. Something is still at it, though. The peppers are disappearing, and it’s started eating marigolds, too. This could take a while.

Marigold, stem eaten. The leaf lying partly on the blossom is a partly munched pepper leaf. Oh, the carnage!

Marigold, stem eaten. The leaf lying partly on the blossom is a partly munched pepper leaf. Oh, the carnage!

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