Had enough? Ready to throw in the towel? Keep gardening!

Had enough? Ready to throw in the towel? Keep gardening!

My blood boiled while looking over the hydrangea stripped of its leaves by hungry deer. Chipmunks were nibbling on tomatoes, looking for water and making the fruit perfect candidates for the compost pile after just one bite. Cabbage worms are decimating my kale. A slow burn was ignited by these pests as I walked back to the house, which culminated in draconian, medieval fantasies which can’t and shouldn’t be repeated here.

Foliage chomped, buds still there. Photos by Doug Oster

When calm finally prevailed, thoughts of all the gardeners, new and old alike, dealing with the same problems, came to mind.

A week ago, I stood in the garden looking at the fading flowers of that ‘Nikko Blue’ hydrangea, it’s the first time the plant has bloomed in about five years. The combination of an easy winter and keeping the deer off the buds allowed the plant to put on a wonderful show in early summer.

As I looked at the plant and some rhododendrons in the distance on the rebound from deer damage, a mental note was made to surround these vulnerable plants with deer netting supported by tomato stakes. Even though I was a day late on the hydrangeas, close inspection showed the plant still held its buds and if I acted now, next year’s flowers might be saved.

My go to repellent is Bobbex, but there are many out there which work. In my garden no plant has ever been nibbled on when sprayed with Bobbex…yet. I’ll continue religiously spraying until the physical barrier is erected. It’s always the best way to prevent deer damage.

This doe is pretty skinny, her two twins lay in the background.

I’ve been literally running into the emaciated doe with her two fawns while walking to and from the garden. It has no worries about me or the dog and will stand in the garden nursing its offspring while occasionally glancing over towards us. Anger at the animal’s lack of fear, ironically turned to sympathy after a close look. Its ribs were visible and there was a feeling this might be the last twins she would raise.

Chipmunks were taking one bite out of tomatoes.

The chipmunk damage was worse during the drought. I sprayed the plants with Hot Pepper Wax and left a small bowl of water at the base of the plants. It worked, but also helped when we got some rain.

The birds took care of the cabbage worms, which was some good news.

Tomato hornworms, slugs, stink bugs, invasive species and then there are the diseases to deal with along with the weather. It can be easy to throw in the towel, and think that it’s not worth it to garden.

Gardening is easy, when it’s easy, hard when it’s hard and Mother Nature is always in control. Try to take the good with the bad, enjoy the success and mourn the losses.

As I stood at the foot of a garden path with an overflowing harvest basket, I looked over to see light purple anemones dancing in the breeze as a hummingbird meticulously visited the maroon, tubular flowers of ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia. Then without warning, it flew right towards me, oblivious to my gleaming bald head. It worked the red canna flowers a foot from my face and then spent another few minutes getting nectar from purple ‘Amistad’ salvia just a few feet away.

Bring on the deer, bad bugs, diseases and drought, it’s wonderful to have a garden and it always will be, regardless of all the pitfalls. Time in any garden is time well spent.

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