Gardening in Arizona can be challenging. Our growing seasons are short. Our summers, beyond hot! When we hit Monsoon Season, around July, pretty much everything dies. Winter garden challenges are heavy frost days, little green worms and . . . YIKES!!! POCKET GOPHERS!!!
Three years ago I said, "God we have done the work, planted the seeds and our harvests have been a sore disappointment. There's got to be a different way to do this gardening thing!". I began to do some research and found Lasagna Gardening/Raised Gardening. Whoo Hoo!! Our neighbors volunteered horse manure, all the compost we could use and our new way of gardening was born! Our veggie garden, in the front yard, became a social gathering place for neighbors to drop by to chat and "talk garden". Neighbors would telephone, "I've got extra tomatoes, could you use them?". The doorbell would ring and a neighbor down the street would have a basket of fresh figs, another arrived with more tomatoes. I was able to can tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and salsa all from our wonderful neighbors! We, in turn, shared yellow beans, zucchini, carrots, blackberries and blackberry bushes.
Act 1: The middle of October we planted, tomatoes, yellow beans, sugar snap peas, zucchini, and Anaheim peppers in our two outer gardens. It began with a single, shriveled bean plant at the head of the row. Then each morning another plant was either shriveled up or completely missing, leaving a hole instead. At first I thought it was a young cottontail bunny, so we set an humane trap and planned to do a "wrabbit wee-location". All we caught was a very disgruntled, and embarrassed Mikey, the neighbor's cat. Fin-ally Will figured out it was the dreaded POCKET GOPHER!!!
Everyday the tunneling grew worse. Will put poison in the tunnels around the outside perimeter of our raised beds. The burrowing continued! He mixed up concoctions to pour down the tunnels but our 8-foot row of beans disappeared completely! Then they began on our beautiful, heavily fruited, 4-foot tall tomato plants. Will finally dug up our two remaining plants and relocated them. Next the gophers tunneled into the adjacent raised bed with the sugar snap peas in bloom and zucchini and well, you know the rest. I was so discouraged . . . they'd won and all I had were two garden beds riddled with holes and tunnels.
Act 2: My hero arrives with a roll of hardware cloth, shovel in hand and two Saturdays later I have a beautiful gopher-proof garden. All the garden soil had to be moved. All the concrete blocks had to be moved. Everything had to be measured, hardware cloth cut, blocks reconfigured so they rested on the border of 4-foot wide hardware cloth. Then all the soil had to be shoveled back in! Will, you are my real-live hero!!! This Happy Monday I am hitting the floor running!!! My Baby has restored my hope and a fresh canvas to create a garden Masterpiece!
Who are the real-live Heros in your life? I'd love to see your comments!