My Most Recent Experiment

In the years since moving to the farm I have tried several different ways to grow vegetables. With 18 acres and manure from the livestock one would think a garden would be a fairly simple affair. However, nothing is ever as simple as it should be. My property is close to the Bosque and since the river attracts wildlife of all species, I often see deer in the pastures. I’ve had a bear stop by to snack (unsuccessfully thanks to the LGDs) on goat and sheep; and lost at least one goat to a passing mountain lion (prior to the acquisition of the LGDs). More problematic is the fact that I share the property with a lot of smaller, furry critters which have made gardening an exercise in futility.

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Since I do not use herbicides, pesticides or other poisons on my property, the moles and gophers are enjoying a comeback (the previous owners did use poison to keep them under control.) Although I know I have snakes, I’ve actually seen very few snakes in the area surrounding the house and evidently my snake population is not sufficient to control the mole and gopher population. In addition, there are a lot of rabbits and despite the dogs, in the evenings I will often see rabbits blithely hopping down the drive.

This year I put in raised boxes on top of hardware cloth. The first set of seedlings I planted were lost to a later than expected frost. I then tried starting plants from seeds without success. I lost the second batch of seedlings as well and am now on my third attempt. The livestock guardian dog has now taken to sleeping in the area where I’ve placed the raised boxes but so far I haven’t seen evidence that his presence is deterring the underground varmints.

So, in desperation, I have decided that while I’ll continue to try and grow in the raised beds, I needed another alternative to traditional gardening.

My searches brought me to a garden tower which is a barrel adapted to grow 50 plants – vegetables, herbs or flowers. While designed for individuals who lack the space to grow in a garden, I’m hoping this will also be the solution to my gardening troubles.

The premise of a garden tower is simple but anyone who knows me will understand why I say it made more sense to spend the extra money and buy one already made rather than attempt to make my own. Suffice it to say that creating one involves the use of a propane torch.

My garden tower arrived a few days ago. It was ready to go once the legs were bolted on and the plug for the compost tube inserted. The next step was to fill the tower with potting mix. I used an organic mix recommended by the manufacturers of the tower. Then I cleared out the refrigerator of all the old produce to put in the compost tube. On my next trip into town I purchased some nightworms and red wigglers as well as some additional vegetable plants. The majority of the tower will be planted once I start another set of seeds to germinate but I was anxious to get something growing this season. Most of what was available locally were varieties of squash so if this experiment works, I will be freezing a great deal of squash.

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Hopefully I have finally solved my gardening problems.