Why I'm a bit sad this October

@TheHorse (74834)
Walnut Creek, California
October 25, 2015 11:18am CST
If you know me, you know that I enjoy teaching farming (gardening, actually, but farming sounds more impressive) to the kids I work with. It teaches them self-reliance, it teaches them about science, and it keeps them busy when we're together. I've been doing this for years, and over the years, we've harvested green beans, snow peas, corn, sunflower seeds, squash, tomatoes, and other "crops." I'm a bit sad this October because there will be no harvest for me and the kids I work with. We worked through the drought, watered every day, and had a nice little farm going, but somewhere along the way--I think it was early July--the drought got so bad that it killed off all of the surrounding plants that the local ground squirrels eat for food and water. At that point, they invaded our garden and ate everything, including the squash plants, which they initially wouldn't touch. They even ate the cacti that we had near the garden. We will try again in the Spring, but this October, I have to look at barren dirt where I had hoped there would be tall corn and sunflower plants, with squash, tomatoes and green beans underneath. The photo is from May, just as things were taking hold in spite of the drought. Did your "farms" and gardens do well this Summer?
19 people like this
20 responses
@allknowing (72930)
• India
26 Oct 15
Being a gardener myself I know how you feel. These things are a routine affair in the life of a gardener. We need to take this in our stride and move on. I have no issues with the drought but seeds not giving me the desired results do frustrate me at times. I had orderd for doubl petalled balsam. They have all turned out to be single
4 people like this
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
My smaller sunflower seeds were duds this year. That's frustrating as well!
1 person likes this
• St. Petersburg, Florida
11 Nov 15
If you can cover the garden plot with about 4" of hay (salt hay/rotten hay, cheap) or get a free load of tree chips from a tree company (also free) you will have a wonderful, moist plot ready to plant in the spring, drought or no drought.You may not even have to water. I'm in Florida, on dry sand. I have mulched thickly with chips, free from the tree trimmers. If you dig down underneath, even when it doesn't rain, you find moist sand with the chips breaking down, and my trees have just gone crazy with this treatment. There are also a lot of clips on YouTube on "planting in the desert" that shows how to plant and grow a good garden even under the worst of conditions. I spent about two weeks watching all these clips, and was fascinated on huge efforts to hold back the desert and grow food at the same time. As for the squirrels, they might have been after water AND food. If you set up a feeding station for them some distance away from the garden with corn (from a feed store) and peanuts, and a water trough, they might leave your garden alone. I do a version of this with possums and raccoon that come to check out the cat food. I sprinkle dry (cheap) cat food all over the alley, away from my house. It works!
3 people like this
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
11 Nov 15
Thanks for the advice! I have access to unlimited horse poop (mixed with shavings), but I'll have to see whether I can harvest some old straw from the stalls out there. I did try to create a watering station for the ground squirrels, but they didn't seem interested in it.
• Pamplona, Spain
11 Nov 15
Wow, really great advice the soil here is very hard and dry most times but it does hold a lot of water but it sounds like your idea would be great to grow what I want to grow thanks very much Lynn.
@fawkes62 (1291)
• United States
26 Oct 15
We planted late because we were going to move but then decided not to, so we only got a couple cereal bowls full of peas. The carrots ran out of growing season before they got large enough to harvest. We did get about 5 or 10 strawberries from the plants we had in pots before we put them in the garden. Hopefully next year won't be so dry for you.
1 person likes this
@crewgirl (191)
• United States
25 Oct 15
I love the fact that you educate the local kids about horticulture. Our garden did very well this year. We grew tomatoes, lettuce, kale, green beans, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, grapes, and apples. I've heard that California is having a huge drought right now, so I'm sorry about your garden and the squirrels. We use organic sprays to keep bugs and animals away from our crops, but I guess if the squirrels are extremely hungry, they'll eat anything.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
They were so hungry they ate EVERYTHING! I was surprised they even went for the cacti. The squash were the last of our "regular" crops to go. The plants smell kind of peppery. I didn't even think about water-loving things like melons this year.
@crewgirl (191)
• United States
26 Oct 15
@TheHorse I can't imagine putting my lips on a cactus, but squirrels have their ways. They probably pick the spikes off somehow before they bite into it. I'll have to look that one up...
@crewgirl (191)
• United States
26 Oct 15
@crewgirl This is the only video I found of a squirrel eating a cactus, and it doesn't show much...
This is one of the more vicious cactus species around, as the spines are barbed. It is amazing that this little critter can climb around in such a place, pic...
• Preston, England
25 Oct 15
I guess teaching that farming can be harsh and cruel when crops fail due to nature is itself a valuable lesson to teach
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
Yep, I think I even snuck in a little converation (with a couple of the older kids) about Dust Bowl days and people coming to California in the 1930s.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
26 Oct 15
@TheHorse I read about that period in the work of John Steinbeck - pretty awful times.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
@arthurchappell Steinbeck is great! I first learned about the Dust Bowl days (as a child) by listening to the songs of Woody Guthrie.
1 person likes this
@antonbunot (10048)
• Calgary, Alberta
12 Nov 15
O, man! It is different story here in Calgary . . we have two apple trees (crab apples) loaded with fruits! What happened? Before we could pick the fruits up, birds started to sample them all! Whew!
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Nov 15
Did you get some before the birds ate 'em all? Sounds sour but tasty.
1 person likes this
@antonbunot (10048)
• Calgary, Alberta
12 Nov 15
@TheHorse not very many!
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Nov 15
@antonbunot Well, you will have some fat and happy birds in your area.
@EddieHands (37792)
• United States
25 Oct 15
I am so sad to hear the drought killed off your farm and crops. That is not very nice, and I hope things get better. We need the rain here badly yes indeed !
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
All we can do is hope. I expect at least SOME rain this Winter.
1 person likes this
@EddieHands (37792)
• United States
26 Oct 15
@TheHorse Yes it has been raining here finally! I must so magic spells and rain rituals to summon more!
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
@EddieHands Where are you, Ed? We've had some clouds yesterday and today. But no rain.
@just4him (132292)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
25 Oct 15
I'm sorry the drought and animals took your garden and you have no harvest. I have a black thumb so no garden for me. Nothing ever grows, drought or no drought.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
I used to think I had a black thumb untl I started (originally with corn and sunflowers) with the kids in Oakland a few years ago.
1 person likes this
@just4him (132292)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
26 Oct 15
@TheHorse That gives me a little hope that one day my thumb will turn green.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
@just4him Oh, DON'T give up! Some of the easiest things I've grown: green beans, snow peas (when it's cooler), corn, and even sunflowers. Just use good soil (I like Miracle Gro's products) and start everything in little planters (I even use Dollar Store paper cups for cost-effectiveness). If you have a garden space outside, use Miracle Gro "Quick Start" to reduce "transplant shock" when you transfer the plants to the ground.
1 person likes this
@sofssu (18198)
25 Oct 15
Aww.. that is sad. Droughts really change the way life is on the face of the Earth. We have had a very dry season this year.. but somehow we could save our crops.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
Glad you were able to save your crops. Where are you located?
@sofssu (18198)
26 Oct 15
@TheHorse i live on the other side of the globe.. In Asia.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
@sofssu I've just started trying to learn how the Seasons are different in Asia. Rains come at different times of the year, etc.
@Raelove (17745)
• Saco, Maine
26 Oct 15
Oh how sad. I do container gardening now, so that's easy to keep going during dry weather, though a lot of work lugging buckets of water. We don't get severe droughts here in Maine, though I have seen years when wells got pretty low. I hope you are more successful next year and that nature is more cooperative.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
Thanks, Rachel. Maine is one of the few states I've never been to. I think of it as lush. Are you getting some pretty colors right about now?
1 person likes this
@Raelove (17745)
• Saco, Maine
26 Oct 15
@TheHorse Oh, lush isn't the word for it. I have taken so many photos of my surroundings through the years. As for the colors, we are in what I call the orange stage: orange and yellow predominate, with oak brown a close second. I will post a photo of the lushness with a short post just for you!
• Pamplona, Spain
11 Nov 15
Not really. We have planted ten bushes and they are only just starting to grow quite timidly. The Calla Lilly flowers are coming up very nicely but won´t flower yet. But seeing as they are strong and healthy looking I am not bothered. Tomatoes are something you cannot grow well here at all. Apart from that all the wild flowers have done really well this year. Its a shame hardly any of it worked out for you. Perhaps next time there will be better luck hope so.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Nov 15
We've gotten some rain over the past week. I may try snow peas for the Winter months.
1 person likes this
@mrsg1981 (133)
• Exeter, England
11 Nov 15
That is such a shame. We started our little allotment at the end of May. We lost all our potatoes and tomatoes to blight and had no success with some other stuff. However we were inundated with runner beans and courgettes.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Nov 15
I don't know runner beans, at least not by that name. And I haven't heard of courgettes!
@shshiju (10550)
• Cochin, India
26 Oct 15
I think you get lot of joy when working in your farm. In the same manner it is very sad to face such situation. But be brave and practice new methods , Your farm will become beautiful
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
I'm gonna keep on plugging. I have some healthy plants on my balcony, but Winter is coming.
@DeborahDiane (24806)
• Laguna Woods, California
26 Oct 15
I just have a lemon and orange tree and, so far, no critters seem to like them.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
We have a lot of them around here, but I haven't sampled any local citrus fruit lately. I wonder if the drought affected them.
@marlina (80526)
• Canada
25 Oct 15
I understand your sadness about losing the garden.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
Thanks. It really did make me sad, as taking care of the garden became a part of "who I was" (and who we were) from March through July.
@GardenGerty (105303)
• United States
25 Oct 15
I guess you helped save the ground squirrels with your farm.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
That's what I try to tell myself. it was a humanitarian effort, or whatever the equivalent is for squirrels.
@Samanthavv (1386)
• United States
25 Oct 15
I did my very first garden this summer, having lived in Alaska most of my life, I couldn't really have a nice garden before. I moved to Minnesota last year and I had my very first garden. Sme did well. Some didnt. I had a lot of good tomatoes though!
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
I never had a garden when I loved in Iowa. But I learned a lot about corn and beans there!
@garymarsh6 (14731)
• United Kingdom
25 Oct 15
OH dear how sad I bet the kids were upset. Still I am sure that you turned what was a disaster into something as a warning for the future.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
I framed in terms of always trying your hardest and dealing with failure well. Only one kid was really mad at the squirrels. I reminded him that it was all part of the circle of life, and they had to eat too. I told him the only way we'd be mean to the squirrels would be if the garden was our ONLY source of food. Then we went to McDonalds.
@jaboUK (55159)
• United Kingdom
25 Oct 15
That must be so disappointing both for you and the kids. Better luck next year.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
Thanks--I'm hoping for a nice El Nino Winter and better luck next year.
1 person likes this
@RasmaSandra (21125)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
25 Oct 15
@TheHorse our tomato plants got some problems and only about half survived in our greenhouse. This year our apple trees had very little apples so this was not a good year fro a harvest for us as well. Hope you do better next spring.
@TheHorse (74834)
• Walnut Creek, California
26 Oct 15
Do you know what went wrong with the tomato plants? We had tomato plants in Oakland that lasted all Winter one year!