Karen Alley has been working with Carolina Gardener Magazine off and on for 10 years, but reading and writing about wonderful gardens doesn't automatically make you a gardening expert! While a passion for gardening has been a part of her personality since childhood, she will vehemently profess to not knowing much when it comes to the ins and outs of designing and creating beautiful landscapes, yet the desire is definitely there. This blog will follow Karen's adventures as she continues landscaping a relatively new landscape and starts a vegetable garden in a beautiful raised bed built by her husband.
 

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Outsmarting the Varmits
by Karen Alley - posted 07/18/13

Just like every year, there have been both successes and failures in my garden. But one of the great successes this year is the beans. It’s something I’m even more proud of because of our complete lack of beans last year.

 

I have to admit, this is the one crop that I have really paid attention to this year. Two years ago, in my first garden, we got a few beans but my plants didn’t grow well. So after asking our expert, Dick Bir, I gleaned some information that I stored away. Namely, that beans plants like some space to grow and don’t like competition. What does that mean? I was more diligent in thinning them out as they grew earlier this spring, and worked hard at keeping the weeds out. (I still have had quite a few Japanese beetles, but while they've made some holes, they didn't devour the whole plant!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year, I didn’t get a chance to try these cultural tactics because rabbits ate my plants as soon as they sprouted. Three times. I eventually gave up on planting. This spring, I was determined not to let the rabbits win. I paid close attention to Stacey Libbert’s article on keeping rabbits out of the garden in our June issue, and did a few things she recommended. I planted the beans up at the edge of the garden near the driveway, which is the side that’s a raised bed. On the side near the woods, where I often see rabbits, I put corn, hoping to have planted a “natural fence.”

Of course, the corn didn’t get high for a while. So I also invested in an organic deer and rabbit deterrent, which I mentioned in a previous blog. It’s basically rotten eggs. I routinely sprayed once a week for about a month.

I have also noticed quite a few holes between my garden and the woods. So I can’t take all the credit for outsmarting the rabbits. I may in fact have some snakes who have helped my cause this year.

Whatever the reasons, I have ended up with a crop of beans that I am proud of. I have already put away four meals worth in the freezer and we’re eating them fresh for dinner way more than the kids would prefer. Now I’m just waiting for the tomatoes to get ripe. Because what says summer better than a plate full of green beans and sliced tomatoes straight from the garden?

 

 

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