Friday, May 7, 2010

The Planter Box Project

It seemed like a good idea. We have three huge wooden boxes that were once used by the defunct Strawberry Patch fruit stand to hold pumpkins and squash. They've held mostly junk here until last year, when I commandeered them to plant potatoes, carrots and onions in. That worked superbly well. They are lined up against the bushes by the little creek, along with the old manure spreader where I've planted sweet potatoes in the past.

This year, I decided to plant the early vegetables in the boxes since the ground is too wet to be worked and I'm too lazy to clean out the buck pens and dump the manure/straw mix in the garden, as I did the last two years, with compost on top to plant seeds in. It was a great plan to use the boxes as well-raised beds. Too bad it isn't working.

The problem is that I have been feeding birds and chipmunks (not deliberately feeding chipmunks but they help themselves to the bird seed) in the area where I have the planter boxes. Not surprisingly, birds and chipmunks decided the boxes were full of seeds for them that I had, for some mysterious reason, buried instead of throwing on top of the ground. No problem for the critters: they dug them up and devoured them. Every one of my peas. The lettuce/chard/beet seeds were tinier and didn't get eaten until they'd pushed their first tiny leaves out of the ground... when the birds/chipmunks/whatever promptly chewed them off.

My great idea had turned sour. Not to be defeated, I replanted the peas and put netting over the boxes. The miserable little creatures ignored the netting and kept right on destroying my future food supply. Next I put plywood on top of the boxes. That seemed to stop the varmints, but did not let sunlight in. I now have a few anemic looking pea sprouts. The rest have either been eaten or are hiding under the ground, afraid to come out. Can't blame them.
The carrots are doing fine, however. They are planted in the box with onions that I started from last year's left-over onions. Apparently, birds and chipmunks don't like onions. Next time I replant, I'll put onions in all the boxes as companion plants... or, actually, guardian plants.

Besides not working as planned, the boxes are ugly. Or were ugly. I decided to paint them. Never send your colorblind husband to the store for dark green paint. What he came home with was Jazzy Juniper, a psychedelic color more blue than green. I went back to the store and bought Black Spruce. After spending the better part of this afternoon painting the hideous boxes, I showed my handiwork to Johnny. He suggested I give them a second coat.

This project is way out of hand. It may have been easier to clean the buck pens.

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