Garden envy

Garden envy

HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge

All my life I’ve counted on my garden to be my sanctuary. A place to seek some healing, slow me down, ease the soul, relax, destress. Foremost it’s the place where I go to forget my problems.

My problem, however, is the garden is my problem.

It’s gone wacky. Chaos gone crazy.

Quite simply the garden is just not happening the way it is supposed too.

Absurdly comforting is the sad reality that Tez and I are not alone. It seems a majority of gardeners we know are yet again having an unpredictable and frustrating year of growing crops – regardless of being vegetables, fruits or flowers.

Weather conditions are largely to blame. A prolonged winter followed by untimely rain has caused much of the grief Tez and I are sharing. The angst is not the amount of rainfall being outrageously different than in other years – it’s the timing. During the workweek the weather has been reasonable however by weekend or after office hours the rain starts to pour or the wind blows.

Planting seeds or young plants in heavy ran is rarely good as most veteran green-thumbers know. Even just working the soil or walking in the garden is not wise when it’s wet. The wet ground has diminished our direct seeding opportunities,

Even advanced planning has not helped. Because of unpredictable weather the last few years Tez and I decided to get a jump on many vegetables and flowers and so put many hours and dollars into making our humble home-made greenhouse a plethora of potential plants. Most plants survived to successful sprouting and a bumper crop looked promising. However, with the rain and high winds many of those became leggy and are not transplanting well.

Weeds on the other hand are thoroughly enjoying the weather, the rain blockade and the lack of human activity around them. Certainly, the weed population would be less if we used pesticides in my yard – but I’ve been a die-hard organic gardener all my life and done okay – until the past few seasons. Our self-inflicted wound of not using pesticides has dictated that we have little lawn (by choice) but still lots of weeds with big nasty roots.

Weeds 1 – Garden 0 so far.

In addition – uncooperative atmospheric conditions are minor compared to our real problems this year: invasive squirrels and racoons. Thanks to a (too) kind but not logical neighbour we have a massive squirrel population.

Our bountiful shared trees are a part of the issue, but the neighbour’s insistence in feeding them all winter has attracted way too many. They have literally dug up several hundred dollars of plants, wiped out my strawberries patch twice as well as a massive number of other melons, cucumbers, potatoes … the list goes on and on. Sadly, they have also now discovered the greenhouse.

I am not sure if it is the money or time that bothers me most. We have spent so much of both trying to create an oasis of food and flowers and so little to show for it. Mouse traps and a BB gun are not cutting it and we refuse to use poisons or other devices so …

I recognize that one racoon can do a lot of damage, however I believe we have a family in the neighbourhood and a full-blown colony of invasive squirrels. Suggestions anyone?

Now the rainy season followed by a predicted heat wave are in the future weather cards.

Thankfully, I have a farmer’s heart and the spirit of my Mom and Grandfather in me. I do not know how to say no to a garden’s call. Tez and I remain undaunted.

Complain as we might, we also admit to being tremendously optimistic that should Mother Nature not go too crazy this summer that the gardens might benefit from this strange start to the growing year. An extended warm autumn in weather conditions could provide a wealthy bounty of foods or vegetables that survive the summer assault by squirrels and other four-footed predators.

And then I can relax again – no problem.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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