The art of fencing

My roadside scavenging efforts hadn’t panned out; my little guerrilla curbside plot was in dire need of hedging from neighborhood feet. I’m still developing the soil, so nothing is growing directly in the ground besides a New York native bush I acquired last year. An encouraging burst of leaves from this marvelous little shrub sent me to the hardware store this week in search of something to hedge my reclaimed plot.

It’s a funny spot with concrete in unlikely places, so the standard 6”- or 8”-staked metal fencing wouldn’t do, and the hardware store didn’t have it anyway. I ended up with $2.52 worth of the denser mesh chicken wire (two 1-foot rows in a sheet) and four mega, 12” screws at $2.62 each. I used my wire cutter (one of the best $10 investments I’ve made in my household, by the way) and snipped three even rows from my sheet of chicken wire. Et, voila! A three-sided fence (for car door courtesy.)

Unfortunately, caterpillars and squirrels know no boundaries; I have a casualty to report.

First (of surely many) of the season. All three of my German tomato seedlings (the babies I nurtured from seed) in this bucket were in similar shape as this one, except for the one that had just the main growth shoot snipped off and lay limp in the pot. This dubious deed has caterpillar written all over it. Although squirrels are a likely suspect as well. It’s bound to happen; gardening is a day-by-day thing.

In place of the tomatoes, I planted double yield cukes in the guerrilla patch bucket. They’ll hopefully grow up the tomato cage and wow the neighbors. Let’s also hope they’re not so enticing as fragrant young tomato plants to the stoop predators.

I’m getting the same looks from neighbors as when I built a 4’x4’ raised bed on the curb (the only spot that got full-sun) in my Austin, residential nabe. New things are alarming to people; rarely does alarm indicate dislike. This morning, one of my Brooklyn neighbors walked over as I was yanking out massacred tomatoes and seeding cukes and started talking about all the things he has growing on his back porch, how gardening reminds him of his childhood growing up in the country.

It seems like the fourth, open edge of my plot is less for car-door-buffering and more a portal for dialogue about simple things, like flowers and herbs and the occasional vegetable.

Speaking of hedging [your bets], the front yard carnage isn’t so devastating since these German tomatoes starts are still alive (and sort of thriving) on the back deck. I wonder if this heirloom variety doesn’t do so hot around these parts.

The early girls, on the other hand, are positively exploding. They’ve quadrupled in size and are budding from all six plants I put in my bucket.

I’m conducting a bit of garden experimentation. I know, I know. You’re only supposed to have one, maybe two plants in a bucket (so the roots don’t crowd out and prevent growth or fruiting), but I had six starts and one bucket. In previous years my single plant method has left me with an underwhelming yield or marginal plant growth. There are just too many variables to tinker with. My motto this year: what the hell, why not?

Even Isobel can’t stop staring at our plants.

And, of course, I can’t leave the neighbor’s deck without a photo of our first (and potentially only) strawberry’s progress.