A Concentration Camp for Carrots and Cabbage

 Garden Fence and Shed May 2008

Today I think I’ll take the metal thermometer that sits on my desk (I found this particular thermometer stuck in the sand on the banks of the Black Warrior River in Alabama in 1965, but that’s another story) and stick it in the garden soil. Whatever temperature it tells me will be a few degrees below the soil temp it takes to bring about reliable seed germination. The garden is too cool yet and seeds are just sitting there.

In our zeal (and in spite of my insistence that it was too early yet) we put out peas, beans and corn at least a week ago.  Germination is very spotty, a sprout here and there, and I can’t dedicate our very limited space for empty stretches between the occasional future pea plant.

I’ll give it another week with the hope of warmer days and nights (for the garden’s sake, not the gardeners’. I’ve been quite happy with COOL!)  We’ve gotten good rain, but not enough heat–so far–which is why my rule in recent gardening years has been to not jump the gun (as she convinced me this year to do against my better judgement), to plant seed crops only after the first of June when the ground down in this deep valley warms up so seeds don’t rot.

I can say, however, that so far, we have not had any deer footprints in the garden soil, though somewhere in the green-shadowy forest, a young deer dreams of being the first to vault over the 8 foot fence and into Deer History (and our freezer.)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Congratulations!
    Very imaginative concept!

    With one image you have totally trumped all of the photos I took of your garden stockade and garden house the day before.

    I’ll go erase them now…

    Call me when the first deer scales the stockade walls.

    Thomas Jefferson built his garden walls 10 feet high. You are giving them a 2 foot advantage.

  2. We had ice in the birdbath Wednesday morning so I was glad I didn’t rush the season. I’ve planted seed potatoes but the tomatoes, zucchini & basil will have to wait for this weekend.

  3. Dear Fred – I want to tell you about a product that I learned about last year while taking a class at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is a product that deters deer from the gardens. It also deters rabbits, squirrels & other animals from devouring plants. I tried it because the rabbits & squirrels were devouring the planys in my butterfly gardens. It is Plantskyyd & was developed in Norway or Sweden several years ago when the deer were deforesting the forests. It is basically bloodmeal – I used it last year & again this spring & the rabbits & squirrels have not touched anything in my gardens. You might look it up online & consider spreading it about your gardens………