The Verdict on the Experiment

I’m ready to pronounce a verdict on one of this years gardening experiments.

As part of our scaling down this year, I wanted to plant a garden that would require very little attention. So I needed something that deer don’t eat and that wouldn’t require irrigation or much weeding. Deer eat almost everything these days, so my options were limited. The plan I settled on was to plant a large garden that was one half eggplant and one half acorn squash. Then I would tend it using an almost-STUN method (Sheer Total Utter Neglect).

Unfortunately, the experiment was a fail.

The acorn squash that survived the squash bugs (which were particularly bad this year) were choked out by weeds. Winter squash is a vining plant, making cultivation nearly impossible.

The eggplant, on the other hand, are producing abundantly. Still, I pronounce that part of the garden a fail too. Why? Because it’s generating way more eggplant than we can use, and way more than we can sell. Eggplant isn’t part of our traditional food culture here and the market for it is very limited. We’ve been giving lots of it to the local food bank (probably generating lots of groans from patrons) but it makes no sense to grow it on that scale, just to give it away. Deer don’t eat it, but neither do chickens or pigs.

So next year I won’t have the eggplant/acorn squash garden.

On the other hand our expanded onion garden was a success. We have our best onion crop ever. So maybe next year I’ll grow even more. Deer don’t eat them, but people in these parts definitely do.

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20 comments on “The Verdict on the Experiment

  1. avwalters says:

    Here, the grasshoppers are making short work of our onions.

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    • Bill says:

      Oh good grief. Do I have that to look forward to? Sometimes I wonder how we humans managed to survive as hunter/gatherers. The competition must have been fierce.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        Actually, only one bed of onions is being ravaged. The other, right next to it–but an experiment with a higher percentage of compost added to our miserly soils, is doing fine. The grasshoppers are not as interested in the healthier onions. And yes, it’s a wonder that we humans got to be so numerous–though I fear that we did so by out-poisoning all else.

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  2. shoreacres says:

    Well, as we like to say, “You never try, you never know.” It is amusing to see the differences in demand from one part of the country to another. “My” farmers can’t keep up with the demand for eggplant. If you aren’t sitting on your email when the first chance to order arrives, the eggplant offered on Thursday will be gone by Friday. They get so many preorders there’s rarely any available for people who just show up on Saturday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The only thing the deer have not eaten here are the garlic. I didn’t do onions this year, but I may have to. Wish I had access to your eggplant!

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    • Bill says:

      The only things that deer haven’t eaten here (yet) are garlic, onions, Irish potatoes and eggplant. As with eggplant, we’re growing way more garlic now than we can use or market. We composted hundreds of bulbs this year when the new garlic arrived. But it’s a joy to plant something and watch it grow, knowing that it won’t disappear some night into the belly of a deer.

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  4. No such thing as too many onions, lol!

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  5. karenhumpage says:

    What about tomatoes Bill? Virtually the only seeds that make it through my compost heap are verbena bonariensis and tomatoes. I get them popping up everywhere I spread my homemade mulching compost. I usually replant the verbena elsewhere as the bees like it, but the tomato plants go straight back on the heap. I was about to pull a particularly healthy specimen up this morning but maybe I’ll leave it where it is, holding its own right in the middle of a clump of echium vulgare….

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    • Bill says:

      We grow lots of tomatoes, and they’re a very popular item at the farmer’s market. Still, this time of year we usually have more than we can use or sell. Basically, we’re maxed out on tomatoes. And they can’t be grown without deer protection and the labor of staking and tying them.

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  6. thesnowwoman says:

    Oh I wish I had a couple good eggplants. I make a really good roasted eggplant dip, much like baba ganoush. Thanks for the reminder, I haven’t made it in awhile!

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  7. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, wild life knows no bounds or restraint. They are the ultimate foragers. It takes three different fences to wild l life proof my garden. I’ve talked about the fences in my past posts. There’s a six foot wooden fence to keep out the deer; a five foot steel welded fence inside the wooden fence to slow down to raccoons, rabbits, and groundhogs. Then the electric fence that puts the final touch on the garden fortress. The only thing left is aerial attack and until I get berry bushes I don’t think I have to worry about that.

    My garden plot can be fenced in without too much work or cost but your garden is on a much grander scale which makes it difficult to do. I’ve yet to find any thing that will totally control weeds. Nature left to its own ways will revert to the wild very quickly. I too marvel at the toughness it took for our ancestors to live and survive the harshness of the land. Here in Nebraska there were very limited trees and rocks to build houses. Houses were built from the prairie sod or dug out caves in banks. I am very thankful for my ancestors to come and do what they did so I can now enjoy life.

    Have the best day that you can in the garden. Eat some eggplant. šŸ™‚

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    • Bill says:

      It’s very tempting to just retreat to one large garden and secure it as you have. If we do that, we’ll just go back to being homesteaders and give up the market gardening. That sounds especially appealing today, since a government inspector put a red tag on our scales today, saying the aren’t properly certified. Keeping the public safe from market gardeners like us I suppose. So now we have to buy gov’t-inspected and approved scales if we want to stay in business.

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  8. Laurie Graves says:

    As the old saying goes, Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And while you didn’t have complete success, you did learn a few things for next year.

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  9. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Bill, it’s so true, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Now you know some a little about what to do next year. I like eggplant but there aren’t too many recipes in my repertoire for it, so I probably would have used only a few of those you grew. Good luck next year! Peace.

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  10. I don’t eat eggplant, either!

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