Step One: Establish a Perimeter

Okay, enough talk. It’s been high time to take action around here. We finally got around to building the chicken wire enclosure for our largest group of containers. I warn you – it’s highly utilitarian –

It does not have a beautiful wood-painted frame or ornate wire work. But it will keep those bastard squirrels out! Hopefully. We used four-foot-high chicken wire with a one inch mesh. On the right side, we stapled it to the deck and then wrapped it around the pots. On the left, it’s secured with clips so we can open up the structure easily to get inside for harvest and such. For the top, since we anticipate the need to prevent aerial attacks as well, we cut a section of wire and bent it to fit the curved piece below, patching the sides with small pieces to close up any opening. We bent the wire from the top piece onto the sides, but also reinforced it with clear zip ties. It’s pretty secure.

It’s hard to see in this photo (I need to figure out how my photos are getting resized so small, but that’s another matter) but we have some green tomatoes, flowers on the peppers and even a few zucchini starting to form. And we intend to keep it that way.

We do still have another smaller grouping of pots – some more peppers and a few cucumbers – that need protection, but that will be an easier job by far. We’ll just create a cylinder of wire for those, and likely with no top since they’ll don’t sit right up against the deck. So that’s the next garden project to tackle. But as you can see, we’re hoping to the War of the Squirrels this year.

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Project Sunflower – Surviving an Unwarranted Attack

A few weeks ago at last winter market of the season, you may recall that we purchased four lovely mini sunflowers. I planted them in our window box on the deck railing, for a spot of bright cheery color. They were beautiful. One would think they were too beautiful to eat, but certain other species were quick to disagree –

Waking up to a beheading of this magnitude can be very disturbing. Needless to say, I have had enough of the squirrels. We tried cayenne pepper, which the squirrels greatly appreciated as delicious seasoning on their meals. I still have to wonder why the squirrels in this neighborhood can’t just rifle through the trash dumpsters like the tree rats do in other parts of the city. It’s odd.

Anyway, the squirrels may have won the battle, but I intend to win the war. The first step in trenching in to any urban warfare situation is establishing a perimeter –

We ordered two rolls of four-foot-high chicken wire on Amazon. You really can buy anything on the internet. We’ll let you know how we make it once we get it installed, but wish me luck. I will have nice things!

Curve Balls

Well, in case you’ve been wondering where I am, I’m here. Life has been crazy recently. My boss at the day job has been on a two week vacation (must be nice), Little Man has finally cut his first tooth (which I’m excited about, but I also feel bad for him since it’s obviously painful), and to put the icing on the cake – I’M SICK. I’m not talking allergies or a little cold, I’m talking down and out sick. Terribly sore throat, whole body aches, raging fever, chills – the whole nine yards. It started Thursday afternoon and by Friday morning I was more or less delirious with fever and barely able to get out of bed.

I’m hoping the worst has past. I still feel completely terrible, but now I can sit upright for more than twenty minutes at a stretch and even swallow food (somewhat – and it hurts like hell). Little Man has been sounding a little hoarse, so I’m seriously hoping I didn’t pass it along to him.  He’s got enough drama with the teething.

So, there was a whole bunch of stuff that I wanted to do (and thus post about) this weekend, but at this point I’m just hoping to be able to feel okay enough to walk to the farmer’s market down the block tomorrow to pick up some fresh veg and our seedling order. And that’s pretty much it, since the most important thing is to be well enough to go back into the office on Monday and make some monies. As they say, money makes the world go around. Though I’d like to meet the guy whole invented capitalism and clock him in the face… but that’s another story for another time.

Before I digress too much into working-for-the-man bitterness, I’ll give you a little preview of what’s in store here at Apartment Farm.

– We lost another battle with the squirrels (hint – we had sunflowers for 29 hours). But we think we’ve found a way to win the war.

– We bought home brewing equipment at long last. We will make beer!

– We stocked up on wood chips for the grill, so we’re going to be doing some good eating.

– I made a taggie blanket for Little Man. If you don’t know what that is, feel free to disregard. If you do know what that is, I can show you how to make one in five minutes!

– The deck veggies are coming along nicely. It’s high time for an update.

So see, Apartment Farming continues. Or it will, after I’m over these sickies. I’ll be back!

The Strawberry Thief

I came home from work to a crime scene the other day. Our two ripe strawberries were missing. Surrounding the pot was the awful evidence of what happened – tiny bits of strawberry flesh and torn foilage. My husband informed me that the inevitable had happened – the squirrel discovered the strawberries and helped himself. Grrrr. So much for leaving them just a day or two longer to ripen.

I’m making myself feel better  by trying to figure out a solution to the problem. The main deterrant we’ve tried is chili powder, but our stupid squirrel actually seems to like the stuff. Since we’re growing plants to eat, we don’t want to try much else in the way of chemicals and the like, and the only “fool proof” squirrel deterrant I’ve come across is caging all your vegetables. Forunately, there are a lot of cool options out there, that don’t look all that bad.

This is probably the set up we’ll go with since we’ve got containers and this is likely easy to put together. The dollar store is selling tomato cages this season, so those coupled with some bird netting from the garden supply store will hopefully do the trick.

The two above cages are pretty cool repurposed options. The top one is a large birdcage and the bottom is a wire-wrapped metal shelf. Easy to use/assemble if you happen to have those items around.

The two above options are DIY board and wire cages. I especially like that the bottom one was spruced up with paint – makes it attractive as well as utilitarian.

This is a pre-fab metal pipe and wire cage that you can buy as a kit.

This is a pre-fab kit of metal poles and plastic fruit netting you can purchase.

And the above model is the ultimate in pest control – if you’ve got a large garden with marauding squirrels, chipmunks and maybe even a herd of aggressive deer – just build a cage room around your whole garden!