Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nocturnal Nibblers

Some morning surprises are not as welcome as others. First zucchini blossom? Wonderful. Lady bug pupa? Amazing. Evidence of nocturnal nibbling by wandering deer? Not so wonderful.

When I did the garden inspection tour early today I noticed some denuded stems on the Blue Lake beans, which -- up to now -- have been doing so well as they twine upwards around the bean poles and string trellis. Along with this incriminating evidence, there were two tell-tale foot-prints in the soft soil.

I can picture the culprit as she put her front feet into the raised bed and stretched up to munch delicately on some of the higher leaves.

Then I saw the lettuce! Two beds of going-to-seed stalks had been greedily chomped off at the top. Welcome to BB's Backyard Salad Bar.

After sampling the bean leaves and lettuce, my nocturnal visitor evidently spiced up her salad with some nasturtium leaves . . . .

. . . . newly-formed buds of Queen Anne's Lace . . . .

. . . . and tender tips of new leaves on the Cecil Brunner roses.

Thank goodness she spared the new lettuce and basil seedlings waiting to be planted out.

In fact, once I got over the surprise, I could see that not much damage was done. Everything she snacked on will grow back. The lettuce stalks will put out side shoots, as will the Queen Anne's Lace; the beans, nasturtiums, and roses will grow new leaves. Nonetheless, it won't take much more nibbling to do real harm. I will shut the garage door tonight and roll some bamboo fencing across the spot next to the house where the fence is low and hungry deer have been known to jump over.

Things must be getting dry up in the hills outside of town. We've seen deer in the neighborhood on our evening walks lately. They come down from the hills via the creek bed, which functions as a wildlife corridor for lots of different woodland creatures. I love seeing the groups of deer, two or three together, step primly along the green lawns or bolt -- startled -- across the park.

Usually, in our own backyard the high fences keep them out, but in the dry part of the summer they get bolder and will walk through the garage or come down the narrow corridor along the other side of the house and jump the old wire fence there.

It seems early for that to happen. There is still water running in the creek from our very wet spring. Did the extra rain mean extra grass, with the result that there are more deer than usual this year? They are welcome to the front yard, which is an untended patch of trees and climbing roses, but I intend to protect the backyard veggies.

No comments: