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Hot Morning Garden

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The heat continues and we’ve put the hens off-limits until things cool down. Many of the kids that come to the garden before school help feed Goldie, Sunshine, Blackie, Peanut and Brownie. They respect that we can’t stress the girls in the heat. The hens gather at the coop gate and cluck happily when they see the kids. They miss their little friends as much as the kids miss them.

We make sure the hens have plenty of water inside and out of the coop and are not feeding them their favorite corn tortillas as the grain can raise their temperature.

The hens are happy when we hose down the front portion of the play area so that they can move about without over-heating.

There were two farmers today that explored the planting beds and saw first-hand the damage that the rats have done have done in the last month. Sunflower Sentry Garden has become a variable buffet for rats searching for food and water during the drought.

 

Farmer 1: Look at all of the tiny tomatoes on this bush! Can I pick them?

Barbara: Yes. Be sure that you pick the red ones only as they are ripe.

Farmer 2: Why are all the empty water bottles in the tomato plants?

Barbara: They are placed throughout the plants so they will move and make noise when the rats come to feast at night.

Farmer 1: Look, there are big tomatoes over here. Can we pick them?

Barbara: No, they need another couple of days to fully ripen. Here, feel one. 

Farmer 2: This one is hard. This one is softer. Yes, they need more time.

Farmer 1: How do the rats eat the tomatoes?

Barbara: They climb into the plants and devour the long, juicy stalks. All they leave are the outer portions. Then the rats go for the tomatoes themselves. Chomp, chomp and they move on to the next tomato.

I took both farmers to the wheelbarrow filled with seven tomato plants destroyed by the rats last week. We sorted through them and they saw the destruction first hand.

Farmer 1: It’s so sad but they are hungry.

Barbara’s note: Since August, the ever increasing rat population has destroyed over $300 worth of seedlings and seven full-grown tomato plants. Additionally, the remaining eight plants are struggling to survive. All of our beds are being devoured daily. In addition to the tomatoes, we’ve lost kale, greens, beets, summer squash and zucchinis.

 

While we’ve filled the plants with empty, crushed water bottles and items that will fall and scare off the rats, it becomes more and more obvious that the only solution is an exterminator with humane traps. Then again what must be done to curtail a huge population?