Walking around my backyard

Two years ago, finally tired of always losing the precious bounty of our fruit trees to wandering animals, we finally put a fence around a good portion of our backyard. We had three fruit trees—an apple tree and two pear trees—but cordoned off an area large enough to accommodate four more fruit trees and three large raised vegetable beds. Then we planted fig, giant peach, nectarine, and apricot trees. In the newly-built vegetable beds, we planted tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries, sweet peppers, different varieties of hot peppers, and a bunch of herbs. I felt so … organic. And I was filled with hope for a season of homegrown produce.

But where I live, trying to grow your own produce in the backyard is a constant battle against airborne diseases and critters. Critters so brazen that one afternoon, I saw a chipmunk roll a half-eaten baby apple onto my porch, on its way to stashing it elsewhere. I tried to stare it down to let it know who was the boss, but it simply shrugged and went along its merry way. Cuteness aside, those little buggers are r-u-d-e.

We also have to contend with deer, who not only gorge themselves on our fruit trees, but also help themselves to my rose buds. It’s the reason I refuse to ever watch Bambi.

And the groundhogs. Oh, those nasty things. They dig holes under the fence, and climb up into my vegetable beds. Last year, I looked out my bedroom window to see one standing on its legs, happily munching on a tomato, looking around like it owned the place. There was nothing left for me to do but hope that the tomatoes gave it some serious acid reflux.

We’ve been trying all sorts of things: netting around the beds, canopies over the trees … nothing seems to work. So this year, we simply gave up. No vegetable bed plantings this year, and the most we’ll be doing is grow two pots of Scotch Bonnet peppers on our deck. Where we can watch over them more closely. I figured we’d take a break from the annual battle for a change.

But when I walked around our backyard a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but feel the same thrill I always get when I see fruit on the trees. There’s just something about growing your own fruits and vegetables that excites me and makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, doing what should come naturally to us.

The baby peach looked so cute with its baby hairs.

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

The critters took off with the tags for these trees, but I’m fairly sure these are little nectarine and plum fruits. I’ll have to wait a bit longer to be sure.

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

And of course, there were other pretty things to photograph in the backyard. Pretty vines crawling up the oak tree …

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

Pretty flowers from last year’s deck box planting …

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

And pretty flowers from my resilient chive plant.

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

And of course, pretty weeds.

The Ivory Hut: Walking Around My Backyard

Those, I have no trouble growing. Absolutely no trouble at all.

P.S. If you have any suggestions on how to win the battle against the critters, diseases, and weeds, we’d gladly take those buggers on again.


14 thoughts on “Walking around my backyard”

  1. You really can’t blame all the hungry critter and such, everything looks so darn good! Good luck with the rest of the growing season. Loved your photographs.

  2. What a pretty garden you have! The photo of the chives is gorgeous!! There’s just something about green & purple…
    Yup, that green thing is definitely a plum!

  3. You might want to look into Square Foot Gardening. I’ve been planning to build one in our backyard this year because we have a lot of the same problems you do with the critters and weeds. The book, “All New Square Foot Gardening” is by Mel Bartholomew, and the website is: http://www.squarefootgardening.com. Good luck!

  4. I love chives – such incredible photos as usual! I really need to learn some things about photography from you!
    Also I wish I knew how to grow a garden – my mother in law does, but since we can’t completely communicate yet, I’m at a loss … hopefully in a couple years I’ll have my own garden : )

  5. I have heard/read somewhere that an abundance of hair clippings (like from the barber) spread through the veggie patch can ward off the critters. Gives the place an aroma of “human”. Shiny pie plates (or anything glittery) hung from the fruit trees can baffle animals and birds.

    Sounds like a beautiful yard! How wonderful to have space for an orchard in your backyard!

    Love the macros!

  6. As someone who doesn’t grow any of her own food, I can only think of said critters and go “aw, so adorable” which I realize is not how you view them! Still, it sounds like you have a whole menagerie in your back yard, along with a great show!

  7. This may not be the most ideal time to ask you a question about growing more fruit but I have been dying to plant and grow some fruit but thought that in the mid-Atlantic it was hopeless. I think you guys reside in a relatively similar climate so I have renewed hope. Is it true? Fruit trees don’t need a tropical climate? And any recommendations for what grows best… critters aside?

    1. So far, I’ve seen folks here growing apples, pears, nectarines, plums, apricots, and fig. As long as you stick to fruit trees that will grow in your zone (we’re in zone 6), you should be fine.

  8. I’ve grown vegetable gardens for years with varied degrees of success. I’ve tried different techniques and different vegetables over the years, but I’ve learned a few things that could be helpful:

    1)Don’t bother growing corn unless you have a way to keep raccoons out.

    2)Mother Nature is the biggest factor in whether you’ll have issues with diseased plants. When you have as wet a spring/early summer as we had last year, disease running rampant through the veggie garden is almost inevitable.

    3)Keep the sweet veggies away from the edge of the garden. I plant hot peppers near the fence and marigolds around the outside of the fence. The smell of marigolds seems to deter some critters and the hot peppers don’t attract them.

    1. Karma, this year we only planted three little plants out in the box. They were hot Caribbean red pepper plants. The very next morning—a mere 12 hours or so after planting them—the critters ate them up. We must have Trinidadian pepper-loving critters in our backyard.

  9. I’m a city girl, but scared of all things itchy, so I worry that the pretty vine growing up your oak tree might be poison ivy. Be careful!

    1. Ha! I was so focused on the pretty colors and the moss on the tree bark and I failed to recognize the three-leaf pattern. You are right, it might be poison ivy! I’ll remember not to get too close with my macro lens next time. :)

  10. I also love the macro feature on my point and shoot camera. But often I have trouble getting it to focus. I was trying to take photos of bees on flowers and only half of my photos were clear.

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