Monday, June 13, 2011

Unexpected garden visitors

Four-legged visitors are usually unwelcome guests in a garden, but I have one that I have to admit I'm enjoying having around.

I've started my first herb garden this year, in pots on my deck. I'm growing oregano, basil, flat-leaf parsley, and cilantro. I tried starting some from seeds indoors, but I've since learned that my house just doesn't quite get enough light to nurture hearty growth. The basil was the only start worth keeping.

Seeds are cheap, though, and it was a fun learning experience, even if it essentially failed. I got a start of oregano from my aunt's massive plant, and I bought new basil, cilantro and parsley plants at area farmer's markets and garden centers. The still-living basil starts got transplanted into a couple pots (which, if they all take off, will end up giving me enough basil to last for about five years).

Not 48 hours after I'd potted all my herbs and settled them into their new homes on my deck, I noticed that something had been digging in the dirt around the cilantro. Thinking, at first, that it was a chipmunk (grrr), I was pleasantly surprised when I went to water the plants the next day and discovered what it was: a toad! He was buried in the dirt up to his eyeballs. It didn't look like he'd disturbed the roots, though, so I left him alone (hoping he'd feast on more than his share of mosquitoes).

After some further research into how much sunlight each plant enjoys, I shifted the pots around to better maximize the sunlight in this space. It seemed to have disturbed my toad, though, because I didn't see him again for a week or so (and he'd been nestled into his cilantro home each morning and evening).

Not to fear, though, because apparently it takes more than that to scare my toad away from his new home. Tonight, I got home from a bike ride and found him in a new pot -- a pot that is essentially in the same place as his old cilantro home.

And he'd brought a friend. Don't they look cozy?

He probably feels like he's been downsized, since this pot is in the same place, and it's smaller than the previous one. Unfortunately this couple has now definitely disturbed the roots of my basil seedlings... but since I have two others doing fine, I'm thinking I'll just leave them be.

My other surprise find tonight was this:

It's a squash plant. Growing in my compost heap. And I did not plant it there on purpose.

Actually, let me clarify: it's closer to 50 squash plants growing in my compost heap.

I'm not sure what it is yet, but it's blooming! I tossed some gourds out there at the end of last fall, so we'll see if that's the winner! Last year I found a bundle of tomato plants in this same spot.

This may be the easiest kind of gardening around.

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