Spring and Summer of 2013. Got an early start on planting the Spring garden for cool weather plants and a slow start on the summer portion of the garden for warm weather plants. I had planted a variety of lettuces and carrots February 2. A few weeks later we were enjoying dark green kale plants growing about 2 feet tall, Romaine Lettuce, Red Lettuce, Carrots, Spearmint. As the temps began to warm up it was time to pull up the lettuces a little at a time and begin planting cucumbers, tomatoes and okra. But, along about the beginning of May, I discovered a cotton tail rabbit with pretty penciled eyes and small sharp ears, a delicate small body and a fluffy white cotton ball tail that loved my dense forest of carrot greens standing tall and making a cool but tasty place to live and move about while she was a rabbit in waiting!
Mrs. bunny, as I called her, dug a 4-5 inch nest at the end of the carrot garden and when I was tending to the garden and got a little too close she shot up like a rocket and across the yard in one leap! One day I noticed that she stayed in the garden and just backed up and looked at me. That was strange. I kept on with my business, watering and picking my way through looking at the plants. Then I saw a couple of very small baby bunnies that could barely hop, only an inch at a time. They hid themselves well for such young ones. Later I would see the rare appearance of a large male rabbit, standing watch over these little ones outside the above-the-ground garden.
I was careful with my watering but I would see them running across for cover from time to time. I thought this very small mother rabbit was too petite to have more than the two babies I had seen, but much to our surprise one day we lifted up a large Kale leaf and there were huddled five little ones laying close together and sleeping snug like little puppies. Well, now this delayed my plans a bit and I endured a lot of rabbit life for the next 4 to 5 weeks until all of them were weaned and left the nesting grounds. Now and then one baby might wander back to the garden and hide beneath the cucumber vines as the season got hotter.
One day we caught one of the little ones. It was so cute when we raised up the vines there it was crouching down as if to hide with eyes squinted and very still. We just followed it to the fence line and picked it up. We enjoyed petting it but we let it go back into our garden to wait for its mother again.
Didn’t see that one any more. We have enjoyed the mom coming and going even until now. I continued to pull fresh carrots for her and layed them out under the rose bush (a very thick and cool place for her to stay). The next day you could see where she had whittled away on the carrots.
The garden surprised me planting the cucumbers so late in June they began coming up in July. We thought that the cukes would be toast in the Texas heat. The bees were late showing up also. I sent up a few prayers for my garden and asked for the bees and for help. I should not have been surprised, but I was. July and August were some of the wettest and coolest months we have had this summer and in years. There were an abundance of bees every day pollinating and buzzing harmlessly. There was life in that garden and fantastic crop of cukes! We could not keep the okra because the little rabbits loved them so much they never got a foothold! They also loved the young tender Kale plants. They stayed away from the cukes pretty much. No evidence of eating them at all.
I finally figured out why my tomatoes don’t grow in this garden each year. It is not lack of calcium. It’s not lack of fertilizer. It’s not too hot. It’s not too cool. It’s not the rain, heat or drought. Its not bugs or worms. It’s the thickness of the soil.
I learned that Cukes like loose airy soil and tomatoes like thick dense clay type soil. Next year I will plant a separate garden for tomatoes along the fence on the ground. My above the ground garden? it will still be the home of Mrs. Bunny but I may put some screening around my Okra plants. I missed our okra this year!
Mrs. Bunny is still out there, enjoying the cool grass and peace every afternoon and sometimes I see her out there at night, just resting and enjoying the moonlight. It was a good season all in all. Made a few friends, ate well and plan on doing the same next year. I thank God for the bees, the unseasonably cool months, the rain and our cotton tailed bunnies.
God Bless all my readers! may you have a wonderful fall and winter. Be thinking about a winter garden. I am. You can enjoy the dainties of earth harvested with your own hands until next Spring and change it once again.