Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
Swiss chard can be a tough sell for some kids, but to the denizens of my back yard, it's apparently a delicacy.
I had thought originally slugs were the culprits making inroads on the chard leaves, although the leaves were more shredded than usual. Then I read Val Cunningham's birding column in which a reader noticed a goldfinch stripping the leaves off the chard: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/168494206.html. She reports that goldfinches are nicknamed the "lettuce finch" because of their fondness for young greens. Apparently they not only strip it right down to the veins, but they poke holes in the leaves, too.
While for some reason I'm more willing to share my chard with pretty little finches than ugly fat slugs, I originally dismissed the idea, because I hadn't seen goldfinches any closer to our home than a few blocks away along the creek. Until I noticed the flitting dart of yellow in a neighbor's yard two houses down, that is. Well, I was still somewhat forgiving, as there's only so much Swiss chard one can consume, and that just means less I have to process into soups in the fall when frost presents a deadline.
But I was decidedly less forgiving when I chanced upon a rabbit sitting in the raised bed, calmly munching away on chard and kale leaves, consuming them wholesale. Since this discovery came the day after finding that the busy bunnies had chewed a hole in the thick netting that had been keeping them out of another raised bed, I gave the rabbit a speedy escort off the property before heading to the store for more stakes and netting.
Now I'm channeling my inner Mr. McGregor, and I'm busy devising sturdier defenses of produce for next season. It's either that or I have to plant enough for all of us.
What's eating your garden? Have you ever been visited by the "lettuce finch"?
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