Guess what I got for Christmas?

I’ll give you 10 guesses.

If you can guess, you are way smarter than me because, in a million years, I would have never guessed what my son, Nathan, and his wife Louisa were giving me for Christmas.

Granted, it was something that I have wanted for a long time.

And it was something that I actually needed.

But, despite those obvious facts, I simply would have never guessed that they would think to give me a GREENHOUSE for Christmas.

Greenhouse,Exploring the U.S. Botanic Garden, by www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

See what I mean?  Who’d have guessed??

The reason I wanted a greenhouse is because living here, at 5,000 feet in a mountain climate, the growing season is very short.  The rule of thumb up here is that you never plant before Mother’s Day, which means my vegetable garden does not go in the ground until mid May.  It has even been known to snow on Labor Day, in late May, and I have tried, and failed, to fight Mother Nature by planting too soon.  But, with a greenhouse, I will now be able to grow winter crops when it’s snowing and frozen outdoors, and I will be able to start my vegetable plants from seeds way before mid May. This will extend my growing season by leaps and bounds!

The reason I needed a greenhouse is because, last year, it seemed that every wild beast on the mountain had discovered my vegetable garden and decided to make it their own personal dinner table, and lunch table and breakfast table too.  I needed to find a way to keep wildlife out of my garden!

This is what my tomato plants used to look like.

Tomato Plants | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I enjoyed bushel-loads of harvests……

Homegrown Tomato Harvest, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

until the lousy, rotten, godawful gophers ate every last one of my 12 tomato plants this year!!!!!

Gopher Holes, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

They sucked them right down the hatch into their dreadful dens, leaving behind nothing but mounds of dirt!  I’ve tried trapping them and poisoning them.  I’ve tried drowning them and pepper spraying them.  I wrap my plant roots in wire, I line my raised beds with wire, I sprinkle chile pepper flakes into the soil but NOTHING WORKS!!!!!

And, I’m sorry to say, but gophers are not my only garden troublemakers.  No, no, I don’t have to simply deal with your garden-variety pests.  My garden gets invaded regularly by a darling family of deer.

Family of Deer,www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I used to love deer.  In fact I still love deer, just not in my garden!

Deer, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

They like to stop by in the morning when I’m having coffee on the terrace.  They head right up that hill, where they find my beautiful row of strawberry plants.

Strawberries, www.AfterOrangeCounty.comStrawberries, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

They think my strawberries are a particularly tasty morning treat……

Strawberry Plants, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And they have reduced my beautiful strawberry plants down to nothing!  But it doesn’t end there!  Next, they head on over to my cherry trees.

Family of Deer,www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

This past summer I was looking forward to enjoying my first bountiful crop of cherries.

Cherry Tree, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

After three long years of nurturing two newly planted cherry trees……

Cherry Trees, www.AfterOrangeCounty.comCherry Trees, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

they were, for the first time, loaded with cherries.  I had planned to wait to pick them until they had reached the perfect point of ripeness.  But one day I went to work in the yard, only to find that the deer had devoured my crop, leaving me with two measly cherries on each tree!  But it doesn’t end there.  They also discovered my fully loaded peach tree.  And to my complete dismay, my peaches had been reduced to 40 pits, laying there on the ground at the base of the tree, striped clean by the deer.


And the thing is, these damn deer are simply defiant!

Deer, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I can yell and scream……

Deer, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I can hoot and holler, and they still just stand there like deer in the headlights. They have discovered exactly where to find a feast, right here in my backyard, and there ain’t nothin’ gonna stop um!  Only after a lot of effort can I usually get them to finally run away.

Deer, www.AfterOrangeCounty.comDeer, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

But it is never long before they are back for more.  Except my problems don’t simply end with the deer.  We’ve also got big-ole-bears in these here hills!  They leave behind big-ole bear footprints when they visit my garden for their afternoon apple eating.

Bear Foot rpint, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

This apple season, our friendly neighborhood bear discovered my apple tree loaded with ripe, juicy apples.  I was waiting for them to reach the peak of perfection to prepare my wonderful Apple Crisp Recipe.

Apple Crisp, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

But good old Yogi The Bear was not about to let that happen……

Apple Tree, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Not only did he eat all of my apples……

Apples, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

leaving me with three measly little green apples……

Apple Tree, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

but he nearly ripped the branches off the tree!  And, sadly, what the bear didn’t eat the birds did……

Apple Tree, www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So, between the birds and the bears, and the gophers and the deer, 2013 was simply a disastrous growing season for me!  After all this, can you imagine my delight in receiving a greenhouse for Christmas?  If I can keep the bears from breaking in, and the gophers from burrowing in, and the birds at bay, I should be able to produce a decent crop in the confines of my gorgeous greenhouse in 2014.  I can’t wait to get started!  I’m going to get started on fencing too, to keep those dastardly deer away!

Thank you Nathan & Louisa!

PS – In closing, I just want to say that, in reality, I love sharing my mountain home with wildlife!  It is one of the best things about living in Lake Arrowhead.  I just don’t like sharing my supper with them!

Do you have your own garden woes, or perhaps even some garden pest solutions?  If so, I’d love to hear from you!

All opinions expressed in this post are my own.   All photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.