Thursday, July 24, 2014

Using Garden “Problems” as Solutions

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post describing how a number of issues have plagued my garden this year, including a failure to not adequately accommodate for the spatial needs of a few of my plants, and my personal squirrelmageddon.  About a week and a half ago, I was reflecting on a few of these issues, and I began to ask myself, “Is there a way to use some of these “problems” as actual solutions?” 

From a permaculture perspective, we emphasize positive and practical solutions.  Included in this holistic mindset, we emphasize producing no waste and sharing our abundance.  We also emphasize the principle that “the problem is the solution.” 

In our conventional way of thinking within our society’s culture, we are all about commanding and controlling problems.  We are consumed with “solving” problems using our technology, and we believe that ultimately, our human cleverness will prevail.   

The truth about this is, though, we really don’t know everything, nor will we ever know everything, no matter how smart we believe that we are.  New information is emerging daily that illuminates things that we weren’t previously aware of and were beyond our prior levels of understanding since just yesterday.  This has been found in many areas of knowledge, whether we are considering energy fields, human consciousness and the human spirit, biology and ecology, nutrition, medicine, space, the connectedness and interaction among living organisms on this planet, and many other fields.  I would have to agree with those who have said, “The more that we discover, the more we find that we actually know much less than we thought we did.” 

So back to my garden “problems.”  It is clear that we can only control so much, so one of the keys to resiliency is in utilizing those “problems” to our advantage.  In the case of my garden, I have had the “problems” of both runaway pumpkin plant vine growth within a small garden area and a squirrel invasion. 

Unfortunately in the case of the squirrels, my chosen squirrel control method of the eco-friendly squirrel repellent appeared to only work on a limited basis.  Despite sprinkling a number of containers worth of these repellents several times, the squirrels (or at least one very determined squirrel) were still getting into my garden and causing trouble. 

Then, I had an idea.  I had recently read that squirrels don’t like plants like pumpkins and some melons because of the prickly stems that they have.  The plethora of pumpkin vines were starting to take over the main garden area, and I was trying to figure out what to do with them.  I know that some gardeners might be brave and do some plant sacrifices, but I wanted to see if I could use this abundance of vines to my advantage.  It occurred to me that I might direct these vines to grow around the perimeter of my garden area, and it might provide at least a certain level of protection from the squirrels.  Not sure how well this will actually protect the garden when all is said and done, but I thought, “What have I got to lose?”

I have since been tying the pumpkin vines around my garden fence as they continue to grow, hoping that it will help to dissuade the squirrels.  We’ll see if it actually works to dissuade the squirrels in the end.  About half of the main garden area now has vines around it, and eventually I’m hoping that I can get some vines to grow around the entire length of the perimeter at least once.

Things seemed to have slowed down a bit on the squirrel front within the last week, and I haven’t noticed quite as many issues lately.  I did catch one of the varmints in there a few days ago, and I ran out to the garden to scare it off.  In an effort to flee, the invader ran right into the main cluster of vines before getting away.  I’m hoping that the prickly vines gave it something to think twice about before paying my garden another visit.   

This pumpkin vine and squirrel issue has got me thinking.  What other garden “problems” can we utilize as solutions?  Where and what might we recycle, reuse, utilize abundant resources for, or direct to solve other garden issues?  Are our garden “problems” actually problems, or can they be views as opportunities for seeking greater resilience and balance? 

One of my pumpkin vines “peeking” around the corner of my garden fence perimeter before I secured it to the garden fence.  Once plants in the squash and cucumber family get established, they start to grow like crazy, and can often seem like they have a mind of their own.  Somewhat humorous to think about…  To learn more about plant “behavior,” I recommend watching the documentary “What Plants Talk About.”  Plants are actually doing a whole lot more than we think they are :).
This Article is Shared at The Home Acre Blog Hop
This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Hop


  1. Hi Rebecca,
    Experience is a powerful teacher! Thank you so much for sharing this enlightening post with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I'm pinning and tweeting this too!

    1. Thanks Deborah. Always happy to have you visit Day by Day Homesteading :).

  2. Hey hey!

    Good to stumble upon your blog! Will be here regularly to read on your new adventures :)
    BTW have you tried something that looks like a predator, such as a flat-metal cut out of an owl (cast a scary silhouette) or perhaps some cat statues? Just some rambles in my head ;)

    Good luck with your growing endeavours!

    The Shroom

    1. Hello, The Shroom! So glad that you discovered the blog and I hope you enjoy the content. I have not tried anything that resembles a predator yet, but it might be worth looking into. Things that smell like predators might be worth looking into as well, as the rabbits and squirrels would probably be affected by scent. I'll have to put my thinking cap on, as I am still having some critter issues. I caught a rabbit in my herb spiral yesterday morning!

  3. That is how we all learn, really. Great post.