Chicken Wire, But No Chickens

A few weeks ago I solved a dog problem with chicken wire.

We have an unusual trio of dogs — each with a very different personality. Kosmo the West Highland Terrier is “my” dog. He loves people, the dog park, and carefully monitoring our backyard. If we allowed him to stay outside all of the time, he would. Verdell is a Brussels Griffon and a momma’s boy. He likes people, but only if they are my wife. Verdell is what you would call “indoorsy.” Prim is the only sporting dog we have — a Beagle. Although bred to pursue rabbits, she typically prefers to stay on the sofa, hates wet grass, and shivers if the temperature drops below seventy degrees.

The only thing our three dogs have in common is the need to get into my raised bed garden. Sniffing, digging, marking, and doing other unspeakable things. As you might imagine, this makes gardening a challenge and limits our ability (and desire) to eat vegetables grown in the dog soiled soil. Last year, I turned it into a butterfly and hummingbird garden — planting the entire bed with a desert wildflower mix of seeds. This worked reasonably well, except I would still find small dog trails worn through the flowers and other evidence of the presence of canine intruders.

This year, I am determined to reclaim (and sanitize) that thirty-two square foot patch of backyard earth. So, I purchased several bags of garden soil, organic fertilizer, wildflower and clover seed, a can of worms (seriously, a can of three hundred red wrigglers), fence posts, and a thirty feet of chicken wire.

Soil was mixed, fertilized, and spread to level the garden. Seeds were planted. Worms were released. Stakes were driven. And then, like many weather hardened Arizona ranchers before me, I surrounded my plot with three-foot high chicken wire. An impenetrable barrier of galvanized poultry fencing (thankfully, our dogs are not graceful jumpers).

After two weeks of watering and sunshine, the garden is now covered with a green haze of emerging wildflowers. I envision the worms tunneling throughout the earthy bed, helping to recycle the soil. And soon, the Rhizobium bacteria in the root nodules of the clover will be fixing nitrogen in the soil. I once worked in a microbiology lab where we studied this symbiotic relationship (I should probably add this to The Little I Know).

Hopefully, by mid-April our garden will be blooming with a variety of flowers. Buzzing with pollinators — butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. And free of dogs.

If this doesn’t work, I’m buying a rooster to go with the chicken wire.

A mean one.

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