How to feed a gopher in just a few easy steps

-1With summer now two-thirds of the way along, I’m happy to report it has been a good season. After the gophers drove me out of my Chico garden, I found some hospitable soil at my boyfriend’s house in Paradise.
All was going well, with tomatoes turning red as fast as I could fill the food dehydrator. Squash was harvested, and my beau tried to make me eat eggplant.
But for some reason the gophers followed me up to the ridge.
This brings me to a new understanding about gardening. I’m going to get my hands dirty, because I like gardening.
When there’s food to bring indoors, I shall rejoice. And when underground terrorists, birds, deer, aphids, etc., have their fill, at least I’m helping to feed the world.
In an odd way, the gophers reminded me to plant some seeds for fall veggies. You see, there are bald spots in the raised bed.
New theory: If I put more seeds in the ground, something will grow, and maybe the gophers will leave some for me.
Planting with a probable outcome of disappointment isn’t terrible, if you know what to expect.

Plant and release

About a dozen years ago I took up “fishing.”
The Sacramento River is my not-so-secret place to escape. I can go there to cry or fill my cluttered brain with the sound of the wind.
At some point I bought a fishing license. The ritual of casting a line into the middle of the river was therapeutic.
Mind you, I did not want to actually catch a fish. That would involve looking the fish in the eye, feeling it squirm in my hands, taking out the hook and later cutting it open to take out the guts.
I shared my fishing fake-out with my dad, and he bought me a device to attach a worm to the line, without needing a hook.
Thus, I “fed the fish.”

More gopher bait
As for the garden, what to plant now? Lettuce and spinach are cool-season crops. It might still be too hot for seeds to germinate. But you can buy small plants now. The Old Farmer’s Almanac website,, also suggests moistening the soil, planting seeds and then covering with straw (to cool the soil temperature).
I’m thinking we’ll plop some seeds in the raised bed under my boyfriend’s fruit trees. It can’t hurt anything.
The gophers might like it even better in the shade.
I chatted with Bruce Balgooyen, who sells sumptuous produce at the Saturday market. He said peas can technically be grown in the fall, but are often prone to powdery mildew.
The best places to buy plants, Bruce said, would be Sherri at the Grub Grown booth at Saturday’s market, and Mendon’s Nursery in Paradise.

Tomato time
When you’re shopping for new plants this weekend at the Saturday farmers market in Chico, make sure you get there early.
At 8 a.m. the very talented and/or clever tomato growers will be out in force for the annual tomato weigh-in.
It all starts at 8 a.m. when you bring in your entries.
Prizes will be awarded for largest, smallest, prettiest, ugliest, best-dressed and most unusual. There’s also a contest for best red, green or fruit salsa.
Amber, the market manager, said she’d love it if people also provide the salsa recipes. Actually, I’d love that as well.
If not, please just provide me the recipes through private email.
The winners of the contest will be announced at 10 a.m.

You can follow along on social media sites including Tout, Facebook and Twitter @HeatherHacking

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