The fence around the vegetable garden at Poison Ivy Acres is almost finished. It is a rustic enclosure, created out of some black locust trees that fell in a winter storm. It is said that locust posts last one year longer than cement… being optimistic, and hoping that this is true, we decided to fence our garden with Robinia pseudoacacia. This tree is native to the southeastern US but considered almost invasive in New England. We battle the thorny black locust saplings that spring up in our new gardens, while thanking these trees for the materials we used to create the new fence.
A black locust fence reminds me that there are two sides to every coin, and a curse can also be a blessing.
Last year we planted our first vegetable garden at Poison Ivy Acres, and like most first gardens, we didn’t have many pests or problems. The Mexican bean beetles haven’t found our beans, and any neighboring rabbits and woodchucks have yet to make their way to the ripening produce we are growing. I have been a gardener for enough years to know that it’s unlikely that this will last. If you grow vegetables and haven’t had insect, animal or disease problems, I have two words for you: just wait.
Or, perhaps, be prepared. Our new fence is ornamental right now, but we are poised to staple chicken wire to those locust logs, buried, if necessary, to prevent digging groundhogs. We could, I suppose, attach electric wires on the top of the fence posts in order to prevent the deer from jumping into the garden.
As I order kiwi vines to plant on the back of this rustic enclosure, and make plans for gates on all four sides, I think of Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall. The last line says “Good fences make good neighbors.”
I hope so.