The Ex-Pen Garden

How about something light and pleasant to get ready for the weekend!

One of my life goals has always been to have a big vegetable garden. And when I got my own place I did it.

These are low res photos because hey, it was 2001. Scroll over an individual photo for the caption. Click it to enlarge (a little). See the nifty little fence my friend designed and helped me build?

That was my garden in 2001. I expanded it in 2004.

My garden in 2004
My garden in 2004 with a cameo by Gabriel, my late rat terrier mix

But all that was before I had agile dogs. Summer and Zani could both happily jump the fence but I left it there and did garden some. Then this happened.

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That’s 11-week old Clara climbing a fence made of chicken wire and PVC, inserting her little paws in the holes in the chicken wire. I pulled the fence down the next day, since it had gone from useless to dangerous.

As a formerly feral puppy, Clara had all sorts of unexpected skills which she demonstrated with confidence.

So now my garden looks like this. I.e., mostly fallow and overgrown except a couple of leftover herbs and perennials, and being used as a dog playground.

My non garden in 2013
My non garden in 2013

Kind of like a weedy desert out there….

But this year I realized something. Exercise pens can keep dogs out as well as keep them in. Voila: the Ex-Pen Garden.

Ex pen with dogs outside, plants inside!
Ex pen with dogs outside, plants inside!
Introducing the Ex-Pen Garden!
I can cover it easily when hardening off plants
Ex-Pen Garden showing baby pepper plants
There they are:  baby pepper plants

I’ve got five hot pepper plants in there now: a jalapeño, a poblano, a serrano, and two habaneros, and a basil plant. Plus I have another ex-pen. I can expand! It was REALLY nice to plant something!

Of course what has created a decent barrier for dogs (two of them really could jump it but so far are not motivated to try) has turned out to be a magnet for the neighborhood cats. More on that in a future post.

Release the hounds!
Release the hounds! (That was a 50 foot group stay, in case you thought there was no training in this post!)

Thanks for viewing! Coming up:

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19 thoughts on “The Ex-Pen Garden

  1. Hmmm, yes. I’m currently using the pen to grow back lawn where some naughty puppies like to bury things. Useful things those puppy pens.

    1. Yes they sure are handy. I forgot to mention that I also used the ex-pen, along with a couple of other barriers, when my fence came down in a storm late last year. And I used one in my kitchen for 18 months….

  2. Hah, I always knew that gardening and dog training belong together. Love all the photos, but particularly the last one 🙂

  3. Our ex-pen is a permanent fixture, almost, in the yard. It has protected baby plants, baby robins, baby rabbits, a humane trap, …. hmmmm… what else? Oh yeah–we also use the ex-pen like a portable fence to block off the deck from the yard. This allows Biscuit to enjoy the yard and say hello to guests on the deck without scaring them; the ones who like big dogs can go say hi either over the fence or by walking through it, but the ones who are afraid of big dogs–no matter how nice and well-behaved the dogs are–can stay back where it feels safe. PS–Very impressive 5–foot group sit-stay!

    1. Really handy, aren’t they! Those are great uses. I first got my big one to do “box work” a la Control Unleashed. Then I started keeping my pooper scooper in it because SOMEBODY is a little too enamored of it. Then it doubled as a real fence. Thanks, about the stay!

  4. That Clara is part cat! I can sympathize, I had a beautiful perennial garden along one fence and once I got the dogs they loved to play chase up and down the fence line with the neighbours little Boston Bull. Needless to day that was the end of that garden. They also love helping themselves to my herb garden.

    1. Marjorie, yesterday I let Clara and Summer play in the hose, so then they hurled themselves around in the surviving herbs to dry off. When Summer came in, she smelled like wet dog and oregano.

    1. Yeah! Like almost every day when one rolls in a little tiny dead snake. I don’t know if they kill them or just find them. Makes me sad since they are nice little garden snakes and I like having them around. Anyway, I have discovered the beauty of baby wipes when I don’t want to wash a whole dog just to hit that spot on their shoulder where they have hurled themselves onto something vile…. Oregano is definitely better than that. I guess I should try planting some lavender again, grin.

  5. Mine were rollling on a dead mouse the otherday. When I get on my dogs nerves they self medicate with the lavender 😉

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