I remember that there is an old saying that you always sow three seeds for every plant you desire because “one is for the gods, one is for the birds/animals and one is for you.” Or something to that effect. The trouble with that saying is that few birds, animals or gods sign off on that compact and as a result gardening can be a bit off balance.
This year the garden is very off balance because it seems that the gods, animals and I are in not in sync in the least. This Spring I was ahead of the game and netted all my strawberries, blueberries and blackberries before any bird could swoop down and vacuum up the berries before we got a chance to experience them. Unfortunately the gods feasted on the blossoms of strawberries, which were thick and lovely before a late season frost, and chipmunks on the blueberries from below. The absence of cats from our home this year no doubt contributed to their boldness and numbers. With cats it is hard to find a chipmunk that has not been disemboweled; now without we have rodent raves on our patio. This hasn’t been too bad as I have lost about a third of my blueberry crop, leaving two-thirds for my granddaughter Charlotte. (When we pick blueberries it is rare by the time we get back to the kitchen there are any left for my wife or me.)
But this is chicken (or perhaps chipmunk) feed when compared with what is occurring in my vegetable garden. One morning I went out to the garden looking for some lettuce and noticed that all the stalks had been eaten clean. Perhaps I left the gate open. Then the next day a few broccoli plants had been eaten. Then a few more.
So I placed a Havahart trap in my garden and next day a big fat raccoon was captured. Problem solved. But then the next day I noticed more broccolis were missing. Another varmint to capture. Set the trap with bananas and carrots. But this time I captured a tiny little groundhog. How did it get in? The gate was closed: I was sure of the that. I then started to look around the garden. Perhaps it had squeezed below the slats in the gate. Perhaps it pushed under the chicken wire I have on the concrete. But no, everything secure.
As I start poking around my overgrown tomato plants, laden with fruit, I notice that the earth has been disturbed. Wait a second! There is a hole, a big one, right behind my tomatoes in the corner of the garden. Looking over the fence, I see two mounds of soil hidden by the growing weeds next to a concrete walk that has been tunneled under. The bastards! Like the Tom Hanks remake of, “The Ladykillers”, the criminals have entered my bank of veg through crafty means. A few rocks and many shovels of soil refill the holes and I feel a bit more secure, for now. Resting on my shovel I stare at a big hole beneath the stump of a tree. This must be their lair. Looking around for another entry, I find none and fill it with rocks. Perhaps my problems will be over.
And for the last week or so they have been. My broccoli is leafing out and perhaps will give me flowers to eat later in the season. I have reseeded my lettuce for harvest next month. Everything is good. But just as I start to feel secure, I notice something rustling in the weeds next door. A groundhog. The game is still afoot. Time to bait the trap.