Lori Borgman: End of gardening season with rabbits in mind
It was a difficult year for the garden. In mid-July, the tally was 49-0 with rabbits, squirrels and raccoons for the win.
They grazed petunias, lilies, sunflower sprouts, destroyed phloxes, and mowed down an expanse of zinnias like a zero-turn lawn tractor.
The main component of my flower garden was bunny tail fur tufts. They’re pretty sweet, but they just don’t look good in a vase.
They also harvested beans, broccoli and an entire plantation of sweet potatoes.
Many mornings I would poke my head through the back door and shout, “Do you want this steamed or oven roasted?” “
It triggered a laugh, followed by baby cucumbers thrown at my head.
They were hardcore. I ate everything straight away. Do it straight – down to the ground.
They got more and more cheeky and danced conga lines across the patio with fresh parsley hanging from their mouths.
“You’ll have yours someday,” I shouted. I didn’t know what “yours” was or when “someday” might come, but it felt good to heckle them as the gardening season wore on. Then the red tailed hawk arrived.
He was skinny and hungry and had a wicked glint in his eyes.
We shoved the little kids inside with instructions to stay away from windows.
A few weeks later, the hawk left.
Twenty pounds more.
It took six descents for this falcon before it could take off.
The hawk left satisfied and so did we.
There was still part of the growing season and some seed left in the garage. I planted zinnias and daisies, which all sprouted and started to bloom. These encouraged the battle-weary phlox and renegade larkspur to come back on their own.
Then the ultimate challenge: I planted a new set of cantaloupe and watermelon seeds in the ground thinking they might just ripen before the first frost. There must have been 50 flowers on the cantaloupe vines and 20 on the watermelon. But no fruit.
Then one day, I was giving a friend a tour of the Poor-Me Pity garden and she spotted a cantaloupe hidden under a vine. It was a huge 2 inches in diameter.
A few days later, I was checking the cantaloupe and spotted a tiny, perfectly shaped, deep green, ice-cold watermelon about the size of a penny.
Every day I checked out a cantaloupe and a watermelon. They were growing – slowly and very lightly, but maybe, just maybe.
Last week I checked out the “crops” (I feel ok to use the plural because there are two melons, not just one) and gasped at the watermelon.
A creature had eaten across the side.
Our last great hope is cantaloupe. We will be facing the first frost date, but if the temperature drops I will tent her and sit next to her overnight with a thermal blanket if necessary.
I imagine some sort of pageant when it’s finally ripe, gardeners clapping, throwing peat moss in the air and shaking trowels as it is carried home.
Then, for the grand finale, we’ll put it on a silver platter, and everyone will know how to take a bite out of it. With mocha spoons.
It won’t be much, but it will be one in the win column.
Columnist Lori Borgman writes the Borgman-Column for McClatchy-Tribune. (TCM)
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Contact her at [email protected]