I often enjoy the fiction that I am a unique person who has unique experiences and somehow that makes me “special.” But then reality flicks me in the face, and I realize being a unique person with unique experiences is not all it’s cracked up to be. Like say, for example, when some shit goes down in your garden, and the handful of gardeners you consult are stumped or make references to Hitchcock movies, and an hour and a half on YouTube reveals possible solutions in Australia, England, Texas, and New Jersey, but not to your specific problem or geography.
I present to you the marauding rodents. What is this box of sad little dried up sticks, you ask? Well, once upon a time, this was a box of 3 healthy, happy bean plants, about 1 foot and change high, and sporting big green leaves, flowers, and 1 baby bean.
A day and a half later, it was nature’s version of a stripped down car left on blocks, with tires, doors, hood, trunk, and engine gone.
There is no other way to describe the dark, disturbing events that occurred on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon. These were not meek little mice darting around furtively in the night, dawn, or dusk. This was a wild pack of 6-7 small rodents, I’m guessing teenaged rats, who found my garden and proceeded to devour, in broad daylight, the plants, leaves, stems. These were not newly planted seeds. These were not baby plants. Except for one small baby bean, which they left last, there were no vegetables.
The little bastids ate the plants, the whole plants, and nothing but the plants. Plus a baby bean. And so help them, god, they are going to pay. They were running around between the pots, leaping in and out like they owned the joint. And they did. I went down from my second story deck to try to discourage them — I sprayed a solution of hot sauce and soap on the plants; I poured mint tea around the pots. These are things that are commonly recommended. These are also things that commonly don’t work. The goons just laughed. First of all, these are urban hooligans that have access to a city trash diet filled with spicy food from a dozen different cultures. I probably was making it tastier for them. Oh, sure, they scattered when I went down to the garden, but as soon as I was back on my deck, within minutes the little fuckers were back, unmolested and undeterred.
In my panic I ended up putting full blown soap insecticide in a spray bottle with the hot sauce (it should be diluted), so the couple of plants they did leave alone, the organo and the tomatoes, were gasping a bit from the onslaught. The few plants they left behind, I almost managed to kill with my inexperience. But in my defense, WHY ARE THERE MARAUDING RODENTS IN MY GARDEN?
I’m not gonna lie, it was a deflating, discouraging setback. The beans were decimated. They stripped one full zucchini plant and half of the other. Luckily, I had a back up plant on my deck. They started on the pepper plant, but I was able to get to it in time. I brought the half eaten zucchini plant on my deck, which I started to refer to as the infirmary. I moved the pepper plant up onto a chair and moved it away from the garden. It also seems to be recovering.
One video on YouTube reviewed an electronic gizmo that emits a high-pitched sound that animals don’t like. The guy tested it out for 3 months to keep away cats who were using his garden off season as a litter box. It seemed to work. The device has a range of sounds for different animals, but all I really know for sure from the video is that it bothers cats. But what else can I do? I don’t believe in owning firearms, plus they are small targets, and I don’t have time to practice accuracy.
I put the device in the garden last week, and put back the recovered zucchini plant in the garden as a test. So far, no marauders. But I hadn’t seen them again after the “incident.” Did they move on once I took away their favorite plants? Did they die a horrible death as payback for their misdeeds? One can only hope.
In happier news, the guerilla sweet potato plants are growing nicely, far from the maddening* marauders. And both zucchini plants are flowering. Of course, some flowers are falling off without producing anything, but I learned that is normal. Zucchini flowers are both male and female on one plant and only the female flowers produce a zucchini. But they have to get pollinated first. Now, I have the privilege of worrying about how the bees are going to find their way up on the deck to do their job or if they will find them back in the garden which isn’t featuring a plethora of flowers at the moment. Yes, there was some advice about how to pollinate them yourself, but really? Nature, can’t you throw me at least one bone for cryin’ out loud? I guess I’ll just have to jump off that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m going with “grateful they didn’t get eaten to death.”
* As a totally random aside, I looked up “Maddening” to make sure I had spelled in correctly. I meant to reference the Thomas Hardy novel, and was surprised to learn the title is “Far from the Madding Crowd.” I have never read the book, but know the title. Then I looked up the difference between “maddening” and “madding” and I made a wordsmith’s delightful discovery.
“Maddening” means that the crowd is driving someone insane.
“Madding” means that the crowd itself is insane.
Oooooo, how absolutely delicious. These are officially my new favorite 2 words and so useful, don’t you think?