I Hoe, I Hoe

Gardening: Survival of the fittest…

I’m a gardener. I have a four hundred acre brain on less than half an acre of space.

My garden includes three fruit trees, five blueberry bushes, and vegetables. That doesn’t include the pine and cedar trees or the rhododendron bush that were on the property beforehand. Add the hydrangea I divided seven times and the Japanese maple. The crabapple tree I planted to commemorate our fifth wedding anniversary is still alive twenty-five years later. I also planted a weeping mulberry and banana tree because they are freaking cool looking. There are flowers too, but you got the picture.

You’d think that what I created was a little piece of paradise. In reality, I created wildlife habitat where it was survival of the fittest. If I wanted fruit, I had to make peace with my pollinators, the bees. I grew plants they preferred and kept them buzzing happily.

Birds, from cardinals to hawks, frequented my nook. The birds would be welcome if they ate only bugs and bird seed, but I battled the robins for berries.

Instead of a scarecrow, a fifty pound Viking named Odin presided over my garden. He wielded an ax and shield. Odin was useless against garden pests. Standing stoically, the birds shat upon him.

I finally harvested enough peaches for a cobbler this past year. I might have managed two cobblers if I didn’t have to cut worms out of some of the peaches. I hope my family forgave me. I might have missed a few worms. Spraying the fruit with toxic chemicals wasn’t an option. Would you rather have a little protein in the cobbler or a little cancer?

I’ve never harvested beans. The rabbits mowed them down. The voracious Monty Python beasts also gnawed my blueberry bushes to the ground. The rabbits defied fences.

With rabbits, natural predators worked best. After I found half a rabbit in the yard, I knew the hawks were my friends. My allies shrank when the least bright of the hawks fried itself on the power lines in front of the neighbors’ house. I couldn’t bear to join everyone else to gawk at the carcass still smoking and hanging from the wires. My blueberries were going to be toast again.

My latest nemesis were slugs. Slugs didn’t look dangerous, but they could carry a parasitic nematode known as the rat lungworm.  I’d no idea how the slug’s nematode killed you. My beef was with snail snot, that slimy trail they left behind.

The war on slugs began when it took a landscape contractor four months to show up to replace a crumbling retaining wall and sidewalk. I waited another ten months for his return to seal the concrete. Despite power washing the sidewalk, when the sealer dried, there were trials of what looked like troll snot across the sidewalk. Slug slime sealed for posterity, and I still had three years of payments.

I found slug snot across the screen on the backdoor. They were perverted peeping slugs and they ate my hostas.

Hand picking and squishing was out of the question. Touch a slug. The snot doesn’t wash off with water.

Destroying an entire ecosystem wasn’t my quest. I planned to entice a few slugs to become extremely lit to thin their ranks. The weapon was beer. It seemed slugs were drawn to beer not unlike my hubby. Put beer in a pan the end. I didn’t relish drowning the slimy suckers, but what a way to go, right?

First I had to sneak the beer past my hubby. I risked divorce to blitz snails. At least there’d be no more trees planted in commemoration of domestic bliss and one less plant to save from voracious wildlife.

My plan failed. The hubby was worried that I was headed towards a drinking problem. Ew, not likely with the junk he drank. Then he was pissed because I gave slugs his beer to get them pissed then dead. After cleaning barf off the carpet, I deduced it was the dog who was getting wasted.

I let the slugs have the hostas. Slugs weren’t worth a pint of my Guinness.

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