How far would you go to protect your garden from a marauding horde????
Flowery Prose does fiction this week! It always lends a little credence when you say something is “inspired by a true story,” so I’m going with it. The emergent – and now, chewed up – vegetative matter in my flowerbeds stands as proof that I’m not totally lying.
By Sheryl Normandeau
Field Report 1.0. 06/01/11. 06:45. In the line of sight.
Early a.m. reconnaissance produces evidence of digging and heavy snacking. Defoliated, deflowered crocus bulbs have been ripped from their roots and stacked in neat piles on top of the soil. Newly planted white bellflower has been bitten down to the quick. Larkspur is shredded like newspaper in a cat’s litter box. ‘Flashing Lights’ dianthus has been thoroughly mashed in the manner of boiled potatoes. Certain lop-eared, long-legged aggressors have prompted me to throw down the gauntlet. This means WAR.
“Know thy enemy,” a wise warrior once said, so I Google it. Lepus townsendii: white-tailed jackrabbits. Funny, but all of the descriptions I hit leave out “utterly voracious, completely unstoppable plant eating machine, guaranteed to inspire madness and indignant rage in the souls of afflicted gardeners.” It seems that some people actually consider the heinous beasts cute, in an “oh, but jackrabbits are related to adorable, fuzzy, sweet-eyed cottontail bunnies” kind of way, but you’ll of course find that jackrabbit sympathizers are either under the age of six, or they buy their plastic clamshell-encased produce from MegaSuperBigBoxEmporium. Me, I’m not amused. I just spent twenty dollars on a flat of gazanias, and I’m not about to see them disappear into the gullets of my furry adversaries.
I check the gardening forums on the ‘net for intel. Unfortunately, the thread posts seem depressingly contradictory: “They seemed to leave my petunias alone,” BettyFlower9 announces cheerfully, while GardenNinja82 sadly confesses that his own petunias have gone the way of the dodo, along with his burgeoning arugula and kale seedlings. Crocuses and larkspur are definite “WILL NOT EAT” plants on one blogger’s list, but, of course, I know better.
“How can I stop rabbits from eating my plants?” I query the search engine. (I’m feeling lucky, indeed). Thousands of blog posts, forum threads, and gardening websites pop up, instantly at my disposal and full of the latest advice. I take a sip of coffee, crack my knuckles, and tap my wireless mouse.
Field Report 2.0. 06/02/11. 10:26. Implementation of Operation Let-Your-Hare-Down.
Offensive Tactic #1: Bloodmeal.
Bloodmeal is made from dried cow’s blood, and my informants on GreenGardenGrows suggest that heavily-preyed upon animals such as rabbits might be put off by the scent. Dried-up blood sort of scares me, I figure, so with a rambling sort of logic, it might frighten the rabbits. No matter, it’s worth a shot: it’s cheap and nutritious for the plants. I apply it liberally out of a large bucket, broadcasting granules over the soil while little murmured hopes linger on my lips.
Field Report 2.1. 06/03/11. 05:52.
A.M. reconnaissance finds a juvenile enemy troop lounging in the middle of my catmint. Obviously he is too young to be aware of the certain dangers of desiccated cow‘s blood. I sigh, and shoo him away.
Offensive Tactic #2. 06/03/11. 11:32. Hand soap.
“Use the smelliest soap you can get,” my digital advisors helpfully suggest. The stuff I purchase does permanent damage to my olfactory senses and makes me nauseous as I cut it up into small shavings. I’m a bit alarmed by the way the bright green soap stands out against my rich brown bark mulch after I apply it, but my fervent desire to drive away my long-eared opponents overrides my sense of aesthetics.
Field Report 3.0. 06/04/11. 16:05.
It rains overnight, a deep soaking that ordinarily would be cause for great rejoicing. (I’m lazy and don’t haul out the garden hoses unless absolutely imperative). A.M. reconnaissance finds my plants poking out of a suffocating sudsy lime green bubble bath. And, wouldn’t you know it? – this afternoon one of the hort society ladies stops in for tea. She’s the first to notice that the enemy has decimated my ‘Baby Star’ head lettuce.