Did you have to ask? I’ve been avoiding the subject because it is a painful one.
It’s also an un-finished saga, though, which makes it excellent blog fodder. For your reading pleasure, I’ve organized it into chapters.
CHAPTER ONE: Promising Beginnings
The story technically starts here. I put those glorious seedlings outside into the well-turned, rich, weed-less, rock-less, yummy soil we have in our backyard.
CHAPTER TWO: False Start
Then I left Scott in charge of nurturing the sprouties while I went to CA on a business trip to see my family.* While Scott was in charge, it snowed and the plants died. Did I mention Scott** was in charge?
Of course, it wasn’t his fault… but it still left me with the thought that if I was in town to watch over them, we’d have success on our next attempt.
CHAPTER THREE: Turning Over a New Leaf
When the weather returned to warm spring and assured me that it wouldn’t snow again, I planted 8 zucchini and crook-neck squash seeds in a row in our backyard.
I was shocked when only two sprouted, but those two seemed to be doing extremely well. Immediately, the leaves were much bigger and thicker than the (by comparison) scrawny seedlings we had grown inside. I concluded that the zucchini had taken it upon themselves to conquer our whole backyard.
And then it happened.
CHAPTER FOUR: Coping with Loss
One morning, I went outside for my morning conversation with the plants and I found zucchini number 1 decapitated. Its poor leaves strewn on the concrete, already wilting in the early sun. All that remained was a stump of a stem still in the soil.
Swiftly, I roused Scott and we began brainstorming ideas. It wasn’t snow this time. Could it have been a stiff breeze? Columbus can get a bit gusty. We came up empty and took comfort in the fact that zucchini number two was still trucking along, growing bigger each day.
I took time that day to plant the remainder of our seeds, hoping that additional sprouts would take the place of the one I had lost.
CHAPTER FIVE: This is War
Just a few days later, Scott woke up earlier than me, had a chat with zucchini number two and then ate breakfast. I came downstairs just as he was finishing his cereal and went right out to check on our plant.
Tragedy had struck in the few minutes Scott had been munching on Shredded Spoonfuls. Another decapitated plant, deprived of any hope of survival, lay before me on the patio. This time, however, we examined the scene of the crime more carefully.
There appeared to be freshly dug holes where the seeds had previously been, and distinctive gnaw marks on the stem of the topless plant. A squirrel! A conniving, meddlesome, cute and fluffy, hoodlum of a woodland creature had been orchestrating an all-fronts attack on my vegetable garden.
CHAPTER SIX: What We’re Up Against
Lest you think I am referring to one of THESE squirrels:
Let me assure you, our foe is much more similar to THIS squirrel:
CHAPTER SEVEN: Who Will Win?
We will, duh.
Before I tell you the plan, you must promise not to let the squirrel in on it.
I suppose I have no choice to trust you. But if the squirrel DOES catch wind of this, we’ll know who to blame.
The current plan is to block our little garden off with chicken wire. If necessary, we’ll purchase some veggies as plants, rather than seeds, to give them a good head start.
The backup plan is to throw peanuts into our neighbors’ yards as decoys. If you are our neighbor and you are reading this, please know that we don’t mean YOUR yard, naturally.
* I work for SmugMug, my family’s business. So, I mix business with pleasure every single day. My trips to CA are particularly fun, though, because I get to see my three brothers, their wives, my niece and nephew, my parents, and three dogs… while working, of course!
**To his infinite credit, Scott single-handedly has rescued one of our tomato seedlings from Chapter 1 and though it is still fragile, it just may live to bear fruit this summer. His wise judgment kept me from pre-maturely transferring the plant outside and giving up on it when it looked particularly wilty. In addition, I suspect he sings to it when I’m not looking. Why else would it look so chipper?
UPDATE: We have three new tomato plants growing more or less successfully in our backyard, and I planted our remaining two crook-neck squash seeds. I sprinkled them liberally with cayenne. The squirrel apparently likes his seeds spicy.
Next step? This handy invention.