Archive for the 'Pests' Category

The season for frenzy comes to an abrupt halt

I went to the health center at my college on a Fall day in my Senior year. The nurse checked me out, examined my congestion and sore throat, then flipped through my chart.

“Hmm,” she said. “It shows here that you came in on October 16 your Freshman year, October 17 your Sophomore year, and October 15 your Junior year.” She looked up at the calendar: it was October 18. “Seems to me you’re right about on time for your annual cold.”

Annual it is. There has barely been a Fall when the combination of leaf mold and wacky changes in temperatures hasn’t overcome my body’s ability to fight off the same progression: a strange, overwhelming exhaustion followed by sinus issues followed by sore throat followed by cough.

This year, I thought I might have escaped it, and luckily so. I spent much of the last half of October on the road, on trips to Pennsylvania and North Carolina, spending some of the time working and some of the time having lots of fun. The whole time, I felt like I was some sort of ticking time bomb, albeit a ticking time bomb that seemed to be appeased by irregular applications of Sudafed and Airborne.

But I probably should have known that the fun and games would come to an end. Much like this year’s delayed onset of real Fall, my real Fall bout of Ick was still to come, whether I liked it or not. And it arrived with a vengeance on Thursday, although did everything I could to ignore it Thursday night and went to work on Friday protesting that I was just fine, as long as I drank liquids constantly and mainlined Sudafed. But by the time I got home, it was clear: I had the full-on Fall Ick, and there was nothing to be done other than to go to bed.

Now, did I help matters by living in a state of frenzy from June through October? Probably not. But would I trade any of the fun I’ve had? Not for anything.

Still, I did have plans for the weekend. A good friend who moved away in December is in town, and I had to maintain quarantine so as not to potentially pass this on to her and her new baby. The Mint Killer and I had a dinner-and-movie girls’ night out planned to take advantage of a brief trip out of town by her husband and daughter, and I had to bail on her. And, most relevantly, I had solid plans to get out there in the garden and get some of the clean-up done, since word on the street is we’re in for a serious temperature plummet starting Monday.

I suppose it all makes good sense, though. There’s a season for the madness of harvest, and a season to just sit back and rest. I’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight and get up tomorrow and try to work for a little bit in the garden, and when I feel like I’m ready to call it quits, I will. If it doesn’t all get cleaned up in one fell swoop, so be it.

Holy bean leaves, Batman!

Bean flowerIt’s probably too early—far too early—to declare the Great Bean Experiment of 2007 a success.

But, at least temporarily, there seem to be good things happening. There are flowers on the bean plants. Lots of flowers. And as I’ve learned, flowers beget vegetables. As much as I love flowers for flowers’ sake, I sure do adore the ones that start as purty flowers and end up as purty dinner.

Holey leafPerhaps I’m growing Swiss beans, however? I’m not noticing any actual bugs that could perform the damage, but every single bean leaf has been stricken with an unnatural holey-ness. I am not pleased. Not pleased at all.

I am thankful, though. The beans are now probably a foot tall, and that means they survived the critical part of the life cycle where the rabbits probably should have just eaten them. So if I can just keep the leaves from completely disappearing off the plants, I might actually eat a homegrown bean.

Yeah, that’s right. One bean. Because I’m setting my sights low in the legume category.

If I begin foaming at the mouth, please get out the rabies vaccine

Mutant BrandywineAfter the initial Brandywine branch debacle, I’d eyed my last three ginormous Brandywines carefully, hoping they would be OK through further on-plant ripening.

One of them was oddly-shaped, almost like someone had taken two lumps of Play-Doh, one red and one pale green, and slapped them together to make something sort of like a tomato, only not. Two of them are perfectly shaped—lumpy and bumpy as Brandywines are wont to be, but still picture-perfect.

I decided to leave the oddly-shaped one on the vine, even though a good portion of it had fully ripened already. I wanted to see if the mutant, pale green part of it would turn red, as well, and on the vine seemed to be the place to try this.

Bitten BrandywineUpon arriving in the garden on Tuesday night, I discovered that some critter had taken a look at the red part and decided that I was wasting a perfectly good tomato. At least they left it on the plant, rather than eating part of it and casting the whole thing to the ground. But still…I was bitter.

Here’s the tomato immediately below it, decorated with the detritus of the eating event:

Tomato detritus

Here’s another tomato from the Stupice plant, which was unceremoniously bitten and discarded in the grass:

Bitten Stupice

I looked at the munched-upon Brandywine for a little while. It was so big, after all, and I knew there was no question that what was left would be tasty. I mean, really. It’s a Brandywine. There’s a reason everyone loves them, including the chipmunk or squirrel who clambered up and had an early dinner.

So I did the thing that I would have sworn to you a year ago I would never do. I picked the remaining tomato, took it inside, washed it off, cut off every part that could possibly have been bitten by a rodentatious visitor, and ate the rest.

It was delicious. And so far, I do not have rabies. So that’s good.

Witness to the population explosion

“Do you own a cat?” asked my next-door neighbor earlier tonight. He was exiting his house while I was tending to the watering I didn’t get to before work this morning.

“No,” I said.

“There’s one standing by the car,” he said. “I wondered if it was yours.”

I shook my head.

“Do you want a cat?” he asked. “Because now it’s walking toward your front yard.”

“I’m more of a dog person,” I said. “But maybe it would help chase away the rabbits.”

“I’ve seen a lot more of those than usual,” he said. “Have they been eating your plants?”

“They were for awhile,” I said. “Now I think things are too big for them. But they ate all the peas. I got no peas this year.”

“They like the green stuff,” he said. “That’s for sure.”

Upon my return…

When I arrived home from my business trip, I was greeted by signs of life in Tomato Alley:

Tomatoes ripening

Signs of death in the basil:

Dying basil

A gladiola blossom that I could just sit and stare at all day long:

Glad to see this

And, of course, a rabbit:

Rabbit upon return



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